Rookie Review: Chad Jenkins, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
A Blue Jays fan asked me for my take on pitching prospect Chad Jenkins, who has spent most of August manning the back end of the Toronto bullpen. Jenkins was having a poor year for Double-A New Hampshire, with a 4.96 ERA, 145 hits and 17 homers in 114 innings, with a 57/31 K/BB ratio. The only thing he was doing well was avoiding walks, but his other components were very weak, never a good sign for a guy repeating the level. He got the call basically because the Blue Jays needed a healthy arm badly and he was available.
Jenkins was a first round pick in 2009 out of Kennesaw State University. In college he showed sharp command of a low-90s fastball, a good slider, and a changeup; scouts felt he could develop into a workhorse. However, he's never dominated pro hitters, and his performance since reaching Double-A has been uneven.
His fastball velocity has been up-and-down, he's lost some crispness off the slider since his college days, and what was previously described as an impressive changeup draws "blah" reviews at this point.
Although a starter in the minors, he's thrown 12 innings of relief for the Blue Jays, allowing 12 hits and six runs, with a 5/4 K/BB and two homers allowed. His fastball has ranged between 88 and 93 MPH, averaging 90.4. He's relied mainly on the fastball and slider in the major league pen, not using his changeup much.
Can Jenkins still be useful? He still throws hard enough to be a major league pitcher, and his control isn't bad, but his lack of a plus offering is a handicap. His best attribute at this point is the fact that he has stayed away from the doctor's office. What he's doing in the major right now is about what he should be expected to do, and unless something weird happens (develops new pitch, sudden velocity spike), I imagine he'll be on the margins of major league rosters for years to come, fighting for a bullpen spot and an occasional start. He is a Grade C prospect at this stage.