Blue Jays: All-Time Drafted and Developed Relievers
#1 – Billy Koch
Billy Koch played only three seasons for the Blue Jays, but he did enough in that time to claim the top spot on our list.
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In 1996, the Blue Jays held the fourth overall pick and they used it to draft Koch out of Clemson University. Koch impressed immediately through the minors as he was able to consistently throw 100 mph. The team placed him in Advanced A baseball right out of the draft where he made three starts there collecting 20 strikeouts to just three walks. In his second professional season, after posting a 14-7 record with a 3.75 ERA he was moved all the way up to AAA Syracuse where he finished out the season.
In 1999, with just 35 minor league games to his name he came out of the bullpen on May 5 to pitch 2.2 no hit innings. Koch was able to jump to the majors less than two years after being drafted. He was moved into the closer’s role that season and recorded 31 saves with a 3.39 ERA. His 57 strikeouts in 64 innings helped him receive votes for Rookie of the Year where he finished seventh in voting.
Koch remained the closing pitcher for the next two seasons, recording 33 and 36 saves respectfully. He finished his three seasons with a total of 100 saves which rank him fourth all-time for Blue Jays closer’s behind Roberto Osuna, Duane Ward and Tom Henke.
The Blue Jays finished their 2001 season two games below .500, had new management coming and were looking to make some changes. Koch was traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Eric Hinske and Justin Miller.
Was there someone you think should have been on the list? Who do you think was the best of the group?