Stroman officially signs

I’ve been off for a few days so apologies for the lack of activity on the blog recently but as always the main articles from myself and associate reporter Chris Toman can be found on the main Blue Jays site even when there are periods of inactivity on here.

First-round pick Marcus Stroman officially signed with the Blue Jays on Tuesday — Toronto now has all of its draft picks taken in the first 10 rounds under contract. Here’s what Stroman said about becoming a Blue Jay:

Stroman:

“Just start off by saying how excited I am to have this opportunity. It has been awhile, happy that the process is now over and I can finally start my career as a Blue Jay. I’m looking forward to getting up to (Class-A) Vancouver pretty soon here, playing with that team and time to start my journey.”

Any reason for the delay in signing?

“I think it was the business of negotiations. I was out of it. It was something that was done by my agents who were taking care of. It was just them trying to get me the best deal that they could and it ended up working out earlier than expected. I’m kind of excited just to get going.”

Haven’t pitched in official games since May. Where are you at right now in terms of being ready to go?

“I’m in mid-season form. I’ve been long-tossing two or three times a week back home. Throwing two-to-three bullpens a week. I’m in the same shape as if I had been playing the whole time. So, I’m ready to go.”

Talked with Anthopoulos yet about the plan for you?

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him. It’s get to Vancouver pretty soon here, hopefully be there for a couple of weeks depending on how I pitch and then go to Manchester in Double-A and then it just depends on how I pitch from there on. We’ll see.”

Did they mention anything about a possible call-up later this year?

“They said that there’s a possibility. Throwing again, it’s just going to go off my success of how I pitch in these next couple of weeks in Vancouver and then Double-A but they definitely didn’t rule it out. They said it was a definite possibility to be up at some point this year with Toronto.”

Starting or bullpen?

“I think I’ll be working out of the bullpen in more of a relieving role. At least to start for this year.”

Your pitching coach said Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel is someone you look up to. Why’s that?

“I think he’s one of the best closers in baseball and he’s considered undersized as well. He’s 5’10, he has a stocky build similar to me and I just love his stuff. He just comes at you with his fastball and he has a wipe-out slider. So I enjoy watching him come into games and kind of shut it down.”

What have they told you about future role as a starter or reliever?

“To be honest there wasn’t much discussion about it. It was kind of whatever the Blue Jays want me to do, and I’d be more than happy to do. It just so happened that it worked out to be relieving at first and they haven’t ruled out starting down the road but for now, for this year, it’s going to be in more of a relief role.”

Which role do you prefer?

“That’s tough. I enjoy doing both. I think my personality is kind of geared towards coming in and shutting games down in the late innings. But I started at Duke and I kind of got used to that. But either or, whatever they want me to do, I’m more than willing to do.”

What part of your personality makes you a suitable fit for late relief?

“Confident, bulldog, swagger that I think will just work in late innings, which can also be applied to starting, but I think late innings fits the way I pitch.”

At 5’9, have you been told you were too short to make it as a big leaguer?

“My whole life. Ever since I started playing. So, I kind of just use that, I always keep it in the back of my head, play with a chip on my shoulder knowing I have to continually prove people wrong. I kind of live by the motto, ‘height doesn’t measure heart,’ something I’ve branded within the last year. I truly don’t believe in the whole height thing. I think that if you have it, no matter what your height is, you can pitch at whatever level as long as you have the ability and drive. It’s definitely something that’s in the back of my head always and it drives me to be even better.”

When did you first realize you could make it in baseball?

“To be honest, I’d say after my Cape Cod summer. Going into college, I was a two-way. I played shortstop, middle infield and pitched, I was kind of in the relief role but I never really focused on pitching until after my freshman year in the summer at the Cape when I had a pretty good summer. After that, playing against that high level of competition I kind of knew that I could do something more with my abilities on the mound.”

As a reliever do you cut down on the number of pitches you use?

“To be honest, that’s a good question. In the past when I relieved for Team USA and for the Cape Cod, I used two pitches because that was before I developed my other two pitches in the previous years as a starter. I think if I was going to close now, I definitely think you’ll see a four-pitch mix. I don’t see why not. I would definitely throw all four, I could throw two but I think I would be more effective using all four.”

Which pitches are you most confident in?

“All of them. I’d say definitely my fastball, that’s what I pitch off of and then I’d say slider, cutter, changeup in that order. But I have just as much confidence in my changeup as any pitch and that’s the last pitch in that order so I’m pretty confident in all of them.”

Do you think you’ll be able to make it to the big leagues this year?

“I’m going to find out in the next couple of weeks but I definitely think I can pitch at that level and that’s my ultimate goal, my dream. So I’m definitely going to pursue that and do everything I can to get there this year because that would be unbelievable.”

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