Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Thank You, Ross Stripling!

I think we all knew this day was going to come.

Yesterday afternoon came word that the Dodgers had dealt right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays for two players to be named later -- one of which we now know is 20-year old right-handed pitching prospect Kendall Williams (more on him later).

As you'll recall, Stripling had seemingly been traded to the crosstown Angels (along with Joc Pederson) over the winter, but that was thwarted by the Anaheim ownership -- for whatever reason. Now, we get to see a trade that allows us to gain a couple of prospects. Per Rowan Kavner at Dodger Insider:
“We have a ton of professional and personal respect for Ross and believe that he is a Major League starting pitcher and ultimately didn’t feel comfortable putting him in the bullpen, especially when, as we look out to next Spring Training, we felt like it was going to be difficult then as well,” Friedman said. “So, as much as he’s helped us through the years, we felt like it was in everyone’s best interest with just the depth that we have right now and also caring about him.”
He added:
Friedman said he “had a very open and honest conversation” with Stripling about the move — a decision he described as extremely difficult because of his respect for the Dodger pitcher.
Basically, Stripling deserves a chance to be a starter. Unfortunately, we are so jammed up in the rotation there was no way he was going to be that in a Dodger uniform. Per a Dodger press release:
Stripling, 30, made seven starts for the Dodgers this season, going 3-1 with a 5.61 ERA (21 ER/33.2 IP) and 27 strikeouts. He was tied for the team lead in starts (7), second in wins and third in strikeouts. The Texas native had his best season with the Dodgers in his All-Star campaign in 2018, going 8-6 with a 3.02 ERA (41 ER/122.0 IP) and 136 strikeouts in 33 games (21 starts). The right-hander was with the Dodgers five seasons, going a combined 23-25 with a 3.68 ERA (172 ER/420.2 IP) and 404 strikeouts in 143 games (59 starts) for Los Angeles. He was originally selected by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft out of Texas A&M University.
Thank you, Ross. Although you'll be wearing blue for another team I will be sure to root for you and your teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu.

As for our bounty Friedman said this, per Matthew Moreno at Dodger Blue:
“We are definitely getting a guy we like and feel like will fit in really well with our next crop of prospects that are coming,” Friedman said. “And then another guy that will come from a bigger list that we’ll just have some time to kind of work through.”
Kendall Williams is a 6' 6" right-handed pitcher out of Olive Banch, MS. Born in 2000, he was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2nd round in 2019. He currently has just 6 professional games under his belt while in the Gulf Coast League Rookie League last year -- throwing 16 innings, allowing six hits, seven walks and striking out an outstanding 19 batters. Per an MLB Prospect report:
 Scouting Grades/Report (20-80 grading scale)
In January 2017, in the middle of his sophomore year of high school, Williams made the decision to relocate from his home in Mississippi to attend IMG Academy in Florida, with the hopes that the instruction plus the challenge of better competition would pay off. That it did, as Williams shot up Draft boards over the next couple of years en route to an above-slot bonus after the Blue Jays made the Vanderbilt commit their second-round pick. In an abbreviated pro debut in 2019, the selection paid early dividends, with the 18-year-old posting a 1.13 ERA over six games – five starts – and 16 innings in the rookie Gulf Coast League, where he walked seven and struck out 19. 
At 6-foot-6, Williams is the quintessential projectable high school right-hander, and he’s still maturing. His velocity continues to creep up to the mid-90s and his fastball plays up because of its steep plane and angle. He throws both a slider and a curveball, with success, with some scouts thinking the curve will ultimately work better with its spin and coming from his high-three-quarter slot. He has some feel for a future average changeup. 
Despite his size, Williams tends to throw strikes and should have solid command and control, not to mention sharper stuff, once he figures out how to consistently repeat his delivery with his long limbs. There’s a lot to dream on and potentially huge upside, though he’ll need time to develop and refine his craft in the Minors.

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