Blue Jays sign Andrew Bechtold, a worthwhile project, to minor league deal

Andrew Bechtold with the Minnesota Twins
Andrew Bechtold with the Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Per the Blue Jays minor league transaction page, they have signed 3B/RHP Andrew Bechtold to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo. He was previously with the Twins Triple-A affiliate. The 27-year-old hitting prospect had long struggled to produce offensively due to strikeouts and began to pitch as a reliever this year. According to @milb_central on X, he'll continue his journey exclusively as a pitcher with the Blue Jays.

Bechtold becoming a full time pitcher has not been formally confirmed but it makes sense given that he dropped hitting and focused solely on pitching for the last 2+ months of the season with the Twins.

Although it may not be apparent based on a quick scan of his numbers this year, Bechtold's potential on the mound exceeds his potential as a hitter at this point in time. The results as a reliever were not pretty: 18 IP, 11.00 ERA, 12.00 BB/9, and a 6.85 FIP; but the Blue Jays clearly see something in Bechtold and what that is becomes more apparent when we dive into the pitch data.

The righty's arm talent was a likely reason for him to attempt the switch to pitching, his fastball sits at 95-96 MPH and he throws it 62% of the time. It has slightly below average shape and he greatly struggled locating it. If he can find the zone with more consistency, it has the velocity to be an average MLB offering.

His cutter is his second most used pitch at 19 percent of the time and I'd make the argument he's not using it enough. It sits in the high 80s with abnormal late and large vertical break. It has a velocity and movement profile similar to Robert Stephenson's cutter which had an absurd 60% whiff rate this year in the majors. The odds of Bechtold replicating that success are low as there are a lot more factors that go into pitching but it's hard not to look at his cutter as a potential plus pitch given it's 58.3% Whiff rate, 86.6 average exit velocity, and 120 Stuff+ on ProspectsLive. Take a look at how this hitter swings under it.

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He used his 84 MPH slider about 15 percent of the time. It has above average dip on it but not a lot of horizontal movement. It did a great job of getting chases and weak contact but was not a big swing and miss pitch for him at Triple-A. A large part of that was likely his erratic command of it. His slider missed the zone 2/3 of the time and the spray chart would tell us that it wasn't intentional. It could be a solid MLB offering if he can find more feel for it.

Bechtold threw an 80 MPH curveball 3 percent of the time and a 95 MPH sinker just one percent of the time. Given the usage, these pitches are not that noteworthy for him. His curveball is pretty good in a vacuum, it has a movement profile similar to Nick Anderson who is now with the Royals. His sinker is quite uninspiring outside of it's velocity.

Given the profile, there's quite a lot of tinkering the Jays development team can do with Bechtold. Figuring out his mechanics will be priority no. 1, as he was often unplayable this season given his inability to throw strikes. Shaky command and control is to be expected in a player that is new to pitching and the automatic balls and strikes system at Triple-A does not help either. His delivery itself doesn't point to chronic walk issues so hopefully these are just growing pains for Bechtold. With regards to changing his pitch mix, he'll likely throw his cutter more and fastball less. Outside of that, it's possible they take a look at his ability to throw a more east to west breaking ball. His cutter, slider, and curveball are north to south offerings and can blend into each other at times.

Bechtold has major steps required of him but there's no doubt he's a player to keep an eye on next season given his two-way history and nasty cutter. Clearly the Jays see potential in him.