Join Jays From the Couch in uncovering the Blue Jays minor league system’s hidden gems
It seems as though every year a handful of prospects manage to kick their development into overdrive. Some discover something inside themselves to elevate their status from ‘Organization Filler’ to ‘Top Prospect’. While there are others whose untapped potential remain hidden by low draft position or being an unheralded International Free Agent or even an Undrafted Free Agent until busting out.
In 2017, fans of the Blue Jays farm system experienced a ‘busting out’ moment when Lansing Lugnuts outfielder Edward Oliveras hit for the cycle near the end of April.
He never looked back.
The 21-yr-old Oliveras combined a special blend of speed (20 stolen bases) and power (17 HR, 27 doubles, and 10 triples) but was an unknown to many Blue Jay fans. After coming up 3 home runs shy of a 20/20 season, Oliveras went from being an unranked prospect to a Top 15 prospect to trade bait in acquiring Yangervis Solarte this past January.
From an afterthought on the Lugnuts Opening Day roster to Top Prospect in a single season.
Donnie Sellers has the potential to accomplish the same feat on the mound with the same Lansing Lugnuts.
An 11th round selection during the 2017 Draft, Sellers is hardly a lottery pick selection. According to Baseball America’s Draft Report:
Sellers can touch as high as 96 mph with plus running movement, but his fastball lives more comfortably at 90-92. He added a low-80s changeup to his repertoire coming into the spring to prepare for multiple trips through batting orders, and the pitch has average potential….. slider can show hard and tight break and be a swing-and-miss pitch when it’s on.
Signed on June 18th for 125K, Sellers was assigned to the Vancouver Canadian where he helped win the Northwestern League Championship. Utilized as both a starting pitcher (7 GS) and reliever (5 GP), Donnie Sellers was more successful coming out of the bullpen.
As a starter, the Wake Forest alum posted a record of 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA with 10 walks and 13 strikeouts over 18.0IP. Coming out of the bullpen, Sellers picked up 3 wins with a 3.75 ERA with just 3 walks and 13 strikeouts over 12.0IP. As a reliever, he managed pounded the strike zone with 62.56% of his pitches versus just 57.99% when starting.
A quick look at his rookie stats would suggest the 6-foot-1, 190 lbs right-hander is destined for the bullpen. This might be the case. I recently forecasted the Lansing bullpen to consist of Brayden Bouchey, Yonardo Herdenez, Jake Fishman, Chris Hall, and Orlando Pascual, the addition of Sellers 96 mph fastball would be welcomed. However, I expect Sellers to add a tick or two to his fastball with his secondary offering tightening up with experience and coaching, so I’d like to see him given the fail as a starter before asking him to become a power reliever.
The Lugnuts rotation will have a number of excellent candidates to fill out their rotation. Donnie Sellers should be near the top of that list. At 6-foot-1, he isn’t the tallest or most imposing figure on the mound but he has shown an ability to throw a lot of innings. Combining the 84.0 IP he pitched with Wake Forest with the 30.1IP he threw in his professional debut and Donnie Sellers pitched 124.1IP in 2017.
The native of High Point, NC, does a good job of keeping the ball in the yard (0 HRA) and on the ground (55.6 GB%).
While I feel Donnie Sellers would excel and move more swiftly through the system as a member of the bullpen, the chance to throw more innings as a starter will help with the development of the change and slider. As a bullpen arm, he will rely primarily on his FB.
Whether Sellers is a starter or reliever his power FB will turn heads in 2018.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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