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Prospect of the Day: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman
Leon Halip

Two years ago, Marcus Stroman was the ace starting pitcher for Duke University and a likely first-round pick for the 2012 draft. Now he's in the Toronto Blue Jays pen following a rapid rise to the big leagues. What can we expect from him? Let's take a look at Stroman as Monday's Prospect of the Day.

A New York native, Stroman posted a 5.34 ERA as a freshman at Duke in 2010 but with a promising 64/25 K/BB in 58 innings, with good reviews for his combination of athleticism and stuff. He improved greatly as a sophomore (2.80 ERA, 90/21 K/BB in 64 innings) then solidified his status with a strong junior year (2.39 ERA, 136/26 K/BB in 98 innings). The Blue Jays drafted him in the first round, 22nd overall, giving him a $1,800,000 bonus.

He reached Double-A within a month of signing but his debut ended early due to a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for amphetamine use. After finishing the suspension in '13 he picked up right where he left off, posting a 3.30 ERA with a 129/27 K/BB in 112 innings over 20 starts for Double-A New Hampshire in the Eastern League. He began '14 with Triple-A Buffalo and was even more effective (1.69 ERA, 36/7 K/BB in 27 innings), which earned him a promotion to the major leagues last week.

Stroman is being used in the bullpen so far and has given up five runs in his first five major league innings, allowing eight hits. On the positive side, he hasn't walked anyone and has fanned four.

Stroman is short for a right-hander, listed at 5-9, 185. There's nothing short with his stuff however: he gets his sinking fastball up to 94-96 MPH. He has a cutter and a traditional slider, along with a curveball and changeup, giving him a full arsenal that would fit well in a rotation. His command and control are also significant assets, and his ability to throw quality strikes with multiple pitches puts him a cut above most prospects. His pure athleticism is also a plus, making him a superior fielder. It should also help keep him healthy. There are no holes in his sabermetrics and on his own terms Stroman looks like a potential number two starter.

Because of his lack of height, some observers continue to project him as a reliever, worrying that he won't hold up to a 200 inning workload. Although his initial apprenticeship is in the bullpen, I think he deserves an opportunity to start. He has the arsenal and the command to do so, he had no problems with the role in the minors, and his athleticism should help him cope with workload concerns. If the Jays do opt to keep him in the bullpen long-term, Stroman could also make an excellent closer.