Don’t ask me how it happened, but at some point last winter I heard that Toronto farmhand Brett Cecil was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. With that in mind, I took a flyer on the 22-year-old Maryland native in the annual Lozoball draft, figuring it was a keeper league and I could afford to wait a year or two for him to reach The Show.
It didn’t take quite as long as I expected.
Cecil made his major league debut on Tuesday, pitching six innings for the first-place Blue Jays against the Cleveland Indians. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out six. Only one of the hits was for extra bases (a Jhonny Peralta double, the next-to-last hitter he faced) and he didn’t walk a batter (although he did hit Matt LaPorta once and Kelly Shoppach twice). Perhaps most impressively, he retired the leadoff man in each of his first four innings, three of them on strikeouts.
The 6’3″, 220 lb. lefty was a supplemental pick by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2007 draft. After making his professional debut with short-season Auburn later that year, he took the fast track through the Toronto system in 2008, seeing action at Dunedin, New Hampshire, and Syracuse. Regrettably, I did not see him pitch for the Fisher Cats, where he was 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 18 games. While he was an a member of the North All-Star team, if memory serves, he did not appear in the game because he had just been promoted to Syracuse.
Cecil started 2009 in AAA before being promoted last weekend.
One of my favorite things is when a young player comes up and acts like he belongs in the major leagues. Cecil fits the bill. Speaking about the batters he hit, he said,
“I made a couple guys mad today, but it’s part of the game…It’s definitely a good thing to establish the inside part of the plate. You’ve got to keep them uncomfortable in there.”