2017 was going to be Sean Reid-Foley’s year.
Challenged with a promotion to AA after striking out almost 11 batters per 9 innings at two levels the previous year, the 2014 2nd rounder seemed to be on the fast track to the Major Leagues.
2017 proved to be a learning year for the righthander, who had reached full season ball in 2015 in only his second year as a pro. Control problems skyrocketed his pitch counts as he admittedly tried to be too perfect, and he amassed only 15 innings over the course of his first 6 starts as a result.
Reid-Foley settled down and pitched reasonably well after that, but his 2017 did not meet up with expectations, and with youth on his side and a full rotation at Buffalo ahead of him, the Blue Jays opted to have him return to New Hampshire.
After two starts this season, he appears to be a changed Pitcher. Reid-Foley retired the first 16 hitters he faced against the Rockies’ Hartford affiliate last night. Going back to his last start, if not for a 6th inning error by 1B Juan Kelly, Reid-Foley had set down 28 consecutive hitters.
What’s been the difference so far for Reid-Foley? Obviously, command has been a huge reason. After walking three over the first three innings his first start, Reid-Foley didn’t issue another one until after allowing his first base runner last night, a one out single in the 6th. Running out of gas, and maybe losing his focus a bit, Reid-Foley walked the next batter after that hit. On the night, though he filled up the strike zone, throwing 67% of his pitches for strikes.
Reid-Foley’s hammer curve has been an effective pitch for him in both starts. Sitting 93-95 with his fastball, the curve offers another look that disrupts hitters’ timing. He also appears willing to sacrifice strikeouts for weak contact – Reid-Foley recorded 9 ground ball outs on the night.
The knock against Reid-Foley in the past that he was unable to make in-game mechanical adjustments when he fell out of his delivery and lost the strike zone. Last year, when he fell behind in the count, he would catch too much of the plate, and gave up a lot of contact. Through two starts, he appears to have refined his command, and those occasions when he’s fallen behind, Reid-Foley has worked on the margins on the strike zone to get hitters out. As a result, he’s largely avoided barrels to this point.
Two starts does not a season make, but Reid-Foley is moving in the right direction. He’s commanding his fastball, and mixing in his secondaries well. It really appears that he’s started to make the change from a thrower to a Pitcher, relying on his smarts more than his physical talents to be successful.