Going into the 2017 baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Sean Reid-Foley was all over everyone’s radar. The 2014 second-rounder from the Florida prep ranks was a slow starter in his pro career four years ago. Not until he hit full-season competition in 2015 for Low-A Lansing did he start to come through on his draft potential.
He still battled allowing too many free passes but started to find his groove, as well as a sporting a dashing mustache. He earned a call-up to High-A Dunedin in 2015, but struggled in his first exposure at the level, however still just 19 years young.
In 2016, he returned to Lansing to clean up any questions there. Soon after, he was once again promoted to Dunedin, Reid-Foley built on his strong start to 2016 and ended up with a dominant campaign that, combined with his status as a high draft pick, officially put him on the top prospect board.
That season, his first passing 100 total innings (he threw 115.1), “SRF” started 21 games and posted a 2.81 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and a stellar 130:38 K:BB ratio. He did walk three batters a game, but allowed a measly 6.1 hits per nine innings to balance out the slight excess of walks.
This kind of season meant high marks going into 2017. Most minor league websites ranked him as a top 100 prospect, with MLB.com pitting him 64th and John going as high as 52nd.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with the volatility of pitching prospects, especially high school products, Reid-Foley’s 2017 was a drastic step back from his lights out 2016.
A velocity dip, sometimes topping out in the low 9ss after handling the mid to upper 90s as a 20-year old in 2016, his precise ability to prevent baserunners also fell apart. He allowed 145 hits and 53 walks in 132.2 innings.
Most troublesome was his 1.5 home runs per nine innings allowed, after never allowing more than .4. Simply put, it was a lot easier to hit the young pitcher than it had been the two years before.
2018 is a big swing season for the stock of Reid-Foley. He’s mostly off the radar as a top prospect, and the Blue Jays system has left him behind in the wake of the emergence of bloodline prospects Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette.
SRF is still just 22 and will be until the very end of August, and though his stock seemed to surge and siege all in one breath, he very much remains a valuable prospect.
A return to form in 2018 will put his name (and mustache) right back into the limelight. If the beginning to the season is any indication, that is going to happen.
Reid-Foley went right to work in the season opener, allowing just one hit over six innings in a win. He radared in at 94 MPH, a good sign after the velo dip in 2017. In four starts so far, he has given up just three runs (totaling an excellent 1.16 ERA) and struck out 21 batters.
Repeating Double-A after 27 starts last season, the organization certainly wants to see his walks come back down. In the four starts so far, as good as they have been, he has surrendered 10 walks. On the bright side, after his home run problems of 2017, he has yet to serve one up this season.
It’s important to remember he’s still just 22 when you think about his stock already having fluctuated so much. More success at Double-A will put him at the doorstep of the majors and give him a chance to show what he can do at Triple-A Buffalo, then Toronto with the blue Jays.