It’s time for some relief as we now discuss the GCL Blue Jays’ relief pitching corps. Keep in mind that we discuss players on the team for whom they threw the most innings so a number of GCL Blue Jays pitchers will be discussed elsewhere.
22-year-old Nate Abel logged the most innings of any reliever on the GCL Blue Jays, having a very strong year in his first out of college. He had a 2.61 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.29 WHIP while striking out 20.5% of batters and walking 10.6% in 31 innings. Abel also got into a game in the Florida State league, throwing three innings and allowing a run on four hits and a walk. A non-drafted free agent, Abel could play for any number of teams next year, including Bluefield, Vancouver or Lansing.
Griffin Glaude is another college pitcher who joined the GCL Blue Jays for the season before getting a taste of High-A in September. Glaude is also a non-drafted free agent who was extremely successful in rookie ball, logging 28 2/3 innings with a 2.20 ERA, 2.02 FIP and 0.73 WHIP, striking out 33.0% of batters and walking only 6.3%. He struggled two innings in Dunedin, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings of work. He’s another candidate for Vancouver next year at the age of 23, but, looking at his excellent peripherals, could end up in Lansing.
22-year-old Mike Estevez was another NDFA signed by the Blue Jays after the draft and was named our Reliever of the Year for the GCL Blue Jays after dominating the lowest North American league. Estevez had a 1.38 ERA and 2.12 FIP with a 1.19 WHIP in 26 innings, saving nine games along the way. His strong 28.3% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rates also helped him overcome a slightly high BABIP. I can see Estevez in Vancouver or Bluefield in 2016.
When he signed in 2013, Kelyn Jose was described by Ben Badler as being able to run his fastball up to 93-94 but, as he’s gotten older, he’s been able to improve that from the reports I’ve heard. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, I’ve heard that Jose’s fastball is coming it at nearly (or over) 100 mph now and he’s doing it as a lefty. Jose, 20, had a much improved season as he struggles to find his control but the Blue Jays were sending him out to work, getting him 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in the GCL while he posted a 3.51 ERA, 3.62 FIP and a 1.44 WHIP. Much of that higher WHIP came from a high 13.5% walk rate that is still well down from his 2014 rate of 19.4% in the Dominican Summer League. He struck out 21.9%, down from 25.5% last year but that’s not uncommon of a pitcher who’s trying to command a big fastball at the expense of working on his complementary pitches. Look for Jose to keep moving up after stints in the Fall Instructional League and spring training.
Another non-drafted free agent, Gunner Eastman, 23, pitched 25 innings in the GCL for the Blue Jays. He posted a 5.40 ERA and 4.99 WHIP with a 1.76 ERA, walking 17.1% of batters and striking out only 12.8%.
Hunter Barnett was a 34th round draft pick of the Blue Jays in 2015 but only managed to get into three games for the GCL Blue Jays at the age of 21. Barnett pitched one game in June, one at the beginning of July but didn’t get into another until the end of August. In the end, Barnett didn’t allow an earned run, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with a strikeout in 3 1/3 innings.
Returning to the Blue Jays and making his debut as a pitcher was Gustavo Pierre who pitched in one game and threw a perfect inning for the GCL Blue Jays. Pierre was converted after a seven year minor league career as an infielder culminated with the Philadelphia Phillies’ Double-A squad, hitting .227/.258/.311 before he was traded back to the Blue Jays.
Wilton Lopez pitched in 1 1/3 innings on the rehab trail, allowing four runs on six hits before being released by the Blue Jays.
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