Regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system a few years ago, Sean Reid-Foley will be adjusting to a new role in order to find a spot on the active roster.
Drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft, Sean Reid-Foley was selected as a starter and worked his way up through the farm system in just 3.5 years, regularly finding himself on the top 30 prospect list along the way.
Drafted straight out of high school, Reid-Foley looked like he had a promising career as a starter as he progressed through the Rookie League to A ball from 2014 to 2016. In 2017, Reid-Foley would start the season in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, where he would start a career-high 27 games but struggle to a 5.56 ERA and 1.492 WHIP, allowing 53 walks over 132.2 innings of work.
The 2018 season would be another step forward for Reid-Foley, as he would not only crack the AAA roster after a successful few starts in AA, but he would also find himself on the Blue Jays roster come early August. He would go on to start seven games and pitch to a 5.13 ERA, 1.560 WHIP with 42 strikeouts and 21 walks.
In 2019, the right-hander would start to see his role within the organization start to change course, where he would still start six games for the Blue Jays but would also throw out of the bullpen a few points throughout the season. Reid-Foley would pitch three games out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays, throwing 5.1 innings clean innings over two games before getting shellacked by the Los Angeles Dodgers for five runs over 1.2 innings in what would be his last MLB appearance of the season, finishing the year with a 4.26 ERA.
Reid-Foley started to see his window of opportunity slip this past season when it came to making the starting rotation. At 25 years old, he is reaching the end of his ‘prospect’ status and just has never been able to fully run away with a spot in the rotation when given the opportunity. The base on balls has dogged him for most of his career, where he seems to be hit or miss with his control. For example, Reid-Foley would throw 3+ walks in five out of the seven games he started in 2018, while in the other two games he only allowed one walk.
In 2020, Reid-Foley would not start a single game for the Blue Jays, riding the options bus between the alternate training site and the active roster throughout August and September. He would finish the season with 6.2 innings pitched over five appearances, throwing to a 1.35 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, and six strikeouts while also giving up six walks.
While the sample size is small when you compare Reid-Foley’s starter vs. bullpen statistics, the chapter where Reid-Foley finds himself on the starting rotation seems to have come to an official close as per general manager Ross Atkins. This makes sense as the Blue Jays have quite a few prospects coming up the pipeline vying for a rotation spot (Nate Pearson, Alek Manoah, and Simeon Woods-Richardson to name a few) and have been ‘active’ in free agency, signing Robbie Ray to a one year deal and exploring outside options like Trevor Bauer and Kevin Gausman (who did not sign with the Blue Jays).
Sean Reid-Foley does have an impressive arsenal and does have the potential to be an effective pitcher in an MLB bullpen, but the control issues are something that he will need to shake off if he wants to find himself on the Blue Jays roster moving forward. His time in the starting rotation is now behind him, but he could easily slot himself into the middle relief/long man role if he can find the consistency to keep the walks down. Fangraphs has Reid-Foley with one more minor-league option to his name, which will probably see him ride the options bus once again this season if the command issues impact his spring training or if he begins the season on the MLB roster and struggles out of the gate.
With the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen only having a few dedicated pitchers and no major free agent signings as of yet, a spot does seem to be available for Reid-Foley this season if he can keep the command issues under control and find the groove that made him a top prospect in the Blue Jays system just a few years ago.