Hentgen always had a keen eye for young talent.
As an employee of the club, it’s hard not to take anything Pat Hentgen– who filled in as bullpen coach last night for Pete Walker, who is home in Connecticut due to a family medical issue– without a mammoth grain of salt, but according to the latest from Richard Griffin’s Jays blog at the Toronto Star, the 1996 Cy Young winner really– really– likes what he sees in Lansing pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard.
You should really read Griff’s whole piece for a lot more background and extra quotes, but here’s the money shot:
“When I saw Syndergaard first, I came back and said, ‘Wow, that’s the best pitching prospect I’ve seen here since ’04-’05,’ Then when I saw Sanchez from behind the rubber, I thought, ‘Wow, now we’ve got 1 and 1-A. You know, they’re Carpenter and Halladay. That’s my best analogy. That’s what I’m thinking right there, if they develop. They’re both hard workers. They just remind me a lot of Carp and Doc. They’re big-bodied kids that haven’t even filled out yet.”
The key phrase– especially for those of you who just started salivating– of course, is “if they develop.” And you could add, “if they stay healthy.” I mean, who was the great prospect he’s referring to in 04-05? Dustin McGowan, I’d guess, and we all know how that’s gone.
But still, any time someone who has been in the game as long as Hentgen, had that kind of success, and been valued enough for the club to allow him to work with young pitchers, that’s pretty fucking great to hear. It’s better than criticism, that’s for sure– and Hentgen did say that Justin Nicolino didn’t throw as well as he’s capable, and didn’t mention the fourth big-armed prospect there, Anthony DeScalfani at all, so it wasn’t all hand jobs and roses. Though, he did say that the three pitchers discussed were all “above their league” in Low-A.
Oh, and there’s more!
“I mean Sanchez is 95-98 with a hammer that’s a 90 mile-an-hour fish,” Hentgen added. “He’s the closest thing to Verlander. Syndergaard reminds me of Roy when Roy was here in the minor leagues. Six-foot-five, straight downhill, 95-96, a good changeup. He’s got a better changeup than Roy had when he was 19.”
Jesus! I mean, I’m pretty sure anybody in their right mind would tell you it’s fucking batshit to suggest the Jays actually have, in the low minors, guys comparable to very possibly the two best pitchers of the current MLB generation, but… I’m OK with just going ahead and believing it, at least until they prove otherwise. Which they inevitably will… because, y’know, that’s a shitty fucking impossible tag to put on a kid and expect him to live up to.
Still, it certainly isn’t not exciting to think of the possibilities.
Image via Chris Wilkins/Getty.