Newly-signed Stroman going places
Jays first-round Draft pick could make Majors this season
TORONTO -- The first stop for right-hander Marcus Stroman, who the Blue Jays drafted in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft and signed on Tuesday, will be Class-A Vancouver -- a Blue Jays short-season affiliate.
Provided all goes right, Stroman said it may only be a couple of weeks before he is promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. It isn't out of the question that he jumps two more levels from there, and makes his Major League debut with the Blue Jays before the 2012 season is complete.
"The one thing that was evident and consistent, regardless of what scout you spoke to regarding Marcus, [he is] a polished college pitcher, with now-Major League stuff," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I think once Marcus gets into his routine and gets some activity, as many players do, he will tell us when he's ready.
"But because he was so advanced coming out of the Draft, I don't think anyone has ruled out that possibility."
Stroman, who just completed his junior year at Duke, hasn't seen game action since May, but said he remained active while his agents worked on a deal with Toronto, which ESPN's Keith Law reported on Tuesday was for $1.8 million -- the recommended slot value for the No. 22 overall pick.
"I'm in mid-season form," Stroman said. "I've been long-tossing two or three times a week back home. Throwing two-to-three bullpens a week. I'm in the same shape as if I had been playing the whole time. So, I'm ready to go."
Stroman led all NCAA pitchers with 136 strikeouts in 2012, and finished second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.49), while going 6-5 with a 2.39 ERA over 14 starts.
He will start out as a reliever, however, which probably helps his case of reaching the Majors even faster, but is happy to fill any role with the organization.
"I enjoy doing both," Stroman said. "I think my personality is kind of geared towards coming in and shutting games down in the late innings. But I started at Duke and I kind of got used to that. But either-or, whatever they want me to do, I'm more than willing to do."
Stroman's pitching coach at Duke, Sean Snedeker, told MLB.com after Stroman was drafted that he felt the 21-year-old "projects more as a back of the bullpen-type of guy."
When asked to name someone Stroman reminded him of, it was a dominant reliever who Farrell also mentioned.
"There is a lot of comparables to Flash [Tom] Gordon, even when you watch his delivery -- similarities to stuff," Farrell said. "I think we would all sign on right now to that type of career."
A 5-foot-9, 185-pounder, Stroman has been questioned about his size and whether he could compete at the highest levels, something that he feeds on.
"I always keep it in the back of my head, play with a chip on my shoulder knowing I have to continually prove people wrong," Stroman said. "I kind of live by the motto, 'height doesn't measure heart,' something I've branded within the last year. I truly don't believe in the whole height thing.
"It's definitely something that's in the back of my head always, and it drives me to be even better."
Whether Stroman can make the jump to the Majors in the same year he was drafted will become clearer when his journey in professional baseball is underway. But heading into the Draft, many tabbed Stroman as the most Major League-ready arm of the class, so the possibility seems very real.
Stroman has a four-pitch mix, with a plus-fastball, according to Snedeker, to go along with a slider, cutter and changeup -- which Stroman personally grades in terms of effectiveness in that order. He works off his fastball, a pitch he can dial up to the mid-'90s.
Rejuvenated Lind moves up in order
TORONTO -- Manager John Farrell has seen enough of Adam Lind at the bottom of the order, moving him into the No. 5 spot for Wednesday's contest against the Royals.
Lind is batting .250 (6-for-24), since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, but three of those hits have left the yard, including a three-run shot on Tuesday that propelled the Blue Jays past Kansas City.
Farrell says he likes the idea of inserting Lind, a left-handed hitter, back in the middle of the order, because it breaks up the righties in the lineup. Lind will bat behind right-handers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who have combined to hit more homers than any duo in baseball.
"I think it was important for [Lind] to come up and just kind of get back in the flow of things, rather than just thrust him back in the middle," Farrell said. "He has taken his at-bats with a freedom about him, in a good place mentally, and ready to go. If he can continue to be as productive as he has been, it adds another powerful bat in the middle of the order."
Before being optioned to the Minors, Lind was batting just .186 with three homers over 118 at-bats -- a total he has already matched in less than two weeks since being recalled.
"If you ask him, I think he views himself as a middle-of-the-order-type guy," Farrell said.
Lind is looking to get his career back on track after under-performing following a career year in 2009, when he hit .305, with 35 homers and 114 RBIs en route to a Silver Slugger Award.
Janssen getting job done as closer
TORONTO -- Casey Janssen has filled in admirably since assuming the closer's role from Sergio Santos, who was forced to the disabled list in April with shoulder inflammation.
Santos, who was the Blue Jays' biggest offseason acquisition and their closer of the future, hasn't pitched since April 20, but the Blue Jays have gotten adequate production from Janssen during Santos' absence.
Entering Wednesday's contest against the Royals, Janssen was 10-for-10 in save opportunities since taking over the role. In those 10 save situations, Janssen has allowed just three baserunners in 9 2/3 innings pitched.
"He hasn't changed who he is as a pitcher, whether he is pitching the eighth or ninth inning," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "In some ways, he has become even more efficient in the ninth."
Janssen started the year as Toronto's setup man, and after a trial run with Francisco Cordero as the closer, the Blue Jays made the switch to Janssen on May 9.
"He has been able to expand the zone by design and get some [players to] chase up," Farrell said. "He has been efficient, aggressive in the strike zone and, actually, he has got a lot more swing and misses in the ninth inning."
Janssen sports a 2.56 ERA and 0.88 WHIP to go along with 32 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. The 30-year-old is coming off his best month of the season in June, when he held opponents to a .167 average to go along with a minuscule 0.90 ERA.
Blue Jays option Richmond to Triple-A
TORONTO -- Right-hander Scott Richmond was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas following Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the Royals.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said his replacement has yet to be determined, but that it will likely be another relief pitcher, meaning Toronto will continue working with an eight-man bullpen.
Over three appearances with the Blue Jays, Richmond allowed two runs -- both which came in one outing against the Red Sox -- while striking out two and walking none.
Richmond, a native of North Vancouver, B.C., started 15 games at Las Vegas, where he went 6-5 with a 5.46 ERA before being recalled to Toronto.
Farrell wouldn't tip any names as to who would be getting summoned to Toronto, but Triple-A relievers Chad Beck and Evan Crawford should be considered potential candidates.
They have both been up with the Blue Jays this season, as has Joel Carreno, who could be another option, but the Blue Jays may want to keep him for rotation depth, based on the rash of injuries that have plagued the team this season.
"We are still looking for that guy we can go to in the seventh inning when we are down a run or two to put up a zero," Farrell said.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.