This is another in my ongoing series of looks at Blue Jays pitching prospects through my subscription to MiLB.TV.
I am not a scout, and I would encourage you to consult a real scout before taking my word.
The latest pitching prospect I watched was Lansing right hander Sean Reid-Foley, in his May 30th start at Dayton. I suppose I could save you some time and tell you from the outset that this appearance could be described in one word: dominant. When the thermometer dips and the snow begins to pile up next winter, this might be a warming performance to watch again to help take the chill off.
The Blue Jays 2nd round choice, 49th overall, Reid-Foley was thought by many to be a late first-round pick last year. His commitment to Florida State scared some teams off, however, and he fell to the Blue Jays, who gladly scooped him up after acquiring first rounders Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost.
Reid-Foley had a bit of an uneven pro debut in the GCL last year, and it was a little surprising that he was assigned to Lansing this year. The Lugnuts have been very conservative with his pitch count through the first two months of the season, having gone past the 3rd inning only twice this season prior to this late May start.
Reid-Foley had scuffled a little bit in his four starts before this one, giving up some hits, and struggling with his command. This outing against Dayton was a completely different matter.
At 6'3", 220, Reid-Foley cuts an imposing figure on the mound. Dayton has led the Midwest League in attendance for a decade, averaging almost 8 500 fans during that run - and a crowd of 9 000 gathered to watch. The huge crowd likely gave Reid-Foley a huge boost, as he looked very intense on the mound, and worked quickly.
Reid-Foley needed 18 pitches to get out of the first, his highest pitch total for the night. Touching 95 with his fastball, Reid-Foley struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a soft single to centre. He got the final out of the inning on a called strike three.
His pitch count remained very consistent throughout the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, needing only 13,11, and 12 pitches, respectively, despite a 28 minute rain delay. Only a pair of balls were hit hard, and 3rd Baseman Gunnar Heidt helped him out on one with a strong throw from behind the bag at 3rd.
Reid-Foley's control slipped a bit in the 5th - in his first four innings, when he missed, it was often just off of the edge of the plate, but he lost the strike zone just a bit in his next-to-last frame. Pitching into the 6th for the first time as a pro, Reid-Foley put a cherry on top of his triple decker Sundae of a performance by striking out the first two hitters in the 6th on 8 pitches, before reaching his pitch limit. I counted perhaps two or three balls squared up by Dayton's offence. There wasn't even a lot of weak contact - there was not much contact in general, and the home team couldn't get a runner past first during his time on the mound. Here's his final K:
Reid-Foley threw 74 pitches, 49 of them for strikes. He threw strikes to 10 of the 19 hitters he faced, and retired 10 of them by strikeout. 16 of his strikes were of the called variety, while 17 were swinging - he missed quite a few bats on the day. Reid-Foley tended to elevate his fastball a bit when he had two strikes on a hitter. and the Dayton batters couldn't keep up with it. What I liked about his performance the most is that he didn't just try to blow the ball past hitters - he worked the strike zone, and moved his pitches around the plate well. Dayton's lineup was very overmatched against him on this occasion. MWL hitters in general have found themselves flailing at Reid-Foley's pitches this year, shown by his 50Ks in 34 innings.
What does the future hold for Reid-Foley? The Blue Jays will likely take their time with him, even though they've shown that they will challenge prospects with aggressive promotions. At the same time, Reid-Foley won't turn 20 until the end of August, is only a year removed from high school, and has thrown all of 56 innings as a pro.
With Reid-Foley and Jeff Hoffman starting games tonight, it's easy to picture the pair at the top of the Blue Jays rotation one day.