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.

Comments (48)

  1. Little known fact: “Hand Jobs and Roses” was the band’s original name, and only changed “Hand Jobs” to “Guns” under pressure from the record label.

  2. Um, wow. Pat, please don’t get peoples heads exploding just yet. Its a good sign but let the kids marinate in the minors before giving them the Doc and Carp tags.

    • Blue Jays fans heads explode with excitement the moment a draft pick is announced. FUTURE HALL OF FAMER!!! they yell, without knowing a thing about him

    • I think they should be brined, marinated, smoked and then served on a platter by 2014-15.

      Not excited with the developments of both McGuire or Jenkins. McGuire looks like he’s a wasted 1st round pick. As for Jenkins, he could become another bullpen arm down the road.

      Goldstein said on Twitter that Hutchison’s ceiling is that of a no. 3 starter, which is terrific.

      • Neither McGuire nor Jenkins were meant to get you excited. They were both low-risk, low-reward picks. The scouting reports I’ve seen suggest both will be major leaguers at some point, in some capacity. 5th starters and bullpen guys aren’t sexy, but actually getting a major leaguer with a draft pick is not easy. Having these low-risk, low-reward guys in the system probably allowed the team to add high-risk, high reward guys, like Sanchez and Syndergaard, to our system.

        • Well aware of McGuire and Jenkins’ pedigree. Just a shame that AA had to burn a 1st round pick to get McGuire.

          • You often have to use a 1st rounder on those college-sure-thing-#5 starter guys. That shows how rare and valuable those guys actually are, despite the lack of sexiness.

          • @ Someanalyst. Fair enough. It was AA’s first draft I believe (McGuire pick) and Jenkins was a JPR pick. Makes sense to stockpile some polished pitchers for the system, considering the state of the farm system at the time.

            I just believe that when making draft picks, you go with the best available player. Drafting players based on organizational needs would not be my strategy.

          • Why is this a shame? The Jays had picks to burn that season. After the McGuire pick, the Jays took 3 high-risk, high-reward pitchers in the supplemental round (Sanchez, Syndergaard, and Wojciechowski). By making a safe pick on McGuire in the 1st round, it probably made the team more comfortable in taking those three more risky pitchers in the supplemental round. To me, this is just good portfolio management.

          • +1 to JRock

        • instead they are high risk (wasted 1st rounder) no reward pitchers

    • A third of people will tell you how it is impossible to say this and premature.

      Another third will hear it and buy season tickets.

      And the smart third will say “that sounds great, especially coming from Hentgen. I will follow their progress with interest and hope some of that potential actually gets a chance to shine through.”

      Pick your camp and settle in, but if Hentgen likes them and is asked about them, why pick on him for answering the question?

  3. I read that piece before I went to bed last night. My dreams were disturbing.

  4. Another one of those “Nails much?” moments. Jays have been pretty aggressive promoting their pitching prospects who seem to be able to handle it. What would be a best case scenario for seeing these guys in a ML uniform? September 2014? Excuse me, October

    • The absolute best case scenario would be September 2013.

      A in Lansing then a promotion to Dunedin towards the end of this year.
      Next season, start in A+, before promotion to AA. Then if all goes great in AA and the Jays AAA team is still in Vegas (so top prospects wont go through there), maybe a September callup in 2013.

      If they get the call in September 2013, both would be newly turned 21 (Noah by a few days, Sanchez by a few weeks). Though they would still be playing in their age 20 season, they will be the same age in years as Alvarez and Hutchinson.

      However, this is an absolute best case scenario, and very unlikely.

      • I agree that Sept 2013 is absolute best case scenario, but isn’t a late season promotion to Dunedin a little conservative? If they continue to dominate low A ball, I would expect a promotion to Dunedin by mid-season and then start 2013 in AA. That’s what they did with Hutchison, anyway.

  5. yeah yeah yeah. lets’ focus on the present here shall we?

    end of May and we’re 4 games up on .500. is there any way we can bolster the team and secure this wild card?

    We’ve still got a problem in LF, we need another bat (1B), we could also use 1 more starter.

    Is there any way we can get a thing for Thames? Cooper?

    Let’s get Snider up here, get another bat (not a clue) and let’s make that Zach or Cole trade happen.

    then we’re reallllly cooking.

    • If Vlad pans out, then that takes care of the bat question. The team just needs someone better in LF. Maybe Snider by the all-star break if his wrist hasn’t become completely crippled by then.

    • You guys are hilarious. Pat answered some questions he was asked. No one is asking you to pledge your first-born to the Jays.

      None of this has anything to do with the present either way. Pull up google and I’m sure you can find all manner of talk about the Jays and this season.

    • Hate to be that guy (but I will be anyway), but trades like you’re talking about don’t tend to happen for at least another four weeks and probably more like six. Right now, all the GMs are focused on the draft which runs from June 4th – June 6th. Then the trade market will take a little while to percolate.

      The only trades you’ll see at this point are similar in nature to the Fred Lewis deal the Jays made in 2010. Basically teams dump their trash for next to nothing at this stage.

      Snider is injured so there’s absolutely no point in getting him up here at this point, and there’s absolutely nothing you could get for Thames and Cooper right now. If you’ve figured out that they’re chaff, don’t you think other baseball people have too?

      When The Beest hired AA after 2009, whether we like it or not, this team committed itself to a slow re-build, which has gone remarkably quickly so far. There’s talent at every level of the system, and this team probably has a top 3 farm system just two drafts into his reign. He’s earned my patience, but I realize that not everyone feels the same way, and a lot of people want results yesterday.

      I feel if he gets results this year, he’ll have moved the plan up by a year as I didn’t expect much big league success during his first three years (2010-2012), and that would be excellent provided he doesn’t sacrifice too much of the future to get there this year. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy that’s gonna blow up all his hard work to reach for a brass ring that is probably beyond his grasp this year. You know, steady hand on the tiller and all that crap.

  6. So Pat literally just says these are great prospects who *remind* him of some excellent pitchers, and people have a problem with that? Jesus. Take the good news and enjoy the day.

    • I was going to say something like this. He’s not labelling them future hall of famers here, he’s just mentioning the names of the well-known pitchers they remind him of, for illustration purposes. It’s good information. Let’s hope they develop.

    • There has been a great amount of talk about how Dylan Bundy has been dominating low A ball, and with good reason. Bundy is a man pitching to little leaguers.

      However, Sanchez and Syndergaard are beginning to get some recognition from national publications in the scouting world. A few have even said that assuming they reach their projected ceilings at the MLB level, both Sanchez or Syndergaard could be as good as Bundy.

      Billy Beane insisted on getting Syndergaard in the Gio Gonzalez trade discussions. For whatever reason, AA declined. AA could have had concerns over’s Gonzalez’s high BB rate or perhaps AA didn’t like his projected performance in the AL East. Or maybe the overall package was too rich.

      Regardless, it might just well be a very good non-trade for the Jays down the line.

  7. Curveballs are now “fish”?

    • I’m thinking slider…I could be wrong. I don’t know too many 90mph curveballs, and if they exist I don’t want to see them…it would make my head explode.

      • The hardest power curve guys (Felix comes to mind) throw the pitch in the mid to high 80′s. Drabek can throw one in the mid-80′s but he doesn’t command it nearly as well obviously.

        90 mile and hour fish? Dunno. Probably a slider thrown with a different grip. Sounds like a good band name though.

        • I agree. But Hentgen did call it a hammer, so… hard to say.

        • “Sounds like a good band name though.”…

          90-mile-an-hour fish? Hell yeah. And if not a band name, then it would still look awesome followed by dot-tumblr-dot-com.

    • Have you ever thrown a dead fish? Drops like a rock. 12-6 if ya do it right.

    • Fish is a slider. Note: side-to-side movement


    Verlander? Don’t put that on anyone’s heads. Please.

  9. Didn’t they have to change Doc’s pitching mechanics completely?

  10. Once Marty Janzen figures it out, the Jays are going to have an epic rotation.

  11. Well thats good. At least these guys don’t suck right now, and who knows just how good they will get or how bad they will become, but for now the future sounds bright. I would be a little more interested in the whole reality check thing if I was betting my house on the success of these kids though..just sayin…

  12. sup with all the f bombs in this article? were you fucking downing some whiskey whilst writing this? geez, never knew baseball could elicit such anger!

  13. sparky anderson once called chris pittaro the best prospect he’d ever seen


    just sayin

    • Silvestre Campusano anyone?

      For pitchers, how about Alex Sanchez, Marcus Moore, Jose Pett, Jose Silva, Marty Janzen, Jason Arnold, and Francisco Rosario? All Blue Jays’ BA Top 100 Prospects at one point or another, and all more or less washouts. It happens. But so do cool things like Halladay, Carpenter, Escobar, and Romero. The key thing is to gather up as many high ceiling guys as possible, and see what sticks, with the realization that shit happens. That’s what I see happening here, and after Gord Ash’s and J.P. Ricciardi’s regimes, I’m a happy camper.

  14. As long as we understand TINSTAAPP, this is really exciting stuff.

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