A wrap-up of the weekend goings on amongst Toronto Blue Jays prospects:
Marcus Stroman was lights out for the Blue Jays against Kansas City on Saturday. Called up in order to help bump back Drew Hutchison and his sudden loss of velocity a few days, Stroman gave the club six strong innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 (earned) run, walking none and striking out 6. In the process, Stroman dropped his MLB ERA from an unsightly 12.79 to a still-high-but-getting-there 7.30, and silenced his many critics at least until his next start.
Pitching out of the bullpen earlier this month, Stroman was clearly uncomfortable with the role after having started for the past year, but it was still probably the right way to work him into the bigs. He clearly showed his preference for starting with a 1-2-3 9-pitch top of the first, striking out the last two batters with his slider.
This was supposed to be a spot start, but Manager John Gibbons and GM Alex Anthopolous had no choice but to option Liam Hendriks back to Buffalo, and give Stroman another start. We can't predict whether or not he will stick with the club this time around, but he's certainly built a good case for himself to log a few starts at least.
We were mildly surprised when Matt Boyd was sent back to High A Dunedin from AA New Hampshire.
Granted, he had been rocked in many of his starts at the higher level, but he seemed to be putting things together in his next to last start. He seemed to have little left to prove in A+ ball, but obviously the club feels there are a few things he still needs to work on. From the hitter spray chart below, it appears keeping the ball down in the zone may have been an issue:
In his first start back with the D-Jays yesterday, Boyd overmatched the opposition Jupiter hitters, striking out 9 in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up one earned run,. which actually raised his ERA to 0.49. Unless other promotions are in the offing, Boyd helps give Dunedin the best starting rotation in the Florida State League, along with Norris, Cole, White, Graveman, and Hernandez.
With the MLB first year player draft only a few days away, most of the mock drafts we have seen project the Jays to take North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner with the 9th pick of the first round. Reports on Turner have been divided, but he has two traits most evaluators seem to agree on: he has 80 (elite) level speed, and the footwork and arm to stay at short. There are varying opinions about the hit tool. For their second first round pick at #11, which they gained as a result of their inability to come to a deal with first round pick Phil Bickford (who has had a fine season with Cal State Fullerton, we have to admit), it may come down to either injured East Carolina righthander Jeff Hoffman, or Florida HS righty Touki Toussaint. Reports also suggest that the Jays have been giving Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost a very long look. As we have said on multiple occasions, the opinions of various draft prognosticators really doesn't matter - the Blue Jays will likely take someone else at both spot, with only high athleticism and outside the box thinking about the only sure thing.