Blue Jays Ryan Borucki, Patrick Murphy, Jordan Romano, and Tom Robson careers are back on track after a history of arm problems
Toronto’s former General Manager made a habit of drafting players whose draft stock dropped because of injury. Alex Anthopolous did this with Jeff Hoffman, John Stilson, Matt Smoral, Ryan Borucki, Patrick Murphy, and others. While this approach may not have a 100% success rate, it has its benefits.
While other teams shy away from pitchers with a history of elbow and shoulder problems, Toronto decided the gamble was worth taking if it meant they’d secure a 1st round talent in the later rounds of the Draft. The purpose of this article is to provide a look at several players in the Blue Jays minor league system who have excelled with a return to health. These players were either drafted injured or succumbed to injury which resulted in significant time loss.
For the purpose of this article, I decided to focus on a quartet of pitchers who’ve missed and in some cases, continue to miss time, due to injury. I know many of you will point out that Max Pentecost is a prime example of high ceiling prospect whose history of injuries is long. Other prospects, such as Matt Dean, Mitch Nay, Joshua Palacios, Jonathan Davis, Danny Jansen, Josh Almonte, and Travis Bergen have all spent time on the disabled list dealing with injuries. Heck, this article could also have touched on the injuries of Dalton Pompey, John Stilson (FA), and Adonys Cardona (FA).
Borucki and Murphy
Ryan Borucki and Patrick Murphy were both damaged goods when the Blue Jays drafted them in their respective drafts.
Borucki suffered an elbow injury prior to being selected in the 15th round of the 2012 Draft. Borucki decided rehab over surgery but after just 6 IP as pro needed Tommy John surgery and missed 2013. He was held to just 5.2 IP in 2015 with elbow soreness and shoulder pain. A return to form in 2016 saw Borucki dominate as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. By and large, Borucki has remained healthy, missing just 7 days in 2017 and reaching Triple-A this past season. He has looked healthy and strong and is set to challenge Joe Biagini for Toronto’s 5th spot in the rotation.
Patrick Murphy was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 Draft, after undergoing TJ surgery in 2012. Murphy missed all of 2013 and 2015. He was limited to 4.0IP in 2014. Murphy has looked good since returning to health in 2016 when he broke out as a member of the Vancouver Canadians. The 6-foot-4 righty had a successful 2017 despite spending a week in April and most of June on the DL. Murphy should start the year with the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays which is a blessing for the 22-yr-old. Being in Dunedin, the Blue Jays training staff are able to closely monitor Murphy.
Romano missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Romano was originally drafted as a reliever and made his professional debut as a reliever prior to his injury. Since his return to health, Romano excelled after being inserted into the Lansing rotation in 2016. The 24-yr-old made a couple trips to the DL in 2016. Fortunately, they were not too serious as Romano managed to set career highs across the board. The native of Markham, ON, continued his success in the rotation as a member of the Florida State League Co-Champion Dunedin Blue Jays by re-establishing all new career highs. Despite being a flyball pitcher, the Oral Roberts alum surrendered just 2 home runs. Romano will head to Double-A to join the Fisher Cats starting rotation to start 2018.
While Tom Robson hasn’t missed an entire season like the pitchers covered, several of his seasons were cut short because of reoccurring arm issues. Robson has yet to play a full season without making at least one trip to the DL. Through it all, Robson has managed to maintain his velocity and pitch quality. 2016 saw the native of BC transition from the rotation to the bullpen with mixed results. The 24-yr-old spent 2017 as a member of the D-Jays bullpen and the results were encouraging. With improved control, Robson was trusted to pitch in late-inning situations (10 games finished). He even converted his first 2 career saves. Unfortunately, Robson finished the year on the DL on July 26th, a week after being promoted to Double-A. Unsure the nature of the injury, it cost him another month of development. Robson is expected to join the Fisher Cats bullpen.
Far too often minor league baseball can be a cruel and unforgiving mistress. Many young men see their careers end before they even begin. Whether Borucki, Murphy, Romano, and Robson ever crack a major league roster, their hard work, desire, and love for the game should be applauded. Despite suffering multiple setbacks during their young careers, they continue to work hard and chase their dreams.
Jays From the Couch wish you all good health and lots of success in 2018.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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