The Dunedin Blue Jays had a very good relief pitching staff that featured a couple of guys that you might not expect to be moving up through the system.
Brady Dragmire was the unlikely leader in appearances for the bullpen in Dunedin. Dragmire, 22, had some interesting results that belie his 5.26 ERA over 63 1/3 innings. His FIP was 2.52 and his WHIP was 1.58, both well below what his high ERA might otherwise indicate. Most of Dragmire’s problems come from his high BABIP (.385) and low LOB% (57.8%) both of which are likely to regress in 2016. His strikeout rate of 20.1% and walk rate of 7.1% are both higher than his last seasons’ totals in Lansing but are still quite good. Look for Dragmire to head to Double-A New Hampshire after his upcoming stint in the Arizona Fall League.
6-foot-5 lefty Matt Dermody made his Dunedin debut in 2015, throwing a whopping 77 innings out of the bullpen with some respectable numbers. Like Dragmire, Dermody also underperformed his FIP, pitching to a 4.21 ERA but a 2.52 FIP and a 1.44 WHIP. Dermody showed tremendous control, walking just 3.8% of his batters while striking out 18.2%. Dermody could stay in Dunedin or it might be sink or swim for the 25 year old in Double-A.
Undrafted free agents rarely make it as far as Wil Browning has, particularly since Browning has not only been able to be dominant at almost every level of the minor leagues, but he’s earned the Blue Jays’ internal award for MVP of the Dunedin Blue Jays. Browning improved on almost every aspect of his pitching in his second stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays, with a 0.78 ERA and 0.55 WHIP with a 32.3% strikeout rate and 1.6% walk rate in 34 2/3 innings this season. Promoted to Double-A, Browning also pitched 18 2/3 innings there, with better results this time around. He had a 3.86 ERA (with a 2.68 FIP), a 1.18 WHIP, a 21.1% strikeout rate and a 9.2% walk rate. Browning is almost assured of a spot in the Fisher Cats’ bullpen in 2016 at the age of 27.
20-year-old righty Alberto Tirado had a similar jump to the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2015 as did Jairo Labourt. The Dominican struggled in Lansing last year and finished off his year in Vancouver after a demotion. Starting in the bullpen, Tirado blossomed, putting up a 3.23 ERA (and 4.08 FIP) with a 1.30 WHIP over 61 1/3 innings. Tirado still walked too many batters (13.6%) but that number was well down from either of his stops last year and had a strikeout rate above both of his figures from last year as well (23.6%). Traded to the Phillies in the deal for Ben Revere, Tirado pitched 16 innings for the Clearwater Threshers (located just a few miles from Dunedin) and had a 0.56 ERA (but a much-higher 4.92 FIP), a 1.50 WHIP and a sky-high 26.1% walk rate to go with his solid 23.2% strikeout rate.
I’ve had my eye on Alonzo Gonzalez since I saw him as a starting pitcher with the Lansing Lugnuts at the beginning of the 2013 season. In the intervening two years, Gonzalez has come a long way, increasing his velocity and improving his offspeed pitches. At the age of 23, Gonzalez pitched most of his season in 2015 with the Dunedin Blue Jays but not before starting in Lansing and giving the Lugnuts 11 2/3 innings of very solid ball, striking out 36.2% of batters and walking 8.5%. After his promotion, Gonzalez struggled a bit, posting a 4.39 ERA that was well south of league average and had a 1.57 WHIP. He struck out 18.3% of batters and walked 9.3%, showing that the walks are still somewhat of an issue. Gonzalez could easily start the season back in Dunedin, likely in the bullpen or as a spot starter. He’s come a long way and can be more than just a LOOGY, thanks to some relatively even splits between lefties and righties.
Another late pick for the Blue Jays, 36th rounder in 2011 Arik Sikula, had a terrific season for the club. The 26-year-old cracked the Double-A roster for the Fisher Cats in 2014 and enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League last year as well before opening the season with an injury and not joining the Fisher Cats until mid-April. Once he arrived, he struggled, allowing 12 runs in just five appearances before he was sent back to Florida. With the D-Jays, he was as good as anyone, adding 32 2/3 innings with a 2.20 ERA (3.35 FIP) and 1.07 WHIP with a 22.2% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate. Sikula probably wasn’t completely healthy, though, as his K rates were well below what he did in 2014 and he missed half of May and almost all of June on the DL. Look for him to make another run at the New Hampshire roster in 2016.
After pitching extremely well in Lansing last year, 26-year-old righty Brad Allen had a more average season with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2015. Making 15 of his 21 appearances out of the bullpen, Allen posted a 4.02 ERA (3.74 FIP) with a 1.44 WHIP. He saw a big decline in his strikeout rate over last year, dropping from 26.5% in 2014 to 18.2% in 2015 while also having his walk rate rise from 7.4% with Lansing to 11.0% with Dunedin. Both of those numbers are clearly going in the wrong direction for Allen who remained with the pitching coach, Vince Horsman, who helped him get the most out of his changeup in 2014. Allen could either return to Dunedin or get a shot at Double-A, a level he hasn’t pitched at yet. It’ll be an interesting offseason and spring training for Allen.
By virtue of 2/3 of an inning, Jimmy Cordero gets discussed with the Dunedin Blue Jays. Cordero finished the season with the Reading (Double-A) Fightin Phils after being traded for Ben Revere but started the season well with Dunedin. He threw 25 1/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA (3.24 FIP), striking out 22.9% of batters and showing a huge improvement in his walk rate at 5.7%. After a promotion to New Hampshire, he threw 24 2/3 innings there, where his K-rate fell to 21.0% and his BB-rate rose to 13.3% despite a 2.92 ERA and 3.84 FIP. After the trade, in 17 innings in Reading, Cordero was outstanding, striking out 28.1% and walking 6.3% with a 2.12 ERA, 2.80 FIP and 0.88 WHIP. If the 100+ mph thrower has truly found his command, and a consistent slider, he could be in the majors in 2016.
Another pitcher who joined the Jays late in the season to help restock the shelves after the trades was Chris Smith who threw 13 1/3 innings with the D-Jays, three innings with the Fisher Cats and 36 1/3 innings in the Yankees’ organization. Smith put together a 2.05 ERA overall with just nine walks and 57 strikeouts overall and a tiny 0.76 WHIP.
Tiago Da Silva gave us minor league bloggers some minor buzz this offseason. He was a closer with a Mexican League club in 2014 before signing with the Blue Jays in the offseason. Da Silva had a 3.52 ERA with a tiny 1.01 FIP and 0.91 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings in Dunedin, striking out 35.6% of batters and walking 5.1%. He had very good numbers in just 7 1/3 innings in New Hampshire despite getting hit harder. He gave up four runs on two home runs in those 7 1/3 innings but reduced his walk rate to 3.7% and struck out 25.9%. After he was loaned back to the Mexican League, he struck out 20.7% of batters and walked 4.3% with a 3.22 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Could Da Silva be back in 2016? If he is, look for him in Manchester New Hampshire as a 31 year old.
25-year-old lefty Scott Silverstein had some injury issues in 2015. He had a 5.93 ERA and 2.19 WHIP over 13 2/3 innings in Dunedin, walking 11 before he was eventually released.
Another lefty Griffin Murphy also missed a lot of time and ended up not pitching very effectively when he returned. The 24-year-old had a 6.10 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 10 1/3 innings, striking out only six batters and walking six.
Righty Lendy Castillo came to Dunedin after the trades and pitched fairly well in limited time with a 3.72 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 11 strikeouts and just two walks in 9 2/3 innings. He had pitched both in the Texas League (Double-A) and the California League (Advanced-A) with the Rangers’ organization previously in the year to less success. The 26 year old could be in New Hampshire next year.
25-year-old John Stilson had a rough year, throwing just 1 1/3 innings before getting shut down.
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