The 2013 Dunedin Blue Jays had a strong relief corps in addition to the starting rotation, helping to make the club one of the better pitching staffs in the Florida State League.
6’5″ righty Blake McFarland led the Dunedin team in saves and spent most of the season as the closer but ended up losing his spot before the end of the season. While his overall numbers are solid (46 innings, 3.72 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 49 strikeouts and 19 walks), McFarland, 25, struggled in June and July before rebounding somewhat in August. Still, it was McFarland’s best season in the Blue Jays system since signing as a non-drafted free agent in 2011 and he should move up to New Hampshire next year.
Ajay Meyer, 26, is even bigger than McFarland, standing 6’6″ and throwing from the right side. Also in his third season with the Blue Jays and also signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2011, Meyer has been even better than McFarland throughout his career with 2013’s stop in Dunedin proving to be very similar to the others. Meyer was a workhorse, throwing 68 1/3 innings with a 2.77 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and an outstanding 76 strikeouts and just eight walks. Meyer, our Reliever of the Year, saved eight games for the D-Jays and should wind up in New Hampshire in 2014.
Tony Davis, a 25-year-old minor league veteran saw action in 43 games in 2013 after being signed as a minor league free agent this past off-season. Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2009, the 5’11” lefty put up very solid numbers in 51 innings with a 3.71 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, 71 strikeouts and 19 walks. Davis is part of a big group of older relievers who will probably need to move up and make an impression next season.
Tyler Ybarra, 23, was a 43rd round pick of the Blue Jays out of high school in 2008 and has been progressing through the organization ever since, despite losing time due to injuries. He was solid after getting a late start to the season, only being activated off the DL on April 25. Despite the late start, Ybarra threw a career-high 55 1/3 innings with a 1.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 65 strikeouts and 33 walks. The walks are a problem going forward and a low BABIP contributed to a 2.64 FIP. Ybarra was supposed to go to the Arizona Fall League next month but, as Gerry McDonald reports, the Blue Jays front office was satisfied with Ybarra’s workload this season and wanted to give him some rest. With Ybarra being among the youngest of the group in Dunedin’s bullpen, he may very well return to Florida to start 2014.
John Anderson, also known as “Johnny Anderson” has had a rough road through the minors due to the accumulation of injuries. Don’t just take my word for it, you can read his own in a terrific article on Bluebird Banter from earlier this summer. After his troubles in 2012, the Blue Jays held Anderson back a little bit, only activating him off the DL on May 18th, and the 24 year old had a solid season getting back into the swing of things. In 48 innings (including five starts), Anderson had a 3.56 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP, most likely due to the high number of walks (25). He struck 48 batters which is a good sign for the 6’2″ lefty. He may end up back in Dunedin next year, but the 2008 28th round draft pick could end up being a long-man and spot starter in New Hampshire in 2014.
New Year’s baby Dayton Marze, 24, spent most of the year in Dunedin again but earned a late season promotion to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Marze, a 2010 14th-rounder had a solid 3.41 ERA and very good 1.08 WHIP over his 34 1/3 innings in Dunedin but his strikeout to walk ratio was barely in the range you’d expect to see from an upward-moving prospect: 20 strikeouts to 11 walks. In six innings in New Hampshire, Marze struck out six and walked six and gave up nine runs (eight were earned). Marze should get another shot at Double-A to start 2014.
26-year-old Shawn Griffith has been in the Blue Jays’ organization since being drafted in the 37th round in the 2009 draft. The veteran has been kicking around the A-ball level since 2010 without a lot of success. In 2013, Griffith, a 5’10” righty, had a rough go in 23 innings in Dunedin, posting a 5.87 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP with a whopping 18 walks to go along with 23 strikeouts. In a five-inning audition in New Hampshire, Griffith gave up four runs but seemed to have better control, striking out four with just one walk. The future is cloudy for Griffith. At such an advanced age without a long track record of success with the organization, he may not return to the Blue Jays in 2014.
Danny Barnes, 23, spent much of the year injured after a breakout season in 2012. Barnes only threw two innings this season, giving up five runs. I’m not even go into a detailed analysis because he simply didn’t throw enough to get any kind of gauge on what he did this season.
Marco Grifantini, who turned 28 in mid-September, was an interesting player for the Dunedin Blue Jays this season. Born in the US, Grifantini was signed out of the Italian Baseball League after playing for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He didn’t put up great numbers despite being a workhorse for the Dunedin Blue Jays. In 48 1/3 innings with Dunedin, he posted a 5.21 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and a mediocre 27 strikeouts and 23 walks. Grifantini was released on July 25th.