We’re going to start our more in-depth look at the Dunedin Blue Jays by looking at starting pitchers. Like with Lansing, three pitchers topped the 100-inning mark and all three were in Dunedin for the long haul.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most starts and work our way downwards from there. 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.
Maximo Castillo, 20, was our Pitcher of the Year for the Blue Jays. The 6-foot-2, 256 pound Venezuelan righty proved his ability to be a workhorse, logging his second season of 130 innings or more (130 1/3) in 24 starts for the D-Jays. He was easily the club’s best starter, posting a 2.69 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, striking out 21.8% of batters (up 1.5% from last year in Lansing) while walking only 5.4% (down 2.0% from last year in Lansing). Castillo’s success at his young age goes to show that he’s someone that we should be watching, but he’s been flying under the radar with guys like Eric Pardinho and Nate Pearson grabbing the attention. Watch Castillo pitch in Double-A, beginning before his 21st birthday in 2020.
6-foot-3 lefty Nick Allgeyer was one of the more impressive pitchers I saw in spring training and he had a solid first full season of professional baseball after being drafted in the 12th round of the 2018 draft. Jumping up from Vancouver last year to Dunedin this year, Allgeyer didn’t allow more than two earned runs in a game until May 10 and had 10 starts in which he allowed one run or fewer but only two of those were after July began. Allgeyer logged 118 1/3 innings in 23 appearances (22 starts), with a 3.95 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, striking out 20.9% of batters and walking 5.8%. But if we look at his numbers in July and August, he had a 6.00 ERA and a 14.3% strikeout rate while his walk rate ballooned to 7.9%. Whether it was fatigue or the league figured him out, it’s hard to tell without having seen him. I’d look for Allgeyer, 23, to either start back in Dunedin in 2020 or move up to New Hampshire.
Graham Spraker, 24, has had some success at the Advanced-A level giving the former 31st-round pick of the 2017 draft by the Jays a little bit of helium in his standing within the organization. The 6-foot-3 righty is still way under the radar despite his 2.90 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 108 2/3 innings for Dunedin with 16 of his 24 outings coming as starts. Spraker made a start on June 6 with the Buffalo Bisons, tossing 5 1/3 innings with a run off three hits and two walks against him while striking out five. His assignment to the Arizona Fall League shows us that he may very well be cementing his role as a starter in the minds of the Blue Jays’ brass. Look for him to start 2020 in New Hampshire.
23-year-old Turner Larkins made three stops for the Blue Jays in 2019 but got most of his action in Dunedin, throwing 89 1/3 innings there, starting 13 times in 23 games. Larkins had a 4.13 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, striking out 19.4% of batters while walking only 6.4%, generally keeping the ball on the ground well (42.9% ground ball rate). Larkins also made a start with Buffalo, allowing seven runs on eight hits (including three home runs) with two walks and three strikeouts in six innings on May 25 and he made an appearances out of the bullpen in New Hampshire on July 3, pitching a scoreless eighth inning, giving up a hit and a walk with one strikeout. I can see Larkins back in New Hampshire next year but his role will likely be more of a swing man than a starter full time.
26-year-old Justin Dillon split his season between Dunedin and New Hampshire in 2019 after pitching at three levels in 2018. Dillon’s jumping around was over in 2019 as he made his first 13 appearances with Dunedin and his next 13 with New Hampshire for a clean split. With Dunedin, Dillon tossed 67 innings with a 3.90 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, striking out 21.% of batters and walking just 4.7%. After his promotion, he saw some regression, despite a 3,32 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. His strikeout rate dropped to 17.4% and his walk rate rose to 7.0%. Still, Dillon’s FIP was lowered from 4.22 in Dunedin to 3.94 in New Hampshire. Look for him to start the year in NH in 2020.
2018 eighth-round pick Joey Murray was outstanding throughout the season. Despite barely touching 90 mph on the radar gun, his “invisiball” confounded hitters at three levels as the 23 year old reached New Hampshire by the end of the year. Murray feasted on Midwest League hitters in his first stop in Lansing, and had a 3.82 ERA and 1.30 WHIP but struck out 30.5% of batters while walking 9.2% in 30 2/3 innings. He moved up to Dunedin for the largest part of the season, tossing 63 innings with a stellar 1.71 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, striking out a whopping 31.3% of batters and lowering his walk rate to 7.7%. Murray was promoted yet again and, while the competition in Double-A was tougher, he still had a 3.50 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with a 28.3% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate in 43 2/3 innings. I think Murray has put himself on the radar of Blue Jays watchers and will likely start in New Hampshire next year.
Coming to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets, Simeon Woods Richardson, still just 18 years of age during the season, showed why he was such a highly coveted prospect. While Woods Richardson had a 4.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 78 1/3 innings with the Class-A Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League, he had just a 2.54 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 28 1/3 innings with the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a 27.1% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate as one of the youngest pitchers in the league. The Blue Jays will look to see what they have in this young man as he’ll likely return to Dunedin, still just 19 years old in 2020.
22-year-old Kyle Johnston didn’t really make a great impression on the Blue Jays after he was acquired from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline. He had a 4.03 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with the Nationals’ Advanced-A club in Potomac, striking out 100 and walking 37 in 105 innings. After the trade, however, Johnston tossed 19 2/3 innings and wasn’t able to find his control, walking 22.0% of batters while striking out only 14.3%. He’ll probably return to Dunedin after a fresh start to 2020.
Julian Merryweather, the pitcher the Blue Jays got in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Braves, had a rough season. While he was clocked at 100 mph at some point in his rehab from Tommy John, he only made it onto the field for two league games, allowing two runs in two innings on four hits with three strikeouts for the GCL Blue Jays and he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in four innings in Dunedin before complications from his rehab shut him down. The Jays will hope that Merryweather gets back to himself and gets to the majors next year.
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