Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis traverses the treacherous terrain of the Virginia mountainside en route to Saturday’s Appalachian League contest between the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays. It’s a journey fraught with lousy cell phone reception, a reality that assumes heightened levels of annoyance when there’s an overzealous Jays fan — unconvincingly posing as a journalist — on the phone.
Then again, any man who endures 790 career minor-league games for 14 plate appearances in the majors is, presumably, far more adept at handling adversity than the average person. And so, when I propose a fairly comprehensive prospect round-up, Davis is more than happy to oblige.
Jonah Birenbaum: Marcus Stroman was obviously very polished coming out of Duke, and he’s been dominant in Double-A this year, with a 3.22 ERA with 103 Ks in just over 89 innings. But scouts are sort of torn on him, with his build and the lack of downward plane that he generates with his fastball, is home run susceptibility going to prevent him from making it as a starter in the big leagues?
Doug Davis: I think that’s a question everybody has. I think if you just ask a number of people, half of them are going to say he can start and half of them will say he can’t. And I don’t know whether we’re going to find out until we actually give him the opportunity. I feel like he can start. I think he’s got enough pitches. I think he’ll learn how to pitch with his fastball, even though his stature — you know, he’s not a tall guy — and he doesn’t create a lot of plane. I think there’s other ways to get around that and I think he’ll learn how to do it. He’s a very smart kid, and the pitches themselves — you know, he’s got the potential to have, really, all plus pitches — and because of that, with velocity, I still think he’s going to be able to start and utilize four different pitches. That’s kind of where I’m at. You know, he’s done great in Double-A; I think everybody’s seen the positives, and I think the negatives have surfaced, too, a little bit, but again, the guy hasn’t been pitching very long professionally, and I think we’ve got to give him time, got to give him the opportunity to gain more experience against better hitters. Again, I think because of his makeup and his intelligence, he’s going to learn how to make adjustments and become a better pitcher.