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Francisco Rios Dominated in Midwest League

RHP Francisco Rios had a breakout start to 2016 and earned a promotion to Dunedin after just one month

Francisco Rios Dominated in Midwest League

May 14, 2016

RHP Francisco Rios dominated in the Midwest League with a 2.10 ERA in April. (Kyle Castle)

RHP Francisco Rios dominated the Midwest League with a stellar 1.20 ERA in April. (Kyle Castle)

Every season presents an opportunity for under-the-radar prospects to emerge and put their name on the map. Blue Jays supporters saw this last season with the impressive climb of right-handed pitcher Conner Greene. While the Greene story is well publicized, there is another promising righty that’s making a case for increased playing time at higher levels in Francisco Rios.

Currently in his first full season after three short campaigns that began with the Dominican Summer League in 2013, Rios has made consistent improvements with his mechanics and pitching repertoire to move his career towards the big leagues one day.

His hard work showed in the early stages of the 2016 season as he reported to the Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate the Lansing Lugnuts in April. It didn’t take the organization long to realize that Rios was in need of a bigger challenge as the righty was brilliant in his 30 innings of work.

Racking up 43 strikeouts and sporting a 12.9 K/9 ratio was an impressive way to start off his full season experience. Factor that in with his 1.20 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and .193 opponent batting average and there was little doubt why Rios earned a quick promotion to the advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays this month.

Achieving what he set out for himself this season, Rios admits that the Midwest League is a great place to develop your game. Although he enjoyed his time in Lansing, it wasn’t ideally where he wanted to be all year.

“The Midwest League is a hard league,” said Rios. “You have to work hard here to have success. It’s a good league all around.”

“While I enjoyed playing in Lansing, I really wanted to experience another level this year,” Rios added. “My goal for this year was to have good numbers and experience as much as possible.”

A major contributor to his early success is his ability to mix up his four pitches to keep hitters off-balance. Featuring a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup in his repertoire, Rios discusses what he likes about his pitches and what he hopes to accomplish with them every time he steps onto the rubber.

“I need to work in my fastball every time with my first pitch,” explained Rios. “I want to throw it down and then I can work in my changeup, curveball, and slider. I feel my curveball is my best pitch and my slider is a close second. My slider has really nice break to it and usually sits around 84-85 miles per hour. My changeup has played a big role for me in professional baseball as well. It changes the view of the ball coming towards the hitters and keeps them off-balance.”

Another major change Rios made to his game prior to this year was playing winter ball in Mexico. Pitching with Tomateros de Culiacan for the second time in his young life really prepared the prospect for the challenges he was about to face this season.

Having to deal with a little adversity in Mexico, Rios allowed 22 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings this past winter. While he would have preferred better numbers, the prospect admits he took a lot more away from the experience than his numbers would indicate.

“Playing winter ball in Mexico really prepared me well for this season,” stated Rios. “The experience was really helpful, because the other players taught me so much. Some of the things I worked on were pitch sequence and throwing more inside on hitters at the plate.”

Obviously having a bunch of team mates that had performed at the major league level really helped the 21-year-old pitcher understand his game better. All of the knowledge that they imposed on Rios is translating nicely in the early stages of his 2016 campaign.

If Rios can find the same level of success in the Florida State League as he did in the Midwest League another promotion may still be in the works for this season.

But no matter where his season leads him, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays are happy to see Francisco Rios making consistent improvements every day.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford

@CrawDaddy222

Great Lakes Loons Beat Writer for @BB_Essential, and Toronto Blue Jays Prospect Writer for @JaysProspects. Proud @IBWAA member. https://t.co/R9b2QREHJt
Brian Crawford

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