As regular readers will surely be able to tell, this post began as a Daily Duce. There was just so much Aaron Sanchez stuff to go around, though, that I figured it would be a waste to combine what was really two posts, and devote a little more attention to the club’s top prospect, who pitched again last night in the Arizona Fall League (with some additional nuggets– like some Jays-related tidbits from last week’s KLawchat– thrown in for good measure). Apologies to those who really wanted to read about Gold Glove nominations, Fielding Bible awards, and an extended agreement with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats…
Aaron Sanchez had another good night in the AFL last night, though he did create a bit of a jam for himself in the fourth inning, which included trouble with high-end prospects Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, who singled and walked respectively. But there’s not a whole lot to dislike in the box score, apart from the three walks in 4.1 innings: just the one hit, no runs, and four strikeouts. Marcus Stroman gave up just a single hit in his one inning of work, as well.
“We’re out here with the best of the best and that’s where I want to be. You have to be on your game or something can go south real quick. It’s fun good to be out here with good competition and that’s where I want to be,” explained Sanchez, according to an MiLB.com recap of the outing, which took his AFL numbers to a sparkling 1.35 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP with ten strikeouts, and an ugly eight walks, in 13.1 innings.
A tweet from Eno Sarris of FanGraphs sends us towards the latest AFL Trackman, which shows us AFL leaders by various intriguing metrics, and includes the fact that Sanchez’s average fastball velocity is highest among starters in the league (though he hasn’t quite topped out the way some of the other prospects have), and that his slider rotation bodes very well for his ability to miss bats with it at the big league level.
Partly based on that kind of outstanding stuff, Sanchez– as well as Marcus Stroman– will be taking part in the AFL’s Fall Stars Game, which takes place on Saturday and will be streamed live on MLB.com.
The reports aren’t all entirely good, however, so don’t go forgetting about all the consternation of last week quite yet…
For example, Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus recaps yesterday’s AFL action, and sees the warts on Sanchez more sharply than some of my comments above do. “Sanchez has dynamic stuff, but outings like these have become all too common,” he explains. “He stayed out of trouble on Monday because he doesn’t give up hard contact and misses enough bats, but he was unable to finish the fifth inning. He will be able to get away with poor control more so than most pitchers because his fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 97 and because he pairs it with a plus breaking ball, but his ceiling will be limited if he doesn’t get it everything under control.”
And Keith Law certainly isn’t backing down from the criticisms he leveled last week about the mechanical flaws he now sees in Sanchez’s delivery, tackling criticism of his new tack head on in his latest chat with readers, which happened back on Thursday at ESPN.com.
What would you respond to critics who think your souring on Aaron Sanchez after being so high on him for so long is related to the rest of the industry’s opinion on Syndergaard?
I don’t think much of “critics” who question my integrity rather than responding to my specific comments on players. I compared what I saw from Sanchez in Fall League to video from when I saw him in 2012, and it confirmed my initial impression – he’s shortened his stride and is finishing too upright. The Sanchez I’d seen in the past missed bats with his fastball; the one I saw in AZ threw 28 fastballs and didn’t get a single swing and miss on it. Lengthen his stride, get him finishing over his front side, and let’s see if that gets him back to where he was.
I wondered when I passed along Law’s criticism of Sanchez if this is a place where people would go, and so I’m glad he addressed it, because I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up myself, exactly for the reason he states in his opening sentence.
Ugh on the fastball not missing bats, though. Hey, and ugh on these things from the chat, too!
What do you think the chances are of Kyle Drabek returning and becoming a quality Major League starter?
Very slim. Double TJ guys who’ve returned as starters … I know Chris Capuano did, but have there been any others?
Did you see anything from Rowdy Tellez in the AFL to upgrade your current position of “not even a guy” on him?
I did not, because he wasn’t in the AFL.
Wondering where might be a potential spot for DJ Davis on your prospects list for next year
Not on the top 100, if that’s the question.
Steve (Easton PA)
Thoughts on JP Crawford? The Phillies had to have been thrilled with the little they saw of him last summer.
I’m all in. Big fan. Jays should have taken him at 10 over Bickford on pure talent.
See what I mean? Ugh. (All the more reason to think about moving Drabek, though, huh?)
Hey, but at least it’s not just us!
Chris (Cape Cod)
Keith, what to make of the mediocre seasons for all the Yanks top prospects?
It’s an issue, for sure. Not sure where the blame lies, if it’s a matter of blame at all, but that is a lot of talent that isn’t performing up to expectations, from makeup/effort questions to injuries to just flat-out lack of results.
In fact, it’s actually not all that bad for the Jays. At least, according to Baseball America– which is the high note on which I’ll end this post. This week they’ve ranked the farm systems throughout the Majors, and perhaps surprisingly, the Jays are tied with the Mets for eleventh place on their list.
That places them behind only the Red Sox– who top the list– among the club’s AL East rivals.
BA’s Matt Eddy explains that “with the exception of the top three prospects listed here, Toronto deals in volume—not star power—at the short-season levels with one representative from the Gulf Coast League, two from the Northwest League and seven from the Appalachian League.”
The three top prospects are Stroman, Sanchez, and– another possible surprise– Kevin Pillar, while the “representatives” they refer to are Jays guys who appeared on their league-by-league prospect lists, including Davis, Franklin Barreto, Chase DeJong, and others. So… yeah, they’re all pretty far away, and have a lot of hurdles to clear before being legitimate big leaguers, but– as the club has kinda exactly planned– when some of the pieces of their big league core start hitting free agency or needing to ride off into the sunset in two and three years, you still have to feel pretty alright about the reinforcements they could potentially have ready to take their place.
Image via MiLB Prospective.