Since Alex Anthopoulos took over as the Toronto Blue Jays General Manager on October 3rd, 2009, he has put together a farm system that is the envy of many other teams in the MLB.
The most notable aspect of the Jays farm system is the pitchers that Anthopoulos has stock piled. In his short reign as GM, Anthopoulos has drafted and signed Daniel Norris, Kevin Comer, Joseph Musgrove, Jeremy Gabryszwski, Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Justin Nicolino.
Once you add in pitchers like Drew Hutchison, Nestor Molina, Kyle Drabek, and Henderson Alvarez, the Jays have one of the most impressive stable of young arms in the Majors. Here is a closer look at 10 of the best pitchers in the Jays system.
Acquired: Drafted 74th overall in the 2011 draft out of Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee
2011 Stats: Not available due to late signing
Rated as the best left-handed high school pitcher in the entire 2011 MLB draft, Norris fell all the way to the Toronto Blue Jays at 74th overall due to the pre-concieved notion that he would go to college instead of signing with the team that drafted him.
The Jays were able to convince Norris to sign, with a little help from a huge signing bonus, and this Jays fan couldn't be happier.
Norris possesses a 91-94 MPH fastball, a 78-82 MPH change-up with downward movement that could be his best pitch, and a hard 12-to-6 curveball that can reach 80 MPH and is very good for his age. The Jays will give Norris plenty of time to develop it further.
Norris has the potential to be an ace in the Majors, but he probably won't be ready for three years at the least. He is likely to start his journey next year with the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Acquired: Drafted 46th overall in the 2011 draft out of El Cajon, California
2011 Stats: 0-1, 4.57 ERA, 21.2 IP, 16/4 K/BB
Musgrove was the first player that the Jays were able to sign from the 2011 draft. He signed for less then what the slot recommended, getting $500,000.
After starting his pro career off very slowly, Musgrove is improving with each appearance he makes, as proven by the fact that he has allowed just one earned run in his last 12 innings pitched. The Jays are bringing him along slowly, allowing him to pitch three innings for every start he makes.
Musgrove possesses a fastball in the 91-94 MPH range and has great control over it. He also throws an average change-up that ranges from 74-77 MPH and an inconsistent curve that can touch 82 MPH. He is someone who can eat up a lot of innings and also gives his all every fifth day when he is called upon.
Acquired: Drafted 61st overall in the 2010 draft out of Highland, California
2011 Stats: 2-2, 4.39 ERA, 41 IP, 39/16 K/BB
Signed too late into the season last year to see any action in the minors, Murphy got off to a slow start this season with the GCL Blue Jays. He is turning things around though, as evidenced by the fact that he has given up just one earned run in his last 15 innings pitched.
His fastball is an above average pitch that sits at 89-91 MPH. He can command it on both sides of the plate and possesses some good movement. His breaking pitch is a curveball that has seen considerable improvement during his short career.
One pitch that really needs improvement is his change-up, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Murphy is just 20 years old and the Jays have a knack for teaching their young pitchers how to throw a good change-up. One such example of that is current staff ace Ricky Romero.
Acquired: Drafted 34th overall in the 2010 draft out of Barstow, California
2011 Stats: 3-3, 6.29 ERA, 44.1 IP, 45/22 K/BB
Aaron Sanchez can either be a top of the line starter or a major bust. A lot of that is factored into whether he can begin to command his pitches better. He signed early last year after being drafted and did well in his minimal innings, but this year hasn't been too kind for him.
He is walking a batter for every second inning he pitches and his strange delivery still needs some work. His fastball sits at 92-94 MPH with good sinking action. His curveball has excellent break and he throws it almost as much as his fastball. Like Murphy, Sanchez still needs to work on his change-up.
Acquired: Drafted 38th overall in the 2010 draft out of Mansfield, Texas
2011 Stats: 5-2, 1.64 ERA, 55 IP, 65/17 K/BB (Three teams)
A young fire baller who is having one of the best seasons among all Jays pitching prospects, Noah Syndergaard has a smooth delivery and has moved up three classes this season alone. He may make it to the the big leagues faster than most people think.
His fastball sits at 93-95 MPH and he has very good control over it. He also throws a very good and hard curveball that is also a plus pitch. Like several other Jays pitchers, his change-up is the one pitch that he needs to work on.
Syndergaard was just added to the Lansing Lugnuts roster so he could help them in their playoff drive. He will likely start the season there next year and could end up in Dunedin before 2012 comes to a close. With the way he is moving through the system, Jays fans may not have to wait too long for his arrival.
Acquired: Drafted 82nd overall in the 2010 draft out of Orlando, Florida
2011 Stats: 6-1, 1.26 ERA, 57.1 IP, 68/12 K/BB
Justin Nicolino is probably the one pitcher in the system who is having an even more impressive season than Noah Syndergaard. His K/9 is very impressive and he has shown great control. He has also been recently called up to Lansing to help during their playoff drive.
Nicolino's arsenal includes a fastball that hits anywhere from 91-94 MPH and he can control it on both sides of the plate. His change-up is already a plus pitch and his curve ball is also improving into what should be a plus pitch.
Nicolino has seen his velocity increase this year and his command is still as good as it has ever been. Like Syndergaard, he may also rise through the system extremely quickly.
Acquired: Drafted 11th overall in the 2010 draft out of Richmond, Virginia
2011 Stats: 9-5, 3.06 ERA, 123.1 IP, 121/45 K/BB (Two teams)
Already in AA during his first pro season because of his age when he was drafted, McGuire projects to be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 who can eat a lot of innings and pitch with great consistency. He possesses four pitches that are average to above average.
His fastball sits in the low 90's, but has little movement and no sink. His change-up is his best pitch, as he has great control over it and throws it anywhere from 80-84 MPH. His curveball is thrown for strikes, but doesn't have to sharp of a break and he hangs his slider too often.
McGuire could see a September call-up in 2012. Until then, he will be helping New Hampshire on their playoff run this season. They have a good team and a good opportunity to win the Eastern League Championship.
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on April 6th, 2006 out of Valencia, Venezuela
2011 Stats: 12-3, 2.32 ERA, 124.1 IP, 139/15 K/BB (Two teams)
Nestor Molina is putting together a season for the ages. His control is probably the best in all the minor leagues as evidenced by his 139/15 K/BB ratio. In his three AA starts, Molina has struck out 24 batters while only walking one.
Molina doesn't have one pitch that is above the others, he possesses a good fastball, slider, change-up and occasional curve ball. He can control all four pitches and will use any one of them at any point in the count.
Molina could be a September call up in 2013, and I believe he has what it takes to be a good starter. A pitcher with four pitches and the type of control that he has is not likely to falter in the bigs.
Acquired: Drafted in the 15th round in 2009 out of Lakeland, Florida
2011 Stats: 12-5, 2.58 ERA, 139.1 IP, 157/35 K/BB (Three teams)
Being a lower draft pick, no one could have predicted this type of season from Hutchison, who has jumped three levels this season. His K/9 has been very good and he doesn't walk a lot of batters.
Hutchison's fastball sits at just 90-92 MPH, but he controls it well and it has amazing sink, producing lots of ground balls. His best pitch is definitely his change-up, which only makes his fastball better because he will throw the change-up in any count to throw the hitters off. His curveball has also shown considerable improvement this year.
Hutchison has been called up to New Hampshire recently to help in their championship run. He could be a September call-up in 2012.
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on August 17th, 2006 out of Valencia, Venezuela
2011 Stats: 8-5, 3.18 ERA, 96.1 IP, 70/18 K/BB (Minors), 0-2, 4.76 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16/5 K/BB (Majors)
A surprise call up to the Jays in early August, Alvarez has shown glimpses of what he is capable of during his short stint in the Majors. He will remain with the Jays for the rest of the year and will challenge for a spot in the rotation when 2012 rolls around.
Alvarez possesses a blazing fastball that hits anywhere from 94-97 MPH and that he can control with ease. His change-up is also an extremely good pitch that he controls well. The one thing holding him back is his inconsistent slider.
The good thing is that in his start yesterday, Alvarez's slider was incredible and he threw it more in that one start then his other three starts in the MLB combined. Once Alvarez starts throwing his slider more often, he could be a front end starter in the near future.