A live stream of a Salt River Rafters game Thursday evening left Blue Jays fans gushing about pitching prospect Marcus Stroman, who had an impressive outing in Arizona Fall League action against the Scottsdale Scorpions. Stroman threw 25 pitches in two perfect innings in relief, striking out the last five batters he faced.
Out of the 25 pitches, 19 of which were strikes, opponents only made contact four times: the first batter, Alen Hanson, flew out to centre fielder Kenny Wilson on an 0-2 count, Cory Vaughn fouled off a pitch, and Peter O'Brien fouled a pitch off before striking out on a caught foul tip. That was it. Stroman was very efficient, wrapping up the first inning on 12 pitches. He got Alex Dickerson and Angel Villalona to strike out on three pitches each to start the eighth inning before a seven-pitch at bat against O'Brien, one that he stared off with two balls. Then, Stroman threw a beautifully-placed slider for strike one. That not only impressed me, but also Baseball Prospectus's Harry Pavlidis, who tweeted that it "edged him ahead of the 'young pitcher' pack."
By my count the Scorpions whiffed on nine of Stroman's offerings. Some of those whiffs came on nasty sliders with huge breaks. I do not have much talent in pitch recognition, but Pavlidis mentioned that there were a few back door cutters in there too. Take note in Stroman's fast arm movement in the following highlight pack, the filth level of which makes it not safe for work:
And in GIF form, courtesy of Noah Sherman:
Of course, the responsible part of me has to remind you that Stroman was facing a bunch of minor leaguers and the Arizona Fall League is a long way from the American League East, but the way he looked tonight was extremely promising. It has been a long time since I've had so much fun watching someone pitch in a Blue Jays jersey. And the Twitterverse was uniformly positive too:
Marcus Stroman=fun— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) November 8, 2013
"buys 11 Marcus Stroman jerseys!!:— Paul Sporer (@sporer) November 8, 2013
Difference between dumb folks overhyping a guy and smart people recognizing they're seeing something special. Stroman tonight is the latter.— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) November 8, 2013
Stroman makes me really wish it was regular season already.— LaLaLatte (@captainlatte) November 8, 2013
teaching Stroman a cutter is a hint that the Jays see him as a starter— Harry Pavlidis (@harrypav) November 8, 2013
Yes he does. Belonged in the majors in September "@harrypav: seriously, Stroman looks like a big leaguer"— keithlaw (@keithlaw) November 8, 2013
Goodness Stroman. 6 outs on 25 pitches. 5 strike outs. That's good right?— Noah Sherman (@noah_sherman) November 8, 2013
Yes it is Noah, very much so.
Marcus Stroman's Blue Jays teammates Kenny Wilson and Andy Burns also played in the game. Kenny Wilson had a tough day after walking and scoring the first run of the game in the first inning, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts the rest of the way (including a really bad whiff on a filthy breaking ball). The commentators were gushing about his range on defense, though, referencing this incredible catch in centre field from Wednesday night.
Burns went 1-for-3 with a walk, scoring twice. The "1" was a triple that came on a ball that was crushed on a line to deep centre field, just out of the reach of Jarrett Parker. Burns threw on the afterburners to get to third. Burns hit the ball really well, lining one right at the third baseman in the second, and hitting another line drive to left field in the sixth inning. And a fun fact according to Blue Jays From Away, Burns has already played four different defensive positions in the AFL season: third base, first base, left field, and right field this game.
Man, I hope that the Blue Jays find a way to not trade Marcus Stroman, not only does he show tremendous promise, but he also seems to be a great person too. Can't wait to see him in person.