The Buffalo Bisons pitching staff has been beset by major league call-ups, which meant that RHP Justin Dillon, a 10th round pick last June recently promoted from Dunedin, was pressed into duty as a starter yesterday.
Dillon is described as a “big bodied finesse Pitcher (6’3″/225),” who fell to the Blue Jays in the draft after missing much of his junior college season with a groin injury. Dillon did lead Sacramento State to the WAC title in 2017, and was the team’s ace (as a senior, he had little bargaining power, and the Blue Jays signed him to a $5K bonus). He showed enough at Vancouver last year (10.96 K/9 vs 1.57 BB/9) to merit a skip to High A this year. Called up earlier in the week to Buffalo, he had one relief appearance before taking the mound against the Phillies’ Lehigh Valley affiliate.
Over 6 innings (a career high), Dillon fanned 10 Ironpigs, allowing only 3 hits and an unearned run. Pitching from the stretch, Dillon had pinpoint control, moving the ball around the strike zone in response to Catcher Danny Jansen’s target. Owner of a four-pitch mix, Dillon does not over power hitters and lacks a true out pitch, but relies on sequencing and location to throw hitters off. He can elevate his fastball with two strikes to gets swings and misses. The Bisons couldn’t muster any offence (the team has not scored in 22 innings), and an error in the bottom of the sixth by 1B Jason Leblebijian brought in the game’s sole run, and tagged Dillon with the Loss.
Dillon filled up the strike zone on this night throwing 60 of 82 pitches for strikes. He induced 5 ground ball outs, against 3 by the fly ball. It was an impressive performance, and will no doubt earn him another turn in the Bisons’ rotation.