JFtC kicks off our Blue Jays 2019 Top Prospects list with an Honourable Mention to Julian Merryweather
Julian Merryweather was acquired on August 31, 2018, as a player to be named later in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to Cleveland. It was a heavily criticized deal at the time due to the timing and circumstances, and likely disappointing to fans who were expecting a lot more in return for a former MVP. However, there are certainly enough positives in his scouting report to have some optimism for his future.
The 6’4, 200 pound right-hander from Oklahoma Baptist University was drafted by Cleveland in the 5th round in 2014.
Drafted at age 22, he started his professional career in low-A with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and within two seasons found himself in the upper minors, culminating in 78 AAA innings to end the 2017 season.
Described as a 4-pitch pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball, an above average changeup, and two potentially average pitches in his slider and curve, Merryweather was not considered much of a prospect in his first few professional seasons.
However, the buzz certainly started to creep in during his 2017 campaign at age 25.
In May 2017, Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen chronicled Merryweather in his Daily Prospect Notes, where he described the righty as “deceptive, athletic, touched 95 several times, flashed a plus curveball and changeup, and despite some issues timing all the moving parts of his delivery, he threw lots of strikes.”
Then the following month, in a “Prospect Hot Sheet Chat“, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser mentioned that he “never heard of Julian Merryweather until I covered him in last year’s Cal-Carolina League All-Star Game and he started and came out pumping 97.” He then went on to describe Merryweather as “a big dude with a live arm and excellent control”, and also mentioned that “he has solidified the notion that he is a big league caliber arm no doubt.”
The hype did not stop there, as in July of 2017, Merryweather was mentioned as a rising prospect when Baseball America did its list of Cleveland’s mid-season top 10 prospects, where he was described as someone who “attacks hitters with a 93-95 mph fastball and two potentially average secondaries”.
According MLBTradeRumors, Merryweather was ranked 17th in Cleveland’s farm system by Baseball America prior to the start of the 2018 season, noting that his fastball reached 97 mph.
Clearly, his stock started to climb drastically after the 2016 season, and he started to solidify himself as a potential big league arm.
Unfortunately, his 2018 season ended before it began, as he underwent Tommy John Surgery in March 2018, and missed the entire season. He also figures to miss some of 2019 as he tries to recover from the injury, although how much time remains to be seen.
The biggest knock on Merryweather might be his age, as 2019 will be his age 27 season, and he will likely miss a part of it in his recovery from injury. However, he was on a big league trajectory at age 25, and may have reached the Majors already prior to getting hurt had he been in an organization that wasn’t rich in starting pitching as Cleveland has been for many years.
He will certainly get an opportunity for a rebuilding Toronto team that figures to need as much starting pitching help as possible during their rebuilding years. While he may not be much of a factor to begin 2019, he should be counted on to become a contributor in 2020 if he recovers normally and maintains his velocity.
What role he finds himself in long-term is debatable, as he will likely be given every chance to make it as a starting pitcher, but his velocity should make him a viable relief candidate as well if his starting career does not materialize.
The injury is what dropped him out of a potential top 20 ranking in the Blue Jays system, but given his repertoire, age, and proximity to the big leagues, it seems like a good bet that he will be a big league pitcher if/when he gets healthy.
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO AND SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
Srikant Kabse is a long time baseball fan, accountant, and writer. He currently resides in New Jersey, but grew up in Scarborough Ontario where his love for the sport and for the Blue Jays began as a child. Aside from baseball, Srikant’s interests include fitness, basketball, and traveling.