Day Three of the MLB June draft is when the Area Scouts take over.
As teams look to fill the rosters of their short season affiliates, organizations more often than not are looking for guys who are beyond long shots to make it to the Major Leagues. These are the overlooked players, the ones who didn’t get a lot of playing time, or played for an out-of-the-way school, or had the misfortune of getting injured during their draft year. Just the same, players taken between rounds 30 and 40 generally had at least one scout believe in them, and that maybe – just maybe – once they got into pro ball, played every day, and had the benefit of pro coaching, the odd one might turn out to be a diamond in the rough.
The Blue Jays have certainly had some success in the depths of the draft. Kevin Pillar emerged from the 32nd round to become an everyday player, while Chavez Young, taken in the 39th round in 2016, burst onto the prospect radar with a breakout season last year.
He’s still a long – very long – way away from the bigs, but perhaps the Blue Jays have uncovered another 30+ round gem in the form of RHP Luis Quinones, taken in the 34th round this past June from juco power San Jacinto.
Quinones has been a revelation at two levels so far this season, fanning 41 batters in 27 relief innings split between Bluefield and Vancouver. He was dominant in a four inning piggyback relief outing on Tuesday night in Eugene for the C’s, striking out 8 over 4 innings, his only blemish a HBP to the first batter he faced.
At 6’/205, Quinones is not big for a Pitcher, but he has clean mechanics, a short arm stroke, and a strong lower half which he incorporates into a drop-and-drive delivery, with an arm slot that is between three-quarters and over the top. He uses a slight pause in his delivery, at times, to throw hitters off balance. The Eugene broadcaster had Quinones at 92 with his fastball, but he admitted the previous night that the stadium gun was off by about 2-3 mph. Our good friend Niall O’Donohoe at csplusbaseball.ca had Quinones at 97 in an earlier outing. Quinones’ fastball seems to explode on hitters, and he has good arm side run on his fastball. He can spot his fastball to both sides of the plate, It was hard to tell from the milb.tv feed, but past reports suggest he throws a split-finger fastball, and he did pound the bottom of the strike zone – hitters did appear to be swinging over top a lot of his pitches. At just over 21%, Quinones’ SwStr rate would be second in the Northwest League if he had enough innings to qualify.
The native of Puerto Rico has taken a winding path to get to pro ball. After graduating from high school in Arecibo, he attened Wabash Valley College, an Illinois Junior College. From there, he made his way to San Jacinto, but was under the radar this year because he only threw 18 innings, striking out 23. Scouts didn’t have a lot of opportunities to see him pitch this spring, but clearly the Blue Jays liked what they saw, offering a $50 000 bonus from him to sign.
Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders lauds Houston-based Blue Jays scout Chris Curtis for drafting Quinones:
All the credit there goes to area scout Chris Curtis who did a really nice job on Luis. Identified him as a guy who had feel to get outs with his FB both up and down in the zone with some room for projection in secondary. Luis had a nice season out of the pen at San Jac and we’re certainly excited to see him continue that progression in Van.
Does Quinones look like a big leaguer? It’s very hard to tell at this point in his career, but a source in the Blue Jays organization gave indication that the club thinks he has a legitimate shot. The club has had success converting college arms to the bullpen, and this may be one of their latest projects.