The skinny on Nestor Molina

The Blue Jays got a dynamic late-inning reliever in Sergio Santos, but the White Sox got a pretty good pitching prospect in return. Here’s some more information on right-hander Nestor Molina.

Like the big leaguer he was traded for, Molina is also a convert to pitching. The Venezuelan originally signed as a hitter, playing the outfield and third base in the Venezuelan and Dominican Summer Leagues in 2006-2007 before turning to pitching full-time in 2008.

He made his United States debut in  2009 and spent nearly all of his first two seasons in the country as a reliever. He pitched well in that role, with a 1.67 ERA in 2009 and 3.11 in his full-season debut across two levels in 2010.

The Blue Jays moved the 22-year-old into a starting role in 2011 and he took to it well, leading the system in ERA (2.21) and finishing third in strikeouts. He walked only 16 while striking out 148. He was a Florida State League All-Star and earned a late promotion to Double-A, where he was extremely effective over five Eastern League starts. The success he had earned him a spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster in November.

Molina features an intriguing four-pitch mix with an advanced feel for pitching. He’ll throw his fastball in the 89-92 mph range and complements it with a slider and a changeup. His best pitch, though, might be his splitter, a true plus offering with a ton of deception. Some have said he might be better-suited to be a top-flight bullpen/setup guy, but his stuff and command say he’ll get more time to start.

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