Blue Jays pitching prospect Tim Brechbuehler (number 79) towers above his teammates at the Bobby Mattick Training Facility at Dunedin, Florida, Monday.
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Time is now for Jays prospect Tim Brechbuehler

Toronto minor-league reliever ready for breakout season

DUNEDIN, FL –Tim Brechbuehler is very tall and freakishly athletic.

At Avon Old Farm, a prep school in Connecticut, the six-foot-eight Brechbuehler was a three-sport star in basketball, football, and baseball.

His coach at Avon, Rob Dowling, raves about Brechbuehler’s athletic abilities.

“Some guys who are 6’8”are kind of stiff,” Dowling said. “Tim was extremely fast, extremely agile, had very impressive jumping ability, and was very coordinated.”

Brechbuehler, now 23, basically had his choice of universities to attend, garnering interest from legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, but declined to pursue baseball for the North Carolina Tar Heels

Thrown into football as a quarterback and wide receiver in high school because of his natural talent, Dowling compared Brechbuehler’s potential to current NFL star Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.

It wasn’t until his junior year in high school that Brechbuehler really began to focus on pitching.

“We had a strong program and we were attracting a lot of college interest,” Dowling said.

“And when people saw him they were like wow this kid is really something special and potentially could be a major-league player.”

After two seasons playing on a scholarship at North Carolina, Brechbuehler, in search of more playing time, transferred to Louisburg Junior College, also in North Carolina, and posted an 11-0 record for the Hurricanes in the Spring of 2012.

Jays sign New Jersey native

Then in June 2012, Brechbuehler, who wanted to be a major-league baseball player since the age of five, was signed by the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent.

Last year, Brechbuehler split time with the Lansing Lugnuts, and the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays as a reliever, but this is his first training camp with the organization.

Primarily a power pitcher with a naturally moving fastball, Brechbuehler has also developed a power sinker and slider.  Coaches may work to add a split fastball to his arsenal down the road.

He spent the winter in his home state of New Jersey, adding 20 pounds of muscle to his now 225-pound frame, eagerly awaiting the start of spring training.

“I worked hard this off-season,” said Brechbuehler.  “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in my career and I feel like if I put it all together, I have a great arm and I deserve to have a little bit of success.”

Brechbuehler, poised to be a strong arm out of the bullpen, is making the most of this opportunity with the Blue Jays, and the late-bloomer may finally be hitting his stride.

“Ever since I signed, things have been going great for me,” he said. “I was invited to instructional ball [for top prospects], which was a great honour, and I know that the organization is doing a lot with me.”

“It’s not always great, you have your ups and downs, but you just have to trust the process. Especially this off-season, putting on a bunch of weight, got stronger, this could be a really big year for me. So we’ll see what happens, but I’m hoping for the best.”