We move on to the relief pitchers for the Bluefield Blue Jays, looking at pitchers who made most of their appearances out of the bullpen.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most appearances and work our way downwards from there. 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.
Leading the Bluefield Blue Jays with 23 appearances and six saves was the big (6-foot-7) righty Sean Rackoski. Rackoski, a non-drafted free agent, signed with the Blue Jays and the 23 year old had some stretches where he was very effective. Overall, however, he had a solid 4.21 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, striking out a stellar 29.0% with a good 7.9% walk rate in 25 2/3 innings. He also generated quite a few ground balls with 49.3% of balls put in play hit on the ground. Look for Rackoski in Vancouver or Lansing next year.
Brad Wilson was probably one of the most effective relievers for the Bluefield Blue Jays and the 13th-round draft pick in 2018 had a 1.63 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings, striking out 27.8% of batters and walking 8.3% and getting a whopping 58.5% of batted balls on the ground. At 22, he’s probably able to jump to Lansing next year.
The Josh Almonte Experiment was in full force in 2018 as the former outfielder began his journey on the pitchers mound. Almonte got plenty of opportunity to show what he could do, getting onto the mound 21 times and throwing 26 innings but he had a 9.00 ERA and 1.88 WHIP, struggling with control and walking 16.9% of batters while striking out 17.7%. He did get 57.9% of batted balls on the ground. It will be interesting to see what happens with Almonte this offseason as 2018 was the final year of his initial contract.
Righty Grant Townsend came into 21 games for the Bluefield Blue Jays, tossing 26 1/3 innings with a 5.47 ERA but a solid, 1.25 WHIP, striking out 27.4% of batters while his walk rate was a little on the high side at 13.3%. Townsend, a 34th-round pick out of Oral Roberts University will likely be with Vancouver next year.
Andy McGuire was the Blue Jays’ only two-way player in 2018 and he had some success on both sides of the ball. As a pitcher, McGuire, who was born in Rabat, Morocco, got into 18 games with a 3.09 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, striking out 22.9% of batters and walking 8.3%, getting an insane amount of ground balls (73.8%). It’s also interesting to note that hitters had a hard time pulling the ball against him, hitting it the other way 44.6% of the time with just 20.0% up the middle and 35.4% to the pull side. We’ll talk about McGuire the hitter in the next part of the Bluefield Blue Jays report.
Mike Pascoe, a 5-foot-10, hard-throwing righty out of a community college in Texas threw 18 times for the Blue Jays, getting 20 1/3 innings of baseball under his belt but things could have gone better for the 20 year old. Pascoe had a 10.18 ERA and 2.16 WHIP, striking out 18 batters but walking 16 and giving up five home runs. He’ll probably stay in short-season ball next year to hammer out a few issues before moving up.
Adams Cuevas made 17 appearances including six starts, logging 53 innings for the Bluefield Blue Jays. He had a 3.57 ERA and 1.08 ERA and the 22 year old had a stellar 28.8% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate. He could also see time in Lansing in 2018 after seeing one game there in 2017.
The Blue Jays drafted 5-foot-11 righty Cre Finfrock in the 29th round out of the University of Central Florida and the South Carolina native tossed 28 innings in 15 outings (including three starts) with a 5.14 ERA but with a much better 1.43 WHIP, striking out a solid 26.4% but walking 13.2%. The 22 year old will probably start in extended spring training but could earn a spot with Lansing at some point.
18-year-old Venezuelan lefty Nicolas Medina had a stellar first year with the Bluefield Blue Jays, jumping to the Advanced-Rookie level after five outings in the GCL. In Florida, he tossed 9 2/3 innings with a 3.72 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, striking out eight batters and walking four (including one intentionally) before moving up and getting even better, tossing 23 2/3 innings with a 1.52 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, striking out a whopping 31.5% of batters and walking 9.0%. Medina could be moved quickly, getting time in Lansing once the weather warms up, or he could get another year in short-season ball in 2019, likely with Vancouver.
Joe DiBenedetto went back to Bluefield in 2018 after a rough professional debut in 2017. The 23-year-old lefty didn’t have a warm reception, posting a 15.43 ERA and 3.00 WHIP, giving up 14 walks and striking out nine in just 7 innings.
Brennan Price, 23, made five appearances in the GCL, giving up seven runs in nine innings with three walks and nine strikeouts before moving to Bluefield where he pitched nine times, posting a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, with a 1.87 WHIP, striking out 14 and walking seven, missing about three weeks due to injury.
Jackson Rees, 23, was signed as a non-drafted free agent this year and worked his way to Bluefield after eight appearances with the GCL Blue Jays. Rees was promoted to Bluefield, after posting a 5.59 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, striking out 11 and walking only two in 9 2/3 innings. At the higher level, he tossed 11 2/3 innings over eight outings, posting a 4.63 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, striking out 12 and walking five.
Matt Harris, 24, made four appearances with Bluefield and one with the GCL Blue Jays, missing much of the season due to injuries. He started with the Bluefield Blue Jays, making three appearances at the beginning of the season and then he was out a month, pitching to one batter before going back on the DL. After a rehab outing with the GCL, he was back in Bluefield for two more appearances before the season ended. Harris threw one inning in the GCL, allowing two hits with a strikeout and tossed 7 1/3 innings with Bluefield, allowing two runs on eight hits (including two home runs) with just one walk and nine strikeouts.
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