The Vancouver Canadians’ starting rotation had pitchers dropping in and out for most of the season, resulting in just three pitchers making 10 starts or more. The starters included this year’s first-round and 21st round draft picks, the 2013 second and fourth rounder, an international free agent from 2012, and a non-drafted free agent picked up in 2014. How did it all fit together? Let’s see.
Leading the Canadians in innings was Francisco Rios, a 20-year-old Mexican righty, pitching in his third season with the Blue Jays’ affiliates. Despite a 4.27 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, Rios had a 3.28 FIP and struck out just over 20% of the batters he faced while walking a very respectable 8.7%. There may still be some control issues particularly with his breaking ball as Rios led the Canadians with 12 wild pitches but, overall, had a very solid season and will likely be in Lansing in 2016.
Evan Smith, 20, was looking at a big season in 2015 after posting very strong numbers in the GCL and Bluefield in 2014. Smith didn’t look particularly dominant in Vancouver, logging 49 2/3 innings with a 4.71 ERA, 5.09 FIP and 1.63 WHIP. The most concerning number is his very low, 12.0% strikeout rate although his 8.0% walk rate was solid. Smith is still young and had a strong season last year and should be able to recover but I can see another season of short-season ball in his future.
Jon Harris, the Jays’ first round pick of 2015 didn’t have the best pro debut after his season at Missouri State University. The 21 year old logged 36 very carefully monitored innings, posting a 6.75 ERA, 1.92 WHIP but a much better 4.02 FIP, suggesting that there was some bad luck involved in those high numbers. Harris struck out 18.2% and walked 11.9% with both numbers leaving room for improvement. It’s tough to evaluate players in their first professional year and word is that Harris has gone through some mechanical adjustments which can also lead to some ugly numbers (just ask Daniel Norris). I don’t think there’s much to worry about here and Harris will likely be seeing action early in 2016 with the Lansing Lugnuts.
At only 20 years old and coming back from Tommy John surgery, Clinton Hollon had some great success in Vancouver before earning a promotion to Lansing, where his season was cut short by a suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine. Hollon threw 45 1/3 innings with Vancouver, posting a 3.18 ERA, a 3.32 FIP and a 1.15 WHIP, striking out 21.5% and walking 8.1%. His numbers were fairly solid in 13 1/3 innings in Lansing despite some struggles with his control and a lack of strikeouts. Hollon will probably be back in mid-May of 2016 and will rejoin the Lugnuts.
22-year-old lefty Tayler Saucedo was one of the nice surprises of the 2015 draft class. Drafted in the 21st round, Saucedo quickly proved that he wasn’t overwhelmed by the pro game, posting a 2.42 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings with Bluefield, walking only four and striking out 18 before moving up to Vancouver where he was challenged a little more. In Vancouver, Saucedo posted a 2.52 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 1.46 WHIP, improving his strikeout rate to 20.0% while seeing a large blip in walk rate to 12.3% in 35 2/3 innings. Saucedo should also get a chance to join the Lansing rotation in 2016 after a solid first season in the pros.
Righty Jonathon Wandling has pitched a three levels in each of his two years in the organization after being signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. The 23-year-old logged 46 1/3 innings for Vancouver with a 4.66 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 1.42 WHIP to show for it, striking out 17.0% and walking only 5.5%. He threw 17 2/3 innings in Lansing with a 4.08 ERA but a 4.53 FIP, walking 12.7% and striking out only 10.1% while allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings in Dunedin without striking out anyone.
Finally, Ryan Borucki, 21, made two starts in Vancouver before his injuries overtook his season yet again. Borucki only managed to get through 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs with three walks and six strikeouts (adding an inning in the GCL) before he was shut down.
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