Blue Jays pitching prospect, Sean Reid-Foley, has struggled with consistency. Here’s why he should start 2020 in Triple-A
Sean Reid- Foley has struggled to find consistency.
Reid -Foley was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Blue Jays. He spent 2014-2018 working his way through the Blue Jays minor league system, struggling at times and at other times showing his potential.
SRF made his MLB debut on August 13, 2018, against the Kansas City Royals, allowing three runs over 5 innings. He earned his first major league win on September 2nd against the Florida Marlins, pitching seven strong innings giving up 1 run on 4 hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts. SRF struck out 10 again on September 15 vs the playoff-bound New York Yankees. While his overall numbers weren’t pretty (2-4 with a 5.13 era and 4.96 FIP), the potential could be seen.
The hope was that he could take the next step in 2019. The Blue Jays were a team desperate for pitching and adding to the future of the team’s rotation. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and for Sean Reid-Foley things didn’t unfold that way.
If anything, he regressed in 2019. The right-hander once again split time between the Blue Jays and the AAA Buffalo Bisons. SRF traveled up the QEW three times in 2019, going 2-4 in 9 games with Toronto. He 4.26ERA was better than it was in 2018 but his FIP jumped to 5.68.
Per Fangraphs, he already possesses two above-average MLB pitches. Both his fastball and slider are rated 55 grade (just above average) with the potential to improve to 60. He also throws a curveball and changeup, but neither are considered above-average pitches. It may be that his best role will be a relief pitcher. That way he could focus on his best pitches and eliminate those that aren’t as effective.
Reid-Foley’s swing and miss potential are enticing. In parts of 6 MiLB seasons, he posted a 10.1K/9. So far in the majors, he has done almost as well with a 9.7K/9. However, a closer look at these numbers reveals a concerning trend. In 2018, his K/9 was an impressive 11.34. In 2019, it dropped significantly to 7.96.
One possible reason his strikeout numbers were down is a drop in velocity. In 2018 his average fastball speed was 94.2. In 2019 he lost over a mile per hour, his FB average dropping to 93.0. His biggest downfall was his inability to consistently command the strike zone. Across his minor league career, his BB/9 ratio was a sub-par 4.4. In the majors that increased to 5.8. The Blue Jays were no doubt hoping he would improve on his 5.67 BB/9 in 2018, instead it was even higher to 5.97 in 2019. You simply can’t issue that many free passes and expect to have success in MLB.
Reid-Foley appears to be in management’s dog house. He didn’t get called up to the big club in September. On September 23-24 combined the Blue Jays bullpen pitched 20 innings. On September 25, the Blue Jays badly needed arms to finish the season. They called up Yennsy Díaz whose one game to date in MLB was less than stellar, to say the least (0.2 innings pitched, 2 runs given up on 1 hit and 4 walks). Yet Reid Foley’s phone remained silent.
A lot will depend on the offseason. Assuming the Blue Jays are successful at acquiring established major league pitching help, Reid Foley is likely to fall further down the depth chart. Management will keep a close eye on pitchers like Shoemaker and Borucki to see how they bounce back from season-ending injuries in 2019. The likelihood is that Reid Foley will start the 2020 season at AAA until he proves that he can consistently command the strike zone.
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