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.
Edward Oliveras may not have been the only under-the-radar IFA to breakout in 2017. Bluefield’s Pitcher of the Year, Randy Pondler dominated Appalachian League batters.
***Disclaimer- There is not a lot of information available on Randy Pondler, so much of my views are based on reviewing stats and game logs. This is not the norm for me so I apologize.***
Randy Pondler Stats
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Disclaimer: one of the more cheese vids I’ve seen
The native of Laguna de Perlas, Nicaragua has a live arm with a low-90’s fastball and a curve which has the potential to be an above-average offering. Pondler pounds the strike zone (64.01 STK%) and initiates weak contact. He doesn’t have a high strikeout rate (6.59 K/9) but limits base runners with a 1.73 BB/9.
What’s up with that FIP?
Pondler’s FIP (3.97) indicates he didn’t pitch as well as his ERA (2.51) suggests. His near 4.00 FIP indicates a pitcher which was roughly average in 2017, whereas, the mid 2.00 ERA is downright dominant.
Does this mean Pondler overperformed in 2017 and is likely to regress in 2018?
Possibly but not because of the almost 1.50 difference between his ERA and FIP.
Randy Pondler’s FIP wasn’t impacted by giving up too many walks and/or hits. His tidy 0.99 WHIP can attest to that.
A very nice .256 BABIP could be a product of good fielders behind him.
It is more likely that Pondler’s FIP was impacted because he does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground. Groundball pitchers tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to FIP.
For the record, Randy Pondler posted a 59.1 GB% and 2.05 GO/AO, allowing 0.63 HR/9. According to MLBfarm.com, Randy Pondler’s top 3 batter result breakdown for 2017 were groundball (65), strikeout (42), and single (32).
The 6-foot-2 lefty struggled against LHB, allowing lefties to bat .303 while walking 7 and striking out 6.
As much as LHB dominated Pondler. Pondler returned the favour to RHB, limiting them to a .167 BA while allowing just 5 walks and striking out 30.
The natural progression for Randy Pondler would be Vancouver. Considering his age and success in Bluefield, I think the Nicaraguan has a shot at joining the Lansing Lugnuts rotation.
Unfortunately, his career high of 57.1 IP in 2017 will likely cause him to start the season in Extended Spring Training, joining the Lugnuts at some point in May.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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