CJ Van Eyk Aims To Improve Command
Instead of putting pen to paper on his first professional contract, CJ Van Eyk put finger to screen on his $1,797,500 deal with the Blue Jays.
“I had to do it on a computer with DocuSign, which is kind of weird,” said the 2020 second-rounder from Florida State. “Not how I expected my first professional contract to be signed.”
The digitized formalization of his entry to pro ball was the beginning of a “weird start” to his career caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
With club complexes restricted and no minor league season, the 22-year-old righthander worked out with his trainer at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, along with a few other Blue Jays minor leaguers, trying to make the most of the summer.
Eventually, Van Eyk was invited to participate in instructional league, logging an inning there before resetting for the offseason.
A last-minute invite to big league spring training camp left him scrambling to get ready—he had been building up for minor league camp a month later—but the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Van Eyk ratcheted things up in time.
From there he went to minor league camp and started the season at High-A Vancouver, which due to pandemic border restrictions is based in Hillsboro, Ore. One month into the season, he had matched his 2020 total of four starts at Florida State, striking out 18 in 15.1 innings while allowing 10 runs on 15 hits and seven walks.
The developmental priority for him this season is to improve the command of his four-pitch repertoire—fastball, curveball, slider and cutter—and the Blue Jays want his strike percentage to be in the mid 60s.
In three collegiate seasons, Van Eyk struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings but also walked 4.2 per nine.
“That's the double-edged sword I'm playing with, sticking to my strengths of being a strikeout pitcher without throwing that many pitches—which strikeout pitchers usually do," Van Eyk said.
"That's what's going to determine the success of my professional career, being able to balance those and once that's locked in, I think the sky's the limit.”