Get to know the Blue Jays’ two new relievers, plus roster notes
The Toronto Blue Jays now have 39 players listed on their 40-man roster
Friday afternoon brought a flurry of minor moves league-wide as teams added players to their 40-man rosters to protect them from Rule 5 draft eligibility.
The Blue Jays chose to protect top prospects Anthony Alford and Richard Urena, neither of which came as a surprise. They also moved Ryan Borucki to the 40-man, a high-upside left-hander that reached advanced-A Dunedin last year.
On the waiver wire, Toronto added two relievers in Leonel Campos from the San Diego Padres and Dominic Leone from the Arizona Diamondbacks. In a bullpen that could have multiple job openings, a wide range of arms will be given an opportunity to compete for a spot.
RHP Dominic Leone – 25 years old
5’11”, 210 lbs – Round 16 (2012, Seattle)
Leone came out of Clemson University as a starting pitcher but thrived when he was moved into a bullpen role. By 2014, it looked like Leone was emerging as a legitimate bullpen lock for the Mariners at the major-league level.
He made 57 appearances that season, pitching 66.1 innings with an ERA of 2.17 and a 0.7 WAR. Leone was, in a way, Seattle’s version of Joe Biagini that season: a reliever capable of going more than an inning, but with better results than expected.
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The right-hander was comfortably hitting 95 MPH with his fastball in 2014, but his average velocity has fallen slightly over the past couple of seasons. Leone’s experience at the MLB level the past two seasons has gone very poorly, pitching to an ERA just north of 7.00 over 42.0 innings, but he did settle down somewhat with triple-A Reno last season.
Leone’s strikeout rate has the potential to uptick if he can reel in his control, which is something that has troubled him. At just 25, Leone is a comfortable organisational depth addition.
RHP Leonel Campos – 29 years old
6’2″, 215lbs – (Int’l amateur FA, 2010, San Diego)
After making very brief MLB appearances in 2014 and 2015, Campos had a debut to forget this past season on April 21st against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Campos entered in the seventh inning and allowed seven runs (five earned) on four hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch, recording just one out before getting pulled.
He also had one other ugly outing in August, allowing five earned runs against the Rays in a single inning of work, but otherwise, the Venezuelan was quite effective. That’s a historically generous use of the word “otherwise”, of course, but with the ability to put up some high strikeout totals and throw towards the mid-90s, Campos is an arm worth taking a first-hand look at.
In triple-A El Paso last season, Campos carried a 4.32 ERA over 37 appearances (50.0 IP) with 62 strikeouts. These strikeout rates (which can exceed 12.0-per-nine) are often balanced out by poor control, however, so Campos represents a less certain asset than Leone. There’s upside, though, however unlikely, and the Blue Jays are not exactly tied to a restraining commitment here.
Additional notes: The team announced that catcher Josh Thole elected free agency after clearing his outright waivers. While his bat was not at an MLB level in Toronto, a team with a knuckleball pitcher — like Atlanta with R.A. Dickey or Boston with Steven Wright — could benefit by signing Thole to a minor-league deal.
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