How Blue Jays prospects fared in the Arizona Fall League

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The Arizona Fall League wrapped up this past weekend and with it, so did the seasons of several Toronto Blue Jays prospects.

Seven of the team’s farmhands suited up for the Surprise Saguaros, who finished with an 11-9 record in the six-team league.

With roughly one month of games, there’s not much sample size to evaluate. However, competition is notably stiff in the AFL.

Here’s a look at how Blue Jays prospects fared.

PITCHERS

Jackson McClelland, RHP
4.91 ERA | 8 games | 11.0 innings | 9 BB | 15 Ks

McClelland, 24, has become known for his power arm that topped 100 miles per hour this season. The Blue Jays want to see the reliever hone his command, and on that end, his stint in the AFL shows McClelland is still a work in progress — he issued walks in all but two outings.

The right-hander’s worth keeping an eye on as he’s not currently on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster and is a Rule 5-eligible player. The deadline to protect players is Tuesday and it’s possible teams could take a chance on McClelland’s electric arm if he’s exposed.

Zach Jackson, RHP
4.05 ERA | 9 games | 13.1 innings | 9 BB | 17 Ks

The 23-year-old reliever spent all season with double-A New Hampshire, where he collected strikeouts at a dizzying pace (10.9 K/9), but was plagued by a 7.4 BB/9 clip. Jackson, selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2016 draft, carried those trends over to the AFL, yet managed to stay mostly effective.

His second outing was ugly — three runs allowed with just two outs recorded — but Jackson righted himself considerably over his next 11.1 innings, surrendering just three runs.

Shawn Morimando, LHP
6.65 ERA | 7 games | 21.2 innings | 9 BB | 18 Ks

Morimando was limited to just 13 starts between the Indians and Blue Jays systems this year due to a shoulder ailment. The 25-year-old was sent to the AFL to get some reps and though his results were inconsistent, he did spend plenty of time on the rubber — the southpaw was third on his team in innings and tied for 13th in the league.

Nate Pearson, RHP
6.20 ERA | 6 games | 20.1 innings | 13 BB | 23 Ks

Like Morimando, Pearson’s mission was to make up for missed time (he was sidelined for most of the season with a broken forearm). The fireballing right-hander, widely considered the Blue Jays’ best pitching prospect, struggled to open his AFL stint, but finished in dominant fashion.

He tossed four perfect innings in his penultimate outing, then followed that with five shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks.

INFIELDERS

Santiago Espinal, SS
.250/.328/.339 | 56 AB | 0 HR | 2 2B | 7 BB | 7 K

The Blue Jays picked up Espinal, 24, in the late June trade that sent Steve Pearce to Boston and assigned him to the AFL in place of Bo Bichette. Espinal — the No. 23 prospect in the club’s farm system, per MLB Pipeline — didn’t have an especially strong showing with the stick, but can hardly be judged by just 15 AFL games. He posted an .800 OPS across three teams during his 2018 minor-league campaign.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B
.351/.409/.442 | 77 AB| 0 HR | 7 2B | 8 BB | 6 K

The top prospect in baseball did what he has been doing for his entire professional career: Rake, while drawing more walks than strikeouts. There’s really nothing more to say, other than note the fact that he did leave the AFL early for a family matter.

OUTFIELDER

Cavan Biggio
.262/.405/.415 | 65 AB | 2 HR | 4 2B | 15 BB | 15 K

Biggio’s monster season continued in Arizona, where he posted an .820 OPS with an impressive 15 walks that were tied for third in the league. What’s equally impressive is that the regular second baseman gained more exposure to the outfield during his AFL stint than at any previous point in his minor-league career.

In total, he played eight games in right field, four in left, two games at first base and one game at second. Such experience could eventually prove beneficial given the organizational’s logjam in the middle infield.

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