The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #25 spot goes to a starting pitcher that was acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the 2017 trade deadline.
Thomas Pannone was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Samad Taylor at the 2017 trade deadline in exchange for relief pitcher Joe Smith. At the time, Pannone was considered a low-end prospect, with neither him or Taylor ranked among the Indians top 30 prospects. While fans may haven’t been thrilled with the trade at the time, they should be now.
Name: Thomas Pannone
Weight: 194 lbs
Acquired: 9th round draft pick in 2013 (Cleveland), traded to Toronto in 2017
Thomas Pannone started his baseball career as an outfielder. Being drafted in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft by the Chicago Cubs, Pannone decided to go back to college in an attempt to be drafted higher.
That next season at College, Pannone took to the mound and tried being a pitcher. Pannone thrived on the mound, and he accomplished his goal; go back to college and raise his draft stock.
He ended up being redrafted that year — this time in the 9th round by Cleveland, as a pitcher.
In Cleveland, Pannone was an under the radar prospect who didn’t generate much buzz. The same went for him when he was first traded to Toronto, but things changed a few months after the trade which brought him north of the border.
Prior to the 2018 season, Pannone and Borucki had the most hype around their names, which is why Pannone’s suspension prior to the season was such a big deal.
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Before the season started, on March 16th, Pannone was handed an 80 game suspension for testing positive to a PED. Despite denying allegations of him taking a PED knowingly, and even passing a polygraph test with one of the highest scores possible, Pannone was still forced to miss the first half of the season.
Upon his return to baseball, the young left-hander pitched for A+ Dunedin, before a call up to AA New Hampshire, followed by a promotion to AAA Buffalo, and eventually a promotion to the big leagues. Pannone pitched in 9 minor league games last season before receiving the call up to the major leagues.
Thomas Pannone relies on three pitches; fastball, curveball, and changeup. Out of his three pitches, the fastball is Pannone’s most used pitch, accounting for 64% of his pitches thrown last season in the MLB.
Out of the 446 fastballs thrown last season by the young left-hander, the average velocity was 88 mph, and he had a 13.2 K% on them.
Although the average velocity on his fastball is usually around 88-89 mph, Pannone can get his fastball up to 92-93 mph once and a while.
Pannone’s fastball was given a scouting grade of 50.
Pannone’s curveball was thrown for 18% of his pitches last season, and was his highest K% pitch, striking out 32% of batters faced.
His curveball averaged 71 mph last season and mixing that in with his 88 mph fastball and 82 mph changeup, makes it a very effective pitch to mix into his repertoire.
Pannone’s curveball was given a scouting grade of 55.
Despite a small sample size last season, Pannone’s command looked good in the major leagues.
Obviously, it’s expected young players have nerves when coming into the league, therefore affecting their command and control for the first few games, but Pannone’s command was good last season.
In his 12 appearances in the big leagues last season, Pannone only had 15 walks, which equaled an impressive 8.2 BB%.
Pannone’s control was given a scouting grade of 45.
Pannone was called up last season due to injury problems to the rotation. He wasn’t expected to be in the starting rotation conversation as early as 2019.
The young pitching prospect pitched well in his time up with the Blue Jays, and although it isn’t likely he’s part of the rotation this season, Blue Jay fans should be excited to have Thomas Pannone in the organization for years to come.
MLB Pipeline says Pannone “lacks a plus pitch and thrives on deception”, but they also say the left-hander has “a legitimate floor as a backend starter in the Major Leagues”. Pannone was given an overall scouting grade of 45.