The Bisons had a few starting pitchers who really made some waves and several who spent the season under the radar (or worse). There was enough veteran savvy on this team to keep them in the hunt for a wildcard race but, coming into the season, there was definitely more of an emphasis on the youth of the Buffalo Bisons pitching staff than the minor league free agents.
Sean Nolin, a forgotten man after all the commotion around Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman, made the most starts for the Buffalo Bisons and the big (6-foot-4) lefty had a very solid season despite losing part of it due to an injury. With a 3.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, Nolin posted strong numbers and increased his strikeout rate at the same level that he spent part of last year while bringing his walk rate down. While his numbers aren’t as good as his Double-A numbers from last year, they’re very good with a 20% strikeout rate and an okay 9.5% walk rate. Nolin had a slightly below average BABIP but overall had a good, quiet season. He’ll be headed to the Arizona Fall League to make up some lost innings before likely reporting back to Buffalo in 2015.
Australian righty Liam Hendriks was outstanding for the Bisons all season, at least until he was traded in late July. He led the Bisons with 108 1/3 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while striking out 91 and walking only seven. That insanity led him to be selected as our Bisons Pitcher of the Year. We wish him the best of luck with the Royals organization and the 26-year-old should certainly get another chance in the big leagues after the way in which he dominated in Triple-A in 2015.
The Blue Jays picked up 36-year-old lefty Raul Valdes from the Houston Astros for cash or a player to be named later and he proved to be a valuable innings-eater for the Bisons. Throwing 81 innings over 23 appearances (12 of them starts), Valdes had a 4.00 ERA and 1.33 WHP with 78 strikeouts and 24 walks. Will Valdes be back? Not likely unless he’s willing to take a role in Buffalo with a potentially star-studded rotation.
2014 was yet another disappointment in the career of 29-year-old lefty Ricky Romero. The former first-round draft pick made nine starts with Buffalo before finally giving in to the chronic pain in his knees and undergoing season-ending surgery. Romero finished with an unimpressive stat line of a 5.50 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 42 walks and 28 strikeouts in just 37 2/3 innings. Obviously Ricky has lost whatever he had and will probably have only one more chance to find it again with one more guaranteed year on his contract in 2015.
Another player who struggled in the major leagues but really took to the rotation in Buffalo was righty Esmil Rogers. Rogers posted a 3.14 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 48 2/3 innings with the Bisons. With 18 walks and 41 strikeouts, the ratios were just fine when he was in the minors. Picked up by the Yankees off of waivers from the Jays, Rogers had a 1.28 WHIP and a 4.68 ERA over 25 innings with the Yankees coming out of the bullpen.
Marcus Stroman made seven starts in Buffalo, including on Opening Day, and logged just 35 2/3 innings in two stints around his major league call ups. It looks like Stroman is in the bigs to stay after Stroman posted some excellent numbers, starting 20 games in Toronto and posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in those appearances. Stroman had comparable numbers in Triple-A (3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.00 K/BB ratio) but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be going back as he’s going to be an integral part of the Blue Jays’ 2015 rotation.
Claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays from the Oakland A’s, lefty Brad Mills helped solidify the Buffalo rotation down the stretch by throwing 32 1/3 innings over six starts with a 3.06 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, striking out 26 and walking only five. Despite that usefulness, the 29-year-old will look to another club in 2015 as he elected free agency at the end of the season.
Canadian right-hander Shawn Hill made several starts for the Bisons and a few for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before being released by the Blue Jays and catching on with a couple of different organizations. With the Bisons, the 33-year-old righty had a 4.85 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 29 2/3 innings, walking 14 and striking out 21 and the numbers were mixed in his 17 2/3 innings in New Hampshire. While his ERA was 5.09, he had a 1.02 WHIP with just three walks but only seven strikeouts.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
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