Nolin Takes Leap Forward For Blue Jays

TORONTO—The 2010 draft was a rich one in pitching for the Blue Jays. And in 2012, it got better with the improvement shown by lefthander Sean Nolin.

"Nolin really emerged," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.

The Blue Jays drafted Nolin, 22, in the sixth round out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC. He blossomed this season at high Class A Dunedin, where he went 9-0, 2.19 in 17 outings, including 15 starts. Then he made three starts at Double-A New Hampshire in August, striking out 18 in 15 innings with a 1.20 ERA.

He returned to Dunedin to make a playoff start but lost to Lakeland after allowing two runs in 62⁄3 innings.

"Nolin is probably the guy who took the biggest leap forward," Anthopoulos said. "I went specifically to see him (at New Hampshire) because our guys came back and were raving about him. We think he's got a chance to help us at some time next year."

Until now, Nolin, who is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, was an overlooked selection in a draft that included the selections of such pitching prospects as Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino and Deck McGuire.

"Obviously Andrew Tinnish (then scouting director, now assistant GM) did a great job taking him in the sixth round," Anthopoulos said. "I know (special assistant to the GM) Dana Brown really pounded for him in the draft room.  He was his gut-feel guy.

"He's up to 95 mph from the left side, throws a lot of strikes. He has a deceptive delivery. Guys don't get good swings on his fastball, a bit like (J.A.) Happ in that respect.

"He's got a pretty good curveball and a pretty good changeup and slider as well. So he's a four-pitch guy who throws strikes, pretty good arm strength. He wasn't a guy who was on the radar coming into the year but he's really taken a huge step forward."


• The Blue Jays purchased righthander Jeremy Jeffress, 25, from the Royals. He had a 6.75 ERA in 13 appearances for Kansas City in 2012. He went 5-4, 4.85 in 38 games between Triple-A Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas and had 64 strikeouts in 59 innings.

• Outfielder Kevin Pillar finished the Arizona Fall League season batting .371/.409/.435 in 15 games.