Blue Jays Land Priority Target

TORONTOGlenn Sparkman will get a chance to win a job in the Blue Jays bullpen in 2017 after the righthander was selected from the Royals system in the major league phase of the annual Rule 5 draft.

The 20th-round pick from Wharton (Texas) JC in 2013 threw 60.1 innings across four levels in his first season back from Tommy John surgery in 2016. He finished at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and went 2-7, 5.22 in 16 starts overall with a 65-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Like righthander Joe Biagini, the 2015 Rule 5 pick who assumed a high-leverage relief role for the Blue Jays in 2016, Sparkman has yet to pitch above Double-A but may have the stuff to survive.

“The arrows and needles were pointing right at him,” general manager Ross Atkins said. “His name just kept popping to the top.”

Atkins described the 24-year-old Sparkman as a strike-thrower with an athletic delivery, two of the reasons they believe he might be able to make the jump. Those qualities combine with a good breaking ball, a good changeup and a fastball that reaches 95 mph.

“It was clear that he was the guy who we would like to select if he was still available,” Atkins said. “We feel like there might be some upside to his stuff as well.”

Biagini recorded a 3.06 ERA in 67.2 innings over 60 games, then added 7.1 shutout innings in the postseason. The Blue Jays are kicking around the idea of stretching him out to create rotation depth. That decision could potentially help Sparkman’s cause.


The Blue Jays lost three players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, most notably 2012 supplemental first-round lefthander Matt Smoral to the Rangers. Toronto bought him out of college for $2 million, but he never found his stride. Smoral pitched at short-season Vancouver in 2016 and has appeared in just 53 games in five seasons. “I’m happy for him to get an opportunity,” Atkins said. “It wasn’t about us not liking him or wanting him. It was more about the flexibility at the upper levels to have room to make adds. We want the best for him and hope he does well with this opportunity.”

Jeff Ware will replace the fired Sal Fasano as minor league pitching coordinator after serving as pitching coach at low Class A Lansing in 2016. Ken Huckaby becomes the system’s new catching coordinator after managing high Class A Dunedin. John Schneider moves up from manager at Lansing to replace Huckaby at Dunedin.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone