RHP Sean Reid-Foley is a study in prospect development.
Thought to be a late first round pick in 2014, the Florida High Schooler fell to the 2nd round due to a college committment. The Blue Jays scooped him up with the 49th pick, and while he hit full season ball in just his second year as a pro, they have brought him along gradually, challenging him to improve his fastball command and secondaries at each level. He changed his delivery at Instructs in the fall of 2015 in order to streamline his delivery – the knock from scouts is that he tended to lose his mechanics during games, and lacked the ability early in his career to make adjustments. At every level, the Blue Jays have allowed Reid-Foley to find his own comfort level, and have not rushed him.
In naming him the Blue Jays 11th prospect after a disappointing 2017 season, Baseball America‘s evaluation is remarkably prophetic:
After Reid-Foley took a step forward in 2016, he struggled in 2017 in the Double-A Eastern League, where he struggled with fastball command, inconsistent stuff and gave up too much hard contact. Despite his struggles, Reid-Foley still flashes average to plus stuff across the board. Reid-Foley’s fastball parks at 91-94 mph with good movement and reaches 97. His best secondary pitch depends on the day. Usually either his curveball or slider are working for him. When they’re right, they’re average pitches, though they sometimes disappeared on him and contributed to his struggles. His changeup flashed average at times too. Reid-Foley must improve his fastball command, which is complicated because of his mechanics and arm action. That leads several scouts to think his future is in the bullpen, though the Blue Jays plan to keep Reid-Foley as a starter. Reid-Foley has the repertoire to project as a back-end starter, though his stuff could tick up in short stints if he’s moved to a relief role, with a chance to get to Toronto by the end of 2018.
With SRF, you will get a fastball that now sits in the mid 90s, a pitch that he often elevates with two strikes. The trick for Reid-Foley is getting ahead of hitters, where his slider or that upstairs four seamer can become more effective. But that’s been an issue throughout his minor league career – when he’s on, he misses bats and piles up the Ks. When he’s not, his pitch count goes up in a hurry. This year, the former has been the case far more often than the latter – Reid-Foley has fanned 146 batters in 126 innings at two levels, and has limited hitters to a .205 average. His 13.3% Swinging Strike rate is good enough for 3rd in the International League for Pitchers who’ve thrown more than 80 innings. He has the lowest pull rate (37.3%) for that same threshold. The inconsistencies of last year have become a thing of the past.
Reid-Foley will likely be pitching tonight to his Buffalo battery mate Danny Jansen, which should be a tremendous bonus – Jansen knows Reid-Foley’s pitches, and could be a great comfort factor for him. Without a great deal of fanfare, the rebuild is on in Toronto, and SRF, Jansen, and Ryan Borucki should be regulars in the Blue Jays lineup for the remainder of the season, to be joined by several more of their Buffalo teammates when MLB rosters expand in September.