The relievers for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were a pretty obscure bunch who did a solid job for the club.
29-year-old Randy Boone has been with the Blue Jays since being selected in the seventh round of the 2007 draft. Aside from a couple of cups of coffee in Triple-A, Boone has been hanging around the Double-A level since 2009, mostly as a starter; 2013 was the first time in his pro career that Boone did not make a start. Making 33 appearances and pitching 62 1/3 innings, Boone had a 3.47 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 49 strikeouts and and 16 walks. His numbers this year are right in line with what he’s done over his career and it would seem that what you see is what you get with Randy Boone. I can see him returning to New Hampshire next year or getting a chance in Buffalo as one of the last guys in the pen.
The Blue Jays picked up Tyson Brummett off of waivers from the Phillies in the offseason and he was a very useful contributor picking up nine starts among 33 appearances for the Fisher Cats (and one for the Buffalo Bisons). His numbers were much better than his 5.36 ERA let on, with a 3.92 FIP, a 1.36 WHIP, 76 strikeouts and 31 walks in 87 1/3 innings. Also 29, Brummett should be eligible to be a minor league free agent (with seven minor league seasons under his belt) and whether he ends up back in Toronto’s system is a big question.
Lefty-specialist Evan Crawford, 27, was coming back from injury this year with the Fisher Cats after spending some time in 2012 with the Blue Jays. Crawford’s never been known for his control and it was an issue this season in his 38 innings. Crawford walked 19 and struck out 33 on the way to a 5.68 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. No longer on the 40-man roster (he was outrighted to New Hampshire in June), Crawford will likely return to New Hampshire next season.
Lefty Matt Wright, 26, was a 12th-round draftee from the 2008 draft and has made it to Double-A in his second year at the level in 2013. This year wasn’t as good as last year, however, and Wright had a 6.57 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 54 strikeouts and 27 walks in 63 innings. Wright will likely be back in New Hampshire after a lackluster season.
28-year-old Chorye Spoone was a 2005 eighth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles who joined the Blue Jays’ organization in July of last year after being released by the Red Sox organization. After a solid 2012 with the Fisher Cats, Spoone returned this year to do pretty much the same thing, finishing the season with a 3.99 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 58 strikeouts and 31 walks in 49 2/3 innings. Spoone has always struggled with his walks but his 25.9% strikeout rate in 2013 is a career-best mark for Spoone. With a long minor career already and a crowded slate of minor league pitchers, Spoone was released by the Blue Jays on September 3.
It was a tale of two cities for six-foot-two righty Dustin Antolin. The 24-year-old Hawaiian native was lights-out in his 23 innings pitching for the Dunedin Blue Jays with a 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 28 strikeouts and only seven walks. However, when promoted to Double-A New Hampshire, Antolin didn’t seem to be able to solve the better hitters, throwing 32 innings but getting rocked to the tune of a 11.41 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, 31 strikeouts and 28 walks. I’m not privy to any knowledge about what happened to Antolin in New Hampshire but either his control deserted him or the higher-level hitters weren’t chasing close pitches that he was getting away with in Dunedin. Either way, it looks like Antolin will get a chance at one of the two levels in 2014 and will hopefully be able to solve the riddle that plagued his 2013 season.
Side-winding 32-year-old lefty Tommy Hottovy signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays in the offseason and pitched fairly well for both New Hampshire and Buffalo. In 43 innings combined (24 2/3 in New Hampshire and 18 1/3 in Buffalo), Hottovy had a 4.19 ERA (which was quite a bit better in Buffalo), 1.46 WHIP (which was quite a bit better in New Hampshire), 42 strikeouts and 17 walks. Hottovy has already elected free agency and will likely not be back with the Blue Jays organization in 2013.
Alan Farina worked his way back from injury to make 21 appearances in New Hampshire and come away from the season with some solid work under his belt. With a 2.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 32 strikeouts and eight walks in 25 innings, the 27-year-old righty had a good year. The third rounder from 2007 has seven seasons of minor league experience which makes him eligible to become a free agent although he hasn’t yet declared. With the potential to wind up in Buffalo at some point in 2014, Farina could very well stay with the club.
Making three different stops in the Blue Jays organization this year, Scott Gracey, 26, had a very good year and pitched the most with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (although he finished the season with Buffalo). After 20 2/3 outstanding innings with Dunedin (2.61 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 19 Ks, two BBs), Gracey came up to New Hampshire and was similarly effective, pitching 27 innings with a 2.00 ERA and 31 strikeouts but his walk numbers started to rise, jumping from 2.5% in Dunedin to 9.7% in New Hampshire. After that, Gracey was promoted to Buffalo where he posted a 5.00 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in nine innings of work but his walks remained fairly stable (10% rate). Gracey will likely return to Buffalo in 2014 having made a very good impression this season.
With some major league experience under his belt, I’m sure there were places that Chad Beck, 28, would have rather been. The six-foot-four Texan had injury issues in 2013 that showed up after he was promoted from New Hampshire to Buffalo. In 12 2/3 innings with the Bisons, Beck had a 7.71 ERA and 2.13 WHIP with eight walks and only three strikeouts. After rehabbing with the GCL Blue Jays, he found his stride again with the Fisher Cats and closed the season with a 2.70 ERA, 1.44 WHIP to go with 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 16 2/3 innings in New Hampshire. No longer on the 40-man roster (he was sent to the minors outright in January), Beck could become a free agent this off-season.
Canadian righty Trystan Magnuson, 28, was released by the Blue Jays after pitching 12 innings with the Fisher Cats. He had a 9.00 ERA, a WHIP over 2.00 with 12 strikeouts and six walks. Also released was former first-round pick Clint Everts, 29, who hasn’t been the same since injuries have taken a toll on his pitching arm. Everts pitched a combined 15 2/3 innings in affiliated baseball with Buffalo and New Hampshire and posted an 8.04 ERA with 16 walks and only eight strikeouts. Despite pitching (apparently well) in only seven and two-thirds innings with the Fisher Cats, Fernando Hernandez (29) was released, catching on with a couple of Independent League teams and a team in the Mexican League.