The Toronto Blue Jays are getting two pitching prospects in return for their ace Marcus Stroman. Whether or not it’s an agreeable return for one the best pitchers the Jays have had recently, it’s done and now Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson are in the prospect pool.
These are two arms that were rated in the top-10 of the Mets’ system, but their whole pool has been a mess since the promotion of Alonso and don’t have any shiny names within it. Looking at this trade as broadly as possible, acquiring a pitcher that most likely will be in Toronto in 2020 and also a high-ceiling teenage pitcher in return for Stroman isn’t as bad as some are making it.
Depends on what the quality of the two pitchers end up being, but that’s with every trade involving prospects. All we have now to do is now wait and see with these two arms.
LHP Anthony Kay
Kay, 24, is 9th within the Mets system, according to Fangraphs rankings. The starter has been promoted to the next level quickly — going from Single-A to Triple-A in just two quick years.
Drafted 31st-overall in 2016, his time in the minors is highlighted by his powerful performance for Double-A Binghamton early this summer. Through 66 and 1/3 innings, Kay was able to keep a 1.49 ERA and strike-out batters at a 9.50 K/9 rate.
At the next level, the 24-year-old has some of his work cut out for him. He has struggled so far in Triple-A — a 6.61 ERA and a minimal 10.7 K-BB%. But this could all be due to growing pains and rushing through the system.
Overall, Kay still has time to develop into something manageable and major-league ready.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs had this to say about Kay in their write-up on the Mets’ prospects January:
21 months elapsed between when Kay signed his pro contract and when he finally threw a pitch in affiliated ball. UConn rode him hard during his junior year in Storrs. He faced 36 hitters in a March game the Huskies won 18-to-1. During conference tournament play, Kay threw a complete game, then pitched again during the tournament on three days rest; he threw 90 pitches amid an hour-long lightning delay. It was unsurprising when he blew out in the fall of 2016. When Kay finally returned last year, he looked markedly different than he did in college when he was a lefty changeup monster with mediocre velocity. Kay’s fastball has ticked up and now sits at about 93 mph instead of peaking there, and his two-plane breaking ball is better. His once-dominant changeup has regressed. There’s a strong chance Kay ends up as a good lefty reliever but if the changeup ever returns, he could be a No. 4 starter.
From Baseball America's mid-season rankings: Lefty Anthony Kay is "A strong-bodied lefty with arm strength and a three-pitch mix, Kay dominated AA competition and reached AAA in June. That promotion proved he still had work to do before a callup, which could come this season."
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 28, 2019
The front office would probably love to see a late-season push and dominance in Toronto, just like Ryan Borucki was able to have in 2018, but considering his current numbers in Triple-A, it might be better to keep the pitcher down there to develop.
There are always positives though, his abrasiveness and ability to completely kill an opposing offence is something to dream about. And he gave a lot to dream during his time with the Double-A Rumble Ponies.
It would look better on paper if Kay was still in Double-A and absolutely slinging and missing bats, but his struggles at Triple-A so far this season has painted an unfortunate picture.
He has the tools and has a 45 Future Value rating on Fangraphs, so who am I to judge about a 24-year-old that might make his major-league debut later this season.
Here’s a look at newly acquired lefty Anthony Kay tossing a 94-mph elevated fastball for the strikeout. pic.twitter.com/XMXLp1akjf
— Ryan D (@RyanDifrancesco) July 28, 2019
RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
The other part of the return with a much-higher ceiling and potential to make a significant impact in the Blue Jays’ system. Woods Richardson has the velocity with his 55-rated fastball but also has the stuff to have some gif-worthy strikeouts.
He’s rated as the 8th-best prospect for the Mets by Fangraphs and Kiley McDaniel had this to say about the 18-year-old pitcher back in January:
An athletic, outwardly competitive two-way high schooler, Woods Richardson would also have been a prospect as a power-hitting third baseman were he not so good on the mound. His vertically oriented release point makes it hard for him to work his fastball east and west, and several teams had him evaluated as a future reliever before the draft because they saw a lack of fastball command. But this vertical release also enables him to effectively change hitters’ eye level by pairing fastballs up with breaking balls down, and he has a plus breaking ball. Woods Richardson works so quickly that it often makes hitters uncomfortable, though scouts love it. He’s also shown some nascent changeup feel, but it will be hard to turn the cambio over consistently from his arm slot. Though he was one of the 2018 draft’s youngest prospects, his frame is pretty mature, so we’re not rounding up on the fastball even though he’s still a teenager. His reasonable floor is that of a high-leverage or multi-inning reliever (a role that would seem to suit his fiery on-mound presence), but if a third impact pitch develops he could be a mid-rotation starter.
The second-round pick in 2018 has made his way to Single-A ball this season, making 20 starts so far this season for 78 and 1/3 innings. In those performances, he has a 4.25 ERA and a powerful 11.14 K/9. He has unfortunately suffered from a lackluster defence inflating his earned run totals, as he currently sports a 2.55 FIP.
Throughout the South Atlantic League (Class-A) Woods Richardson is able to outperform older starters around him.
Among all other pitchers with at least 50 IP, he sits 6th in FIP (2.55), 8th in K/9, 8th in K/BB, 9th in K% (29.9) and 2nd in K-BB% (24.6). Essentially, he is pitcher that is able to miss bats at a rate that is much more impressive when you consider his age, all while not walking opposing batters.
Here’s a look at an SWR fastball pic.twitter.com/0FwnxfEyAU
— Ryan D (@RyanDifrancesco) July 29, 2019
Overall, the young starter seems like a pitcher that some fans can rely on to get excited about. He throws hard and will produce strikeouts that will make some jaws drop. With some impressive stuff to boot, Woods Richardson will most likely be added to the exciting group of Pearson, Pardinho and a sprinkle of Patrick Murphy, when it comes to the Blue Jays’ pitching prospects.