I went to see Seattle Mariners prospect Jose Campos, who was very impressive, but Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Justin Nicolino stole the show.
Nicolino was the Jays' second-round draft pick last June out of University High School in Orlando and received a $615,000 bonus to pass up a full ride to Virginia.
The early returns are looking good for the Jays, as the southpaw has added a few mphs to his 88-91 mph fastball and is up to about 185 pounds -- he was listed at 160, his weight from his junior year of high school.
Friday at Everett in the Northwest League, Nicolino sat 90-92, hitting 93 10 times and 94 once, and it had plus-plus run in on right-handed batters, thanks in part to his three-quarter arm slot, but he clearly gets outside the ball on the pitch and starts his delivery from the first base side of the rubber.
More impressively, while the 19-year-old pounded the zone with his heater, his offspeed stuff was just as good. His curveball had depth and late break off of 1-7 tilt. he tickled the outside corner with it versus right-handed batters, then teased them off the plate for swings and misses.
His changeup was also solid, probably a 50 on the scouting scale when it was at its best, and his arm speed and effective fastball supplied plenty of deception.
He kept the ball down well and was very aggressive throughout, trusting his stuff and his catcher on changeups in the dirt.
There's very little effort in the delivery and he showed a good pickoff move the very few times a batter reached base. He faced the minimum thanks to two double plays and struck out seven against one walk. He only went to three balls three times, none after the second batter in the third inning.
Nicolino isn't likely a future ace, but he's got some athletic ability shows in his repeated mechanics and he's already flashing three big-league pitches. If he continues to develop his fastball command and irons out the command on his curve and change, the Jays will have a No. 3 left-hander with the potential for a little more. He reminds me of Christian Friedrich, but less physical and with a cutter that he threw four or five times instead of a true slider.