Minor Change Means Major Progress For Ryan Borucki

Lefthander Ryan Borucki’s second run at high Class Dunedin began much more promisingly than his first, and the difference is all in the deception he restored in his pitching motion.

The 23-year-old, who attended high school in Mundelein, Ill., dropped a turn at the start of his delivery a year ago when he debuted at Dunedin and paid for it. He allowed 10 home runs and ran up a 14.40 ERA in 20 innings before a demotion to low Class A Lansing.

It was there Borucki connected with pitching coach Jeff Ware, now the organization’s pitching coordinator, and during their video work he realized that hitters simply had an easy time seeing the ball out of his hand.

The solution was to restore the turn, and eventually he took off. Borucki enjoyed a terrific 20-start run with the Lugnuts to close out 2016 before opening 2017 back in Dunedin, where he recorded a 4.11 ERA over his first eight starts, with 41 strikeouts in 35 innings.

“I started to turn my back more so I could hide the ball a lot more,” said Borucki, a 15th-round pick in 2012. “That was probably the biggest change. Me and Jeff really worked on where I wanted my hands. When I made the change to put them by my waist, that’s when everything really started to come together.”

The progress helped Borucki land a spot on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster in November, a sign of the organization’s confidence in him.

While the Blue Jays want to look at Borucki as a starter, they’re also wary of spiking his workload too far. He logged 135.2 inning last season after throwing just 5.2 in a 2015 marred by elbow and shoulder issues.

His fastball-changeup combo could play out of the bullpen, and he’s developing a slider to have an offering with spin to throw off hitters.

“I have the most confidence in my changeup and fastball,” he said. “I feel like I can throw the change in any count at any time, (but) my slider is coming along really well.”

— Shi Davidi is a columnist for Sportsnet

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