Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Thomas Pannone 2017 season
Thomas Pannone was drafted in the 9th round of the 2013 Draft by Cleveland. His rookie season was a disappointing one, posting an ugly 9.00 ERA in 14 games in Rookie Ball. Pannone put up better numbers in 2014 and 2015.
Starting the year with the Lynchburg Hillcats, Cleveland’s Advanced-A affiliate, Thomas Pannone quickly proved the Carolina League would not be a challenge. So after just 5 dominating starts, the 6-foot-0 left-hander was promoted Double-A Akron of the Eastern League on May 5th.
As a member of the Arkon RubberDucks, the 23-yr-0ld lefty continued to dominate and scouts took notice which is why the Toronto Blue Jays asked for him and Samad Taylor in exchange for RP Joe Smith at the trade deadline.
MLB Pipeline did not have Thomas Pannone ranked in their pre-season rankings of Cleveland’s minor league system. After a strong 2017, Thomas Pannone is now ranked as Toronto’s 21st best prospect.
Scouts describe Pannone fastball as deceptive, sitting between high-80’s and low-90’s. He has a solid curve which flashed above-average potential and an offering which he is comfortable throwing in any count/situation. He also throws an average change but it’s not an offering which he utilizes enough.
I only watched two of Pannone games as a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he was shelled in both games. My takeaways from these starts were, Thomas Pannone has a feel for pitching. He is a pitcher and not a thrower, who relies on control, deception, and manipulating the speed of his offering.
Thomas Pannone Career Stats
Going over Pannone’s numbers, the first which I was most impressed with are his top three outcomes. When facing Pannone, batters will either strikeout, flyout, or groundout. Either way, they are out.
Pannone made the Mid-Season All-Star game for the second year, this time as a member of the Akron RubberDucks. He also was named Player of the Month in April with the Hillcats prior joining the RubberDucks.
The 23-yr-old set career highs in innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, GO/AO, and walks per 9 innings. He also registered his first complete game, albeit during a doubleheader which only goes 7 innings in the minor leagues.
While Pannone won’t be mistaken for a strikeout artist, he did manage to rack up nine games with seven or more K’s with 9K’s being a season-high. Despite not possessing an overpowering fastball, Pannone posted a 9.3 K/9 and a 4.14 K/BB thanks to a low 2.2 BB/9.
Thomas Pannone had two games which I felt were worth mentioning. The first came on May 1st, earning him a Baseball-Reference game score of 79. It was his final game as a member of the Hillcats before joining the RubberDucks. Thomas went 7 IP, allowing 3 hits, striking out 8.
The second came on August 2nd as a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He went 7 innings, allowed 3 hits, one run (HR) and struck out 7 for a Baseball-Reference game score of 74.
Prior to being traded, Pannone didn’t have any lowlights. As a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Thomas had difficulty keeping the ball in the yard which caused his ERA to balloon to 3.63 and an ugly 5.79 FIP and 4.28 xFIP. When we compare these numbers with his Arkon numbers of 2.62 ERA/2.92 FIP/3.35 xFIP, we can see the trade or change of scenery didn’t sit well with the lefty.
Thomas Pannone allowed 5 runs twice in 2017.
The flyball pitcher allowed 14 long balls. He allowed 3 home runs in a game once and 2 home runs in a game three times. Of the four high volume HR games, three occurred as a member of the Fisher Cats.
MLB Pipeline has an ETA of 2019 for Thomas Pannone.
I think 2018 is a very real possibility. He posted better Double-A numbers than all but one Blue Jays top prospects ranked higher by MLB Pipeline. I expect Pannone to start 2018 as a member of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
I am not confident that Pannone is the right fit for the Blue Jays and should be used to acquire help elsewhere. I fear that Rogers Centre and the American League East will expose Pannone’s 0.66 GO/AO and 35.4 GB%. Marco Estrada has a low GO/AO and GB%, so it is possible Pannone could survive in homer-friendly confines of ALE parks.
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