Hello again everyone, hope you’re all having a good day. A dump truck drove through a puddle drenching me in ice water as I walked home from an exam at school today so no matter how bad your day is going, it’s definitely better than mine. This week we take at look at Marcus Stroman, who in my opinion is the most interesting Jays prospect at this time. Stroman was drafted 22nd overall by the Jays in the last MLB draft (2012). He signed at a slot signing bonus of $1.8 million. Stroman was also drafted by Washington in the 18th round of the 2009 draft before deciding to go to Duke. He pitched quite well for the Blue Devils ending with a 3.27 ERA over his three years in Durham. Stroman is quite small in stature measuring up at 5’9" and 185 pounds.
Prior to the draft, Stroman was ranked consistently in the top 15 range so it was a bit of a steal for the Jays to get him at #22. It should be noted that the Jays had the #22 pick due to not signing Tyler Beede in the 2011 draft. Many scouts, including Keith Law, pegged Stroman as the odds-on favourite to be the first 2012 draftee to reach the majors (more on that in a second). The Jays decided low-A Vancouver would be the first place for Stroman to see competitive action. In seven relief appearances (11.1 IP) Stroman pitched pretty well ending with a 3.18 ERA in addition to an 11.9K/9 and surrendering no homeruns. At the beginning of August the Jays then continued with their plan to put Marcus on the fast track to the majors by calling him up to AA New Hampshire. In eight relief appearances Stroman continued the trend of his mid 3 ERA (3.38 to be exact) along with his high strike out rate (9K/9) and ability to keep the ball in the park (only one homer surrendered).
This is where the story gets ugly, as I’m sure you all know. At the end of August, Stroman was suspended for using the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine. I’m not sure whether it makes the situation better or worse, but the stimulant is not even worth being suspended for. "While it’s chemically related to amphetamines, it’s only slightly more powerful than a cup of coffee" according to Greg Wells, a kinesiology professor at the University of Toronto who has educated Olympic athletes on doping rules. While no questions were ever raised about his character pre-draft, this positive test has to raise a few eyebrows, along with his insufferable twitter feed (he fits right in with the other Jays!)
Fastball- Marcus Stroman’s fastball is definitely one of his two best pitches along with his slider. Due to his size it often stays on a flatter plane than a taller pitcher, which is a definite disadvantage. His fastball stays right around the mid-90 mark on the radar.
You can see the explosiveness of his fastball in this video and also how he struggles to change the batter’s eye level with his relatively flat fastball.
Slider- Stroman’s best off-speed pitch by a large margin is his electric slider. His ability to change the pace of the pitch means it can sit almost anywhere in the 80-87MPH range and is considered a plus pitch. To counter-act the flat fastball, the slider has a great late break that causes all sorts of ugly swings by batters.
Here is a fantastic video of one of Stroman’s Duke appearances against Boston College. This was just before the draft and gives you an idea why scouts thought he was advanced enough to quickly get to the majors. The slider at the 5 minute mark gives you a pretty good idea of how filthy the pitch is.
Marcus Stroman - RHP - Duke (05-17-12 at Boston College) (via alskor)
Cutter- Stroman also has a solid cutter which hangs around the high 80’s. It’s a useful addition to his repertoire as it is somewhat of a middle ground between his fastball and slider. Used almost exclusively against lefties as a pitch to ride in on their hands, the cutter could certainly be useful for Stroman to avoid becoming a predictable two pitch pitcher.
Here’s another video from one of Stroman’s appearances in Vancouver. At the 1:15 mark he might throw the cutter but it’s tough to tell as it lags right as the pitch is thrown and it’s impossible to read the catcher’s signs. Also, the uploader has a lot of other good videos of prospects, mainly the Lansing Three.
Marcus Stroman vs. Boise - July 12, 2012 (5) (via Charles Davis)
Change-up- A rarely used pitch at this point in Stroman’s career, the change-up sits in the low 80’s and plays off of the fastball nicely. Scouts seem to think that the change-up has the potential to be an above average pitch thanks in part to it’s fade and depth.Stroman throws a few change-ups in the Duke video I posted earlier. Here’s one of them.
Outlook- There isn’t a lot of question marks with Stroman other than how he will be used in the Majors. In a recent Q&A online Alex Anthopoulos addressed a question about the future for Stroman saying, "We're going to stretch him out as a starter in Dunedin this year to get his innings up and also to see how he does. He always can be moved back to the bullpen later but that's the plan going into the season." Well then, there’s that question answered. Stroman’s mechanics are fairly consistent although as this report along with a quick glance at the videos suggest, Stroman can sometimes be too quick to the plate leaving his arm lagging behind. It seems like that’s what happened during this pitch. Other than small control issues such as this, his pitches are usually consistently around the strike zone. His height will always be a factor going against him, although it hasn’t appeared to stop him yet (reading the hundreds of tweets he sends out about his size everyday also seems to suggest that it motivates him just a little bit). Stroman will miss the first 43 games of New Hampshire’s season (he’s locked into that roster) and then will try to jump back on to the fast track to the majors. Post-suspension he will either stay in New Hampshire or make the jump to AAA Buffalo and wait until there’s a spot for him in Toronto. His debut with the Jays will likely come in the relief role, as it looks a lot more likely for a need to develop in the bullpen than in the starting rotation with the backlog of starters in Buffalo.