The Toronto Blue Jays added LHP Thomas Pannone at the Trade Deadline, he immediately becomes one of Toronto’s top pitching prospects
The Toronto Blue Jays landed themselves a left-handed starting pitcher when they sent reliever Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians at the Trade Deadline.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 31, 2017
Thomas Pannone was drafted by Cleveland in the 9th round of the 2013 draft and was pitching for Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate, Akron RubberDucks.
MLB.com did not have the 6’0″ lefty ranked in Cleveland’s Top Prospects, but has him ranked at 21 in the Blue Jays system. MLB.com rates his fastball and change at 50, his curve and control at 55, and he received an overall grade of 45.
Scouting the Lefty
Earlier this year Fangraphs David Laurila featured Pannone in his article, “Thomas Pannone: An Indians Prospect Puts Up Zeros“. Here’s how Laurila described the Blue Jays newest minor league pitcher:
He doesn’t cook with gas, but he has added a tick or two to his heater. Pannone sits 89-91, and the 93 at which he topped out in his last outing is an appreciable number. It’s also a nod to improved mechanics.
The product of CC of Southern Nevada has posted a record 8-1 and a 1.96 ERA across Advance-A (2 starts) and Double-A (14 starts). In 110.0 IP Thomas is striking out batters at a rate of 8.85 K/9 (24.5 K%) and walking batters at a rate of 2.30 BB/9 (6.3 BB%).
Laurila mentioned that Pannone struggled to work deep into games. Since that was in April, I thought I’d see if anything changed.
He is averaging 5.78 IP/start and averages 90.47 pitches per start. He has one complete game in 2017, courtesy of pitching all 7 innings of a doubleheader. He threw a season high 103 pitches, striking out 8 and walking 1 in the victory.
He’s pitched 7 innings twice but has consistently pitched into the 6th and 7th with his shortest outing being 4 innings, where he walked 2 and struck out 9 batters but didn’t allow a run.
During his time in the RubberDucks rotation, Pannone has dominated left handed batters to a tune of .193 BA and 1.80 ERA. Against right handed batters, Pannone held the opposition to a .235 batting average and posted a 2.98 ERA.
Thomas made 5 starts in May and June, with June being his best month in Double-A. He posted an ERA of 2.67 in May and 1.78 in June; unfortunately, Thomas posted a record of 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 4 starts in July.
Status on the Farm
The 23-yr-old lefty is likely headed to New Hampshire, remaining in the Eastern League. If this is the case he will join fellow Blue Jays Top 30 pitching prospects, Conner Greene, Sean Reid-Foley, Jon Harris, and Ryan Borucki.
However, the Fisher Cats already have a full staff: the four listed above and Shane Dawson. Dawson has struggled all season and could be heading to the bullpen.
Strictly by his numbers, Pannone looks like the Cats Ace.
The other scenario is that Toronto’s front office feels Pannone and his strong 2017 season deserves to finish as a member of the Triple-A Bisons. But even with Brett Oberholtzer being promoted Toronto after the Trade Deadline, the Bisons rotation has a full rotation (Lucas Harrell, T.J. House, Nick Tepesch, Chris Rowley, and Luis Santos).
Look, anytime you can get a young LHP dominating the upper levels of the minors, especially for a pending free-agent, you take it. This was a good trade for both teams.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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