We’re going to start our more in-depth look at the GCL 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 50% of his appearances as a starter, or logged enough innings to gain consideration.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most starts and work our way downwards from there. With the GCL 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.
Rafael Monsion made the most starts on the team with eight, putting together a fairly solid season in the GCL, his first full year at the level. Monsion, who just turned 19 in August, is a 6-foot-3 lefty from Venezuela who pitched to a 4.38 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 49 1/3 innings, striking out 14.9% and walking 5.5%. The strikeout rate is significantly lower than his rate last year in the DSL while his walk rate shows excellent promise. Interestingly, Monsion was not invited to the Fall Instructional League and could spend his Age-19 season back in the GCL.
17-year-old righty Alejandro Melean, another Venezuelan, made his professional debut at the GCL level, skipping the DSL and struggled at times. He had a 4.68 ERA and 1.78 WHIP over 32 2/3 innings, allowing five home runs and walking 14.1% of batters despite a solid 19.9% strikeout rate. Melean was also not invited to the instructional league, but it could very well be to keep his arm from logging too many innings at such a young age. He’ll likely be back in the GCL or in the Appy League in 2019.
20-year-old Dominican lefty Juan Diaz jumped from the DSL to the GCL in 2018 and was one of the GCL Blue Jays’ most consistent pitchers, tossing 43 1/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, striking out a solid 24.7% of batters while walking only 5.6%. This shows some very strong year-over-year numbers, dropping his walk rate by half and only losing 1% on his strikeout rate. Diaz will also not pitch in the instructional league but could be due for a promotion to Bluefield or Vancouver in 2019 thanks to his age and success in 2018.
Imposing righty Emanuel Vizcaino moved from the DSL to the GCL in 2018 and the 6-foot-5 Dominican struggled, throwing 43 innings with a 6.28 ERA and 1.88 WHIP. He lacked a lot of control, walking 13.3% of batters and hitting three while throwing six wild pitches with a solid 18.7% strikeout rate. While Vizcaino’s ground ball rate regressed from 2017 in the DSL, it was still excellent at 50.8% of balls in play although he seems like opponents didn’t have trouble getting around on him with 52.9% of balls to the pull side. 19 now, Vizcaino could well repeat the level next year.
Adam Kloffenstein made just two starts and pitched just two innings for the GCL Blue Jays after the Blue Jays rested their 2018 third-round pick. Kloffenstein allowed a hit and walked two with four strikeouts before the season ended as he was getting ramped up for the Fall Instructional League where he’ll get a few more innings under his belt before spring training. Kloffenstein is on the young side of his draft class and it wouldn’t be too cautious to let him pitch in the GCL one more year but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s off to Bluefield in 2019.
Ronald Magdaniel made one start, throwing just one inning all season. The 21-year-old went on the 60-day DL after pitching one inning against the GCL Yankees East, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout.
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