Sean Nolin: Prospect Profile


Sean Nolin was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade with the Toronto Blue Jays this off-season, and is one of the candidates to fill a spot in the rotation. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what some of the experts are saying about the 25-year old lefty.

According to Baseball Prospectus, “Two stints on the disabled list [in 2014] with a groin injury were a hit to the left-hander’s season. In return, he lost a chunk of time and the ability to get into a rhythm of throwing consistently to push for an extended look at the big-league level.” They also list his ceiling as a fourth starter, while his floor is a fifth starter.

His numbers in the majors are highly skewed, totaling just 2 1/3 innings in two seasons, so we will have to go by his minor league numbers to get an accurate representation of the pitcher that Sean Nolin is. Last season in Triple-A Buffalo, the southpaw went 4-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 87 innings. His peripheral stats won’t blow anyone away, but they’re solid nonetheless. His WHIP came in at 1.253, he had a BB/9 rate of 3.6, and his K/9 rate was 7.7.

According to FanGraphs, Nolin used three pitches in his one inning of work in the majors last season: fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball runs at 92.9, but in the BP book, they say that Nolin can push it up to 95 when he needs to.

The full scouting report from Baseball Prospectus online reads, “While Nolin’s overall repertoire is on the bland side, the left-hander does display solid command of his arsenal and the ability to set-up hitters by consistently changing angles. Both aspects give this arm’s stuff the chance to play up further as a collection than their individual grades indicate, but the margin of error will be very tight against the best competition.

There are concerns that the heavy reliance on inducing weak contact and effectively changing speeds will lead to an uneven body of work as a starter over the long run. The soon-to-be 25-year-old’s changeup is his best asset, and when the other offerings are working, it enables him to consistently keep hitters off balance. Nolin runs into trouble at times with his fastball, especially when working above the thighs, as the better hitters can sit around and wait for it without having to fully respect the breaking stuff. It’s not a flashy or exciting profile as a back-of-the-rotation arm, but the goal of any system is to produce major leaguers and Nolin fits that bill.”

They also mention that Nolin being in the same system with standout pitchers Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman may have attributed to Nolin receiving less attention in a stacked Jays’ system. Whatever the case may be, he’s in Oakland now.

While he is in the mix for a starting job, it will be rough for Sean Nolin to claim one of the two spots on the table out of spring. Kendall Graveman, also from the Donaldson trade, appears to have more upside, and could receive a longer look. Then of course there are the veteran options in Barry Zito, Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez, not to mention Chris Bassitt, who the A’s seem to be very high on.

Nolin will get his chance in Oakland, but when that will be is the question.

Next: 3 Battles To Watch For This Spring

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