Blue Jays: Minor leaguer Bowden Francis breaking out in Puerto Rican Winter League

David Corcoran
Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day
Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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It was a year and a half ago that the Toronto Blue Jays traded Rowdy Tellez to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for relief pitcher Trevor Richards, along with a 25-year old pitching prospect.

The prospect the team acquired was Bowden Francis and he is forcing the team to take notice after having a strong season in the Puerto Rican Winter League.  Francis is currently pitching for the first place Criollos de Caguas and is just one of four pitchers on the team with at least 30+ innings pitched as of the first of January.

Through eight starts, Francis has tossed 31.2 innings, while holding opponents to a 1.71 ERA and leads his team’s starting pitchers with a 0.821 WHIP, while surrendering just one home run.  Francis is averaging 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings, good for second on his team next to reliever Aneuris Roasrio.

Francis made his major league debut this past April for the Blue Jays when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in mop up relief while trailing 6-1 in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox.  Francis would give up a double to his first hitter but would strike out Kiké Hernández before getting future Blue Jay Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out to end his debut.  Francis would be sent back to Buffalo two days later and he would remain in Triple-A for the rest of the season.

Many fans may have passed on the right handed pitcher after his 2022 season with the Bisons as he posted a 6.59 ERA over 98.1 innings and had a 1.536 WHIP, however they was mostly inflated due to a very weak start to the season.  Francis had a 13-game stretch from the beginning of July until the end of August where he posted a 2.88 ERA, 1.245 WHIP and averaged 14.4 strike outs per nine innings over a span of 28.1 innings pitched.

Nick Groke of The Athletic recently wrote an article (subscription required) naming Francis as one of six MLB players that is breaking out in the Winter League. Every season, MLB clubs have a player or two that were low on radars that surprise, this year it could be Francis.  With several questions about the fifth spot in the rotation, Francis made have earned an opportunity at some point during the season.

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