Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bluefield Building a Solid Pitching Staff

   They may be several years away from the big leagues in even the most optimistic of best-case scenarios, but the Blue Jays have assembled a talented starting pitching corps in Bluefield.
   The Bluefield Jays stumbled out of the gate a little bit, but have come on in Appalachian League play of late, largely due to it starting pitching.  Among the leaders of the group are:

Ryan Borucki
 The tall lefty is the type of lean, athletic, projectable pitcher that the Blue Jays covet.
The top-ranked LH pitcher in Illinois before the 2012 draft, Borucki grew almost half a foot between his sophomore and senior HS seasons, with an accompanying increase in velocity.  Not surprisingly, thought, Borucki injured his elbow early in the spring of his draft year, and played mostly first base.
  Borucki came back to pitching just before the draft, and showed enough for the Jays to take a flyer on him in the 15th round.  He pitched in only 4 GCL games before being shut down, and continued to battle elbow soreness for the next several months, until he underwent TJ surgery the day before his 19th birthday in 2013.
   The velocity is starting to come back for Borucki, who threw between 91-93 before his injury.

Jesus Tinoco
   Tinoco was not one of the glamour names in the Blue Jays international free agent class of 2011 ( which included Osuna. Becerra, Lugo, Tirado, Labourt, and Castro), and signed in September of that year for $400 000.
   The 19 year-old Tinoco has a similar build to Borucki's, but throws from the right.  Cuffed around a bit in his first and third starts with Bluefield, he was solid in his second, and lights out in his fourth, giving up just a run on four hits, with 7 strikeouts over 6 innings.  Which is a pattern he will probably repeat for much of the season.
   Ben Badler of Baseball America described Tinoco as "a potential power arm with a loose arm, solid delivery, and a good feel for a mid-to-high 70s curveball."

Miguel Burgos
   At 5'9" and 155 lbs, the 17 year old Venezuelan is a younger version of Marcus Stroman.  The 19 year-old Venezuelan was part of the 2011 class with Tinoco et al.
   In his first year stateside, Burgos skipped the GCL and is pitching in the Appy League - which says a lot about how the organization feels about him.  They believe he has the physical and emotional maturity to make the leap.
   With his size, he may not have a lot of projection, but he pitched very well in his small sample size, throwing five scoreless innings against the Twins affiliate in his most recent start, striking out 6.

Joey Aquino
   At 24, the well-travelled Hawaiian is a bit old for the Appy League, and really can't be viewed as a prospect.
  Aquino was chosen in the 35th round in this past June's draft out of San Diego Christian College.  He also spent time in junior college in Texas, as well as a year at Tarleton State.  So he's been around.  You have to admire his perseverance.

   Add to this staff pitchers like Matt Smoral, Alberto Guzman, 2013 draftee Daniel Lietz, and the recently promoted Evan Smith, and the Blue Jays have a wealth of young arms in the West Virginia town.
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