BMLN: SkyChiefs Starting Pitching Preview

The Syracuse SkyChiefs pitching rotation will be featuring three of the top ten prospects in the Blue Jays system this season, a former top prospect, and a newcomer to the organization which everyone is high on. Leading the pack on opening day will be right-hander Casey Janssen.

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Casey Janssen never would have thought last April when he was taking the mound on opening day for the Lansing Lugnuts that exactly one year later he would be taking the mound for Triple-A Syracuse on opening day.

"It's something that I never would have thought of," Janssen told InsideTheDome earlier this week.

There is a big difference with Janssen's opening day start of 2005 and the one he will make today for Triple-A Syracuse. Last season the expectations were minimal for Janssen, however, this season the right-hander is being watched not only by the organization, but by the fans of the Blue Jays.

One talent evaluator that saw Janssen pitch at Double-A last season believes the next six months will tell the organization all it needs to know about Janssen.

"Despite having a five-pitch repertoire, there are still those who believe his future will be in the bullpen and not in the rotation. This season will tell us all we need to know."

The 2004 fourth round pick has a 16-5 career record with a 2.52 ERA in thirty-six starts.

Josh Banks will be the No. 2 starter in the SkyChiefs rotation and the right-hander will try to prove to the organization that he can be viewed as a reliable starter, and not only as a middle reliever.

The second round draft pick in the 2003 draft has a 28-21 career record with a 3.55 ERA. In 380 innings Banks has recorded 362 strikeouts while issuing just fifty-two walks. Banks was inconsistent last season at Double-A and he will need to show to the organization that he can keep the ball in the park and be consistent on the mound.

"He [Banks] has the best command out of any pitcher I saw last season," said the talent evaluator. "That even includes the majority of major league pitchers I saw."

"One thing is certain, and that is Josh Banks will be a major league pitcher."

Ty Taubenheim, acquired this past off-season from the Milwaukee Brewers, made the Triple-A rotation as the No. 3 starter. Drafted in the 19th round of the 2003 draft, Taubenheim has impressed the Blue Jays executives and coaches, drawing comparisons to Carl Pavano.

Taubenheim was expected to start at Double-A, but an outstanding spring earned him a spot with Syracuse. Taubenheim made five appearances with the Jays in spring training and pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits.

David Purcey and Francisco Rosario will be rounding out the rotation for Syracuse. All eyes will be on Purcey's command and how many batters he walks this season, an issue that hurt the right-hander a lot in 2005.

"I was not happy with my 2005 season," Purcey said, stating his high walk totals and inconsistent mechanics.

Rosario was converted to a reliever last season, but the Jays will give him a shot as a starter in the early part of the season.

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