Jesse Litsch to Make Start on Tuesday For Ailing Blue Jays

In a surprisemove, the Jays called up Litsch to make his major league debut on Tuesday against
the Orioles. It could have been timing; he was scheduled to start on regular rest
for Double-A New Hampshire, and the spot in the rotation can be skipped with
the Jays having an off day Monday, the 21st. But it was unusual with
others more experienced at Triple-A, and Double-A rotation mate and fellow prospect,
David Purcey, coming out of the gate strong, having been sent back after struggling
most of the 2006 season at both Double-A and Triple-A. But who is Jesse Litsch,
and what can we expect from the former Devil Rays bat boy?

 

The 22-year-old,
originally drafted and unsigned by the Rockies
, was a
low-end 24th round community college pick by the Jays who ultimately
landed him in 2005 as a draft-and-follow.  He’s certainly a lot better
than the draft history implies, a legitimate pitching prospect, although not
one I’d categorize as top tier. His short pro career has been decent but far
from awe inspiring, posting an overall 3.77 ERA with a 209/37 strikeout-to-walk
ratio in 234 and a third innings through four levels and two seasons, The walk
total is solid but he’s been hittable — although not pounded — an issue of
development more than an area for extreme concern.

 

His
Double-A time this season is a result of said development, and he’s been far
less hittable; his overall numbers outstanding with a 0.96 ERA in six starts
with a 28/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 37 and two-third innings, opponents hitting
him at just .164. He doesn’t throw hard — somewhere between 88-92 mph — but
has a four-seam and two-seam fastball that move well, as well as the standard
four-pitch repertoire. While the team talks on his makeup, scouts seem divided
on what is his best pitch; some like his curve while others point to the
slider. But in interviews this year the one thing he personally points to for explanation
is his changeup, noted in the MLB.com report.  He has a solid pitch set but to this point none
that could be referred to as upper or a serious plus. But the changeup improvements
are really intriguing to me, believing a fastball/changeup combo is more repeatable,
predictable and projects to a better major league career  than a high velocity fastball/curveball setup;
a detailed analysis on why for another time, another place.

 

While
this report seems to toss around far too much sunshine, I don’t think he’s ready
thinking his first trial should be a year to 18 months away. He wouldn’t be the
first to come to the majors out of a short Double-A experience, he won’t be the
last. But he doesn’t have the fastball to get away with many mistakes, and his
development can really take a hit if they leave him up for an extended stay. I think
the Jays have a decent starting prospect in Litsch; what I infer from interviews
is they believe that too. For Tuesday I like him more than the aforementioned Virgil
Vazquez, but feel the team might be trying to catch a quick win from a pitcher currently
on a high, apparently injury-desperate enough to begin the service time clock
to accomplish it.

 

I wouldn’t
expect he’ll be up longer than this start. It may be decent, but I think an
overage of time in the rotation will not yield the desired results, and it
could be detrimental to the overall picture. Then again, maybe the organization
knows a thing or three on his development I don’t.

 

Tough
year, huh? I didn’t realize writing starting pitching call ups was going to be
a daily gig.

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