The Covid-19 pandemic has created an incredible amount of obstacles in day-to-day life, and the world of sports was obviously impacted tremendously.
What we see on the surface of course is well documented; relaxed rosters, limited travel, few or no fans in the seats, but a major factor that hasn’t been discussed in great detail is the ability for young free agents and draft-eligible players to be accurately scouted and assigned within the affiliated minors of Major League teams.
This has forced many young free agents to turn to social media where they can post videos of their bullpens with accurate velocity, and Rapsodo data—spin rate, break, etc. giving teams hard information to project how they might perform in affiliated ball. It’s an amazing testament to how much these kids and their support staff believe in their ability to play the game.
Free agent Connor Overton 95-97.7 MPH Bullpen. Looking for an affiliate job for next year.
FB up to 19.5 VB
— Connor Overton (@Coverton6) January 14, 2021
For Connor Overton, his baseball journey, since being drafted in the 15th round by the Miami Marlins in the 2014 Draft has taken him to ten different professional teams, both affiliated and independent. And with no minor league season in 2020, Overton was left searching for a job, without any recent game action. What he did have to offer was a high 90s fastball with impressive movement and the ability to throw strikes.
Overton signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays on January 29th, but his work wasn’t done there. He was still a 27 year old with 6.1IP in AAA in his 7-year professional career; 2IP in 2015 while he was with the Nationals organization, and 4.1IP in 2018 with the Giants–neither stint was particularly memorable, and he wasn’t able to stick.
Overton made his Bisons debut on the back of Alek Manoah’s 12 strike-out season debut. He surrendered just 2 hits in 2 innings of work, striking out three; a respectable debut, but it was his third outing of the season that has ears perked within the organization.
Nate Pearson was called up to the big club to start against The Houston Astros, and The Bisons were left without a starter for their May 15th contest against The Rochester Red Wings, the affiliate of Overton’s former team; The Washington Nationals. In what was supposed to be spot start duties, Overton went 6 innings and allowed only 2 hits, earning him the victory, and likely, another nod to take the hill as a starter as, no doubt, more and more pitchers fall to injuries or get called up to the Blue Jays.
Spot on spot start! 💯
— Buffalo Bisons🦬 (@BuffaloBisons) May 9, 2021
Overton’s fastball features an impressive amount of downward movement, garnering a high rate of ground balls, which could make him a candidate for a mid-season call-up, given the overall health of the Jays so far this season. Could the Blue Jays be Connor Overton’s eleventh professional team, and allow him to achieve his dream of pitching in the show? Only time, and continued success with The Bisons, will tell.