Ryan Borucki has struck out 56 batters in 46-2/3 innings with Dunedin in 2017, placing him in the Florida State League’s top five.
Ryan Borucki is showing just why the Toronto Blue Jays added him to their 40-man roster over the off-season. The 23 year-old lefthander from Mundelein, Illinois capped off his month of May by striking out a career-high 10 batters to earn his third win of the season with 5-2/3 innings of two-run ball to help Dunedin record a 4-3 victory over the Lakeland Tigers.
Dunedin manager John Schneider spoke recently with Arden Zwelling on Sportsnet‘s At The Letters podcast. When asked about Borucki, Schneider says he’s been with the 6-foot-4 lefty for every stop of his minor league career – including Borucki’s 2014 and 2015 seasons in Vancouver when he was the C’s skipper.
Schneider – perhaps recalling Game 1 of the 2014 Northwest League North Division playoffs against the Spokane Indians – believes Borucki is a big-game pitcher.
“Unbelievable competitor. I was thrilled for him when we put him on the roster because he’s a guy that if you want to win one game, you know if you’re talking in the minor leagues, you know, for my opinion – he’s the guy you give the ball to. He throws hard. He’s got a really good changeup. For him, it’s just continuing to work on that slider which he’s done a fantastic job with, starting last year with (pitching coordinator) Jeff Ware and (Dunedin pitching coach) Mark Riggins.”
Schneider adds the 23 year-old Borucki just needs to stay calm when he’s on the mound.
“When you have three pitches that are really good with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, plus change and a slider…you would think he can kind of navigate through the order three times and kind of get deep into games. He gets a little amped up right now with trying to do a little bit too much when he’s out there. He’s not your typical lefty that’s going to just try to make the hitter get himself out, he’s going to go right at you. For a mentality standpoint, he’s learning to kind of harness it a little bit.”
Borucki has won his last three starts and has compiled an earned run average of 1.98 in May, a huge improvement from his April ERA of 6.52. In 27-1/3 innings over May, he struck out 36 batters and walked just five. Borucki was on the 7-day disabled list in April and was on a pitch count during his return. Given his history of elbow problems after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, it’s understandable the Jays would take this approach. However, given his 92-pitch outing against Lakeland, the reins appear to be loosening a bit.
Overall, Borucki has a strikeout-walk ratio of 4.67-1 and his FIP (fielding independent pitching) checks in at 2.74 which suggests he has pitched much better than his current 3.86 ERA. Further evidence is his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .358, well above the usual league average of around .300 so there may be positive regression to the mean in the coming months.
Borucki projects to be a reliever or back-end starter in a major league rotation but he is showing he will not take a back seat to anybody holding a bat so far in 2017.