The group of starting pitchers for the Bluefield Blue Jays was an interesting bunch that largely underachieved the results that we were probably hoping for. If you don’t see your favourite Bluefield Blue Jay here either he made more than half of his appearances out of the bullpen, or he pitched more for another team than Bluefield.
With 61 1/3 innings and 13 starts, Juliandry Higuera was the club’s top starter when it came to those two categories. Higuera had a solid Age-20 season (he just turned 21 this month), particularly considering that this was Higuera’s first baseball outside of the Dominican Republic. Higuera had a 4.26 ERA and 3.98 FIP, along with a more troublesome 1.63 WHIP. He struck out only 14.3% of batters but only walked 7.1%, giving him a solid ratio of over two to one. Higuera will likely move up to either Vancouver or Lansing next year but unless he’s more successful getting batters out via the strikeout, he might not move that quickly.
Dalton Rodriguez was second on the team in innings and starts with 60 and 12 respectively. Rodriguez hails from Mexico and just turned 19 on August 20th meaning that 2015 was still just his Age-18 season despite it being his third season in the organization. Rodriguez had a rough season last year but improved in some important areas, moving up a level each season. His 5.25 ERA was much better than in 2014 but he had a higher FIP than 2014 at 4.92. Much of the high FIP can be attributed to the five home runs that he gave up this year. Where Rodriguez really improved was in his WHIP which was down to 1.47, primarily thanks to a massive regression in the BABIP against him. Still, Rodriguez regressed in his strikeout rate (down 4% from 2014) and walk rate (up 1.3%) to go along with the increase in level. My hunch is that Rodriguez repeats Bluefield, especially if batters consistently hit the ball hard off of him.
Our Pitcher of the Year for the Bluefield Blue Jays was Angel Perdomo, a pitcher who is distinguishing himself as he comes up through the system. Though he’s a little bit older than some pitching prospects, Perdomo, 21, had a stellar season with Bluefield, posting a 2.63 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 1.17 WHIP over 48 innings, striking out 18.0% and walking 7.0%. Promoted to Vancouver to make another five appearances, Perdomo, a 6-foot-6 Dominican lefty, drastically increased his strikeout rate to 36.5% while also seeing his walk rate inflate to 18.8%. That all went with a 2.53 ERA, 3.70 FIP and 1.22 WHIP in 21 1/3 innings. I think you’re going to see Perdomo join the Lansing Lugnuts in 2016 after one of the best seasons for a Blue Jays’ minor league starting pitcher.
Nick Wells was getting a lot of people excited before he was traded away by the Blue Jays. Wells, a 19-year-old, 6-foot-5 lefty, threw 32 solid innings with Bluefield (4.78 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 1.28 WHIP) with a 23.3% strikeout rate and an 8.3% walk rate before the trade. He went on to star with the Mariners’ Short-Season-A club, posting a 1.00 ERA, 2.66 FIP and 0.56 WHIP with a 24.6% strikeout rate and 6.2% walk rate in another 18 innings.
Jake Brentz, who turned 21 this month, was another young lefty who the Blue Jays traded in their great emptying of the left-handed pitching pool in the minors. Also going to the Mariners, Brentz had a 4.09 ERA, 5.16 FIP and 1.64 WHIP in 22 innings with the Blue Jays, striking out 16.2% and walking 11.1%. After the trade, Brentz posted much better stats at a higher level, posting a 3.86 ERA, 3.53 FIP and 1.21 WHIP with a 24.1% strikeout rate and 13.8% walk rate for Seattle’s Northwest League affiliate in Everett.
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