We continue our more in-depth look at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by looking at relief pitchers. We begin with the pitchers who made the most appearances 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.
We begin our look at the relievers with lefty Jake Fishman. The 24-year-old had another strong year, pitching the full year with the Fisher Cats, posting a 3.45 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, striking out an excellent 27.5% of batters while walking only 6.7% over 62 2/3 innings. While he didn’t get a promotion in 2019, Fishman could be well positioned for a 2020 season in Buffalo with a chance for a cup of coffee in Toronto by season’s end.
Hard-throwing righty Jackson McClelland, the Jays’ 15th-round pick in 2015, continued to rise through the system hoping to crack the major league roster. He began the season in New Hampshire, coming in second with 32 appearances and throwing 42 1/3 innings with a 2.98 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out a solid 23.5% of batters while walking a fairly high 11.7%. He earned a late-season call up to Buffalo and struggled with his control, seeing his walks rise to 17.2% while his strikeout rate dropped slightly to 21.9%. McClelland also had a 6.00 ERA in Buffalo while his WHIP jumped to 1.53. I think Jackson will get another shot at Buffalo in 2020 and could make his big league debut next year as well.
Bryan Baker, another hard-thrower spent his Age-24 season split between Double-A and Triple-A. He started with New Hampshire, throwing 32 innings over 31 outings with a 2.81 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, while posting an outstanding strikeout rate of 30.1% while walking 15.0% of batters. After his promotion to Buffalo, Baker threw another 22 innings with a 3.68 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, striking out 31.3% of batters but walking 16.2%. Like McClelland, Baker needs to get his walk rate down as he continues his rise to the majors, likely back in Triple-A in 2020.
The Blue Jays signed righty Vinny Nittoli after he was released by the Diamondbacks organization in May, sending him to Double-A New Hampshire. Nittoli, 28, started his season in Triple-A Reno, posting a 9.50 ERA and 1.83 WHIP over 18 innings, striking out 23.0% of batters and walking 10.3% before he was cut loose by the D-backs. Nittoli posted better numbers with the Fisher Cats, throwing 42 2/3 innings with a 3.80 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, striking out 22.7% of batters and walking only 4.6%. I’m not sure about his contract situation so the Jays could have an option on him for 2020.
Danny Young has been a lefty mainstay of the Blue Jays’ organization since being drafted in 2015. Young started 2019 in BUffalo, getting into five games but posting a 12.46 ERA and a 1.072 OPS against through 4 1/3 innings before he was sent to New Hampshire. From the end of April to the end of July, Young was pitching for New Hampshire but he did get a chance to show what he could do in Buffalo again, throwing 4 1/3 innings with just one run against on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks before going back to New Hampshire for the end of the season. Overall with the Fisher Cats, Young was excellent, posting a 1.79 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 40 1/3 innings, striking out 18.9% of batters while walking 11.8%. While the walks are a little high, Young should get another shot at Buffalo in 2020.
25-year-old righty Dany Jimenez spend the first two and a half months in Dunedin where he had some solid numbers over 25 1/3 innings, with a 3.55 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, striking out a whopping 43.9% of batters while walking only 8.4%. He moved up to New Hampshire where, over 33 2/3 innings, his peripherals regressed to a 34.3% strikeout rate and 9.0% walk rate but he proved very hard to hit, posting a 1.87 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, earning the Reliever of the Year award from Blue Jays from Away. Jimenez could start 2020 in New Hampshire but he could also begin in Buffalo.
At 26 years old, non-drafted free agent William Ouellette has shown himself to be up to the task of pitching anywhere the Blue Jays send him. Starting in Dunedin, Ouellette pitched six times before moving up to Buffalo where he allowed a run on a hit with a strikeout in three innings before going back to Dunedin for three more appearances. He pitched in New Hampshire twice before going back to Buffalo for the end of May and first half of June, finishing with a hitless and walkless outing, striking out three in three innings before moving back to New Hampshire for the remainder of the year. Overall Ouellette had a 2.30 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over 15 2/3 innings for Dunedin, striking out 20 batters and walking only one while he threw 43 2/3 innings with New Hampshire, posting a 3.71 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out only 13.2% of batters and walking 5.5%. He struck out 20.9% in Buffalo but didn’t walk anyone over 11 1/3 innings. I think Ouellette could spend more time in New Hampshire in 2020 but a stint or two in Buffalo wouldn’t surprise me either.
Willy Ortiz, 24, spent time on the IL this year and got into 16 games for the Fisher Cats, starting four and throwing 54 innings, piggybacking with Nate Pearson much of the time. That said, Ortiz struggled at the new level, posting a 5.83 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, striking out 18.6% and walking 10.2%. Ortiz will probably come back to New Hampshire next year.
Righty Francisco Rios, 24, hasn’t had an easy time of it the last couple of years. Rios threw seven times for the Fisher Cats, posting a 5.93 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 13 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking three before moving up to Buffalo for two outings, giving up two runs on four hits and one walk with one strikeout. He was sent to extended spring training and then was loaned to the Mexico City Red Devils where he logged 32 innings with a 3.94 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, striking out 24 and walking 15. I’m not sure what the loan to the Mexican League portends for Rios. He could be back in 2020 but he might not be.
Jonathan Cheshire also had a bumpy season for the Blue Jays. Tossing four games with the Dunedin Blue Jays, the 24-year-old allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking four and he moved up to New Hampshire, allowing eight runs (six earned) over 11 2/3 innings before he got another promotion to Buffalo where he wasn’t bad, allowing only two runs on six hits and three walks in 8 1/3 innings, striking out four. Released by the Blue Jays, Cheshire went to the independent Atlantic League, pitching for the Somerset Patriots and was lights out, posting a 0.55 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, striking out 19 and walking just three in 16 1/3 innings before he was signed by the Minnesota Twins who sent him to Double-A Pensacola where he threw 13 2/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, striking out 14 and walking just four.
Canadian Andrew Case, 26, returned to New Hampshire in 2019, getting into just three games and giving up four runs on 10 hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings before he retired.
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