The Toronto Blue Jays need some help. The team hasn’t been too successful in the last 15 years, but they’ve not been terribly unsuccessful either. They’ve been sitting in some sort of weird baseball version of purgatory, hovering around the .500 mark each season. The Jays want that to change, and they are hoping Sean Nolin and other guys like Rob Rasmussen can help usher in a new era of Blue Jays history over the next couple of seasons.
Nolin, a 24-year-old lefty from New York, was drafted three times before finally signing with the Blue Jays in 2010, citing the desire to begin his college education as the primary motivator for not signing with a team earlier. His collegiate career was spent at San Jacito College North in Houston, Texas, where he pitched for two seasons.
After entering the Jays’ system in 2010, he started his professional career between rookie and low-A teams, where he posted a 5.48 ERA and a WHIP of 1.69 in seven starts. In 21 innings, the southpaw fanned 26 batters while walking 10. From there, Nolin spent most of his 2011 season at single-A Lansing and 2012 between high-A and double-A teams, by far his most successful season statistically. In 18 starts, Nolin assembled a 2.04 ERA with a WHIP of 1.07 and a SO/9 ratio of 9.6.
The 2013 season was memorable to say the least. Nolin spent the majority of the season at double-A New Hampshire of the Eastern League where he made 17 starts and posted a 3.01 ERA, good enough to earn him the opportunity to impress the big club in a May 24 spot-start against the Baltimore Orioles.
Nolin would like to have that one back as he lasted only 1.1 innings, surrendering six earned runs in his major league debut. He’d go on to finish the season at triple-A Buffalo, putting up impressive numbers.
From a physical standpoint, Nolin is a large man as far as pitchers go, standing at 6 foot-5 and weighing 235 pounds. Nolin has a repertoire of four pitches — fastball (88-90 mph), curveball, changeup and a slider — which is a fairly standard assortment these days. Nolin’s key to success is locating the fastball in the zone consistently and protecting it with a solid curveball.
Now, what’s in store for Nolin in 2014? Well, he’s definitely set to start the season at the triple-A level as he doesn’t have enough experience and upside to displace guys like Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison from spot-start duties in the short term. He will be part of the mix at some point this season, but look for Nolin to really make a splash during the 2015 season if he’s still around.
Vinny Gala is a baseball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.