Normal Schedule Gets Ryan Borucki Back On Track
DURHAM, N.C.—Ryan Borucki had to wait 10 days between his first and second starts of the season for Triple-A Buffalo.
Storms across the Northeast this month forced the Bisons to cancel or postpone seven straight games. Borucki, the Blue Jays No. 10 prospect, had his routine thrown off and struggled in his first game back after the delay, lasting just 3.2 innings and giving up 10 hits and four runs against Norfolk.
A trip south allowed Borucki to get back on a normal five-day schedule. Given the chance to finally pitch on regular rest, the 24-year-old lefthander flourished.
Borucki pitched six innings with one run allowed and seven strikeouts Wednesday to lift Buffalo to a 5-2 win over Durham (Rays). He allowed only five hits and one walk, threw 61 of his 90 pitches for strikes and retired eight of his final nine for his first career Triple-A victory.
“I feel like I get better as a pitcher the more I pitch, the more I can stay on a five-day routine,” Borucki said. “It was nice to get back out there on the short leg, five days in a regular span instead of 10 days. Now I’m back on schedule. Hopefully that weather holds up for us and then I can just stay on my program.”
Borucki sat 91-93 mph with his fastball, touched 95, and maintained his velocity throughout the outing. His 83-84 mph changeup was his main swing-and-miss pitch, but he had increasing success with his 82-83 mph slider, namely getting Rays' No. 4 prospect Jake Bauers to chase it in the dirt for strike three in the sixth inning.
Using that slider to get same-side hitters to chase has been a focal point of development for Borucki, who is a fastball-changeup pitcher by trade. Gradually, he’s become more and more comfortable turning to his breaking ball.
“It really came together last year at the end of the year,” Borucki said. “When I got moved up to Double-A and then I finished in Triple-A my slider was working a lot. This spring training I was kind of trying to shorten it up a little bit, but it just wasn’t the one I really wanted, so I just went back to what I was doing last year. This was the first time I had it again and it worked out for me.”
The Blue Jays drafted Borucki in the 15th round out of high school in 2012 knowing he needed Tommy John surgery and still gave him an above-slot $426,000 to forgo an Iowa commitment. In part because of his surgery and rehab, Borucki didn’t reach full-season ball until 2016—four years after he was drafted.
But Borucki has rewarded the Blue Jays’ faith and patience and has flown through the system since reaching A-ball. He posted a 2.41 ERA at low Class A Lansing in 2016, rose three levels from high Class A to Double-A to Triple-A in 2017, and now is showing three effective pitches—with control—at the highest level of the minors.
“He did a great job, used both sides of the plate really well, threw a lot of good pitches fastball-wise and then also had his secondary pitches in the right spots,” Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham said. “His slider in particular, it was great to see something that we’ve kind of identified and he’s identified as a point to really work at and get better at, that he was able to use it and have success.”
Getting back on a five-day schedule had a lot to do with Borucki pitching as well as he did. If the weather allows him to stay that normal routine, he’s confident he can keep the feel he needs to be successful.
“I had just had command of all three of my pitches,” Borucki said. “Worked the ball inside, worked on my slider a lot on my side this week…and then my changeup as usual is always there. I just had the three-pitch mix and kept them off balance.”
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NEWS AND NOTES
Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect Anthony Alford went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a run scored and a walk. The 23-year-old outfielder was playing just his fourth game with Buffalo after missing the second half of spring training with a pulled hamstring and starting the year at high Class A Dunedin to get re-acclimated.
Rays' No. 2 prospect Willy Adames continued his recent tear, going 2-for-3 with a double off the left-center field wall. Adames is now on an eight-game hitting streak and is batting .355/.455/.581 for the year.