You may not be familiar with the flame-throwing prospect of the Toronto Blue Jays, but soon the image of Marcus Stroman will be cemented in baseball history. Stroman only stands 5’9”, but size is no matter when a 100 MPH fastball blows by the batter to secure Toronto’s first World Series in 20 years. Jose Reyes is the first man to greet him and the two embrace, sharing looks of sheer euphoria. Cheers and confetti fill the Rogers Centre as the celebration begins; Emilio Bonifacio, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie and the rest of the 2013 World Series champions converge in a pile on the mound.
That moment is months away, and the journey will be long for Stroman to get there. Stroman will be 22 years old to match the 22nd overall pick that the Blue Jays used to select him in the amateur draft last spring. The first round pick out of Duke University was deemed one of the most advanced prospects in his draft class before receiving the news that would derail him on his crash course for the big leagues. Stroman tested positive for Methylhexaneamine and would receive a 50-game ban from the MLB.
While grown men and established veterans have denied the results of positive tests, Stroman took the high road and handled the situation with maturity. He accepted full responsibility and explained that the substance had been ingested unknowingly in an over-the-counter supplement.
Stroman will not be eligible to return to the mound until May, but the prospect has used this incidence as motivating factor rather than an excuse to relax. Stroman pitched to a 3.26 ERA and struck out 23 batters in his first 19 1/3 professional innings in 2012. He reached Double-A and is likely to open his 2013 campaign there en route to making his major league debut during the summer.
Fantasy Baseball owners will immediately become acquainted with Stroman upon his arrival in Toronto. His fastball reaches into the upper 90s and he boasts a major-league ready slider that Baseball America touted as the best in the Blue Jays organization.
Toronto was recognized for their tremendous strides this off-season when they opened with the best odds of winning the 2013 World Series. They boast a formidable lineup from top to bottom and one of the most talented rotations assembled in recent history. The biggest question surrounding the new look Jays is whether their bullpen can match the production of the team’s other assets.
Casey Janssen performed admirably in the closers role after Sergio Santos was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury. There is speculation over which right-hander will claim the job out of Spring Training. If the two should struggle or fall to injury again, Stroman and his arsenal of electric pitches will be waiting in the wings.
There are few who doubt that Stroman is the heir to the closers role in Toronto and regard his emergence simply as a matter of time. As Toronto looks geared up to win now, it would be in their best interest to give the role to the most qualified candidate come playoff time.
Stroman could make his major league debut around the all-star break in order to give him valuable experience down the stretch. He will be worth monitoring as soon as he joins the team and will be a fantasy gem once he becomes the closer. Expect Stroman to appear in 30 big league games this season, logging a 2.50 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 10 saves.