Flurry Of Promotions, Excitement On Blue Jays’ Farm
It’s been a mediocre ten days for the Toronto Blue Jays, who have gone just 3-6 in that time. Providing more of a colorful picture is the team’s farm system, which has recently seen a flurry of promotions for some of its top prospects.
Last week saw the Blue Jays’ top prospect, Aaron Sanchez, promoted to Triple A Buffalo, after going 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 14 starts. Despite the moderate numbers, Sanchez struggled at times and will face his toughest challenge thus far in his short professional career. The 22 year old made a fast rise through the minor-league ranks, and is poised to be called up to the major-leagues whenever the Blue Jays require his services.
Sanchez, a first round pick in 2011, sports a three-pitch arsenal that sees him project as a front of the rotation starting pitcher. His fastball has reached 96mph this season and averages in the low-to mid-nineties. His off speed stuff provides him with the quality to be among the leaders in strikeouts in years to come.
This week saw another of the Blue Jays’ young stars get a promotion with number four prospect, Daniel Norris, climbing up to Double A New Hampshire. The former second round selection has shone in Single A so far this season, boasting a 6-0 record and 1.22 ERA in 13 starts. His fastball has been utterly dominant, striking out 76 hitters in just 66.1 innings. Norris has great control over his repertoire, walking just 18 batters and yet to surrender a home run. It may be another year before we see Norris with the Blue Jays, but he is certainly heeding attention within the organization.
Joining the promotion parade is Derrick Chung, a 31st round draft pick in 2012, who hit .320 for the Single A Dunedin Blue Jays and had a .395 on-base percentage. The 26 year-old Chung is a catcher out of Sacramento State University and, while he doesn’t figure to be a prospect for the major-leagues, will provide Norris with some familiarity in his new surroundings.
Former first round draft pick, Deck McGuire, also earned a call up to the Buffalo Bisons earlier in the season. After a challenging rise through the minor-leagues since being drafted in 2010, McGuire has finally started to piece it all together. In 10 starts at the Double A level this season, the 24 year-old (25 on June 23rd) posted a 2.98 ERA while walking just 17 batters in 60.1 innings.
Since his promotion, McGuire has thrown 3 quality starts in 5 outings for a 3-1 record. He has earned the reputation of an ‘innings-eater’ in the farm system, and provides Blue Jays’ General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos, with some much needed depth as the season wears on.
The Blue Jays’ front office has slowly compiled a core group of starting pitchers at the Triple A level that are able to spot-start, should the Blue Jays they need it. That list includes the aforementioned Sanchez and McGuire, as well as Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, John Stilson, Sean Nolin and Liam Hendriks. As the Blue Jays get set for a playoff chase in the coming months, the depth in the minor-leagues may prove to be the defining factor down the stretch.