Letters of Intent
By Andrew Hendriks
The Toronto Blue Jays dipped back into the relief market, claiming right handed pitcher, Matt West off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Drafted as an 18 year old infielder out of Houston, West, 26, had spent the last six seasons in the Rangers minor league system prior to making his major league debut on July 10 in Arlington.
Appearing in only three games with the injury riddled Rangers during the 2014 season – the latest of which being a one inning, three earned run performance vs. the Blue Jays’ on July 20th: Dan Johnson led off with a single and one out later, Athony Gose and Jose Reyes each singled to load the bases. Meneunori Kawasaki followed with a two-run single and Melky Cabrera singled in a run, before West retired Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro.
A former second round draft pick with Texas (2007), West pitched to an inflated ERA of 6.75 in his four innings of work at the big league level.
Although his brief stint in the Show leaves much to be desired, his overall performance as a pitcher in the minor leagues has left many intrigued by what the converted hurler could become with more seasoning on the mound.
With an established mid 90’s fastball, complimented by an effective change up and a developing curve ball, West has posted a 9.8 K/9 to go along with a BB/9 of 3.2 in a mere 104 innings of work as a professional hurler.
“He’s got pretty electric stuff that looks like it’s hitting the mid-90s,” said an unnamed scout in a 2012 interview with ESPN Dallas. “Plus change up and breaking ball, which he calls a slurve. I think it’s more of a curve ball and it’s got good movement and depth. He can throw all three pitches for strikes. The curve comes out of hand flat, so it’s a bit deceptive and tougher for the hitter to pick up.”
Having made his MLB debut in 2014, West comes with six years of team control, three of which are pre-arbitration meaning that with Toronto, the former third baseman may have the time to develop into that effective late inning reliever those in Texas thought he could become.
Of course, one question remains; Can West find a spot on the clubs 40-man roster long enough to do so? Or will he be subjected to waivers and have to pass through before accepting a minor league assignment.
Time will tell.
In order to create a spot for West, the Blue Jays designated fellow right handed reliever, Cory Burns for assignment.
The name Matt West may ring bell for folks on the west coast as in 2011, West was involved in a bench-clearing brawl between the Canadians and the Spokane Indians.
The brawl began when Rougned Odor, the Rangers’ current second baseman, punched Vancouver SS Shane Opitz. West apparently came in throwing haymakers. At the end, you can see he sucker-punched Vancouver Garrett Maines, knocking him out.
Vancouver’s Jon Berti and Opitz were also suspended. For his involvement in the melee and landing a cheap shot on C’s catcher, West was suspended for six games.
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