The Arizona Fall League wrapped up over the weekend, with the Surprise Sagueros beating the Mesa Solar Sox for the title, while Cubs prospect Kris Bryant took home the league’s MVP award. For Jays fans, however, the main attraction (with apologies to the ridiculously fun Marcus Stroman) was Aaron Sanchez, and after a somewhat rocky start– notably including some sharp criticism from Keith Law, who continued to stand by his mechanical concerns in his Thursday chat at– the club’s top prospect finished up on a very high note.

No, the box score of his final AFL outing wasn’t his most impressive, but… that actually probably speaks to how impressive he’s been over the course of the last five weeks. He worked five innings on Thursday, bringing his AFL total to over 23, and his full-year total to almost 110. Over those innings he gave up six hits, two walks, and struck out three. His final strikeout and walk totals were 21 and 11, for a K/BB of 1.91, which is exactly in line with the rates he put up in Dunedin this year and Lansing last season. On a positive note, however, four of those walks came in his first five AFL innings, in which he also struck out just two. After that point he put up 19 Ks over 18.1 innings with “just” seven walks– a K/BB of 2.71 in a sample I could generously call “ridiculously tiny,” but that also maybe gives us a little hope.

His success, though, goes beyond stats– which is probably a good thing, given what little value we’d want to place on AFL stats anyway, especially in such small samples, and especially without context. For example, a comment left on our last Sanchez post came from a reader who says that he was in the ballpark for Sanchez’s last Fall League start (everything [sic]‘d):

I was at the game today so instead of a box score and a bunch of numbers I will tell you what I saw. Of the six hits today 2 were bunts in the 5th inning, 2 hits were on pitches batters could not get around on an were blooped to the opposite field. He was only hit solidly on three occasions and one was a line drive to first which ended up to be a double play. There were 4 double plays in his 5 innings pitched the other 3 on ground balls, nice to see when you have guys on base. Was only able to see the rader gun from a scout in the first inning on every pitch but he was throwing easy 95 – 96. One of the hits was on the first curve he threw that just hung and was laced into the field. After that it was just nasty he was throwing to both right and left handed batters with a couple of the right handers bailing out and one third strike to a left handed batter that just gave up on the pitch and looked real embarrassed when it fell in for a strike. His change of speed was incredible throwing some off speed stuff at 87-88. One curve he threw to strike a guy out with came in at 83 (shouted out to all the scouts what was the speed 3 yelled back with the number and all looked very impressed. I am not a any kind of baseball expert but from what I saw today this guy looks like a real keeper.

Of course, there were words from professionals, too.

Therron Brockish of Baseball America ($) posted a video of some of Sanchez’s recent work, and while he raised the spectre of a bullpen role, it was at least a reference to his floor:

He’s got the stuff to be a No. 2 starter in the majors. His hits-allowed-to-innings-pitched ratio in the minors is outstanding. He’s got more than one strikeout pitch and is going to get some swings-and-misses. If he can get his command and improve his breaking ball just one notch, he will definitely be a front-line starter. If not, he still has the stuff to be a starter or even a closer at the major league level. I think he has enough of a repertoire to be starter. He should be in Double-A next summer at 21 and possibly compete to make the club out of spring training. Realistically, he starts the 2014 season in the minors with the possibility of being called up due to an injury or need at the major league level.

Another one comes from former Baseball America man, Jim Callis, who is now with the MLB Network and, and contrasted Sanchez with his Thursday opponent, Giants prospect Kyle Crick:

Sanchez threw five no-hit innings in his last start and had held AFL opponents to a .088 average previously, but the Scorpions touched him for six hits in five innings. He gave up just one run, in part because he had four runners erased on double plays and a fifth got caught stealing. He only had three strikeouts versus two walks, though he did hit the strike zone with 49 of his 79 pitches.

Nevertheless, Sanchez was slightly more impressive than Crick.

While he didn’t throw quite as hard, Sanchez still generated well above-average velocity and did it more easily. There’s nothing glaring about Crick’s delivery, but Sanchez’s is smoother and gives him a better chance to make the control and command improvements both pitchers need. He also displayed a true breaking ball and a changeup that should give him a third plus offering.

Callis added that he thinks Sanchez has “a better chance to fully realize his potential” than the Giants’ top prospect, though he says that both Sanchez and Crick “have the upside of frontline starters.”

Callis’s colleague, Bernie Pleskoff, wrote a companion piece to the Sanchez video I posted back on Thursday, and speaks to the issues he had in his early Fall League outings, suggesting he was a bit rusty in the early going– however, “fast-forward from that first start in early October to the first week in November, and Sanchez looked completely different.

Taking the mound with an aura of confidence, Sanchez is finding a rhythm and flow to his mechanics that have allowed him to throw strikes and induce swings and misses — lots of swings and misses. Using a fastball that has hit 94 mph with regularity and an occasional 96 mph for good measure, Sanchez is now setting up hitters by using both corners and pitching up and down, changing eye levels with regularity.

Sanchez is showing enough control and command of his high-velocity fastball that he is confident in “climbing the ladder” on the hitter and throwing his four-seam fastball in the hitter’s eyes. Too tempted to lay off a pitch they can see, the hitters are regularly swinging through the pitch. It’s a very effective weapon.

As if the high heat isn’t enough, Sanchez is not shy about pitching inside. In fact, in the fifth inning of a recent game I saw, he hit a batter and rattled his own confidence as a result. The only blemish in Sanchez’s five-inning no-hit performance was an error and that hit batsman.

Fluid and able to finish his pitches from an upright position on the mound, Sanchez shows a bit more struggle pitching from the stretch. Still too upright in my view, and not getting the advantage of pitching downhill, Sanchez is more tentative from the stretch.

So… there’s good and there’s bad. And there’s more! So go read Pleskoff’s full piece– plus all the other ones I’ve quoted here.

Comments (75)

  1. Lets see if he can make the club next year.

  2. Please don’t trade him Anthopolous.

    Please don’t trade anyone notable from the farm.

    Sign Ubaldo, sign Ruiz, sign Kazmir or Vargas or Colon but don’t deplete the farm any further. We really want to see if these kids can develop for the Jays.

  3. Let’s not rush this guy. We have enough back end starters to let him find his way at a slow pace. Bring him up to stay whenever he’s ready. Tampa seems to have the grooming of pitchers worked out and they seem to move them very slowly.

  4. So we’re probably looking at him starting in AA, and getting to around 140ish pitches next year?

  5. Unless AA goes crazy with trades he’s parked in the minors for next year. Drabek and Hitchison are exactly the cushion that we need to bring this guy up when he forces the issue – and not until then.

  6. For once, let the kids mature at their own rate. Sanchez needs another season down there, before he even gets a sniff of AAA ball. The Jays will have a couple of spring training camps with him…and probably get him into a MLB game in 2014 or so.
    I’m not nuts about throwing kids into the deep end of the pool and saying “Now swim!”.

    • I don’t know about that. I think the Jays could justify promoting him to AAA if he is dominating AA. Why hold him at AA for a whole season?

      • I’m not going to bet the farm on Sanchez “dominating” anything just yet – buy, yeah…if he’s blowing everyone away at the AA level, why not move him up.
        I’m saying let his arm develop and build up his innings count.

  7. Lol
    @magelb: Source: Phillies have re-signed Carlos Ruiz to a three-year, $26 million contract.

  8. Am I OK with a 2014 rotation of Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Stroman and a FA addition?

    I think I am.

    2 Starters would be nice but one of the Stromans, Drabeks or Hutchinsons of the world should be OK in the 5 spot.

    • Yes
      Need one reliable new acquisition starter though

    • Even if Stroman kills spring training, I would much rather the Jays wait till the super 2 deadline to call him up, only makes sense from an asset management standpoint.

      • I actually think they’ll break camp with whoever they think gives them the best chance to win.

        • I disagree, almost all top prospects that have yet to start their MLB service clock wait until after the super two deadline, especially pitchers. Unless the team is truly desparate, they will hold out until the deadline.

          Think about it. Would you rather have a top prospect at the beginning of the season, and that will be shutdown by the end of year by an innings limit anyway? Or bring up the prospect later on in the year, probably will not have to shut them down, and have an extra year of control before they enter free agency.

          • Nevermind about the innings limit, just realized pitchers would be pitchiing in the minors which would contribute to their innings limit. Duh.

    • What are they doing with Happ in this scenario?

  9. !!!!
    @magelb: I’m told the Ruiz deal includes a club option for a fourth year in 2017.

  10. Thank God we didnt trade jPA yet. Is ruben amaro really this stupid? Marlon Byrd, now this? …this after he traded Cliff Lee AFTER trading for Doc? because he “had to restock the farm system” ????

    Did someone tell Ruben that there is something called the MLB draft for that? as well as free agent minor league signings?

    I think the phillies will next try to reacuire Michael Young and perhaps entice Bake McBride out of retirement.

  11. I would like the Jays to promote their young pitchers like the Cardinals do. Bring them up, put them in the bullpen and move them into the rotation the next year

  12. People need to quit it with this “i’ll take burlhe/dickey/morrow plus whoever else nonsense”

    Why on gods green earth are people talking like morrow isnt an injury case who cant be trusted to pitch well when he bothers to stay healthy?

    Is he healthy now? I dont think any of us know but honestly I highly doubt it. And the starts he made prior to two years ago doesnt preclude him from being an injury case.

    This team needs two more solid pitchers at the very least.

    Stop pretending like morrow has a rotation spot on lock.

    • Stop pretending like he isnt, the last report was that he was healthy and will be at 100% for spring training.

      2 more solid starting pitchers would be ideal to make our rotation really good. Adding just one more good pitcher would be enough though as we now have pitching depth with upside.

      • put it this way: if morrow isn’t on the DL by the time opening day rolls around then how long until his next DL stint? if this team adds one SP only and morrow winds up on the DL again ( should we really expect anything else at this point?) then this team is in big trouble. I do like some of our fifth starter / minor league depth guys but if we’re relying on those guys for both the 4th and 5th slots then I don’t like our chances. could get lucky but do you really wanted to come to that?

        if the Toronto Blue Jays mean business on the field in 2014 then they will be doing themselves a huge disservice if they do not add two reliable starting pitchers.

    • pretty sure that Morrow has a rotation spot locked up. Why on earth wouldn’t he? What three starters do you think you could find that would bump him out?

  13. I like Ruiz, probably not at those numbers though.

    Toronto probably would’ve had to guarantee that fourth year to get him out of Philly.

    I wonder if this is a sign of the new marketplace or perhaps. Philly which is a large market team just flexing some muscle?

  14. Catchers do not age well. Fisk and Piazza are exceptions.

    Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Yogi Berra and many others were all done as full time catchers at age 34. Ruiz is 34.

    Anything more than two years would have been a huge gamble. I’ll bet on the GM who didn’t sign Howard long-term thank you very much.

    • It is not even that he signed Howard long term. It is that he gave a huge completely unnecessary extension to cover non-prime years when he still had a bunch of years of control left.

      • yes, good clarification. The timing was as bad, if not wors,e than the terms. The Marlon Byrd deal is also very confusing.

    • I am not sure comparing catchers from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s to today’s players validates that “catchers don’t age well” ..

      • ok, name me a recent catcher who played well at age 35, 36 37?

        The ONLY one I can cite is Piazza.

        Pudge’s last great season was at 32. He didn’t fall off a cliff after that, but there was a very steep decline.

        I’m not saying Chooch doesn’t have one more good year left, but I guarantee you he doesn’t have three good years left.

    • Chooch has been remarkably durable so far in his career, so in a thin catching market I don’t think the contract is too bad.

      Also, he has a similar build to Ivan Rodriguez, which in itself doesn’t mean much but it’s as valid as comparing Ruiz to catchers from the 60′s.

  15. I’m sure Andrew will have a post up on Ruiz soon.

    Law hates it, Cameron thinks it’s reasonable.

    We’ll see which side our young Stoeten comes down on…….

  16. It’s Surprise Saguaros. Saguaros are those giant cacti…but they don’t make tequila or anything, so they’re not a useful plant to be name after…

  17. Can’t remember if this was mentioned already, but regarding the Seager and Iwakuma rumour from mid season, doesn’t Rasmus make a lot of sense as a trade chip in that scenario? The Mariners are fixated on adding power and they’re also supposedly in the market for Jacoby Ellsbury. Rasmus would appear to be ideal for them, the only issue is his single year of team control.

    • Ok

    • you may get one of those guys for Rasmus, surely not both .. not sure why the rush to deal Rasmus .. he’s great now right?

      • For sure he’s good right now, but he wouldn’t be my bet to be a consistent 4 WAR player year in and year out. His value is driven primarily by his bat, and there is enough swing and miss in his game to expect a fair bit of volatility, which is exactly how his career has gone so far. Now is your only time to sell high since he hits free agency next year. The jays have a replacement in gose and the Mariners FO is under enough pressure to improve the major league roster (and they need both power and a CF) that they should be very interested in acquiring someone like Colby. Clearly Colby is not enough to net both Seager and Iwakuma, but a deal for one of them, or perhaps both with a lot more value kicked in on the jays side, would make sense.

        • I like the thought of capitalizing on Rasmus’s good (partial) season. There are some difficulties with your scenario, though. First, you’d be replacing a #6/7 bat with a #9 bat. That problem is compounded by the yet-to-be-addressed offensive holes at 2B, C, and the questions surrounding LF/Melky. Melky, Goins, Gose, and JPA at the bottom of the order inspires something other than fear. Laughter or derision, perhaps.

          Gose’s defense isn’t what Rasmus’s is, either. This is the second problem, imo. As far as I can remember the only good, accurate throw that Gose made all year hit Rasmus in the face.

 has Iwakuma as a 32-YO, 7 WAR pitcher on a 2-yr/$14MM contract with an option for 2015. Rasmus is a 26-YO, 4.8 WAR, arbitration-eligible CF with consistency issues. I agree that Rasmus wouldn’t net Iwakuma and Seager…

          • He wouldn’t net anywhere close to Iwakuma and Seager, because yeah… the contract.

            Gose’s defence is bad now? No.

            • “Gose’s defence is bad now?” Huh?

              • You said that his defence isn’t what Colby’s is. Not true. You based it on a couple of throws you saw, apparently. Silly.

                • Saying that Gose isn’t the defender that Rasmus is isn’t equivalent to saying that Gose is a bad OF. Not even close.

                  Rasmus, 2010-2013: 4.7 RngR, -2.9 UZR, -0.9 UZR/150, and 4.7 Def in 4400+ defensive innings. He’s entrenched as the 7th-ranked CF in MLB.

                  Last year, however, his numbers in the same criteria, less Def, were 14.6/11.2/15.2. We all know that his value leans heavily on his defense, but his offense was pretty good in 2013 too. There’s also the reality that he’s entering his prime, and his good offensive season in 2010 to consider. We can’t say anything even remotely similar about Gose.

                  I have very few problems with AG’s defense, but I know for sure that Rasmus is a quality major league defender in CF. The same thing can’t be said about Gose with the same conviction. His career numbers are slightly better than Rasmus’s career marks, but 2013 wasn’t exactly stellar for Gose in the OF. I still don’t know which is the real Anthony Gose. That said, he’s only played 415+ innings defensively in CF, or less than 1/10th of Rasmus’s career.

                  Mentioning the throw to Rasmus’s face was a cast-off comment to emphasize the absurdity of thinking that Gose can step in right now and do Rasmus’s job. He hasn’t proven anything of the sort. In the field it may be a wash but who’s to say? All he’s proven is that he makes poor, inconsistent contact and he hasn’t really hit at any level. If Goins’ bat doesn’t play because it never has, then Gose’s bat doesn’t play either.

                  Anyways, I’m not trying to get into a firefight or anything similarly inane. I appreciate your work and also appreciate the feedback.

                  • Well yeah, you can’t really use Gose’s numbers to mean anything, and those negative UZR numbers for Colby over the larger don’t really help your case much.

                    Observationally, I think most would say that Gose is a better defender than Rasmus, and as that’s really the only meaningful thing we have to go on, I tend to agree. Talking about his being “proven” or not is kind of meaningless. It’s certainly arguable, but don’t discount that Gose’s reputation is very good.

                    As for Gose/Goins, it’s not apples to apples. Gose had better numbers at double-A in the year before Goins reached the level, even though Gose is two years younger. That’s significant.

                    • My bottom line–sometimes a weakness; other times a strength–is that actuality precedes potentiality.

                      Few things would please me more, Jays-wise, than being confident that they could capitalize on CR’s solid-though-injury-shortened 2013 and replace him with AG. A move like that requires a leap of faith that I wouldn’t be prepared to make, though many others with much greater knowledge and insight than I mightn’t hesitate. To them I defer.

    • That’s a rather LARGE issue, wouldn’t you say? You’re not trading a guy who had the season Iwakuma did on that contract for 1 year of Colby Rasmus who didn’t even play a full season.

  18. Trade Happ and Goes and two mid prospects for Castro

  19. Surprised no one is concerned that he apparently is not effective out of the strech / has no downhill plane out of the stretch. That could stop him from being elite if he doesn’t figure out how to keep runners from advancing from 1st to 2nd with ease, or have an .OPS over 800 pitching out of the stretch… I can vaguely remember some pitchers who who were great but couldn’t pitch with runners on 1st…

    But by all other accounts, he’s well on his way to truly honing his craft. Very advanced for such a young age, could be another Halladay/ Verlander in the making, a true student of pitching, the way he’s practicing mixing speeds & locations (to great effect)… Very mature, & very poised…

    • I think it’s definitely a concern. But now isn’t the time of year for concerns! Wait until he gets traded, THEN shit on him for it.

  20. I dunno Stoeten, if you watch the Bernie Pleskoff interview in the link below, I highly doubt that you would ever quote this guy ever again as a credible source.

    • There is nothing wrong with different perspectives, absolutely nothing in that interview that makes him less credible, and nothing about thinking about the “wrong” way about certain elements of the game that invalidates someone’s expertise in others. Look at their words. Yes, he says he doesn’t pay attention stats (not necessarily his job) and thinks about things like attitude/chemistry a bit much, but he also talks about watching players from a mechanical perspective, which is evident in what he writes.

      I don’t think anybody should take what he says– or what anyone says– as gospel, but I will continue to link his work. Yes, he is an old school scout. But read what he writes. Where are you seeing anything in the passage I quoted about pitching mechanics and Sanchez’s maturity of approach that shouldn’t be taken at face value because of supposed credibility issues?

      • I was referring to the “attitude/chemistry a bit much” slant in his view.

        Between that and the old skoolness overall (I know stats are not his primary goal) he seams to contradict much of you editorial view on the matter.

        Not to say that you are anti-old skool, but rather anti- overblown intangibles.

        I wasn’t out to poke holes in your post, rather attempting to contribute in the understanding of a source that has appeared in two posts this week.

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