Instead of jumping to Twitter with instant reactions and disappointment in what the Toronto Blue Jays got in return for homegrown starter Marcus Stroman before the trade deadline, some patience was required and that patience is showing to pay off.
Coming to the Toronto organization were two pitching prospects that were on opposite ends of the developmental scale. Anthony Kay is a 24-year-old starter that has slowly progressed and graced Baseball America’s mid-season Top-100 prospect rankings this year, but he’s as close to a polished prospect you can get. Someone that will be playing in the majors within the year, but shows some lack of ceiling.
On the other end, was Simeon Woods Richardson. At just 18, he’s certainly the one that Blue Jays fans can dream on and has quickly risen through the minors. He was slated for a promotion from Class-A Columbia to High-A St. Lucie right before the trade, so it makes sense he was sent off to High-A Dunedin when he came into his new organization.
With only some rare, grainy video and their respective Fangraphs pages to go off, most fans were displeased with the return. But since they have arrived, they have certainly risen hopes for this trade to work well for both franchises in the long run.
In any sport and especially baseball, trades aren’t fully figured out until a substantial amount of time passes since the deal was made, but if all anyone has to go off of is the present, it looks like Toronto added two solid pitching prospects.
In Triple-A Buffalo, Anthony Kay was off to a rocky start. His first appearance for this franchise was a 4 and 2/3 inning demonstration of mediocrity, allowing three earned runs, nine hits and three walks, while only striking-out three. But since then, his total time for the Bisons has made his previous experiences in Triple-A a thing of the past.
Anthony Kay is absolutely having himself a day in Columbus, Ohio. He struggled with control early on in the afternoon, but has found his feel. He struck out the side in the 6th inning and finishes with 8Ks, 5BBs, OERs. pic.twitter.com/Gvce8HcpCf
— Ryan D (@RyanDifrancesco) August 11, 2019
It’s only been a total of three starts equating to 15 and 2/3 innings, but currently Kay is sporting a 2.87 ERA, 17 Ks and allowing just a .233 opposing batting average. His walk rate is a little high — 11 walks in those 15.2 innings — but since coming over, Kay has demonstrated why he was targeted as an option to come to Toronto.
Especially since he had struggled in Triple-A earlier this season, these three quick games show at least a modicum of something to be hopeful for in the 24-year-old starter. If he continues doing this for the weeks remaining in the minor league schedule, there is no doubt that he will be making a major-league debut in 2020.
The other pitcher that’s a couple years away, Simeon Woods Richardson has been mandatory MiLB app watching when he’s on the mound.
Earning his first win in his third game in Dunedin with a powerful five innings where he allowed only a single hit and a single walk while earning five Ks, brings him to a solid 3.95 ERA and a total of 18 strikeouts. Labeled as a strikeout machine and has shown that with his 11.14 K/9 in Class-A Columbia earlier this year, Woods Richardson is upping that production as he moves up through the minors.
It’s simply incredible to have an 18-year-old, the youngest pitcher at that level, demonstrate this level of ability. It’s extremely early to tell and unfair to predict, but it wouldn’t be too shocking now to assume that he will be in Double-A New Hampshire and quickly rise to Triple-A Buffalo in 2021 — and that might be a conservative timeline based on his performances so far.
Both of these players will forever be haunted for what player the Blue Jays traded away to acquire them, always hovering over their heads like a bad contract or a unfortunate moment in sports history. But these players have pitched incredibly well for the Blue Jays organization so far and things can certainly get better.
As Stroman wears his 6.10 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, and his 10.45 K/9 through two starts with the Mets, the trade has grown and aged with some of the fanbase after a couple extremely concrete weeks of production from these two prospects.
It could end up being a fair trade, or it still has years to turn into an awful trade, but all anyone has to talk about is a few games that have gone the Blue Jays way so far. Let’s be optimistic for once.