In many ways, Adam Kloffenstein’s May was a microcosm of his whole season.
Kloff, the Blue Jays 3rd round pick in 2018, and the Northwest League’s 5th-ranked prospect in 2019, was deemed not quite ready for the Alt Site in Rochester in 2020’s truncated season. He returned, if not geographically, to Vancouver in 2021, and pitched better than his stats (7-7, 6.22 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).
For his first two High A starts this season, Kloffenstein was limited to three pitch-count monitored innings. In his third start, he pitched one of the best games of his young career, a 6 inning, 2-hit, 1-run, 10 ground ball out beauty that seemed to send the young righthander on his way.
Over his next two starts totalling only 4.2 innings, Kloff was nicked for 13 earned runs, 11 hits, and 7 walks. It was a portent of things to come: Kloff would pitch two or three decent starts, then get shelled in the next. The big inning seemed to be his undoing: Kloff had an inning of 4 or more runs allowed 6 times in his 23 starts. Similar, perhaps, to a young Sean Reid-Foley, Kloff appeared to lose his delivery from time to time, giving up the crooked numbers, and driving up his pitch count.
But adversity seems to make the pitcher, and Kloffenstein may be no expection. The Blue Jays are still incredibly high on him, and it’s easy to understand why. At 6’5”/245, he has the build for a workhorse, innings-eater starting pitcher. Throw in a potential five-pitch mix, including a plus (touching mid 90s) fastball, plus sinker, above-average slider, and a curve and change that are works in progress. And let’s not forget that he pitched most of the year at 20. Blue Jays pitching development coordinator Cory Popham noted that Kloff didn’t miss a start, and was only one of two 20 year-olds to top 100 innings pitched. Popham added:
We’re encouraged by how Kloff progressed throughout the year….He continually reduced his walk rate throughout the year, having it go from 18% in the month of May to 10% between August and September. He’s been working out at the complex in Dunedin all off-season and has already done a lot to smooth up his delivery. He’ll be a fun story to watch next year.
Kloffenstein averaged better than a strikeout per inning, this year, and had a whiff rate just under 14%. His 53% ground ball rate led the organization. His 5.4 BB/9 also led the system, but as Popham pointed out, he cut down on the walks as the season progressed.
Kloff should begin 2022 at AA, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against hitters who have a plan.