We move on to the relief pitchers for the Vancouver Canadians, 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. 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.
Lefty Marcus Reyes led the Canadians with 23 appearances and the 23-year-old was very solid for the Cs, putting up a 1.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, striking out 22.8% while walking 5.9% and getting 45.6% of balls hit on the ground over 33 1/3 innings. His high line-drive rate (27.8%) is somewhat concerning as those line drove may come off the bat harder and harder as he moves up levels. I think he’ll be in Lansing next year.
24-year-old non-drafted free agent Connor Law had a solid season, spent mostly with Vancouver. Law got a couple of opportunities with Dunedin before the short season started, tossing 3 2/3 innings without giving up a run, allowing three hits and a walk and striking out two. When the season in Vancouver started, Law ended up posting a 4.23 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings, and he struck out 27.1% of batters and walked 9.8%. Law is another pitcher who could wind up in Lansing next year.
Honduran righty Denis Diaz took to the mound 21 times for Vancouver, returning to Canada for the first time since 2016 when he started seven games for the Canadians. Diaz came back in a relief role, making 21 appearances and throwing 28 1/3 innings with a 7.31 ERA and 1.98 WHIP, striking out only 12.7% of batters and walking a whopping 14.1%. Diaz will have to have a fantastic spring to get onto a full-season roster.
21-year-old Vancouverite Will McAffer came out of university in the US as the 32nd-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2018 and headed home. McAffer posted a strong professional debut, throwing 29 1/3 innings with a 3.68 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, striking out an excellent 28.5% of batters while walking a rather high 13.1%. McAffer also gave up a lot of fly balls (54.9%) but 35.9% of those fly balls were infield flies. McAffer could head to Lansing next year, but judging from the success off the Vancouver bullpen, he could be in some serious competition for a spot on the Lugnuts’ roster.
25-year-old Justin Watts spent his Age-24 season with Vancouver and was a dominant pitcher, throwing 36 2/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA but he allowed just 24 hits and 10 walks to keep his WHIP at 0.93 while striking out 36.4% of batters and walking only 7.0%. I can see Watts in Lansing, but if he’s pitching effectively, I can see him jumping up to Dunedin next year.
Son of long-time Blue Jays minor league (and current bullpen) coach Dane Johnson, Cobi Johnson was drafted in the 30th round but the 6-foot-4 22 year old pitched like he was selected much higher. He had a 1.73 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, striking out 34.3% of batters and walking 7.8% in 26 innings. Johnson will certainly compete for a spot in Lansing next year.
After missing 2016 with a knee injury, Juan Nunez returned as a starter with Vancouver and had his struggles in 2017 and was a reliever in 2018. He made 17 appearances (including two starts) with a 5.20 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, walking 12.8% of batters and striking out 20.1% over 45 innings. Nunez, 22, could try to break out to Lansing but will need to get a bit more control before he can do so.
In the 18th round of the 2018 draft, the Blue Jays selected 6-foot-9 righty Fitz Stadler, a 21-year-old out of Arizona State. Stadler was absolutely dominant in Bluefield, striking out 17 and walking three in just 11 1/3 innings, allowing only six hits and he regressed a bit in Vancouver, throwing another 24 1/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, seeing his strikeout rate drop from 38.6% in Bluefield to 22.2% in Vancouver while his walk rate rose from 6.8% in Bluefield to 9.1% in Vancouver. Still, Stadler’s control at this early stage (particularly considering his height) is encouraging, as is his high ground ball rate at 52.4% in Vancouver.
Another 2018 draft pick, Nick Allgeyer, who was selected in the 12th round, had a solid season in Vancouver. Allgeyer, a 6-foot-3 lefty out of the University of Iowa, started six of his 15 appearances and had a 2.73 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, striking out an excellent 29.0% of batters and walking only 7.5%. Allgeyer’s solid stats means that he’ll likely be in Lansing next year.
Selected in the 32nd round of the 2018 draft, Joey Pulido came out of the University of Houston and stands just 5-foot-9, on the small side, particularly for a righty. The 23 year old made two appearances in the GCL, striking out four in two innings and giving up an unearned run (among two earned runs) on two hits before moving up to Bluefield. In the Appy League, he allowed three runs on six hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over 10 innings before he was promoted to Vancouver where he didn’t give up an earned run in his final 24 2/3 innings, allowing just two unearned runs and posting a stellar 0.81 WHIP, striking out 21.7% and walking 7.2% and getting 48.4% of batted balls on the ground. Pulido looks like he was hard to pull the ball against, allowing just 38.2% of balls in play to the pull side and getting 45.6% of balls hit the other way. I can see Pulido starting in Lansing next year after a stellar debut campaign.
Another Joey, Joey Murray, was also drafted by the Blue Jays in 2018 with Murray getting selected in the eighth round. The 22-year-old righty posted a 1.75 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with the Canadians, striking out a whopping 37.1% of batters and walking 9.5% in 25 2/3 innings, making six starts along the way in 13 appearances. Batters seemed to have a tough time getting around on him, allowing just 38.2% of balls in play to the pull side while seeing 47.3% of those balls going the other way. Murray is another candidate for Lansing or Dunedin in 2019, but he could be a starter next year.
Non-drafted free agent Troy Miller came out of the University of Michigan and pitched decently in his first exposure to professional baseball, tossing 13 innings with the Canadians and finishing with a 3.46 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, striking out 24.6% and walking 16.4%. The walks are obviously problematic and could see the 21-year-old Miller back in extended spring training and then Vancouver in 2019.
Mitch McKown, 22, is a 6-foot-4 righty who had possibly one of the worst professional debuts possible in 2016. Rebounding in 2017 with Bluefield, McKown looked like he was ready to break out with Vancouver, starting his season with the GCL, McKown pitched a scoreless inning on June 30 and moved up to Vancouver for the beginning of July. He allowed a run on a hit and two walks with one strikeout in an inning on July 3 and threw two scoreless innings on July 6, giving up two hits and striking out one before going on the DL and he didn’t return in 2018. I would expect McKown to return to Vancouver in 2019.
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