With yesterday’s announcement of preliminary rosters to the Arizona Fall League, the Blue Jays had a curious absence of pitchers. I reached out to Blue Jays staff and heard back that pitchers would be sent but they weren’t confirmed yet.
So today, without further ado, we get to begin the wild speculation as to which Blue Jays minor league pitchers will go to the Arizona Fall League, joining Dunedin Blue Jays manager Cesar Martin and (current) New Hampshire Fisher Cats infielders Cullen Large, Logan Warmoth and Kevin Smith.
Usually, players will be in the higher minor leagues when going to the AFL. Known as being a hitters league, the Jays may not send their top pitching prospects and pitchers below the Advanced-A level are likely not to go.
The Blue Jays tend to send pitchers who have missed time due to injury through the course of the season to get some extra reps, which is why Zach Logue is at the top of my list.
Logue, 23, has just eclipsed the 100 inning mark in 19 appearances in 2019 after throwing 154 1/3 innings last season. Making all but one of his outings with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Logue has a 4.04 ERA and 1.245 WHIP with 76 strikeouts and 31 walks in 98 innings. He also made an appearance with Buffalo, allowing two runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Given Logue’s age and pedigree, having thrown over 150 innings a year ago, he can stand to throw 10-20 more innings that he can get against some good-hitting competition in the AFL.
Another Fisher Cats pitcher who has lost time due to injury and mechanical adjustment is Patrick Murphy who has been told that he can’t tap his foot on the ground as it swings towards home plate anymore and has been working to rectify that with some mixed results. A hard-throwing 24-year-old righty, Murphy has had some issues this year with a 4.71 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with the Fisher cats, striking out 86 in 84 innings while walking just 27. Murphy is another pitcher who is coming off a 150+-inning season a year ago and could definitely benefit from the extra reps he’d get in Arizona.
A third Fisher Cat hurler who has lost some time due to injury is Hector Perez. Perez is just 23 (almost a year younger than Murphy) and tossed 115 1/3 innings so far this year with Double-A New Hampshire after getting a few outings there following the trade with Houston that brought him to the Blue Jays last year. He’s got a 4.60 ERA and a 1.63 ERA and has struck out 116 but he’s walked a whopping 67 and definitely could use some more time to refine his command.
Julian Merryweather could be headed to the AFL if he’s better in time. He’s missed an entire year following Tommy John surgery and was back on the IL after two rehab outings (one in the GCL and one in the FSL). He’s reported to be back on a throwing program and, when the Arizona Fall League starts up in about three weeks, there is a chance that Merryweather, 27, could be out there (possibly joining after the season starts for the final few weeks).
Travis Bergen was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the Rule 5 draft and returned to Toronto in August. He’s only thrown about 40 innings and could get another chance to pitch in the AFL, but it’s also quite possible that the lefty gets added to the Jays’ roster in September.
I’m not 100% sure if major league roster players are eligible for the AFL, but Elvis Luciano could get some time there. He’ll likely be back on the 25-man roster in September because he needs a few more days on the active roster to allow the Blue Jays to keep him around next year and should be throwing by the end of the season.
Matt Dermody could also go to Arizona, having missed most of the minor league season. The 28-year-old lefty has a 5.48 ERA and 1.39 WHIP since coming back from surgery in 23 innings with Buffalo but has struck out 23 and walked only three.
There are lots of relievers who could be added to the AFL roster so it’s tough to try to pick just a couple (although Bergen, Luciano and Dermody are a few). Maverik Buffo is another pitcher who’s back from injury and who could use some innings. Buffo has thrown just 18 innings with Dunedin and has a 6.50 ERA and 1.90 WHIP with 11 walks and 15 strikeouts.
What do you think? Have I missed anyone?
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