We move on to the relief pitchers for the GCL Blue Jays, looking at pitchers who made most of their appearances out of the bullpen.
We begin with the pitchers who made the most appearances 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.
Meliton Reyes, 21, had a solid season out of the bullpen in his first season back after missing all of 2017. He threw 13 times with two starts and three games finished, totalling 20 1/3 innings with a 4.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, striking out 18.4% of batters and walking 9.2%. The walk rate was almost the same as he had in the DSL in 2016 while the strikeout rate was down by about 5%.
Ryan Thurston was a non-drafted free agent signing by the Blue Jays and the 23-year-old lefty dominated in the GCL. In 12 outings, he tossed 30 innings, giving up just three earned runs for a 0.90 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, striking out 31.6% of batters while walking only 7.0%. He did pitch an inning in Bluefield, pitching to three batters and striking out one. Look for Thurston either in Vancouver or Lansing next year.
18-year-old Luis Alvarez tossed 18 1/3 innings in 12 games for the GCL Blue Jays, making the jump from the DSL with a 4.42 ERA and stellar 0.98 WHIP. He had a very good 23.3% strikeout rate and his walk rate was slid at 8.2%. He was getting 41.3% of his balls in play on the ground but hitters appeared to be able to pull the ball easily, hitting to the pull side 57.5% of the time.
Another 18-year-old, Alexander Molina, had a solid season moving up from the DSL. He tossed 16 innings in 12 outings, posting a 4.50 ERA but he had a 1.63 WHIP and walked more (12.4%) than he struck out (8.6%), getting a lot of fly balls (58.2%).
Elixon Caballero, just barely 18, made nine appearances for the GCL Blue Jays, posting a stellar 1.15 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 15 2/3 innings. Caballero, a 5-foot-9 righty from Venezuela, struck out an impressive 29.0% of batters while walking 9.7%, only increasing slightly from his 2017 numbers from the DSL while his strikeout rate jumped almost three percent. He also got more ground balls than fly balls (1.25 GB/FB).
Yunior Hinojosa was outstanding with the GCL Blue Jays at the age of 18. The 6-foot-2 Dominican righty threw 17 1/3 innings in nine outings with the GCL BLue Jays, posting a 1.56 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, striking out only 11.8% and walking 5.9%. He did get a chance to pitch with Lansing, throwing 7 1/3 innings in five outings, allowing six earned runs for a 7.36 ERA but he had a 1.22 WHIP with four strikeouts and two walks. As a 19-year-old, I can see him in Vancouver next year.
Anderson Nunez, 20, struggled to stay healthy but pitched well when he did pitch. He tossed 15 1/3 innings in nine outings (including two starts) for the GCL Blue Jays, posting a 2.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 11 and walking four. He did get 1 1/3 innings with the Dunedin Blue Jays, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk with one strikeout.
Franniel Polanco, 20, dominated in two stops in his debut season, posting a 1.10 ERA in the DSL with seven walks and nine strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings, posting a 0.98 WHIP before moving to Florida. There, he had even better numbers, with a 1.59 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 17 innings, striking out 14 and walking just four batters. Look for him in Bluefield next year.
While there were a lot of young pitchers who made starts for GCL Blue Jays, the relief corps was a lot older and Gage Burland, 23, made the list after being selected out of college in the 22nd round of the 2018 draft (his third time through the draft). Burland made eight appearances with the Blue Jays, tossing nine innings with a 3.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, striking out 11 and walking six before moving up to Bluefield where he gave up a run on five hits with one strikeout in two innings. He’ll probably start in Vancouver next year.
In his Age-20 season, Gaudy Ramirez logged 11 2/3 innings for the GCL Blue Jays before going on the DL. He had a 5.40 ERa and 1.11 WHIP, striking out eight and walking three before getting shut down at the end of July.
19-year-old Alvery De Los Santos had a strong season in his second as a pro, repeating the GCL level. De Los Santos had a 1.71 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, but his strikeouts dropped precipitously in his second year going from a 16.0% strikeout rate to a 10.7% strikeout rate from 2017 to 2018, while his walk rate rose slightly from 4.3% to 4.8% in 21 innings. De Los Santos was more successful in getting ground balls, seeing 57.4% of balls hit stay on the ground.
The injury bug hit Roither Hernandez in his second consecutive year at the age of 20. He only threw 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits (including a home run) and three walks despite striking out seven.
Lefty Kelyn Jose, 23, also struggled with injury, throwing twice this year, getting in two innings and giving up two runs on a hit (a home run) and two walks with four strikeouts.
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