Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Francisco Rios 2017 season
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Francisco Rios as an International Free Agent in 2012. After a couple uninspiring seasons in short-season Rookie Ball, Rios showed signs of breaking out in 2015 with the Vancouver Canadians.
Jesus Francisco Rios got off to an excellent start in 2016 with 6 dominant starters as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. His dominance earned him a promotion to Dunedin. He got his Florida State League career off to a good start but faded in August, ending the season in the bullpen.
Despite the late-season fade, Rios started 2017 as a member of the Double-A Fisher Cats rotation. He has also received a favorable ranking during MLB Pipeline’s Top Prospect list, coming in at 18.
The 22-yr-old right-handed starter did not have a very good season in 2017. Although, he was one of New Hampshire’s better starting pitchers.
Rios continues to get stronger, adding a tick or two to his mid-90’s fastball. He continues to refine his above-average hook and average slider. These improvements granted Rios another offseason on MLB Pipeline’s Top Prospect list at 23.
Rios MiLB Stats
The 6-foot-1 Mexican started the season off with a pair of wins in his first two starts. He would lose the next two decisions but April was easily his best month. Rios went 2-2, 2.53 ERA with 7 walks and 15 strikeouts in 21.1IP.
Rios posted a 51.7 GB%, up from 42.7 in 2016. Keeping the ball on the ground, 1.74 for every flyball, helped Rios post a healthy 29.7 FB%. This low FB% explains why his HR/FB was inflated at 12.5. Still, 10 HR in 86.0IP isn’t great.
His ability to induce groundballs allowed him to finish with 79 groundball outs, the most likely batter outcome. The next two most likely outcomes for Rios’ opponents were single (65), and strikeout (63).
Not known for his high strikeout totals, Rios struck out 5 batters during six starts.
Rios had his best results away from home, posting a 2-4 record with a 3.49 ERA over 49 IP on the road. At home, Rios posted a record of 1-5 with a 5.35 ERA.
The native of Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico best game earned him a Baseball Reference game score of 62 on May 1st. He pitched 7 innings, allowing one run on 8 hits while walking one and striking out four.
Rios was unable to build off his 2016 successes. He lost time due to injury twice this year, landing on the disabled list each time. Rios first went on the DL May 15th until June 8th. He returned to the DL on July 19th, missing two starts.
These trips to the DL, coupled with another season which had Rios finishing the season in the bullpen have raised durability concerns. However, his numbers as a relief pitcher weren’t pretty. In 6 appearances, Francisco Rios posted a 9.00 ERA while walking 8 and striking out 4 (small sample size).
Continuing with the durability concerns, Rios managed to get through the 6th inning just 3 times in 17 starts. He also did not register a win from May 7th, a stretch of 12 starts and 6 RP appearances.
May 7th was also his worst start. Rios allowed 8 runs, surrendering 3 home runs while walking 6 batters.
I’ve said it before, the Blue Jays Triple-A and Double-A rotation are going to get crowded in 2018. I expect that Francisco Rios will return to New Hampshire but I am not sure in what capacity. In my estimation, the Fisher Cats rotation should line up with two of Sean Reid Foley, Jon Harris, and Conner Greene, along with Jordan Romano, T.J. Zuech, and Conor Fisk.
Now it’s possible that either Zuech or Fisk start the year back in Dunedin, giving Rios a chance to start but I think that Rios will be transitioned to a swingman role (ala Luis Santos) in 2018.
MLB Pipeline has a 2018 ETA in the Majors for Rios. This will depend on entirely on his ability to pitch out the bullpen. If he remains a starter, I don’t seem him reaching the Majors in 2018.
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