DSL Blue Jays 2017 Report, Part 3: Relief Pitchers

Luis Alvarez. Photo by Pierre Lacasse

We continue our year-end look at the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays with the pitchers who had more than half of his appearances out of the bullpen.

 

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Leading the way out of the DSL bullpen was 17-year-old righty Yunior Hinojosa. The 6-foot-2 Dominican was very solid out of the ‘pen and racked up 11 saves in 14 opportunities for the Jays. He had a 3.38 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in his professional debut while walking just 4.9% of batters and striking out 15.7%. The Blue Jays must have been impressed as he was moved up to the GCL to finish the season, throwing 4 2/3 innings there with a 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP but just two walks and two strikeouts. Heading into 2018, I can see Hinojosa as an 18-year-old in the GCL.

 

 

17-year-old Venezuelan lefty Nicolas Medina was another pitcher who was used extensively by the DSL Blue Jays, tying for the team lead with 20 appearances. Medina wasn’t as successful as Hinojosa, posting a 6.00 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 24 innings while striking out an excellent 23.9% of batters and walking 8.3%. Might we see him in the GCL next year? It’s possible. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Fall Instructional League roster before we know for sure, but I wouldn’t rule out another year in the Dominican.

 

19-year-old Dominican righty Adolfo Molina had a solid debut campaign as a 19 year old. The 6-foot-4 hurler had a 3.42 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 26 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays, striking out only 13.9% and walking 10.7%, both numbers that will need to improve. Still his overall control numbers weren’t bad as he hit just three batters and had only one wild pitch. I think he’ll be back in the DSL next year.

 

Our Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year, Elixon Caballero, was dominant despite being one of the youngest players on the team. Turning 17 on July 9, Caballero is still an under-sized righty, measuring 5-foot-9 but that didn’t keep him from putting up a tiny 0.84 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his pro debut. Caballero, who hails from Venezuela, had a healthy 26.3% strikeout rate (among the highest on the club) and walked 9.5%, a number that will hopefully go down as he gets older, stronger and more polished. I’d expect to see him jumping to the GCL next year.

 

Luis Mendoza, 21, pitched his third season for the DSL Blue Jays in 2017 and had his best numbers yet, posting a 1.66 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 21 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-3 Venezuelan righty did have some trouble, as can be seen by some of his secondary numbers. He only struck out 16.7% of batters and walked 13.3%, stepping back significantly in the walk category from 2016 when he walked just 6.7%. Mendoza needs to get to the US to move his career forward but three years in the DSL without being able to strike out as many batters as his younger counterparts could spell the end for Mendoza.

 

At 19 years old, Juan Diaz, a 6-foot Dominican lefty, had a solid debut with the DSL Jays. He threw 37 2/3 innings, making five starts out of 16 appearances and had a 1.67 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 25.7% of batters and walking 11.5%. While the walks are high (and Diaz also had nine wild pitches), the strikeouts could be an indication of good stuff. Without an in-person evaluation, it’s tough to say what the Jays will do with Diaz but I’d say that there’s greater than a 50% chance that he’s in the GCL in 2018.

 

Another member of the 17-years-old club, Geremy Jimenez is a 6-foot-2 righty from the Dominican Republic who struggled in his professional debut. Jimenez had a 9.35 ERA and 2.31 WHIP walking 22.6% of batters and striking out only 6.5% in 17 1/3 innings. He generated a ton of ground balls, however and it’s quite possible that the stuff is good but without the control to go with it. He’ll likely be back in the DSL next year.

 

17-year-old Brayan Mejia produced solid results in his first professional season, posting a 3.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 22 2/3 innings. Still his strikeout and walk rates were the wrong way for a player to be moving up with a 9.8% strikeout rate and 16.7% walk rate with another six batters hit by a pitch and six wild pitches. Look for Mejia to return to the DSL next year.

 

Next we come to Alexander Molina, who is — you guessed it — 17 years old, is a 6-foot-1 righty from Venezuela who had some solid results in 24 1/3 innings for the DSL Blue Jays in his debut year. He had a 3.70 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, striking out 14.0% of batters while walking 12.2%. Look for him to return to the DSL to sort out his control.

 

Jhon Victorino. Photo by Pierre Lacasse

Jhon Victorino was one of the older pitchers on the DSL staff, coming in at 18 years old and standing 6-foot-3. The Dominican righty didn’t allow many runs, just five runs in 23 1/3 innings for a 1.93 ERA. He didn’t give up many hits either, with just 13 on the season but he walked 12 and had a 1.07 WHIP with just 10 strikeouts. He’ll likely return to the DSL next year.

 

Another “older” pitcher, Juan Jimenez, tossed 16 2/3 innings for the DSL Jays. The 6-foot-2, Dominican righty had a 5.40 ERA and 1.92 WHIP, walking 18.8% of batters while striking out 10.6%. He’ll go back to the DSL for another year.

 

Ronald Magdaniel, a 20-year-old Venezuelan righty, was a swingman for the DSL Blue Jays, tossing 36 2/3 innings and making six starts among his 13 appearances. Magdaniel had a 3.19 ERA along with a 1.28 WHIP, walking just 5.1% of batters and striking out 19.9%. After a strong debut, it’s likely that Magdaniel jumps to the GCL in 2018.

 

17-year-old Venezuelan Luis Alvarez had a decent professional debut, working 29 innings for the Blue Jays and posting a 4.97 ERA with a 1.52 WHIP. His strikeout and walk rates were on the right side of things as he struck out 15.2% of batters and walked 6.8%, giving him a solid step in the right direction as he begins his career. I can easily see him returning to the DSL next year.

 

At 6-foot-4, 17-year-old Dominican righty Yohandy Martir is imposing to hitters and he was able to strike out over a batter per inning (24.7% of all batters) while walking only 6.2% in his professional debut. While his ERA was higher, at 3.66, his low 1.12 WHIP is something that can be a calling card for him as he moves up. He might be on the bubble of the GCL roster next year but I really like his control numbers (just one wild pitch and no hit batters) and the strikeout numbers should allow him to make the jump next year.

 

Another 6-foot-4 17 year old, Jeison Contreras didn’t fair as well as Martir did in his pro debut. He had a 5.54 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 13 innings in the DSL, striking out 10.2% and walking 11.9%. Look for him to get another year in the DSL under his belt.

 

18-year-old Moises De La Cruz is a 6-foot-1 Dominican who pitched just 4 2/3 innings in the DSL, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks with three hit batters, striking out two. A return to the DSL is likely.

 

Luis Pena, 19, is another big Dominican righty, standing 6-foot-4 but he pitched just 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. Pena could be intriguing, thanks to those strikeouts but he was suspended for 72 games on September 1 for violating the drug policy, testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance enhancer.

 

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