Blue Jays see high upside in Giles, Paulino, Perez

Blue Jays see high upside in Giles, Paulino, Perez
After the Blue Jays traded left-hander J.A. Happ for a pair of position players, general manager Ross Atkins said the club planned to switch its focus to increasing its pitching depth.

The first move in that direction came Monday night when they dealt embattled closer Roberto Osuna to Houston for three pitchers: right-handed reliever Ken Giles plus prospects Hector Perez and David Paulino, who were starting for the Astros’ Double-A and Gulf Coast League affiliates, respectively. Paulino started the season in Triple-A, but was working his way back from an injury suffered in late May.

Former Astros closer Ken Giles was demoted after throwing an expletive at his manager.  (Ezra Shaw / GETTY IMAGES file photo)

In Giles, Atkins said, Toronto is getting a pitcher who has been one of the better closers in the game “at certain points,” despite a 0-2 record and a 4.99 ERA in 302/3 innings this season before a demotion.

“The strikeout rates, the walk rates, the stuff remains consistent,” Atkins said, “He’s not had the best year, and that’s likely why he was available to us.”

Perez, 22, becomes the Jays’ No. 11 prospect overall and No. 4 pitching prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He projects to be starting depth for the Jays in the near future, according to Atkins. The six-foot-three, 190-pound Perez, born in the Dominican Republic, has a 3.73 ERA in 21 outings (13 starts) between the advanced Class Buies Creek Astros and Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.

“It is extremely hard to acquire young, controllable pitching that is already at a high level and performing relatively well,” Atkins said.

Blue Jays trade Roberto Osuna to Houston Astros

Paulino, 24, also has a high upside, the GM said. The six-foot-seven, 222-pounder, also from the Dominican, served an 80-game suspension after a positive drug test last season. He has a 4.67 ERA in seven starts with no decisions split between the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies and Gulf Coast League Astros. He is becomes the Jays’ No. 20 prospect.

“The control, the depth and the upside made sense to us,” Atkins said of the total package.

Giles and Paulino were added to Toronto’s 40-man roster with third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) transferred to the 60-day disabled list and right-hander reliever Oliver Drake designated for assignment. Right-hander Marco Estrada, back from a glute strain and blister, was reinstated from the DL and started Monday night’s series opener in Oakland.

Giles has been hurt by a high opponents’ batting average on balls in play, but the GM notes that a lot of closers have worked through that — including Osuna and the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen.

“There are times where the stuff is not quite as crisp,” Atkins said. “It is a very, very small margin in the case of Giles. We see his stuff still as being electric and having some of the better weapons in the game. If there was a drop in performance or a drop in stuff, it’s a great starting point to be because of where he was dropping from. The bulk of his work has been better than average, and elite in some cases.”

Giles made headlines for the wrong reasons in Houston this season on two occasions: punching himself in the face in May after giving up a home run to the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez, and hurling an obscenity at Astros manager A.J. Hinch after he removed him from a game earlier this month, contributing to his demotion.

Atkins called Giles’ emotional outbursts “unfortunate” and guessed they contributed to his availability ahead of the deadline, but said he believed the pitcher was willing to be accountable for those actions: “It’s not something that he’s proud of, so we’re looking forward to supporting him and helping him get back to the level that he’s been … his intensity is something that contributed into that reaction.”
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