The Blue Jays have selected the contract of southpaw Anthony Kay, as per a team announcement. Kay will make his Major League debut tonight, starting Toronto’s game against the Rays. To create room on the 40-man roster, the Jays have designated catcher Beau Taylor for assignment.
It was less than six weeks ago that Kay came to the Jays from the Mets, joining fellow pitching prospect Simeon Woods-Richardson as the return in the trade that sent Marcus Stroman to New York. Kay had struggled to a 6.61 ERA over seven appearances for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse at the time of the deal, though the change of scenery to the Jays’ Triple-A team in Buffalo proved fruitful, as he had a 2.50 ERA over seven starts (36 innings) with a 9.8 K/9 and 1.77 K/BB rate. Kay’s control suffered a bit on his new team, as he posted a 5.5 BB/9, though he did cut back on the home runs that plagued him at Syracuse.
Kay will reach the big leagues less than two years after making his professional debut. Drafted 31st overall by the Mets in 2016, the UConn product missed all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery, and then threw 122 2/3 frames in 2018 pitching at two different A-ball levels. All in all, Kay has a 3.58 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 2.46 K/BB rate over 256 1/3 innings in the minors.
Between his short track record and his issues at Triple-A, it wasn’t a resume that lent itself to a blue-chip (or even a top 100) prospect ranking, as Kay was only the fourth-ranked prospect in a middling Mets farm system. Some Toronto fans and pundits were critical of what seemed like a light return for Stroman prior to the trade deadline, though as events unfolded on July 31, it was clear that few teams around baseball were willing to surrender any sort of premium minor league talent.
Kay’s early returns in Buffalo have been promising, however, and what was already thought to be a near big-league ready arm will make his MLB debut perhaps even earlier than expected. MLB Pipeline’s scouting report gives Kay a pretty steady grade across the board (55 on the 20-80 scale for his fastball, changeup, and curve, plus a 50 for control) and cites the high spin rate on his fastball, which usually sits in the 92-94mph range. A good showing in September would surely put Kay in good position for a rotation job for the pitching-needy Blue Jays next spring.
Taylor was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in mid-August and appeared in just one Major League game for the Jays, bringing his career total to 17 big league contests over the last two seasons. Taylor has hit .258/.355/.372 over 2843 career plate appearances in the minors, all but 39 of them in Oakland’s system after being a fifth-round pick for the A’s in the 2011 draft.