Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Look at Jeremy Gabryszwski photo
   The Blue Jays had 7 of the first 78 picks in the 2011 draft, and used them all on high schoolers.
The first of those picks was Massachusetts high school RHP Tyler Beede, who spurned the Jays offer, and headed off to Vanderbilt.  The pick the team received as compensation the following year, as is well known, was used to select Duke RHP Marcus Stroman.
   With their first of two second round picks, Toronto chose Texas RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski.  With their second, part of the compensation for the loss of free agent Scott Downs, the Blue Jays selected Tennessee LHP Daniel Norris.
   Baseball America's draft profile of Gabryszwski:
   Jeremy Gabryszwski excited scouts when he touched 94 mph with his fastball in his first scrimmage. He sat at 92-93 for three innings, and also showed a plus slider and an average changeup. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound righthander didn't maintain that stuff throughout the season, often working in the high 80s. He had surgery to repair a displaced bone in his elbow in 2008, with doctors placing a screw in his elbow. He's a Lamar recruit.
    Both second rounders fit what would become the Blue Jays typical choice for a high school pitching draftee:  long, lean, and athletic.  But while Norris, who after struggling in his first year of pro ball, rocketed through the system in 2014 before being dealt to Detroit last summer, Gabryszwski was brought along much more gradually, progressing one step at a time, posting consistent numbers along the way.
   Never a fireballer, Gaby give up well over a hit an inning at Lansing and Dunedin last year, and it was a bit of a surprise that he was named to the Blue Jays contingent of prospects who headed southwest to play in the Arizona Fall League, and an even larger one when he was named to New Hampshire's Opening Day roster.
   After three starts with the Fisher Cats this young season, it's becoming apparent why the team thought he was up for the challenge of an assignment to AA.
   Gabryszwski does not light up a radar gun, sitting between 88 and 91.  In his April 18th start against Colorado's affiliate Hartford, it was obvious that a huge improvement in his slider has been responsible for his strong start.

   Gaby breezed through the first three innings, needing only 34 pitches, and helping out his own cause by snaring a line drive at knee height, and alertly doubling the runner on first.  He gave up no hard contact until the 4th, when he surrendered a run on two hits, and needed a pick off of the runner on 2nd by his Catcher Wilkin Castillo to end the inning.

  In the 5th, Gabryszwski began to lose the strike zone a bit, and gave up some more hard contact, needing 16 pitches to get out of the inning in which he gave up another run on a pair of hits.  The 6th saw a return to form, as he regained some of the bite on his slider, and struck out highly-ranked Rockies prospect David Dahl to end the frame on three pitches.

  In the 7th, facing the heart of the Yard Goats' order for the third time, Gaby had trouble staying ahead of hitters, and with a pair of runners aboard via a walk and a single, he had reached his pitch limit.

   Gabryszwski effectively commands both sides of the plate.  His fastball has good sinking action which can make it difficult for hitters to square him up, as evidenced by the number of foul balls in the early innings.  His slider has great depth and late breaking action, and was very effective as a swing-and-miss pitch to lefthanders, looking like a fastball on the inner half of the plate, until darting to bat-dodging country on the inside corner at the last second.  As he tired, Gaby threw a few 58-foot versions of the pitch.  Sitting 91-92 with his fastball, he does not overpower hitters, but relies on command and that slider to keep hitters off balance.  He was able to throw his change for strikes on occasion as well.

   On the day, Gabyrszwski threw 90 pitches, 61 for strikes.  He pitched 6.1 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 runs (1 unearned), walked a pair, and struck out 6.  He threw 4 groundball outs, against 3 fly ball outs.  Gaby threw 1st pitch strikes to 14 of the 24 hitters he faced, and had 13 swing-and-misses on the day.

   With Castillo, Jon Berti, Jorge Flores, and Roemon Fields supplying the Fisher Cats up-the-middle defence on this day, it's easy to see why Gabryszwski may be more successful at the higher levels than he was at the lower ones.  As a groundball pitcher who pitches to contact, Gaby will always need strong defensive play behind him.   One concern was how hitters began to start squaring him up as he fatigued and lost both some zip on his fastball and the strike zone, but this was only his third start of the season, and he no doubt will get stronger as the season progresses.  A young pitcher throwing into the 7th inning of only his third start at AA is no mean feat.
   At 6'4" and a listed 195 (he looks a bit more solid than that), Gabryszwski profiles as a pitch-economizing innings eater.  He has clean mechanics, and repeats his delivery consistently, and disguises his slider very well.  Never considered a top prospect, it may be time to reconsider where he fits in the Blue Jays long range plans.

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