Getting to know Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Al Pesto
1 month ago
Sometimes in life, you have to make your own destiny. For right-hander Al Pesto, that’s exactly what he did to find an opportunity with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I spent some time at Duke University early in my career before joining Southeastern after my senior season,” said Pesto, speaking to Blue Jays Nation. “I spent some time in 2022 in independent ball and heading into 2023, I was sending my baseball videos to every team across the league, throwing bullpens and staying in game shape. After sending my sessions, the Blue Jays decided to take a chance on me.”
Injuries limited Pesto during his time with the Blue Devils and after his senior year, the reliever took his talents to Lakeland, Florida with Southeastern University, where he pursued his MBA and continued pitching. With the Fire, Pesto amassed a 5.06 ERA through 11 outings during his second season (the first was cut short due to COVID-19 shutting down programs across the country), helping the club to a 50-9 record. Following his two seasons there, Pesto was left without a pro contract offer but that didn’t stop him, as he took his talents out west to Billings, Montana where he joined the Mustangs in the Pioneer League.
Getting to know Blue Jays prospect Al Pesto
Through a career-high 26 relief outings, the Benedictine High School product amassed a 3.91 ERA through 25 1/3 innings while striking out 27 batters on pace to a 9.6 K/9 and limiting the free passes to 2.1 BB/9. After an impressive showing and continuing to stay in game shape while working remotely with Tread Athletics, an opportunity arose with the Jays and the club officially signed him to a minor league deal on June 3rd.
“It was very exciting to sign with the Blue Jays,” Pesto said. “It’s been a dream of mine to pursue a professional opportunity and to do it with a great organization like the Blue Jays is fantastic. So far, it has been a great experience and I am so excited to be doing it with this organization.”
To begin his career with the Jays, Pesto was sent to the Florida Complex League. In his first outing against the FCL Tigers, the right-hander threw a clean inning while striking out his first batter on three pitches, all called strikes. “It was pretty surreal stepping on that mound. I still remember that outing so well, just throwing strikes and attacking hitters.”
His stay in Dunedin was limited to four games before he was moved to double-A New Hampshire, where he got a taste of facing more advanced hitters. With the Fisher Cats (this time around), he made two appearances over two innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out six through both outings.
For the remainder of the season, the Blue Jays had Pesto flying all over the country, heading back to Dunedin but in single-A for a three-game spell, before heading back to New Hampshire for one appearance, and then out west to Vancouver for two appearances in mid-August as well. His last game of the year would be back with the Fisher Cats, going two innings against the Binghampton Rumble Ponies on August 25th. Following that outing, Pesto went to the IL and remained there for the rest of the campaign.
“It was awesome to get to pitch in different stadiums and get to know the guys across the organization,” said Pesto, speaking about his first year with the Jays. “You’re facing such high-quality hitters wherever you go, especially compared to my time in college and independent ball. The zone gets tighter and opposing hitters will capitalize on your mistakes, really making you pay for it. I just had to remind myself to stick to the game plan and execute to the best of my ability.”
In his first year across four different levels, Pesto finished the campaign with a 5.73 ERA and a 1.636 WHIP while striking out batters at a 10.2 K/9. He limited the free passes to a 2.5 BB/9 through 22 innings and finished five games across the three months he spent within the Jays farm system following his signing.
He features a fastball that sits in the mid to high 90s while also working with a slider and a changeup in his arsenal, which sit 5-10 MPH below his primary offering. Standing at 6-foot-3, Pesto attacks hitters with his plus fastball but has a sharp command of the offering, which bodes well with his secondary pitches to keep hitters off balance.
Looking ahead to next season, Pesto is ready to get back on the mound and get a full season underway.
“I am focusing on staying consistent with my bullpen sessions and keeping myself in shape,” said Pesto, speaking of his offseason preparations. “I want to stay healthy all year long and I have started to find a really good rhythm between training and life where I can carry that into next season and continue to get better.”
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