Blue Jays relief prospects Jimenez, Sopko, and Baker are all Rule V eligible if not added to the 40-man Roster in November
RHP Dany Jimenez
FB- mid to high 90’s. SL- mid to high 80’s
The 25-yr-old Jimenez was signed as an International Free Agent on August 6th, 2015. He has slowly developed and moved through the system. Jimenez spent 2018 as a key member of the Lansing Lugnuts bullpen, finishing with a 6-2 record and a 3.84ERA.
The native of D.R. started the 2019 season in the Dunedin Blue Jays bullpen. He made 20 appearances, winning 5 games and losing 1 while posting a 3.55ERA. Jimenez posted a 3.55ERA with 4 saves and 47 strikeouts in 25.1IP. That’s good for 16.70K/9. Dany Jimenez walked 3.2/9IP with a 71.9LOB% to along with a 1.69FIP and 1.21xFIP.
On June 14th, Dany Jimenez moved up to New Hampshire. His K/9 dropped to 12.30 while BB/9 remained steady at 3.21. He saved 6 games, going 5-for-5 in August save opportunities. Jimenez did not allow a run in August, allowing 6 hits, walking 2, and striking out 16 in 10.0IP for a 0.80WHIP and opponents batting average of .162.
At Double-A Dany Jimenez went 2-2 with a 1.87ERA, 3.14FIP, and 2.56xFIP. He improved his LOB% to 91.8% and lowered his LD% from 22.0% to 15.3%. His FB% climbed to 45.8% from 34.0% and his GB% dropped to 38.9% from 44.0%.
RHP Andrew Sopko
FB- low 90’s. SL- low 80’s. CV- High 70’s. CH- low 80’s
The 25-yr-old out of Missoula, MT., was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Ronny Brito for Russell Martin. Sopko was 7th round selection in the 2015 Draft. He reached Double-A in 2016 and spent all of 2017 at that level. Sopko split 2018 between Advanced-A and Double-A and was dealt that offseason.
In his 1st season in the Blue Jays system, Andrew Sopko got off to a quick start with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He posted a record of 2-2 with a 2.34ERA in 6 starts.
Things were looking up for the young man with a May 11th promotion to Triple-A. He made 4 starts for the Buffalo Bisons in May with a 0-1 record and 5.82ERA. He walked 11 and struck out 14 while opponents batted .247 off him.
This is when the wheels fell off of the 2019 season for Andrew Sopko. A trip to the IL on June 14th marked the first of two stints. Prior to landing on the IL in June, Sopko made 3 starts which lasted a combined 9.2IP and resulted in a 8.38ERA. This included a win where Sopko went 5.0IP, allowing one run (HR) and 5 hits while allowing 2BB and striking out 4.
After two rehab starts with the GCL Blue Jays, Sopko returned to the Bisons rotation on July 25th. In two July starts, Sopko went 0-1 with a 5.93ERA. He made three starts in August, losing each start and posting a 9.64ERA with a 4HRA. Andrew Sopko would finish the year on the IL.
In 13 games at Triple-A, Andrew Sopko went 1-6 with a 7.12ERA, 7.12FIP, and 6.22xFIP. He walked 4.64BB/9, surrendering 63 hits (.284OppBA) in 54.1IP for a 1.67WHIP. Sopko struck out 6.79/9IP.
RHP Bryan Baker
A former 11th round pick in the 2016 Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Baker was the PTBN in the Seunghwan Oh trade. Baker started 2019 in AA with the Fisher Cats. He moved up to AAA on July 14th to join the Buffalo Bison bullpen and that’s where he finished the season.
In 31 games with the Fisher Cats, the 6-foot-6 RP posted a 2.81ERA, 3.36FIP, and 3.86xFIP. He struck out 11.25/9IP and walked 5.63/9IP while holding a 1.19WHIP.
Baker made 18 relief appearances for the Herd with a 1-1 record and 3.68ERA. His 3.58FIP and 4.81xFIP support his mid 3.00ERA. His K/9 increased slightly to 12.68 while his walks increased to an uncomfortable 6.55BB/9. Baker did a good job of keeping the ball in the yard with 0.41HR/9 (1HRA) as 4.5% of his FB went for HR.
Bryan Baker finished with a 31.4GB% and 43.1FB%. Triple-A hitters produced a 25.5LD% while batting .205 off him. During his time in Triple-A, Baker did not show any drastic splits with LH opponents batting .176 and RH opponents batting .229.
Dusty Isaacs (28-yrs-old, AAA)
Conor Fisk (27-yrs-old, AAA)
Danny Young (25-yrs-old, AA/AAA)
Protect or Not to Protect?
This where things get tricky. There are a bunch of pitchers eligible to be selected at the upcoming Rule V Draft. Some are better options than others. If you remember, the Blue Jays lost Jordan Romano and Travis Bergen in last year’s Draft but got both arms back.
Dany Jimenez is that type of RP a team would take a flier on; however, I am still not sure the Blue Jays will protect him. Jimenez has the stuff to make a major league bullpen out of Spring Training.
Andrew Sopko’s down year makes him an easy choice not to protect. Sopko will likely be left unprotected and unselected in the Draft. He should get another shot at starting in 2020 but it’ll be a huge hit if that opportunity comes in AA and not AAA. Possible longman in the making.
Bryan Baker is big and throws hard but those BB would make it difficult for another organization to gamble on. He will likely remain unprotected and start the 2020 season back in the Buffalo Bisons bullpen.
Noteworthy: Danny Young is a decent left option who doesn’t throw hard but has excellent movement on his pitches. He struggled in a short AAA stint but could be a sneaky pick for an org with a need for a lefty reliever.
Conor Fisk is an arm every Triple-A team needs. He is an effective swingman or inning eating 5th starter. In three August starts, Fisk struck out 10, 7, and 8 while walking just 5 over that 16.2IP.
Credit: R.Mueller JFtC
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