The Blue Jays A-Ball rotation is a tough one to predict. Older starters or potential top pitching prospects?
It can be extremely challenging when it comes to predicting which prospects will fill out rosters for the lower-level affiliates. With that in mind, this could end up being an exercise in name-dropping, rather than anything close to an informative piece.
I’d like to see a Dunedin station rotation of Edisson Gonzalez, Anders Tolhurst, Brandon Barriera, Ryan Jennings, and Rafael Sanchez. Four of the five arms listed above are considered old for the level. This I know. I thinking is that they’d gain a feel for pitching in a game scenario against live batters, gaining confidence against younger hitters before moving up a level.
23-year-old Edisson Gonzalez (2019 Trade TBR) joined the Blue Jays organization with Curtis Taylor for Eric Sogard. Since the trade, Gonzalez has thrown a total of 16.2 innings, all in 2022. He looked good in limited action with Dunedin, striking out 11 batters in 11.2 with one walk. He did surrender two home runs but he finished the season healthy. With his injury history, having Edisson close to the training complex to start the year makes sense.
23-year-old Anders Tolhurst (2019 23rd round) finally made his professional debut in ’22 and now has 12.1 pro innings under his belt. He appeared in 4 games with Dunedin, making one start, and posting a 2.45ERA. He struck out 12 batters in 7.1IP but also walked 9. The Blue Jays sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some extra work this offseason. Andres made 6 starts, pitching 15.1 innings while posting a 4.70ERA. He still walked too many (9BB) but continued to show an ability to rack up the Ks with 16. Like Edisson Gonzalez, having Tolhurst close to the trainers in the first month is a good idea.
23-year-old Rafael Sanchez (2022 Minor League Free Agent) joined the organization in May out of Cuba. He spent the summer moving from the DSL (9 starts), Complex (3 starts), and Dunedin. With the D-Jays, Sanchez threw 8 innings, walking 3 and striking out 8. In the super small sample size, Rafael allowed 7 hits and a home run, posting a 4.50ERA (2.99xFIP) and 1.25WHIP. Given his age and not having any health concerns (injuries), the organization may feel Vancouver is a better fit. But as I stated above, give him a month in Dunedin before moving him up.
23-year-old Ryan Jennings (2022 4th round) pitched 8 innings for Dunedin after being drafted. He posted a 2.16ERA with 8 strikeouts and 6 walks in 5 games. Jennings is said to have an explosive fastball that touched 99 in college. But like most power pitchers, control can be an issue. Having him in Dunedin vs Vancouver to start the season is more about seeing what we got. Can he be a power pitcher in the rotation or is he a power leverage reliever?
19-year-old Brandon Barriera (2022 1st round) didn’t make his professional debut after being drafted. After being super cautious with the four pitchers mentioned above, I’d like to see the organization be aggressive with their 1st round pick. The lefty throws a low to mid-90s fastball that will likely mature into a mid to high 90s fastball. His slider looks great with ridiculous shape that makes it difficult to locate at times. I’d have him move between the A-Ball and the developmental list with a couple of starts between. This will allow the organization to manage his innings and iron out his delivery and work on some issues they see during his starts.
20-year-old Irv Carter (2021 5th round) has a really good chance at starting the year in the D-Jays rotation. Carter looked good in the Complex league, pitching 33.2 innings in 9 outings. He struck out 11.23 batters per 9 and walked 2.94 while posting a 5.88ERA. He struggled early but dominated in his last couple of outings before moving up to Dunedin. With the D-Jays, the 6-foot-4 righty made 4 starts, going 0-1 with a 4.50ERA. Carter has a low to mid-90s fastball with pair of above-average secondary pitches.
19-year-old Eliander Alcalde (2021 IFA) spent the entire season in the Complex League with 43.1IP. He posted a 4.15ERA (4.55xFIP), striking out 7.89/9IP, and walked 3.32/9IP over 10 games. The 5-foot-9 righty closed the season with 3.1 innings in Dunedin. I see him starting half the games he appears in to build up his innings.
20-year-old Yondrei Rojas (2021 IFA) is a high ceiling low floor prospect. He possesses a live fastball that’s climbing into the mid to high 90s as he matures. The 5-foot-10 righty split the year between the complex league and Dunedin. With the Blue Jays, Yondrei pitched 16.2 innings, posting a 5.40ERA while striking out 6.48/9IP and walking 3.24/9IP. Rojas is definitely someone to watch.
19-year-old Fernando Perez (2022 IFA) put up some impressive numbers in the Dominican Summer League. He should stop in the FCL before heading to Dunedin but it’s not guaranteed that’s what the organization has planned. Perez made 12 starts, throwing 43.2IP. The 6-foot-3 righty finished with 48 strikes out and just 5 walks. He posted a 4.53 ERA and a 1.26WHIP.
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The post 2023 Dunedin Blue Jays Rotation Options first appeared on Jays From The Couch.