Even after the recent signing of veteran lefty J.P. Howell, the Toronto Blue Jays apparently remain active on the free agent front. With obvious holes to plug and, according to Shi Davidi, about 10 million remaining in their budget, the Toronto Blue Jays are still attached to Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan in some capacity. However, the question remains, given the Blue Jays track record of quickly advancing young arms and giving bullpen opportunities to players who have been cast aside, who will make the ascension this year? Who are the possible Spring Training surprise stories this year?
Blue Jays Bullpen Still a Work in Progress
The clear number one on this list, Reid-Foley brings all of the skills to the table necessary to make the jump from minor league prospect to Major League contributor. He features a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, a decent mix of developing off speed, improving control, and a knack for missing bats. At times, he looks like he can do whatever he wants on the mound. Based off of his recent success and self-belief, Reid-Foley remains the Blue Jays best internal option to turn heads during a Spring Training tryout.
He got an opportunity last year, among the Aaron Loup chaos, to show off his skill set after a successful campaign in the minors. Girodo is a standard lefty who has the chance to succeed at the Major League level, with three pitches that all sit as league average. Furthermore, Girodo has the ability to get outs with deception alone. With Howell and Loup in the mix and they Jays still attached to Blevins and Logan through free agency, Girodo would have to have a perfect Spring Training campaign to have a chance. He has the ability to put himself in the conversation he if executes at a high level.
Being protected from the Rule 5 draft is always a good sign. After being selected in the 15th round, Borucki has never been able to find health. He has a good arm with low 90’s velocity, but an elite change-up. Think a lefty Danny Barnes (who should also be a mainstay in the Blue Jays bullpen this year). Borucki may not have the ability to throw balls through bats, but he can consistently miss them. Look for Borucki to move quickly this year. There is a chance he breaks camp with the Jays.
In every system, there are guys who just never seem to get a chance. Browning is that guy for Toronto. After five years in the system, the sidearming Browning has never posted an ERA above 2.34. He has a career minor league ERA of 1.98, while striking out well over a batter per inning and walking 2.75 batters per nine innings. Browning has been nothing short of exceptional during his career in the minors. Sometimes, being viewed as a novelty can negatively alter how evaluators view a pitcher’s success. Browning isn’t a trick and his success is legitimate. Look for him to make it very difficult for Toronto to ignore his skill-set this spring.
Long Shot: Angel Perdomo
If they Blue Jays truly want to shake things up, Perdomo could be the move. The 6’6″ lefty strikeout machine has all the talent to dominate if given the chance. The only sticking point remains whether his future lies in the bullpen or rotation. If the bullpen is the choice, he can make that jump very soon. With his mix of a 90-94 mph fastball, a big breaking ball, and a lot of deception, look for Perdomo to move quickly on that path. If he is a starter, however, look for Perdomo to spend the year between Dunedin and New Hampshire. Either way, Perdomo will make a large impression on the franchise very soon.
Finally, in a world that lives and dies with velocity, the Toronto Blue Jays may be going the other way. With a mix of change-up artists, sidearmers, and borderline senior citizens, the Blue Jays are looking to build a bullpen straight out of the 1980’s. To what level of success, no one knows. Nevertheless, it should be interesting. The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays have some interesting decisions to make.