Newly-signed Stroman going places

Newly-signed Stroman going places

Newly-signed Stroman going places
TORONTO -- The first stop for right-hander Marcus Stroman, who the Blue Jays drafted in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft and signed on Tuesday, will be Class-A Vancouver -- a Blue Jays short-season affiliate.

Provided all goes right, Stroman said it may only be a couple of weeks before he is promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. It isn't out of the question that he jumps two more levels from there, and makes his Major League debut with the Blue Jays before the 2012 season is complete.

"The one thing that was evident and consistent, regardless of what scout you spoke to regarding Marcus, [he is] a polished college pitcher, with now-Major League stuff," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I think once Marcus gets into his routine and gets some activity, as many players do, he will tell us when he's ready.

"But because he was so advanced coming out of the Draft, I don't think anyone has ruled out that possibility."

Stroman, who just completed his junior year at Duke, hasn't seen game action since May, but said he remained active while his agents worked on a deal with Toronto, which ESPN's Keith Law reported on Tuesday was for $1.8 million -- the recommended slot value for the No. 22 overall pick.

"I'm in mid-season form," Stroman said. "I've been long-tossing two or three times a week back home. Throwing two-to-three bullpens a week. I'm in the same shape as if I had been playing the whole time. So, I'm ready to go."

Stroman led all NCAA pitchers with 136 strikeouts in 2012, and finished second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.49), while going 6-5 with a 2.39 ERA over 14 starts.

He will start out as a reliever, however, which probably helps his case of reaching the Majors even faster, but is happy to fill any role with the organization.

"I enjoy doing both," Stroman said. "I think my personality is kind of geared towards coming in and shutting games down in the late innings. But I started at Duke and I kind of got used to that. But either-or, whatever they want me to do, I'm more than willing to do."

Stroman's pitching coach at Duke, Sean Snedeker, told after Stroman was drafted that he felt the 21-year-old "projects more as a back of the bullpen-type of guy."

When asked to name someone Stroman reminded him of, it was a dominant reliever who Farrell also mentioned.

"There is a lot of comparables to Flash [Tom] Gordon, even when you watch his delivery -- similarities to stuff," Farrell said. "I think we would all sign on right now to that type of career."

A 5-foot-9, 185-pounder, Stroman has been questioned about his size and whether he could compete at the highest levels, something that he feeds on.

"I always keep it in the back of my head, play with a chip on my shoulder knowing I have to continually prove people wrong," Stroman said. "I kind of live by the motto, 'height doesn't measure heart,' something I've branded within the last year. I truly don't believe in the whole height thing.

"It's definitely something that's in the back of my head always, and it drives me to be even better."

Whether Stroman can make the jump to the Majors in the same year he was drafted will become clearer when his journey in professional baseball is underway. But heading into the Draft, many tabbed Stroman as the most Major League-ready arm of the class, so the possibility seems very real.

Stroman has a four-pitch mix, with a plus-fastball, according to Snedeker, to go along with a slider, cutter and changeup -- which Stroman personally grades in terms of effectiveness in that order. He works off his fastball, a pitch he can dial up to the mid-'90s.