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2018 MLB Draft Preview: Organizational RHP Depth

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2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Having gone through the left-handed pitching, today is the right-handed side of the equation. Since there are a lot more RHP than LHP, it’s split between starters and relievers (by current role, not necessarily future projected role). The preamble/background that follows is identical to previous entries, so those familiar can skip to the next section.

As in past years, this will be done by displaying players on a chart for each grouping according to both major league upside and experience level (a rough proxy for risk). This is not an exact science, so take the positioning with a grain of salt, but it looks something like this:

pitchingdepthtemplate

Keep in mind that “reasonable upside” is not the same as likely or base case projection, and most players at the lower levels won’t come anywhere close it. Basically, if the player’s development goes well, this is what he could become. And conversely, it’s not an absolute ceiling either and there is potential for upside surprise. This was exemplified most dramatically with Aaron Sanchez two years ago, but looking over last year’s rating Ryan Tepera has really taken a step forward in terms of command and consistency.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m including not only players with rookie eligibility, but also internally developed players contributing or established at the major league level with years of control remaining to give a better sense of the total organizational depth. As a general rule of thumb, I’ve kept players included last year for comparative purposes even if they wouldn’t otherwise be in the top tier of prospects.

Starters

2018 RHP SP

This might be the most interesting part of the organization, just in terms of the sheer range of potential possibilities. The headliners, in terms of pure upside, are two newcomers in Nate Pearson and Eric Pardinho. Both could be high end starting pitchers; both are a long ways off with effectively zero experience in full season ball.

Looking at more the depth options, there’s of course Joe Biagini, who looks more like a backend starter at best at this point with the lack of consistency as a starter. Sam Gaviglio has impressed so far in Buffalo and was decent in his half season of MLB starter. Deck McGuire’s resurgence continues, and the stuff is good enough that he just might be a decent backend starter.

Sean Reid-Foley too is resurgent in 2018, once again sitting with top end fastball velocity in the mid-90s, and seemingly sharper breaking stuff. That keeps him as a possible midrotation starter. T.J. Zeuch, just promoted to AA, has the stuff to be a ground ball heavy MLB starter, but needs to improve his consistency to avoid the big innings that have plagued him.

Then there’s a group of current starters, but likely future relievers. Jordan Romano and Patrick Murphy have big fastballs and a big breaking ball (slider/curve respectively), ut lack a third pitch and tend to have control lapses. It’s possible they stick as backend types, but they could be highend relievers. Yennsy Diaz and Justin Maese (once healthy) could fit into this as well. And it’s probably not to long until the towel is thrown in on Jon Harris as a starter and see if there’s something there in relief.

Finally, there’s a big group of arms in Lansing, mostly drafted in round 7-13, who are piggyback starting in Lansing, to varying initial success. Most likely have a future in relief, but perhaps there’s an Anthony DeSclafani type in there.

Relievers

2018 RHP RP

The Jays actually have a nice core group of controlled bullpen arms, especially were Biagini to end up back in the bullpen full time. Ramirez and to a lesser extent Barnes still have to cement themselves at the MLB level, and Taylor Guerrieri could join that group next year if he moves to the bullpen full time where his stuff plays up and he could have a few weapons.

The next group is around the AA level. Justin Shafer profiles as a sinker/GB heavy middle reliever, and Zach Jackson has the fastball/breaking ball combo, but the command and control likely limit him to somewhere on the middle relief spectrum. But the highest ceiling may be Jackson McClelland, who has come on really strong the last year. There’s still work to go refining it, but an upper 90s fastball and wipeout breaking ball give him a potential future as a set-up man or even closer if the command is further refined.

There’s also of course the quartet fro the above section whose futures are likelier in relief. Emerson Jimenez, the converted SS, has a huge arm and is nothing more than a total lottery ticket at this point, but if everything came together could have a big ceiling. Likewise, Matt Shannon and Ty Tice have big arms, in addition to some other arms at Lansing that could profile as MLB relievers.

Removed from last year: Conner Greene (traded), Glenn Sparkman (returned Rule 5), Jeremy Gabryszwski (left org), Mike Bolsinger and Taylor Cole (outright/FA); John Stilson and Adonys Cardona (FAs), various others