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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Elvis Luciano

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays-Workouts Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Elvis Luciano, as you know, was picked up in the Rule 5 draft. He’s the youngest player ever chosen in the Rule 5 draft. You know that it was because a strange rule that makes a player eligible for the draft if their original contract has to be renegotiated. It’s something that I would imagine MLB didn’t think would come up, and especially not with an 18-year-old.

So now the Blue Jays have a pitcher who they have to keep on the active roster for the season, who hasn’t pitched above rookie league, or they have to offer him back to the Royals.

2080 Baseball has a scouting report on him:

Luciano has a moderate-effort delivery with a strong, fast arm. There’s not an issue with his mechanical operation or the lines in the delivery; the effort lies in arm recoil after a high three-quarters release. He worked in the 92-to-94 range, touching 95, showing average life and command. The fastball can be an above-average pitch right now when he extends through the pitch and gets life and angle on the ball. When he doesn’t, the pitch flattens out and is hittable in the zone, especially up. A strong athlete with a compact delivery, I project the fastball to a future 55-grade pitch with development, with enough velocity (60-grade) and movement to consistently play above-average. His curveball also flashes above-average, showing sharp 11-5 break with two-plane depth at best. It can back up on him at times, but it’s very enthusing to see feel for hard spin from a fairly on-line delivery at this age. Like most teenage pitchers, the changeup lags behind the other two pitches. He throws it with modest separation from his heater at 85-to-86 mph, and there’s less feel to keep it around the zone.

The Jays would really like to keep him for the year and then they can send him to the minors next season, to continue his development.

What are the odds that we can keep him for the full season?

Well, it helps a bunch that the team isn’t planning to be in the race this year. It isn’t like he’s going to be the difference between us making the playoffs or not. But it will be tough to play the season with what would effectively be a 24-man roster. If Elvis can get us some outs, it would help.

The Jays have had pitchers jump from the lower minors to the majors recently. Roberto Osuna pitched in Dunedin in 2014 (a big 7 games, putting up a 6.55 ERA) before making the Blue Jays out of spring training in 2015, just one year older than Elvis. That worked out.

And, same year, Miguel Castro also made the Jays out of spring training, after splitting 2014 between Vancouver (10 starts), Lansing (4 starts) and Dunedin (1 start, 1 relief appearance. He was also just a year older than Elvis. He wasn’t as successful as Roberto. He had a 4.38 ERA, 4 saves, 2 blown saves and 2 losses, when he was sent back to the minors. Then in July he was traded to the Rockies (with a handful of others) for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins. His career hasn’t gone exactly great since then.

So they both were a year older and were in A ball the previous year, not Rookie League.

Elvis has only had 2 pro seasons and has thrown just 133.2 innings. Osuna had 3 pro seasons and had thrown 109 innings. Castro had 3 pro seasons and had thrown 171 innings.

That doesn’t answer the question of whether Luciano will be able make it through the season with the Blue Jays.

Last year in Rookie League, Elvis had a 3.90 ERA. In 67 innings he allowed 61 hits, 23 walks and had 70 strikeouts. He didn’t walk too many. If he can keep the ball in the strike zone, he might be able to handle the mopup man role.

Of course, I saw a tweet saying that Elvis hit Teoscar Hernandez on the hands on the first day of camp.

In a Laura Armstrong story in the Star, there is a quote from Pete Walker:

“For a youngster that just turned 19, his stuff is electric. He hides the ball very well, his changeup is outstanding, his breaking ball is a little bit of a work in progress but his fastball is major-league ready.”

Walker also said that they will make sure Luciano gets to pitch against major leaguers in spring training games, so they can see if he can get them out. If he gets guys out, he’ll make the team.


Elvis Luciano will

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Be returned to the Royals by the end of Spring Training.
    (59 votes)
  • 13%
    Be returned to the Royals by the end of April.
    (96 votes)
  • 15%
    Be returned to the Royals by mid-season.
    (107 votes)
  • 62%
    Be with the Blue Jays all season.
    (445 votes)
707 votes total Vote Now