Nate Abel saw time in Dunedin, Lansing and Vancouver in 2016.
The latest chapter of 2016 Vancouver Canadians no longer in the Toronto Blue Jays system concludes with three more pitchers in lefthanders Nate Abel and Taylor Durand and righthander Christian Cox.
Abel’s two-year tenure with the Blue Jays organization came to an end March 27. The left-handed hurler signed with the club as a free agent in June of 2015 after pitching two years in Flagler College in Florida after spending his freshman and sophomore years with the Virginia Cavaliers. The Haymarket, Virginia native’s pro debut came June 22 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays where he gave up three runs in just two-thirds of an inning. His ERA was 7.84 near mid-July before recording eight scoreless appearances out of nine to slice his ERA down to 2.61. Those outings included his first two pro victories July 27 and August 11. He got a late cameo with Dunedin September 4 and earned the victory with three innings of one-run relief.
Abel began 2016 back with Dunedin for just one outing, pitching 2-1/3 shutout innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts versus the Clearwater Threshers but he was sent to extended spring training before reporting to the Lansing Lugnuts in June. Seven of his first eight outings with the Lugnuts were scoreless and he managed to pick up three victories in three straight appearances.
Despite a 3-0 mark and a 3.31 ERA over 16-1/3 innings, his 12-8 K/BB total and 1.59 WHIP resulted in a demotion to Vancouver in mid-July. Abel pitched one-third of an inning in his C’s debut in Boise July 14 where he gave up a single to allow two inherited runners to score before striking out a batter. Two days later, the 6-foot-1 lefty grounded the Hawks over four innings with six strikeouts to earn his first hold.
Abel’s first game in Vancouver also marked his first ever start as a professional but it did not go well. He was whacked for five runs over frames against Eugene July 21 before suffering his second loss in an extra-inning defeat against the Emeralds four days later.
Abel enjoyed a much better August with a 1-0 record, a 3.20 ERA and 21 strikeouts against six walks in 19-2/3 innings. His victory came August 22 against the Boise Hawks by punching out seven batters over 3-2/3 innings. He finished the year strong with three shutout innings during the season finale in Tri-City September 5.
Christian Cox made one appearance for the Vancouver Canadians in 2016.
Two other pitchers that were released were with the C’s for the final days of the 2016 season. Christian Cox signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays in 2015 after spending time as a position player and pitcher with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He also pitched in two games for the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League before joining Toronto.
The 6-foot righthander received a baptism by fire in his pro debut with Bluefield as he surrendered seven runs in two appearances August 27 and August 30 in which he recorded just one out each time, resulting in an ERA of 81.00.
Cox got his first pro victory in the Bluef-Jays 2016 home opener with two unearned runs over two frames. His longest outing was four innings of shutout ball in Bluefield’s eventual 20-inning loss to Greeneville July 17, three days after suffering his first loss.
Cox whittled down his ERA to 2.55 at one point but he gave up runs in his last four appearances which caused it to rise to 4.13. It was off to Vancouver for the C’s last homestand and he pitched the final inning that counted, giving up a run in the ninth in a 13-8 victory over Salem-Keizer August 31. Cox received his release from the Blue Jays on March 21 and is still without a baseball home in 2017.
Taylor Durand was a late addition to the C’s roster in 2016.
The last pitcher that was let go by Toronto had the shortest tenure of the players discussed here. The Jays signed 6-foot-6 lefty Taylor Durand as a free agent after he pitched three years with the Western Carolina Catamounts. The Oak Ridge, Tennessee native reported to Vancouver for the team’s final homestand but did not get to pitch at the Nat. His lone outing came in Tri-City September 4 where he allowed three unearned runs in two-thirds of an inning. The 24 year-old’s retirement was listed in the transactions column March 21.