By Illya Harrell on June 27, 2014
With the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees nipping at their heels, the Toronto Blue Jays surprisingly own the best record in the AL East. Their offense is near the top of major categories, but their starting pitching needs improvement. They will be "buyers" when the trade deadline rolls around. The Jays have MLB-ready prospects to pony up in exchange for a top-notch (David Price) starter. Here are a few they could part with in 2014.
Kevin Pillar is a left fielder who hit three home runs in his brief stint with Toronto last season. Currently, he's playing in triple-A ball in Buffalo. Pillar has a compact stroke and makes solid contact. He's got a plus-arm but is blocked in left by Melky Cabrera. He'd be a throw-in prospect for a stud (David Price) pitcher.
Catcher A.J. Jimenez is another MLB-ready prospect the Blue Jays could package in a deal for a top-tier pitcher (David Price). While he's not much of a hitter at this point, the dude is one of the best defensive catchers in the minors. Quick and athletic, Jimenez does it all behind the dish. He has a cannon arm, blocks the plate, frames pitches and calls a great game. Yadier Molina wasn't much of a hitter when he arrived in St. Louis.
If the Jays want a super (David Price) starting pitcher they will need to hand over a few arms in exchange. Lefty starter Sean Nolin has a load of pitches he can throw at anytime with two fastballs, a four-seamer that runs in the low 90s and a two-seamer with nice sink. His best pitch is a change that drops just before it gets to the plate. Nolin's curve and slider need work. It's likely he will wind up as an adequate middle of the rotation guy.
Right-handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez entered the 2014 season as Toronto's No. 1 prospect. His effortless but devastating four-seam fastball regularly touches 96 on the gun. He'll get strikeouts, but keeping the ball in the yard and a low H/9 ratio will the bread and butter to the top of someone's rotation. Sanchez's command is horrid. A career minor league 5.0 BB/9 won't fetch a stud (David Price) starter the Jays need to win the AL East.
Barely two years out of Duke University, Marcus Stroman is already pitching in Toronto. Stroman has been beating the odds since tee-ball. Standing just 5-foot-9, he's the shortest right-handed starter since 1997. He's got a heavy mid-90s fastball and a crazy number of off-speed pitches. Last season in double-A ball he sported a 4.8 K/BB. Any deal for an ace (David Price) arm would include Stroman in the package.
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