Friday, 24 October 2008


Robert MacLeod informs us that there are two new Blue Jays today! Yay!! Not only that, but they are high draft picks to boot.

To your right you see Bryan Bullington. The just turned 28 right hander who was selected #1 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002. Looking at Bullington's minor league stats and history is informative here. His age 23 season at AA in 2004 was unimpressive for a #1 pick, but not a train wreck, the next year at AAA he pitched well in 18 starts but only appeared once for the Pirates after developing an elbow injury that forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss all of 2006. Recovering in 2007 he suffered the typical control issues and his K rate, which had been decent but far from impressive, sharply declined. He opened 2008 back in AAA and his ratios were improved (7.20 K/9, 3.00 BB/9) but he was giving up too many hits. Still, it wasn't THAT ugly. Somehow the Pirates managed to lose Bullington to the Indians on waivers and he gave them 10 fairly good starts in AAA before being called up for two September starts. In those starts, he gave up 15 hits and only 2 walks in 14.2 innings while striking out 12. The downside is he gave up 4 home runs. The Jays claimed Bullington off waivers today and waived Kevin Mench to make room for him. What he signed for is uncertain but they were not officially on the hook for Loewen's $700K salary because they did not claim him on waivers.

Bottom line: I think this is an excellent pick up. No one should expect Bullington to necessarily live up to the #1 pick billing of course, but he'll be added to the mix of guys competing for the back of the rotation next year and there's at least a possibility that one of the Jays' pitching gurus will find the key which unlocks Bullington's talents. At worst, he's quality AAA depth and more to be noticed than the likes of Bill Murphy.

To the left, above, is once heralded pitcher Adam Loewen who is a pitcher no more. The contract that the 4th overall pick in 2002 signed with the Orioles demanded that at this point in his career he be paid $700,000 and be placed on the 40 man roster if they retained him. The O's tried to sneak the 24 year old lefty through waivers but the Jays were able to attract Loewen to sign with them after he cleared waivers. Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, widely recognized as a top guy when it comes to talent evaluation said this:

“Hopefully this is the start of something really good, We're really excited to see him come into spring training and see what he can do.”

Cito Gaston had a much more intriguing quote:

"They tell me he was like that kid down in Texas -- Josh Hamilton -- as a hitter"

LaCava said the Jays will bring Loewen, who hasn't been a hitter since 2003, to spring training and work him out as a 1B and/or corner outfielder to see where they think he plays best. It's uncertain where the rusty hitter will begin his re-invention but if Rick Ankiel serves as the model, probably Dunedin or Lansing depending on how the Jays other established prospects are assigned. Ankiel got about 700 minor league at bats before he got back to St. Louis so if you see Loewen wielding a bat in Toronto before 2011, be impressed.


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