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 Eliander Alcalde who just turned 18 a few months ago and started the season as a 17 year old. Alcalde had a strong year in his professional debut, tossing 61 1/3 innings with a 2.93 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He struck out a very solid 24.1% of batters while walking a fairly high 12.9%. He also had a FIP (3.96) and xFIP (4.24) that were much higher than his ERA, that suggests that he might have benefitted from a little luck this season. With his heavy workload (starting 13 of 14 games), it’s likely that he’ll be up in the FCL next season.
20-year-old righty Darwin Cruz comes from the Dominican Republic and was another very solid starter for the Blue Jays, starting 12 of his 13 appearances and throwing 52 2/3 innings. He had a 2.22 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, striking out 20.7% of the batters he faced while walking only 6.8%. Like Alcalde, he also had a much higher FIP (3.81) and xFIP (3.86) although the batted ball data favours him a little more with a higher ground ball rate (38.9%) and higher BABIP. Cruz is another starter I’d expect to see in the FCL next year.
Our Pitcher of the Year, Sergio Caruci is a youngster from Venezuela who just turned 19 in mid-October. The righty had a solid year, throwing 50 2/3 innings over 16 outings (10 starts) with a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, striking out a whopping 29.9% of batters while walking just 7.4%. He had a slightly higher FIP (3.30) but his xFIP was 2.78 and he had a slightly below league average BABIP at .276 while his ground ball rate was 45.9%. Caruci is another candidate for the FCL next year.
Now 20, Dominican lefty Johan Simon threw 21 2/3 innings, making seven appearances and five starts. He had a 3.74 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 29.1% of batters and walking 8.1%. He had a 40.8% ground ball rate while his FIP (3.13) and xFIP (3.18) were both well below his actual ERA. I can see him moving up to the FCL too.
Venezuelan righty Guillermo Villasmil spent the season as an 18 year old (turning 19 in September) and split the season between the DSL and FCL Blue Jays. In the FCL, he threw 17 1/3 innings with a 4.15 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, striking out 17.6% and walking 10.3%. All of those numbers regressed as he moved up a level, throwing 14 2/3 innings in the FCL with a 7.36 ERA and 1.84 WHIP. His strikeout rate fell to 15.3% and his walk rate rose to 12.5%. I don’t think he’s quite ready for full season ball and will likely repeat the FCL.
Another Dominican, lefty Cristopher Castro, is our final starter. Now 19, Castro tossed 10 1/3 innings for the DSL Blue Jays, making four starts. He was excellent, posting a 0.87 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while striking out 35.6% of batters and walking 20.0%. The high walk rate and lack of work indicates that there’s a chance Castro could remain in the DSL in 2022, but he could also move up to Florida.
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