Letters of Intent
By Andrew Hendriks
Prior to Tuesday night’s twin bill of NLCS matchups, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the acquisition of Bo Schultz, a right-handed pitcher claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Schultz, 29, joins the Blue Jays organization only seven months removed from making his big league debut — a scoreless inning — for the D-Backs on March 23 when the club played the Los Angeles Dodgers at the retrofitted Sydney Cricket Grounds as part of Major League Baseball’s showcase Opening Series in Australia.
In 2014, the Dallas, Texas native allowed seven earned runs over eight innings during two stints with Arizona, and although the former Northwestern graduate appeared exclusively out of the pen for the D-Backs during his rookie season, he joins Toronto having made 50 starts in the minor leagues over parts of seven years.
Although a rash of mechanical inconsistencies have plagued Schultz’s young career to this point, the 6-foot-3 righty has found success in the past, both as a starter and out of the bullpen. In 2013, he posted an earned run average of 2.86 over 16 starts with the St. Louis Cardinals’ double-A affiliate Mobile BayBears.
Following a strong regular season that propelled the Bears into the playoffs in 2012, the Cardinals sent Schultz to the Arizona Fall League, where he led all hurlers in innings pitched (32) while posting an impressive 3.09 ERA against some of baseball’s top young prospects.
With the ability to dial his fastball up into the mid-90’s, the former Vancouver Canadian (2009) has allowed only 31 home runs across 538 innings of work in the minor leagues, proving that with an arsenal of pitches that includes a fastball, changeup, and a sweeping slider, he can, in fact, keep the ball in the yard effectively.
With starters R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison and J.A. Happ scheduled to return to the Blue Jays in 2015 (not to mention the idea of seeing both Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris get time in the rotation at some point next season), the competition for a starting role in Toronto will be stiff.
That said, there are some question marks regarding the team’s bullpen, and having allowed 50 home runs in 2014 (eight more than the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles), it appears that the relief corps can benefit from a pitcher who has shown the ability to keep the ball on the ground.
In other club-related news, the Blue Jays announced via media release that left-handed hurler Daniel Norris underwent arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday morning in New York.
The procedure, which comes with a rehabilitation time of five to six weeks, was aimed at removing bone spurs and other loose bodies found within his left elbow, which is a potential cause for the Tennessee native’s drop in velocity following his promotion to triple-A Buffalo on August 8.
Norris, like fellow teammate Dalton Pompey, rocketed threw the Blue Jays’ minor league system in 2014, starting the year in high-A Dunedin and finishing the season by making a start on Sept. 27 against the Seattle Mariners.
Sources indicate that Norris, who will likely factor into Toronto’s plans for next season, should be ready to go come spring training next February.
– Follow Andrew Hendriks on Twitter @77hendriks