I have previously looked at the 2018 and 2019 drafted Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospects and will now dive into the top performances by the 2017 draft.
As we are now three seasons since the 2017 draft the Blue Jays management is starting to see what they have in this class of prospects.
In 2017, the Blue Jays drafted 23 pitching prospects and they signed 16 of them. After three minor league seasons the Blue Jays have already released four of those pitchers and two of them (Colton Law and Donnie Sellers) missed the entire 2019 season due to injury. Of the remaining 11 pitchers, the fans have arguably the most hyped pitching prospect in team history. With no further ado, here are the top pitching prospects.
Nate Pearson (1st Round Pick)
Nate Pearson has had hype like no previous Blue Jays pitching prospect and the obvious hope is that he can live up to it. Pearson’s biggest asset is his fastball which has been clocked at 104 mph in a game while topping out at 105 mph in a bullpen session. Pearson started the season in Dunedin where he pitched 21 innings and allowed just two runs and 13 base runners against a whopping 35 strikeouts.
Pearson rose and played in both AA New Hampshire and AAA Buffalo where he finished the season pitching a total of 101.2 innings, striking out 119 batters with a 2.30 ERA and a 0.885 ERA. Pearson is currently ranked as the Blue Jays top prospect, ranked as the third-best pitching prospect in all of baseball and the tenth best prospect in all baseball.
Pearson is already one of the organization’s best pitchers, but he is likely to start the season in Buffalo next year and I predict fans will be calling for him the same way they were calling for Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette.
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Ty Tice (16th Round)
There is no way you heard near as much about Ty Tice as you did about Nate Pearson over the last couple of years, but Tice has been quietly climbing through the system. Last year Tice was lights out for New Hampshire to start the season as he averaged nearly a strikeout an inning to go with a 1.09 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP out of the Fisher Cats bullpen.
Tice was moved up to Buffalo in June and pitched very well over the summer months, but struggled over the last 10 days of the season that saw his ERA with the Bisons jumped from 1.65 to 3.27. He was placed on the injured list after the last game of the year but it doesn’t look to be too concerning. There is a good chance you will see Tice get some time with the big club next year.
Justin Dillon is one of the older prospects the Blue Jays have as he turned 26 years old in September. Dillon led the 2017 crop in wins (10) and innings pitched (124) after spending the season between Dunedin and New Hampshire. Dillon isn’t the hardest throwing pitcher but is known as an accurate thrower.
He walked just 30 batters over 124 innings last year to go against 103 strikeouts. Dillon will likely start the season in Buffalo and you may see a similar opportunity that Jacob Waguespack had this past season; the question is whether he will take full advantage of the opportunity as Waguespack did.
The fact we are discussing a 31st Round Pick as having a solid season is a credit to Graham Spraker for putting in the work. Spraker pitched almost the entire season in Dunedin where he started 16 games and came out of the bullpen eight times, finishing with 108 innings pitched and a 2.90 ERA. Spraker was called all the way up to Buffalo to start a game on June 6 and had a good pitching line as he got into the sixth inning, allowed just one run and five base runners.
Spraker who is known as another control pitcher spent the rest of the season in Dunedin. Spraker is one of the prospects that is playing in the Arizona Fall League but is struggling right now as he has allowed eight earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched. Look for Spraker to start 2020 in New Hampshire and see if he can continue to climb through the system.
The Blue Jays have a few other pitching prospects from the 2017 draft that had decent seasons, but nothing that stood out. Brody Rodning spent the majority of the season on the injured list but did pitch 12 innings allowing just one walk to 14 strikeouts and a 2.25 ERA between the Blue Jays Gulf Coast Rookie League and Lansing. Marcus Reyes who will be 25 years old at the start of next season pitched the entire season at Lansing (A) and had a 7-3 record with a 2.56 ERA.
Now that the Blue Jays have a lot of their positional youth set on their major league roster, the pitching prospects are starting to catch up and Nate Pearson is the major piece that we should see next season.