Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
Jason Hunt takes a look at an interesting relief prospect, the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman.
Weight: 185 lbs.
On 40-man roster: No
Age as of 4/1/13: 21 (Turns 22 on 5/1)
Stroman was drafted out of Duke University by the Blue Jays with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. He worked primarily as a starting pitcher in college, but was the closer for Team USA in 2011 and was dominant in the role. The Blue Jays sent him directly to the Northwest League, where he had a 15:3 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 innings (7 appearances). He was promoted to AA to end his season, posting 8 strikeouts against 6 walks in 8 innings (8 appearances).
What's Stopping Him From Contributing Now?
Stroman reached AA for the Blue Jays by the end of the 2012 season, but missed the last week of the season after being suspended for a positive drug test (stimulant). As a result of this, he is expected to miss just shy of the first two months of the minor league season as a result, and would not be likely to debut until much later in the 2013 season.
It is possible that the Blue Jays could still try to develop Stroman into a starting pitcher, but given his smaller frame (5'9"), his chances of success are substantially lower than your average pitching prospects. More likely, his advanced repertoire could play very well out of the bullpen. He has shown plus velocity, reaching the upper 90s at times in spite of his small frame. In addition, Baseball America rated his slider the best in the Blue Jays organization. Unlike most relievers, Stroman also features a third pitch (cutter) which could be plus as well.
There have also been concerns mentioned in some of the reports I have read that Stroman has some issues with repeating his delivery, but it is a bit hard to judge a lot of that solely from the reports and the small sample size.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
Stroman has the potential to be either a high level closer, or at worst a high quality setup man. As a result, you could see a pitcher providing saves or holds, along with solid ratios and a high strikeout rate. If the Blue Jays decide to keep him in the rotation, he could be a mid-rotation starting pitcher if everything works out right.
When Could He Arrive?
It would not surprise me if Stroman was pitching in the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen by season's end, with 2014 being his first Opening Day in the Majors. He seems likely to start the 2013 season either at High-A or possibly AA when he does return from his suspension.
It sounds, from most accounts, that Stroman's future lies in the bullpen, and that he could be there very soon for the Blue Jays. The suspension slows his timeline pretty dramatically, but it sounds like he could still be in the bullpen by the end of the year regardless.