He wasn’t on any top prospect list. Even the most hardcore of Toronto Blue Jays fans likely wouldn’t have heard of the 24 year old southpaw who was drafted in the 9th round of the 2009 draft. Prior to this season it looked like Aaron Loup would be no more than an organization filler, a guy pitching innings when the prospects needed their rest. With a mid 4 ERA in A ball, it didn’t look like Loup would make it to the major leagues, much less AAA.
Something obviously clicked for Loup this year, and he’s been a huge success story in a season that has gone so wrong. Pitching exclusively out of the pen in AA, Loup managed a 2.78 ERA thanks to an improved strikeout rate and better command of his pitches. With the injuries piling up on the major league squad, and the Blue Jays desperate for some pitching, they promoted Loup to the majors all the way from AA.
Loup’s promotion was an act of desperation. He possesses a talented arm, but had the Jays pitching staff not been ravaged by injuries and ineffectiveness he would have toiled away in anonymity in AA. But Loup has made the most of his opportunity, and his emergence has provided the Jays with a boost to their bullpen going forward.
Loup has primarily been used against left handed hitters, but he’s been equally effective against right handed hitters. Over 17 1/3 innings pitched, Loup has a 2.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts against 1 walk. He’s pitching quality innings out of the bullpen, and his strong command points to the fact that Loup may develop into a late game reliever. He’s primarily relied on his fastball, throwing his 92 MPH heater nearly 80% of the time. His slider has been his best pitch, and he’s been using it along with his fastball to post an incredibly high 64% groundball rate. Loup’s combination of his strikeout rate, his command, and his ability to keep the ball on the ground has been the driving force behind his success, and the combination makes him a quietly effective weapon for the back of the bullpen.
Obviously it’s too early to jump to conclusions, as Loup has only thrown 17 innings in the majors. But he’s looked fairly impressive so far, and if he keeps this up there is a very good chance that he’ll head to spring training with one of the 7 bullpen spots locked up. Aaron Loup may not have been on any top prospect lists heading into the season, but he’s made it clear that he belongs in the majors, and he’s one of the few bright spots in a season that is sorely lacking any sort of good news.