A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News

A look at the Canadian’s pitching staff as the half-way mark of the season approaches

As the Canadians set out on their long bus trip to start a seven-game road trip starting with the Boise Hawks, they have their eyes set on July 23rd, which marks the final day of the first half of their season. They are currently in a tight battle against the Emeralds for second place of their division and will look to take a commanding lead in that position when the two squads square off in Eugene after their stint with the Hawks.

If the C’s want to repeat their championship season, they know that their pitching would have to be a big part of it. Their current team ERA is 3.93, which is 18 points better than last season. Nonetheless, it is important to establish stability within the team and the pitching staff. The Canadians are fortunate to have a strong start by RHP Javier Enrique Avendano (Venezuela), who is developing into an ace for the staff. Avendano (3-1, 2.08 ERA) was awarded NOR Pitcher of the Week honors on June 25th. He has since then kept up that strong start, which included a win over the Salem-Kaiser Volcanoes on July 5th, where he pitched five strong innings, striking out eight batters while giving up only one run.

Anchoring the bullpen is the C’s closer, Drew Permison. The Maryland-native, who was drafted in the 42nd round in the 2010 draft, has settled in quite nicely for the C’s during tight-game situations. In 12 game appearances this year, Permison has allowed only one run, while collecting five saves and posting an impressive 0.75 ERA.

With the ever-changing roster that is common to minor league baseball, it is likely that it will come down to the integration of new players throughout the season that can put the C’s back on top. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Anderson, who recently joined the team, made his first Canadians start on July 9th against Everett. After giving up a first-inning home run, the US-native settled down and worked four innings without giving up another run. After the contest, Anderson spoke with JaysProspects about his game, “I felt great on the mound and it was good to be back up by a loud and packed crowd. It was fun playing against the number one team in our league right now,” and he added, “It was just good to go out there and compete.”

When asked about his strengths, Anderson spoke about the importance of mixing his pitches. “I don’t throw very hard, so I put importance on hitting my spots. Specifically with my breaking ball and change ups. These keep hitters off balance as I am not going to overpower hitters with my fastball. Thus, I have to make sure my off speed pitches are good, and today I was able to locate them.”

This memo of playing to your strengths is also acknowledged by the C’s starting catcher, Dan Klein. “They’ve learned to pitch with the pitches that they have, and they’ve done a great job so far. I think if we get the guys more innings into the half way of the season, we’ll be okay.” Klein also dropped us another tidbit, when asked about what the pitching staff is trying to work on: “We’re really working on commanding an inside fastball on both sides of the plates. We’ve been working on that in the bullpens and the games. We’re trying to make sure we get some put away pitches and I think our pitchers are doing a great job doing that.”

As a newcomer to the team, Kyle Anderson is also trying his best to adapt to the new league. “It’s not college anymore, everyone’s here for a reason and I’m just trying to learn. Many of my teammates have been here longer than me. I’m trying to pick up things, watching others pitch, it’s extremely impressive to see all the arms around here.”

Having said so, Anderson isn’t the lone wolf joining the C’s mid-season, as Marcus Stroman, the highly ranked Blue Jays prospect drafted in the first round last month, made his C’s debut on July 12th. Although the New York native had a rough outing, his ever positive attitude was on display as he tweeted, “Got the W tonight! Feels good to get back on the mound. Tough outing for me though! No worries. Back to work tomorrow to get better!”

With this type of hard work and positive attitude, this crop of C’s pitching staff is definitely headed to the right direction. But Canadians’ fans are not only ones who are excited, as the players have expressed excitment looking into the second half of the season, as Anderson concluded: “Everyone dreams of playing pro-ball and it’s lived up to expectations. It’s awesome and I’m looking forward to more and continuing to help my team win!”

The Canadians return home on July 19th for a five-game home stand against Spokane before hosting Eugene for four games, including a double-header on July 24th.