Sean Nolin – Come On Down

Sean Nolin is expected to get the start tomorrow night in game two of a four game series versus Baltimore.  The 23-year old started the season on the disabled list before making three starts in 2013.  His results have been outstanding over 15.1 innings as he has a posted a stellar 2.29 FIP with a 9.39 K/9.

Marc Hulet of Fangraphs ranked him as the #9 Blue Jays prospect (prior to the exodus of all of our top names) and wrote the following:

One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season was the emergence of Nolin. As one front office person stated, “I haven’t seen him on any top prospect lists yet, but he should be.” The southpaw missed some time due to injury but he blew through high-A ball with a 2.19 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 86.1 innings. Nolin, 22, also made three starts in double-A. He has a big, strong pitcher’s frame and could develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter depending on the development of his secondary stuff. He’s very aggressive with his fastball that sits in the low 90s and it can touch 93-94 mph. His curveball has a shot at developing into a plus pitch but his changeup was referred to by the evaluator as “a work in progress.” It was also suggested that, if the repertoire cannot be improved upon, Nolin could be a successful “power lefty coming out of the ‘pen.” He should return to the starting rotation at the double-A level in 2013 and, if he can stay healthy, he could reach the majors by the end of the year.

He also scouted his second start of the 2013 season and had the following observations

Nolin, 23, face the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, which featured some talented but inexperienced young prospects. He looked a little rusty early on, which was not a surprise considering his season didn’t start until May 7. His full windup lacked fluidity in the first inning but got better as the game went on.

Early on, the left-handed pitcher struggled with his fastball command and the opposing hitters were having some really good hacks on his offerings. He was also not throwing his curveball for strikes on a consistent basis. The good news is that those issues should be correctable. At least part of the issue was due to Nolin’s mechanics. His body was drifting forward, causing his arm to drag behind him and messing with his release. It improved as the game progressed and once he stopped rushing through his delivery, although he’s a naturally-quick worker.

Nolin doesn’t do himself any favors with his delivery because he ends his follow-through in a very poor fielding position and I watched two catchable bouncers get past him. By landing in a more favorable position, he could potentially snag or knock down a lot more ground balls.

In general, his delivery suggests to me that he’ll never have better than average command. I would give his low-90s fastball a potential 50 grade and his curveball a 55-60. He didn’t use his changeup much at all in this game and I would have a tough time putting a fair grade on the offering. Based on what I saw (keeping in mind this was just his third start on the year), I would have to rate Nolin as a future No. 4 starter. He doesn’t look ready for the majors but another 10-15 minor league starts could make a world of difference.

While his minor league pedigree has been fairly impressive needless to say expectations need to be tempered.  He is being called up because “who else”?  The Blue Jays are fighting tooth and nail to keep this season from becoming a complete waste and are hopeful Nolin can fill in with a spot start (or two).


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