Jay Blue: DSL Blue Jays Report - Relief Pitchers & Hitters

The Toronto Blue Jays’ Dominican Summer League facility. Photo: Pierre Lacasse

The Toronto Blue Jays’ Dominican Summer League facility. Photo: Pierre Lacasse

September 11, 2019

By Jay Blue

Blue Jays from Away

We continue our more in-depth look at the DSL Blue Jays by looking at relief pitchers.

At the Rookie ball level, the distinctions between starting pitchers and relief pitchers are frequently fluid so we're going to include anyone who made more than 50% of his appearances as a reliever (or didn't have as many innings as someone who was a starter).

We begin with the pitchers who made the most appearances and work our way downwards from there. With the DSL club, there isn't much to go on scouting-wise, so we'll basically be looking at the players' stats to help get an idea of what might be going on. If a player played for more than one team over the course of the season, he'll be grouped according to the club he played the most with.

We begin with righty Andres Garcia, one of the youngest pitchers on the staff, who just turned 17 on July 30. The Dominican stands 5-foot-10 and is listed at 165 pounds, getting into 19 games with a 5.68 ERA and 1.89 WHIP over 31 2/3 innings, striking out just 10.0% of batters and walking 13.1% while getting 59.5% balls on the ground. Because of his age and his strikeout and walk rates, I'd say that Garcia returns to the DSL next year for some more work.

From the youngest pitcher on the DSL Jays' staff to one of the oldest, 20-year-old Juan Martinez is a 6-foot-3, 178 pound righty from the Dominican Republic who had a rough pro debut. While his 4.35 ERA wasn't bad and neither was his 1.48 WHIP, he walked a whopping 17.5% of batters and struck out just 11.7% while hitters had no trouble pulling the ball, hitting it to the pull side 66.0% of the time. Look for him to return to the DSL.

Joneivy Polonia, another young righty, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 160 pounds, comes from the Dominican Republic and turned 17 on March 30. He also struggled in his pro debut, throwing 20 innings and posting a 6.30 ERA and 2.15 WHIP, striking out just 9.2% of batters and walking 21.1%. He did get a 56.5% ground ball rate. He's also likely to return to the DSL.

6-foot-1 Venezuelan righty Jose Quintana was another among the group of very young pitchers for the DSL Jays, clocking in at 17 years old, having reached that age on March 19. Another youngster who walked more than he struck out, Quintana tossed 33 1/3 innings with a 3.78 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, striking out 15.8% and walking 20.4% with a 56.7% ground ball rate. Like some of his teammates, a repeat in the DSL could be in the cards if he doesn't show more development over the winter and in DSL extended spring.

Jorman Gonzalez, a 6-foot-3 righty from Venezuela, will turn 18 on October 10 and had a rough season in his pro debut. With a 10.55 ERA and 2.20 WHIP over 21 1/3 innings, he struck out 13.9% of batters while walking 17.4%. He'll also likely return to the DSL.

Dominican righty Francis Mercedes was a relatively late signing, joining the Jays' organization on his 19th birthday on March 5 and was one of the older pitchers on the staff. The 5-foot-11 pitcher also had his struggles, tossing 29 innings with a 7.14 ERA and 2.07 WHIP, but he racked up strikeouts, whiffing 21.0% and walking 19.6% while getting 64.2% of balls in play on the ground. While he did struggle with control, his age and the fact that he seems to have more developed stuff than some of the younger pitchers could have him in the GCL next year.

Spanish lefty Marc Civit's dad played pro baseball and the 6-foot, 150 pounder was one of the better young pitchers on the DSL Jays, turning 17 on June 23. Civit tossed 31 2/3 innings with a 3.13 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, striking out 16.8% and walking just 10.5%. While he gave up more fly balls than ground balls (42.3% FB rate and 41.2% GB rate), I can see that he might be among the more advanced youngsters and could be in the GCL next year, joining a couple of Dutch pitchers who made the jump this year.

Right Raudy Sanchez is a 19-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic who stands 5-foot-11 and weighed in at 196 pounds. In his pro debut, he had a lot of control issues, walking 36.1% of the batters he faced while striking out 9.6% over 13 innings, posting an 11.77 ERA and 3.23 WHIP. Those are some pretty scary numbers and I'm almost sure that Sanchez will be given a chance to develop his stuff in the DSL some more. Usually with guys with that high of a walk rate, I'm thinking he throws pretty hard.

Venezuelan lefty Alcindo Pontes turned 17 on May 16 and went to work with the DSL Jays, throwing 11 2/3 innings with a 14.66 ERA and 2.40 WHIP, striking out just 11.1% of batters while walking 30.2%. Like Sanchez, Raudy could be a hard thrower, despite being 6-foot-1 and 162 pounds. But I think he stays in the DSL to harness some control.

Gerardo Santana, who just turned 20, was an outfielder in the Braves system who the Blue Jays signed in March. In his first year as a pitcher, he tossed just nine innings over 12 games and had a 15.00 ERA and 3.33 WHIP, striking out just 4.7% of batters while walking 35.9%. He's probably got a good arm and needs to figure some things out.

Junior Guzman, a 20-year-old lefty from Venezuela had a relatively strong season for the DSL Jays, tossing 25 1/3 innings with a 5.33 ERA and 1.62 WHIP,. He was hit relatively hard but still struck out 24.8% of batters and had a 6.8% walk rate. I think his .423 BABIP will regress and we'll see better numbers from him in the future, probably in the GCL next year.

17-year-old Venezuelan righty Edgar Castro made 10 appearances and tossed 31 innings for the DSL Blue Jays, with a 4.65 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, striking out a whopping 26.2% of batters with just a 5.7% walk rate. He's another guy who underperformed his 3.09 FIP and 2.78 xFIP and should be in line for a promotion in 2020.

Winder Garcia, another 17-year-old Venezuelan, churned through three levels of the Blue Jays season in his professional debut. He started just one game in the DSL, tossing 28 1/3 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, striking out 27.5% and walking 8.3% before he was promoted to the GCL where he got into five games, starting three, tossing 20 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, striking out 22.8% and walking 6.3% before starting the final game of the year in Vancouver, allowing just one run in five innings, allowing four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. While he made it to Vancouver, I'd be surprised to see him start 2020 there, rather expecting him to start the year in Bluefield.

Ronald Govea started his season in the GCL, allowing three runs over just two innings in three games, giving up five hits without walking anyone and striking out two, but two of those five hits were home runs. Govea, a 6-foot-3 righty from Venezuela who will turn 19 in October, didn't pitch from June 26 until July 26, indicating either an injury or a mechanic revamp. He was then sent back to the DSL where he allowed two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings of July 30 and allowed two hits and struck out one in one inning on August 2 before he was shut down for the year. If he's healthy, I can see him back in the GCL to get another chance there.

18-year-old Dominican Argeny Ortiz made just one appearance for the DSL Blue Jays, tossing a scoreless innings on August 24, and walking two. The 6-foot-3 lefty was signed in September on 2018 and was likely not assigned due to injury or mechanical issues. I can see him back in the DSL in 2020 but much will depend on health and development.

We conclude our in-depth look at the DSL Blue Jays by looking at the hitters.

Catchers

Gustavo Ruiz led the club with 30 games caught and the 19-year-old Mexican completed his second professional season with some marginal improvements over his first. He hit .200/.268/.273 in 124 plate appearances and while his overall OPS went up by 10 points over his 2018 results, his OBP went down significantly despite a 14-point increase in batting average. Ruiz hit eight doubles and swiped three bases while walking in 7.3% of his plate appearances (down from 10.3% in 2018) and struck out in 14.5% (down from 14.7% in 2018). I think that he'll likely move up to the GCL but it may be a tough go and he had one of the weakest rates of throwing out potential base stealers on the club at 19%.

17-year-old Dominican Junior Ramos also struggled with the bat in his professional debut, hitting just .184/.232/.228 in 35 games and 125 plate appearances. He hit five doubles and stole three bases, walking in 5.6% of plate appearances and striking out in 15.2%. Ramos had a solid 26% rate in throwing out base runners but I think he'll remain in the DSL next year.

Infielders

Leonel Callez, 18, led the DSL Blue Jays in games at first base, with 35 but also played 15 at third base and posted some solid numbers at the plate in his pro debut. He hit .272/.335/.353 with nine doubles, a triple and a home run while stealing six bases in 11 attempts, walking in 5.2% of his 194 plate appearances and striking out in 14.9%. Callez could move up next year, allowing the Venezuelan to get a taste of Florida.

18-year-old Panamanian Adrian Montero was the club's second baseman for most of the games this season, getting into 36 at the position, hitting .322/.459/.398, showing some of the most plate discipline with a 16.2% walk rate and just a 7.4% strikeout rate, which helped him earn the Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year award. He also showed some speed, stealing 17 bases in 22 attempts. Look for him to move up, possibly skipping the GCL and moving straight to Bluefield.

Third baseman Gustavo Gutierrez, a 17-year-old Venezuelan had a decent year, showing some potential. He hit .227/.301/.311 in 135 plate appearances, stealing nine bases in 14 attempts and walked in 7.4% of plate appearances, walking in 17.8%. He had three doubles, two triples and a home run and played third and second with one game at shortstop. I think he might repeat the level in 2020.

Shortstop Glenn Santiago was a rare draft pick who went to start his pro career in the DSL. The Puerto Rican infielder was selected in the 10th round out of the International Baseball Academy and posted solid numbers as an 18 year old with a .237/.361/.351 slash line, hitting seven doubles and four triples while stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts. He also sported a strong 11.9% walk rate in 160 plate appearances and a 14.4% strikeout rate. Look for him in the GCL or Appalachian League next year.

19-year-old infielder Francisco Fajardo got a lot of playing time in his first pro season, hitting .300/.368/.393 with 24 stolen bases (in 28 attempts) while hitting six doubles, two triples and a home run. Fajardo also struck out in only 9.6% of his 156 plate appearances while walking in 9.0%. Look for the Dominican in the GCL or higher in 2020.

Venezuelan Willfrann Astudillo turned 18 in August and he played a grand total of eight positions in his first year of pro ball. Most of his time was spent at first base where he played in 23 games but he also saw some time at shortstop (11 games, five starts) with time at third, second and parts of seven games in the outfield (at all three positions, including one start). He even played three innings behind the plate. Astudillo's strong batting eye helped him to a .238/.353/.285 slash line but he didn't show a lot of power hitting three doubles and a home run in 153 plate appearances with seven stolen bases in eight attempts. Astudillo did walk in 11.1% of the time and struck out in only 10.5% of his plate appearances. I think he'll be back in the DSL but could move up at some point in 2020.

Venezuelan catcher/first baseman Gary David (not to be confused with Larry David) got into 38 games in his Age-17 season with some decent numbers, hitting .248/.342/.286 but only hit one double and one home run in 120 plate appearances. He walked 9.2% of the time and struck out 13.3% of the time, giving him some solid rookie numbers. I'd expect to see him back in the DSL in 2020.

18-year-old Emmanuel Sanchez came to the Jays from the Dominican Republic and hit a respectable .264/.345/.339 with seven doubles and three triples in his pro debut, getting 200 plate appearances. He walked in 10.0% of those plate appearances and struck out in 11.5% and, while he got into the most games at shortstop (30 games), he also played 12 at third base and two more at second. I can see Sanchez moving up next year.

17-year-old Dominican shortstop Marcos De La Rosa was signed late and only got into seven games with the DSL Blue Jays, hitting .250/.444/.350 with seven walks and 10 strikeouts over just 27 plate appearances, adding a triple and two stolen bases. He will probably be back with the DSL in 2020.

Outfielders

18-year-old Dominican Yeison Jimenez made his pro debut with some thump, hitting .252/.338/.407 with eight doubles, four triples and a home run, adding four stolen bases. He did strike out in 29.6% of his 142 plate appearances but also walked in 10.6%. I can see Jimenez moving up to the GCL in 2020.

Amell Brazoban, a 17-year-old Dominican, played in 56 games and had 233 plate appearances, second most on the team. He did struggle at the plate, hitting .181/.236/.264 with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs while stealing 13 bases in 16 attempts but strikeouts were a huge problem. Brazoban had a 26.2% strikeout rate and a 4.3% walk rate. I can see Brazoban returning to the DSL for another year.

Gabriel Martinez, 17, was our Player of the Game Champion and had some experience in the Venezuelan Winter League before coming into the Blue Jays' system. He hit .239/.317/.347 in 245 plate appearances, leading the club in that category while hitting 13 doubles, two triples and two home runs. He struggled to steal bases successfully, getting caught nine times with just eight successful steals. Martinez had a decent, 8.6% walk rate and a low, 10.6% strikeout rate. Combined with his fairly low .259 BABIP, I can see him moving up to the GCL in 2020.

Another 17 year old, Daniel Oliva, got over 200 plate appearances as an outfielder. Oliva, from the Dominican Republic, hit .273/.419/.355 with nine doubles, a triple and a home run, posting a stellar 14.7% walk rate but struck out quite a lot at 25.3% of the time. I'd see Oliva in the GCL next year.

Colombian outfielder Juan Pizarro is our final DSL player to consider and he had a solid year, hitting .284/.346/.379 with five doubles, five triples and a home run, stealing 24 bases (leading the team) in 33 attempts. Pizarro walked in 7.2% of his 208 plate appearances and struck out in 21.2%, leading me to believe that he's going to get the promotion to the GCL.

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