With the Toronto Blue Jays trying to rebuild a rotation, JFtC wonders what role Anthony Kay might play
July 28, 2019. For some time, it had been rumoured that the rebuilding Blue Jays would trade Marcus Stroman. That was the day the rumour became reality.
The New York native was sent to the Mets in exchange for two young pitching prospects, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. Some Jays fans may have been disappointed in the return. Stroman had deservingly been an all star in 2019. Neither Kay or Woods Richardson were ranked in MLB’s top 100 prospects.
Taking a closer look at the pair of prospects, both have a chance to be good MLB pitchers.
18 year old Woods Richardson has already pitched as high as A+ ball. So far he has good numbers in era (3.48), BB/9 (2.0) and K/9 (11.0). His FIP at every level has been under 3. He has a chance to be a front of the rotation pitcher in the future.
24 year old Kay was closer to being MLB ready. Selected in the first round of the 2016 draft by the Mets, Kay had Tommy John surgery in 2017. As a result, his professional career didn’t start until 2018.
Kay did very well in AA in 2019 with a 1.49 era. He was promoted to the Mets AAA affiliate where he struggled with a 6.61 era. After being acquired by the Jays organization, he fared much better with the Bisons with a 2.50 era. Overall in 49 MiLB games, Kay has a respectable 3.58 era.
Kay made his MLB debut for the Jays on September 7th. His era in 3 big league games looks underwhelming at 5.79. However he was really a victim of some shaky defence around him at times. His FIP was much better at 2.64.
It’s also worth noting that two of Kay’s three games in MLB were against playoff bound teams, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
Kay was scheduled to start on September 24 but he was scratched due to back trouble. He did not pitch again in 2019. The Blue Jays hope his health problems are behind him.
Kay has been good at striking out opposing hitters. In his MiLB career his K/9 rate is 9.1, so far in MLB it is 8.4. One thing for him to work on is his command of the strike zone. In the minors his BB/9 is 3.7. It was a bit better with the Jays at 3.2. 2.9 is considered average for an MLB pitcher; it would be preferable if he could lower it to that at least.
The young southpaw is currently ranked as the Jays 4th best prospect. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. MLB pipeline ranks all three as 55 grade, a bit above MLB average of 50. His average fastball velocity was 93.7, he tops out in the mid 90s.
Per Brooks baseball, Kay’s fastball and changeup generated an extreme number of ground balls, and his curveball generated somewhat more ground balls than other pitchers’ curves.
Three games as a September call up is a very small sample size; however results so far are promising.
While there is some disagreement among scouts as to Kay’s ceiling, most see him as a mid to back end of the rotation starter.
The Blue Jays badly need pitching in order to move forward. Kay has talent. Naturally, much will depend on who the Jays can acquire to improve their staff. Assuming Kay is healthy and doesn’t regress, he has a very good chance to break camp in Toronto’s rotation in 2020, and hopefully help them return to contention in the future.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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