We’re going to start our more in-depth look at the DSL Blue Jays by looking at starting 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 starter. That said, the DSL Blue Jays had a fairly stable starting corps throughout the season.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most starts 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 18-year-old lefty Yaifer Perdomo, who just turned 18 on August 16 and earned the 2019 Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year honour. Perdomo led the DSL Blue Jays with 53 innings in 13 starts and had a stellar 2.89 ERA and solid 1.30 WHIP. He struck out an excellent 24.4% of batters and walked just 9.9% (a little high, but still pretty good for a youngster making his professional debut). His 46.0% ground ball rate was pretty solid as well, giving Yaifer, and Blue Jays fans something to look forward too. He’s not a tall fella, measuring in at 5-foot-10 but the fact that he’s a lefty helps with his projectability. I think we can expect Mr. Perdomo to move up to the GCL next year.
Also with 13 starts and coming in fourth on the team in innings pitched was Soenni Martinez, another lefty. Martinez, a Dominican Republic native who stands 6-feet tall and weight 180 pounds had a solid pro debut in his Age-18 season, tossing 51 1/3 innings with a 5.26 ERA and 1.52 WHIP but he had a much-better 2.93 FIP that goes with his 21.7% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate along with a 53.5% ground ball rate. He’s another pitcher to look for in the GCL next year.
17-year-old righty Fernando Chacon isn’t very big, at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds and the Venezuelan also had a solid debut season, with a 3.83 ERA and 1.82 WHIP over 51 2/3 innings, posting a 4.29 FIP with a 17.5% strikeout rate and a rather high 12.4% walk rate adding a 53.1% ground ball rate. I think the Blue Jays might move him up to the GCL in 2020 but it would depend on his command how his stuff is developing.
While 18-year-old Nicaraguan Bejardi Meza made fewer than half of his appearances at the beginning of the game, he was tied for second in innings pitched at 51 2/3 innings over 17 games (eight starts). Meza had a 2.61 ERA and 1.22 WHIP but also had a 4.26 FIP with a very low, 12.9% strikeout rate and a somewhat elevated 10.1% walk rate and a low 38.7% ground ball rate. If we went just on his ERA and WHIP, he might get promoted to start next year (although that could still happen) but I’d like to see the stuff develop so that he can get more strikeouts at the lowest levels of affiliated baseball.
17-year-old Jonatan Bernal was signed in April of 2019 and went to work with the DSL Blue Jays right away. The Mexican is 6-foot-1 and weighs 194 pounds and posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 33 innings, striking out only 15.8% of batters but posting a very low walk rate of only 3.8% while allowing 47.5% ground balls. His 4.09 FIP wasn’t bad and his xFIP was lower at 3.52 and it’s quite possible, with advanced control, he could be on the move to the GCL in 2020.
Dominican righty Juanfer Castro turned 18 in July 22 and began his season with 33 1/3 innings in the DSL posting a 5.13 ERA and 1.56 WHIP, striking out 16.1% of batters and walking 8.1%, with a 55.6% ground ball rate. He was promoted to the GCL midseason and made seven appearances out of the bullpen, logging 12 innings with a 1.50 ERA (but a 4.01 FIP and a 4.71 xFIP) with a 1.17 WHIP and an improved, 18.4% strikeout rate but a walk rate which, at 16.3%, was more than double his rate in the DSL. Look for Castro back in the GCL in 2020 although a promotion to Bluefield is certainly possible depending on his development through the offseason and into extended spring training.
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