Blue Jays: Looking at how the top five pitching prospects fared this year

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- AUGUST 24: Adam Kloffenstein #23 of the USA Baseball 18U National Team during the national team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- AUGUST 24: Adam Kloffenstein #23 of the USA Baseball 18U National Team during the national team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images) /

While the Toronto Blue Jays traded away one of their top pitching prospects in Simeon Woods-Richardson at this year’s deadline, the club still has some potent arms down in the minor leagues.

In the 2021 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays added 12 pitchers to the minor league system, using their first five picks on pitchers – three righties, and two southpaws – to try and add some depth to the organization that was starting to lack some high quality pitching talent after the SWR trade and with the recent graduation of Nate Pearson and Alek Manoah off the top prospect list.

While the farm system does boast more polished infielders like Orelvis Martinez, Jordan Groshans, and Otto Lopez, there are some pitchers in the Jays farm system who fans should be keeping an eye on over the next few seasons.

#4 – RHP Gunnar Hoglund

The Blue Jays’ first-round selection this past draft, Gunnar Hoglund was a potential top ten pick this year until he underwent Tommy John surgery a few months before the draft. He fell to the Jays at #19 and the club would sign him for just under slot value at $3.25 million.

He is still recovering from his surgery and most likely won’t be playing until mid to late next year. Before he went under the knife this season, Hoglund made 11 starts for Ole Miss and pitched to a 2.87 ERA through 62.2 innings with 96 strikeouts, 17 walks, and a .910 WHIP.

#7 – RHP Adam Kloffenstein

Selected in the same draft as high school teammate and fellow Jays prospect Jordan Groshans back in 2018, Texas product Adam Kloffenstein spent the entire 2021 campaign with the Vancouver Canadians in Hillsboro, Oregon (due to COVID) in High-A. He would make 23 starts and pitched to a 6.22 ERA through 101.1 innings pitched with 107 strikeouts and a 1.549 WHIP.

Kloffenstein had some control issues this season, sporting a 5.4 BB/9 and finishing with 61 walks on the year. He was healthy and did get some experience in Class A ball, which should see him make the jump to AA sometime next season, with his projected estimated time of arrival in the Major Leagues being in 2023.

The Blue Jays boast a wide range of pitchers in their minor league system, with this article looking at how the top five pitching prospects fared this year.

#12 – RHP Sem Robberse 

Hailing from the Netherlands, Sem Robberse made his Blue Jays debut in 2019 to the tune of five games but this past season was where he saw his workload increase, making 21 appearances (19 starts) across Dunedin and Vancouver in Class A, pitching to a combined 4.36 ERA through 88.2 innings.

He would craft a 9.1 K/9 rate with 90 strikeouts on the season while only allowing seven home runs and 3.5 BB/9, a pretty respectable number for the former 19-year-old right-hander. Robberse will most likely head back to Class A next year and is still quite a few years from potentially knocking on the Major League doors considering he lost a year with the 2020 minor league season being canceled.

#13 – RHP CJ Van Eyk 

Drafted in the second round of the abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft, right-hander CJ Van Eyk did not get to play last year with the minor league season being canceled. In his first professional season in the Blue Jays farm system, Van Eyk pitched with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, making 19 starts this season.

The Florida State alum would pitch to a 5.83 through 80.1 innings with 100 strikeouts and a 1.369 WHIP. His 11.2 K/9 rate is pretty impressive but similar to Kloffenstein, he too posted a rather high walk rate of 4.4 through nine innings. His ETA for the big leagues is also in 2023 and he should be in line for a promotion to AA last season, following the same projection as Kloffenstein. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez 2.0 anyone?

#15 – RHP Irv Carter

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, Irv Carter was the Blue Jays’ highest-drafted prep athlete and ended up signing for almost over $500K above slot at $850,000. As a senior with his varsity team, Carter posted a ridiculous 1.87 ERA through eight starts (10 appearances), racking up 81 strikeouts, 16 walks, and a 0.95 WHIP through 48.2 innings pitched.

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Already standing at 6’4″, Carter should continue to grow into his size and could develop some more MPH on his mid-90’s fastball, which combined with his slider and a developing change-up keeps hitters on their toes, especially when he changes his timing on the mound.

He didn’t play with any affiliated club this season under the Blue Jays this season but should be in the Rookie League next season, meaning fans could be waiting at least three-plus years for Carter to be close to knocking on the big league doors.