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Toronto Blue Jays Select C Max Pentecost With #11 Pick in MLB Draft

The Toronto Blue Jays made their second selection in the first round shortly after making the #9 overall pick as the team owned the #11 selection also.  Normally a team that takes high school talent with upside the Jays used both of their early picks on premium college athletes and chose C Max Pentecost with the #11 selection in the first round.

Here are a few notes and scouting reports from around the web:

Minor League Ball:

Standing 6’2″, 191 LBS, Pentecost looks smaller than a typical stocky catcher and more in the atheltic mold of a Jason Kendall or Buster Posey. He is an adequate receiver behind the plate but won’t be a gold glove receiver. He’s the most likely collegiate catcher available this year that will play that position at the big league level. In other words, he should stick there, while others like Kyle Schwarber and Grayson Greiner are less likely to stick. His pop time is consistently MLB average or better and he is very agile and athletic. He has had Tommy John surgery already. Unlike most catchers, he is a solid runner. He is average to a tick above and should be able to maintain that for a while.

At the plate is where Pentecost shines. He is a professional hitter. He works counts well and makes the most of every pitch. He possesses a smooth, easy swing allowing him to rope line drives from line to line. He doesn’t have a ton of over the fence power but it will be average or a tick below as he matures. His line drive orientation, fast hands and good barrel awareness should allow him to be a high average hitter and situational hitter to help the team in ways the box score doesn’t show.

Players that do well in Cape Cod the summer before they are drafted usually go very high because the eyes of decision makers get to see them and remember what they saw on draft day. This will be the case for Pentecost who had a great Cape season. His bat is very good, his power will play as will his defense. His speed is more than you’d expect from a backstop so the tools, while not loud, are quite impressive. I can’t see a player with his set of skills lasting past the teens and could even go in the top 10 come draft day.

Baseball America:

Pick analysis: The Blue Jays, who typically target high school players, went with college players at the top of the draft with their first two picks. But Hoffman and Pentecost are premium athletes for their positions. Pentecost was rumored to be in play much higher in the draft and his athleticism and hitting ability give him a high baseline for performance at the next level.

Scouting report: The Rangers drafted Pentecost as a seventh-rounder in 2011 but couldn’t sign him away from Kennesaw State, due in part to a broken bone in his elbow joint that hampered him in high school. Pentecost’s athleticism stood out then and still does after catching for most of the last three seasons. Scouts consider him an above-average runner period, fairly exceptional for a catcher, and his 6-foot-1, 190-pound body could use more strength to hold up under the rigors of catching 100-plus games. The body and his speed earn him Jason Kendall comparisons. He’s an average receiver with average arm strength with inconsistent throwing mechanics and profiles as an offensive catcher. After two solid seasons as an everyday player, Pentecost took things up a notch last summer, earning Cape Cod League MVP honors by hitting .346/.424/.538. In 2014, he ranked among the national top 10 in batting and hits as the calendar turned to May, and scouts like his line-drive swing, which has improved over the course of his college career. Most scouts see him as a below-average power producer but some see enough feel for hitting for Pentecost to reach 12-15 homers eventually.

My MLB Draft:

Hit/On-base – Pentecost has a smooth, line-drive swing and has shown both a good idea of the strike zone and a willingness to go the other way with the pitch.

Power – Pentecost transfer’s his weight well and has good bat speed and strength, but his swing is more geared towards contact than big power totals. I could see a 15-18 homer type player but I wouldn’t expect a lot more.

Speed – Pentecost is a very good athlete for the position and will not be a liability on the bases like many backstops are.

Glove– Pentecost has really improved as a receiver since he was a 7th round pick by the Rangers three years ago, and looks like he’ll be able to stick behind the plate. He blocks pitches well and has above-average arm strength and a quick release. He’s not Yadier Molina, but he’s closer to that than he is Jesus Montero.

Toronto Blue Jays Select RHP Jeff Hoffman With #9 Pick in MLB Draft

The MLB draft is underway tonight and with their first selection the Toronto Blue Jays selected RHP Jeff Hoffman with the #9 overall pick.  It was not an unsurprising pick considering his talent level but it wasn’t a conventional selection either noting that Hoffman had just underwent Tommy John surgery in May/2014.

Here are a few notes and scouting reports from around the web.

MLBTR:

East Carolina University right-hander Jeff Hoffman — a projected Top 5 pick in this year’s amateur draft — will miss the remainder of the season with an arm injury, reports Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.org (via Twitter). ESPN’s Keith Law adds that the news is even worse than that, as Hoffman will require Tommy John surgery (Twitter link).

Scouting reports indicate that Hoffman is an excellent athlete with a fastball that reaches 97 mph and a plus curveball when he’s at his best. The 6’4″, 192-pound right-hander has posted a 2.94 ERA in 67 1/3 innings this season, striking out 72 batters against 20 walks and holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

Hoffman’s injury doesn’t necessarily preclude him from being selected in the first or second round of the draft. In 2012, right-hander Lucas Giolito was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick before he sprained his UCL, causing him to drop to the Nationals with the 16th pick. Last season, injury concerns over former projected Top 5 pick Sean Manaea caused him to fall to the Royals with the No. 34 pick. Clubs with extra draft picks and/or large draft pools could take a chance on Hoffman, conceding the year of development time and a slower start to his career in order to land a Top 5 talent far later than originally anticipated.

Perfect Game wrote:

East Carolina righthanded pitcher Jeff Hoffman, the No. 2 college prospect for the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, was working toward solidifying his case as a number one overall pick candidate this spring, and recently had been opening up a lot of eyes. Now, his 2014 season is over. As of Tuesday, Hoffman has been shut down for the remainder of the college baseball season, and has opted to have Tommy John surgery after consulting with Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

After being shut down a couple weeks ago for what was believed to be minor elbow swelling, it was discovered this week the ECU righty has a small tear in his right elbow and will indeed require surgery.

The surgery is scheduled for next week with Dr. Andrews. Early indications show that Hoffman is still potentially being considered by teams (who already have knowledge of the situation) in the first 5-10 picks. But, it’s also too early to speculate just how this may impact his stock.

The news is a major setback for the righty. We saw him at a recent performance at Rice University, where he touched 98 in the eighth inning, and showcased a plus curveball and changeup. Overall, Hoffman’s junior campaign ends with a 2.94 ERA in 67 1/3 innings, along with 72 strikeouts and 20 walks.

Baseball America wrote:

Scouting report: Scouts in the Northeast recall Hoffman as an athlete with some projection who was not ready for professional baseball, with a mid- to upper-80s fastball. He made good on his East Carolina commitment, and three years later, he could become the highest-drafted player in program history despite requiring Tommy John surgery in mid-May. Hoffman has a premium pitcher’s body at 6-foot-4, 192 pounds, with twitchy athletic ability, and his stuff has grown with his body. He broke out in the Cape Cod League, where he ranked as the No. 1 prospect last summer, and pitched well in front of a large scouting crowd at Virginia in February 2014 in his second start.

He was having an uneven season until mid-April, when he struck out a career-best 16 in eight one-hit innings against Middle Tennessee State. It was his last start prior to surgery, though. At his best, Hoffman’s athletic body, electric fastball and ability to maintain his velocity evoke Justin Verlander. His fastball sits from 92-96 mph, reaching 97-98, and his two-seamer features above-average sink, life and arm-side run. His changeup and curveball both flash plus, with the changeup being more consistent. He also throws a slider, which usually earns average grades. Hoffman appeared poised to be one of the first seven players drafted, but his late arm injury and surgery cloud his immediate draft future. His athleticism and elite velocity still portend a rosy future if he returns to health, and a team with extra picks will likely take a shot at him.

Prospect Insider wrote:

Ten hours of driving and a nasty case of facial sunburn were modest prices to pay for escaping the snow-covered everything of Eastern Pennsylvania. The baseball wasn’t bad either, as I journeyed to Charlottesville to see East Carolina ace Jeff Hoffman, take on a talent-laden lineup from the University of Virginia. The highly touted right-hander did not disappoint.

Hoffman’s physiological build is immediately striking. At a broad-shouldered 6-foot-4, Hoffman checks in at a projectable 19 2 pounds with a set of disproportionately long arms. It’s really a body you’d associate with an NBA combo guard –- Jamal Crawford came to mind in this case –- more so than a baseball player. This isn’t a bad thing, as far as I’m concerned, as Hoffman’s long-limbs give him room to add weight without mechanical disruption as he develops. Right now those mechanics are just fine; exceptionally loose and athletic, but the control and command are not as solid as Hoffman’s athleticism would indicate. Such is the plight of the pitcher with long levers; minor mechanical variances from pitch to pitch are magnified and the control and command suffer. For Hoffman, this manifested in difficulty pitching to his glove side.

There’s enough athleticism here that I’m optimistic about Hoffman developing average control and command, though it may take a little while before he claims acute control of his extremities. If and when that happens, look out, because the stuff is explosive. Hoffman’s fastball sat 94-96 mph and touched 98 early in his start Friday before dipping to the 92-95 range as his outing wore on. That sort of drop doesn’t really concern me in February. It’s a plus-plus fastball on velocity alone but it plays down a little bit because it lacks movement. I’d like to see more two-seamers. He certainly has the arm and finger length to put RPMs on the fastball, and RPMs mean movement.

Hoffman compliments the fastball with three secondary pitches, two of which project as major league weapons. Most frequently Hoffman showed an average changeup in the 86-90 mph range that featured good arm speed and flashed bat-missing, arm side movement. He used the change often, sometimes three pitches in a row, and showed a willingness to pitch backward with it. It showed true plus once or twice and projects there, comfortably, as he continues to learn how to spin it.

The other swing and miss offering on display Friday was what Hoffman calls a slider, a two-plane breaker in the 79-81 mph range that also flashed plus. Hoffman showed a penchant for backdooring this breaking ball for strikes and back-footing it for swings and misses against lefties. He’ll need to tighten it up but it’s another future plus pitch.

Hoffman also showed what was, for me, a throwaway curveball in the low 70s. It was more vertically oriented than the slider but was too loopy and blunt to do any damage at the upper pro levels.

The total package is very enticing. For me, Hoffman’s ceiling is that of a No. 2 big-league starter with three pitches that project to grade out in the 60-70 range to go along with 45-50 command and control, and a body that looks like it will handle a 200-inning workload. Barring injury or some other unforeseen malady, Jeff Hoffman won’t have to wait very long before he hears him name called in June.

Present/Future Grades
Fastball: 65/70
Change: 50/65
Slider: 50/65
Curveball: 35/40
Control: 40/45
Command: 35/45
Overall Future Projection: 65/70 (No. 2 starter)

Mission ’13: Toronto, Ryan Goins and a Culture of Desperation

The Jays have found a new player to love. Earlier this season, Jose Reyes was hurt sliding into second base. That in itself isn’t surprising. What was surprising was how well Munenori Kawasaki played for an extended period of time. He didn’t provide the value that a healthy Jose Reyes provides, but he did provide positive value. Aside from that, Munenori is really, really likable. Jays’ fans needed his likability: it was a shot in the arm. So, it was win-win with Munenori. Then, of course, mini-Mune was born in Toronto…

When he was sent down in a series of roster-related moves, we were apoplectic. How could you send down Mune when he was better than at least 2 other players on the 25-man roster? Easy, said Alex Anthopoulos: he has options. Now that injuries are a factor, he’s back. But he’s not playing, and people aren’t saying much. Why? There’s a new kid in town, that’s why.

Ryan Goins was playing shortstop down in Buffalo when the call came; after more than 500 games in the minors since 2009 Goins was getting a shot. Emilio Bonifacio, bad and then traded, and Maicer Izturis, bad and then hurt, didn’t play inspiring ball. Mark DeRosa wasn’t really signed to play 2B. Then the Jays, for good or for ill, tried moving Brett Lawrie to 2B. Munenori also played 2B after Reyes came back and Mune was re-called from AAA. Some played well, some played poorly, but the overall result of the revolving door was a defensive weak spot. Goins had the opportunity to grab it by the neck and throttle it.

That’s exactly what Goins did. What’s been especially impressive during his brief call-up has been his defense: in 16 games his 5.5 Fld jumps off that stat sheet at us. Offensively he’s done well with 16 hits (3 2B) in 60 PA, as he rides the crest of a modest BABIP wave (.327). In a manner reminiscent of goaltender James Reimer’s first taste of the big time, Toronto has embraced Ryan Goins. And why not, I ask? A young player (Goins will turn 26 in February) who wasn’t really even on the radar has burst on the scene and turned a negative into a positive and, coincidentally or not, the team has played better. We liked Mune, but he’s 32 so his potential contributions are sort of cloudy. We love this kid if for no other reason than the (much) greater potential he offers.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it. We love our stars in Toronto and we’ve had our fair share of them, but we LOVE the ‘little guy’, the ‘underdog’, the ‘overachiever’ out of proportion to their contribution and impact. Years of being treated to John McDonald has contributed to this attitude, I think, and Ryan Goins fits the mold.

Goins has come to Toronto and played well: his 0.4 fWAR ranks 9th on the team, behind Mune’s 0.7 fWAR. His triple slash is .271/.283/.322: a quick interpretation tells us that he’s hitting the ball okay, but not for power and he’s not getting on base by other means. That tells us pretty much all we need to know at this point, as he has 3 2B and 1 BB. It’s a small sample size and it’s now fallen below what he’s done in the minors so far.

But there are 2 things that nag at me about Ryan Goins, 2 things that give me a slightly-irrational impression that he might be better than merely ‘okay’ in the big leagues. The first thing is his defense. As mentioned, he’s a transplanted shortstop playing second base and he’s playing it very well (5.5 Fld). His range and arm have been terrific, as he’s made plays not made since before Orlando Hudson used ‘JP Ricciardi’ and ‘pimp’ in the same sentence.

The 2 most important contributions that a player can make are offense and defense, in that order. Defense is, of course, a more important consideration up the middle so we need to take that into account. In the middle infield, I don’t need the second coming of Joe Morgan or, more appropriately, Roberto Alomar. What I want is for a 2B to do at least one of those things—offense or defense—very well, to the point of excelling. Goins is unlikely to contribute much offensively but if he can continue to play defense at this level, or somewhere close to it, then he might be a keeper.

The second irrational thing is his minor league record. Much has been made of his minor league record. And when I say ‘much has been made’, what I mean is that his career minor league triple slash line has been offered. That’s it. Goins wasn’t a well-known prospect and we lack anything substantial upon which to form opinions that help us to make sense of this kid who’s burst onto the scene. I’m not sure offering his triple slash will cut it so when I looked at his MiLB career, I thought I noticed a trend or two. Here’s a brief summary:

  • There’s nothing spectacular about his MiLB career (except, perhaps, a full season K-rate of 12.6% at AA in 2012);
  • Several things are notable:
    • he’s had modestly high K totals on occasion (rising to 20.9% in a full season); and
    • he’s a slasher with line drive power (consistently 20+ doubles in full seasons);
  • disregarding rehab stints, he’s progressed steadily through the minors:
    • 46 games at 3 levels in ’09 (R, A-, A);
    • 124 games at 2 levels in ’10 (A, A+);
    • 101 games at 1 level in ’11 (A+);
    • 136 games at 1 level in ’12 (AA); and
    • 128 games and counting at 2 levels in ’13 (AAA; MLB).

Here we are at the major league level, watching a player that arrived with little or no fanfare, but it’s the adjustments he made to each level that give me pause. When he was sent up to the next level mid-season, he regressed a little: his strikeouts increased, his walks decreased, there was a slight power outage, etc. None of these regressions were dramatic, but they’re noticeable.

However, if he stayed at that level until the next season, his output surged beyond the previous lower level almost across the board. This happened in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 before he was promoted to AA in 2012 and AAA in 2013. His numbers in AA New Hampshire were career bests, while his numbers this year in AAA Buffalo were consistent with the rest of his career. There is a tentative conclusion that we can draw from this: Ryan Goins adjusts well and quickly to new challenges. Will that continue in MLB? It remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though: his defense plays at the major league level.

Toronto fans are starved for a winner, but when you’re starving even McDonald’s food will do. Unfortunately it creates more problems than it solves. We’ve latched onto Munenori Kawasaki and Ryan Goins this season, a season that’s been very disappointing. Kawasaki and Goins aren’t the answer. Can they contribute meaningfully in the future? Yes, but it’s likely to come in a smaller role. You can’t have holes in the offensive line up and hope to succeed in the AL East. If Goins plays well enough defensively to earn a starting role, then (serious) upgrades are needed elsewhere. Goins’ play at 2B can solidify the defense up the middle, and if he adjusts and hits well it’s a bonus. Otherwise, this has just been a very good and very welcome cup of coffee sort of like Munenori Kawasaki was when Reyes was injured.

Wes Kepstro

Daniel Norris Discusses Early Career Struggles With Fangraphs

David Laurila, the Fangraphs resident Q&A master had a chance to catch up with Toronto Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris.  They discussed his early career struggles, recent progress, injury troubles and how he likes to approach pitching.  It is worth a read, here are some highlights:

Norris on dealing with adversity: “To be completely honest, I try not to think about it. I say ‘try,’ because it’s almost inevitable that you do. But I just try to go pitch-by-pitch, game-by-game. That’s a cliché, but it’s the way you have to approach it. You need to have a short memory.

“I’ve definitely had my ups-and-downs, starting last season in Bluefield, I’d never experienced that kind of failure. I’m actually thankful for last year, and the beginning of this year, because I’ve learned how to deal with adversity. Now, the next day, I’m ready to go back out there and get better. It’s been a blessing in disguise for me to have some bad games.”

On the reasons behind his struggles:
 “I think a lot of it has been lack of command. I have to stay focused. My pitching coach this year, Vince Horsman, told me, ‘It doesn’t matter how hard you throw; if you’re up in the zone, you’re going to get hit.’ For me, it’s a matter of focusing down in the zone and getting ahead of guys, attacking guys.

On his repertoire and velocity: “I throw a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. I came to pro ball with all of those pitches. The slider was new to me. I developed it my senior year of high school and now it’s one of my put-away pitches. I’ve worked hard on refining it.

My fastball, before I went on the DL [with forearm soreness] was 93-95, and I’ve been up 96-97. Since then, I’ve mostly been 92-95.

“I think velocity is important to my game. I’m a fastball pitcher. I pitch off my fastball and velocity helps you get ahead of guys. And not that you want to pitch up in the zone, but sometimes you can get away with a few more mistakes when you throw harder.

On continuing his development: “Going out there and pitching, more and more, is the main thing. It’s a learning experience. The more innings I’m getting, the more comfortable I’m getting. I’m not foolish. I know there are going to be more bad outings. It’s a matter of building confidence each time I’m out there, and feeling the ball come out of my hand.

Blue Jays Select RHP Phil Bickford With #10 Pick

Well a lot of Blue Jays fans were upset that Clint Frazier, Trey Ball and Austin Meadows were taken before the Blue Jays selection at #10 in the MLB draft but the team did select a high risk/reward high school right handed pitcher.

Phil Bickford was the selecton by the Toronto Blue Jays.

From Big League Futures:

Player:  Phil Bickford
Position:  RHP
School:  Oaks Christian (CA)
Date of Birth:
Height/Weight:  6’4/200
Bats/Throws:  R/R
2013 Class:  HS Senior
Committed To:  Cal State Fullerton

Scouting Report:

  • Tall, large frame
  • Strong lower body
  • Staggered setup with unorthodox delivery
  • 3/4 arm slot
  • Hides ball well
  • Fastball can show heavy sink
  • Fastball has hit 97
  • Slider with fair depth, shows swing and miss potential
  • Good feel for mid 80′s change
  • High ceiling arm

Keith Law was quote pre-draft as saying the Blue Jays might take Bickford “tell him to take less money or go to school” as he heard Bickford put out a huge bonus demand before the draft.  Law also stated Bickford is a “high-upside, high-risk prep right-hander who has velocity and projectability but is a long way from being a major league starting pitcher”.

Bickford, who John Sickels of Minor League Ball has as the eleventh best pitcher in the class, “has rocketed up mock draft charts with his strong play of late, including striking out 17 batters last weekend. He is considered a high-risk pick since his skills remain so raw and he has yet to develop a decent breaking ball. But he can already throw a fastball in the mid-90s and some scouts believe he’s just getting started.”

Here are some videos of Bickford in action.

Mission ’13: How Is the Young Talent the Jays Traded Doing Now?

I was interested in the young players whom the Jays traded in the 3 major trades with HOU, MIA, and the NYM. They gave up a lot of talent to get a lot of talent. The talent they acquired is under-performing and, therefore, under-achieving but how about the guys who went the other way? These are just the minor leaguers; the major leaguers—guys like Yunel Escobar, John Buck, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, and Jeff Mathis—were expendable roster players.

Without further ado, here are a few snapshots:

Jake Marisnick, OF, Jacksonville (AA, SL)

  • 29 G, 29 H, 6 HR, 3 DBL, 24 RBI, 5 BB, 36 SO
  • .252/.313/.435
  • On May 30 he had a dream game: 3-5, SB, 2B, 2 HR (both grand slams), 9 RBI

Justin Nicolino, P, Jupiter (A+, FSL)

  • 11 GS, 2.54 ERA, 56.2 IP, 55 H, 1 HR, 9 BB, 37 SO
  • 10 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO in his last 2 starts
  • 32 H, 4 BB, 11 ER, 10 SO in his first 24.2 IP; 15 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 22 SO in his last 22 IP

Travis d’Arnaud, C, Las Vegas (AAA, PCL)

  • .250/.429/.472
  • out since Apr 18 with a foot fracture
  • was 1-2, HR, 3 BB on Apr 15

Noah Syndergaard, P, Port St. Lucie (A, FSL)

  • 10 GS, 2.73 ERA, 52.2 IP, 49 H, 15 BB, 54 SO
  • had a 10 SO game (no BB) on May 16

Asher Wojciechowski, P, Oklahoma City (AAA, PCL)

  • 6 GS, 3.94 ERA,32 IP, 31 H, 12 BB, 24 SO
  • promoted to AAA recently

Carlos Perez, C, Oklahoma City (AAA, PCL)

  • 21 G, 8 BB, 11 SO
  • .296/.363/.408
  • 5-9, 2 DBL, 3 R, 4 RBI his last 2 G

Anthony DeSclafani, P, Jupiter (A+, FSL)

  • 11 GS, 1.88 ERA, 48 IP, 46 H, 8 BB, 44 SO
  • gave up 6 ER in his first 10 starts (43 IP)

P Kevin Comer, P Joe Musgrove, and OF Wuilmer Becerra are all in the Appalachian League, which hasn’t started yet.

These guys are playing well, as was to be expected. The Jays farm system was good, and this lateral view confirms that these were quality MiLB players. There’s no guarantee that any of these players will work out at the ML level, but there’s a lot of promise in this group of players.

There are two that I lament trading: Travis d’Arnaud and Justin Nicolino, with dark horses being Carlos Perez and Anthony DeSclafani. That said, there’s no sense crying over spilt milk, as the saying goes, so here’s to hoping that the player they acquired start playing to their own considerable potential.

Wes Kepstro

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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