Archive for the ‘Aaronxta Sanchez Vicario’ Category

sanchezthrowsblue

Greg Wisniewski has an excellent piece up at Blue Jays Plus, where he uses actual numbers and logic in an attempt to answer the question that was on a lot of minds during the latter half of this summer: should Aaron Sanchez remain in the bullpen?

The argument for is fairly elegant: even though we can expect some regression, given his otherworldly beginnings as a big league reliever and the fact that the league has only seen 30 innings of him so far, he still could be a spectacular, bullpen-saving multi-inning reliever.

Imagine the Jays with Sanchez doing — albeit via groundballs, not strikeouts — what Dellin Betances did for the Yankees this season, throwing 90 relief innings over 70 appearances, 35 of which saw him get four outs or more.

It’s tantalizing, and — as Greg argues — it’s a way to get a tonne of immediate big league value out of Sanchez, rather than either having him toil in Buffalo or by making room for him in the rotation only to have him shut down late in the season because of an innings cap. It also, I might add, leaves him somewhat stretched out, and therefore more ready than most to assume a spot in the rotation should anyone go down to injury or need to be demoted for performance reasons — at which point his innings will likely have been suppressed enough that worrying about an early shut-down will have stopped being an issue.

This is all well and good. Counterintuitive as it may be to want to take innings away from what may be one of your better pitchers, you can make a pretty compelling case out of these ideas, I think. But if I were to take sort of issue with Greg’s piece, it would start around here:

The argument I’ve heard against the whole idea is that of the possibilty of injury. Frankly, I don’t buy it, and I don’t think the Blue Jays worry about the bullpen causing injuries to starters due to a change in routine. Sanchez, Stroman, and Daniel Norris (not to mention Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek) were all put in the bullpen this year after starting games, and there was no hesitation to do so from the Blue Jays front office.

Injury may well be an argument against the notion that some have made, but I personally wouldn’t make it — for exactly the reasons Greg cites — and I wouldn’t call it the argument against the scheme, either.

What I would call the argument against it is essentially twofold, though comes down to one central conceit: you eventually want Aaron Sanchez to be a starter — and not just any starter, but a very, very good one. That’s a key difference between him and Betances, who seems now a reliever in full. And the timeline for Sanchez’s future in the rotation isn’t necessarily just some vague “eventually,” but actually rather specific and, frankly, pretty soon.

J.A. Happ’s contract is up following the 2015 season. Mark Buehrle will hit free agency after next year as well. R.A. Dickey will likely be around for one year after that, but it’s too early to say whether his 2016 option will be picked up, and not impossible to think that injury or poor performance could force the Jays to drop him, creating three large holes in the club’s rotation twelve months from now.

Daniel Norris would ideally be able to fill one of those holes, but Sanchez, coming off a mere 100 inning season, likely could not. At least not in the way that you’d want.

The BJP piece notes that the Jays attempt to be gradual with the way they increase their young starters’ workloads, which they say poses a problem for Sanchez next spring, as he’ll be coming off a year in which he logged just 133.1 innings. But though Greg notes at one point that 30 inning increases are generally the maximum, he shows later that Marcus Stroman’s total this year actually went up by 42 innings. Daniel Norris also jumped about that much, from 90.2 last season to this year’s 131.1. And Drew Hutchison’s career high was 149.1 innings back in 2011, before he went up to 184.2 this year — a smaller jump, yes, but still above 30 and maybe more risky given his surgery and how long it had been since his arm had been built up to that point.

Not only does that make something closer to 175 innings — i.e. just ten innings fewer than Hutchison this year — plausible for Sanchez in 2015, it also puts him in line to pitch with no restrictions the following season (provided good health, of course). That’s not the case if he becomes a 100 inning guy this year, and while I’m sure the Jays could find a way to work around it (or, given their actions with Hutchison, simply increase his 2016 workload to 40-odd innings above its previous peak), it’s not the only problem that arises from bullpen plan.

There is also the issue of his repertoire and its development.

Sanchez essentially ditched his changeup while working out of the Jays’ bullpen this summer, throwing it just 4.2% of the time according to the data at Brooks. His curveball showed up just 13.1% of the time, while the rest of his pitches were either sinkers (59.7%) or four-seamers (23.0%). That’s not exactly the way to hone still-developing secondary offerings, nor is the fact that as a reliever he wouldn’t be turning lineups over particularly great for his development either.

To those points, here’s how Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus described the changeup he saw Sanchez using while pitching for New Hampshire on April 13th and June 8th of this year:

Poor pitch in both outings; lacks feel for offering; consistently misses up with CH; lacked consistent movement but showed occasional dive that didn’t seem repeatable; almost always overthrown and way too firm; needs to let the grip do the work; question whether feel will ever develop enough for average third pitch; stayed away from it in tight spots; seemed to use slower curveball as change-of-pace offering instead of changeup.

If Sanchez is being asked to come into high leverage big league situations and get outs all year, is he going to throw that pitch enough to really get the feel for it that he needs? Is practically shelving it for a year the best thing for its continued development?

These are important questions, and it would be easy to answer them with an emphatic “No!” But it’s not like he necessarily needs the change that badly in order to become an effective big league starter, either. In fact, in the concluding section of Anderson’s scouting report he says that Sanchez reminds him “a lot of A.J. Burnett in many ways.” Part of that is maybe just an overall feeling — he “will look brilliant at times and lost at others,” he says, calling Sanchez a future “mid-rotation starter who will have streaks where he can shows more than that” — but part of it too is that Burnett gets by just fine using a similar set of pitches.

Since 2007, Brooks says A.J. has thrown his changeup 5.9% of the time. The rest of his pitches, like Sanchez, have been a mix of curves, sinkers, and four-seamers. Burnett’s curve isn’t thrown the same way, his usage of it has been much heavier (31.6%), and his ratio of sinkers to four-seamers is quite different, but maybe he represents a sort of model of something you hope Sanchez can be.

It’s just… is that all you want him to be?

Sure, you’d take getting A.J. Burnett’s career out of Aaron Sanchez in a heartbeat. IN A HEARTBEAT. And consigning him to the bullpen for now won’t necessarily stunt him, so maybe my concerns about the lack of repetition of the changeup and putting off having him turn lineups over are a bit overblown. But I just can’t not believe that continuing to let him grow as a pitcher, rather than narrowing his focus at this still-crucial point in his development, is paramount. And combined with the innings issue you’ll run into when looking to him as a likely rotation piece in 2016, I tend to think that going for the short-term value gain of having him pitch as a multi-inning reliever next season probably just isn’t as worthwhile as it seems.

Um… unless you didn’t buy the arguments about using him in the ‘pen in the first place, in which case it’s exactly as worthwhile as it seems.

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Aaron Sanchez threw six curveballs over the course of the two innings that made up his big league debut on Wednesday night, according to his player page at Brooks Baseball. Three of them went for strikes, to go along with nine strikes on sixteen four-seamers, and one strike from the three two-seamers (or so the Pitch F/X machine says they were — 93 mph changeups?) that he threw. One of those three curveball strikes was actually the ball in play from Dustin Pedroia, who impressively stayed back on a curve nearly on his shoe-tops and lifted it to centre for the first out of Sanchez’s big league career.

And while he didn’t generate any swing-and-miss, wasn’t the groundball machine he was in the minors (and yes, he was indeed a groundball machine, as his page at the excellent MLB Farm shows), didn’t necessarily hit all of his spots, didn’t show a starter’s repertoire, and likely benefited from the Dickey Effect, the club’s top prospect certainly flashed the kind of pure, raw stuff that has his name written on sites like this for so very long, that allowed the Jays to feel comfortable parting with a guy like Noah Syndergaard, and that the club has so tightly held onto over the years as he was ascending to this moment.

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santosthrowsreds

A few small items of note have come down the ol’ information superhighway this afternoon, and while none of them really deserves its own post, they all certainly are worthy of some attention…

Sergio Santos Clears Waivers

Cue the conspiracy theory twits clamming up: according to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sergio Santo has cleared waivers and will go to Triple-A Buffalo in order to work on getting his command back. So if the Jays’ super-secret — *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* — plan with this move was to save money, I guess they fucked up. Shocking, really, that no team was willing to piss away nearly $4-million (which is what Santos is owed for the remainder of this season plus the $750K buyouts of his three remaining option years) to see if an oft-injured non-closer with 17 walks in 19.2 innings could stave off the injury bug for his longest stretch since 2011 while regaining the form that made him a force at the back of the White Sox bullpen back then.

The Jays, of course, are already on the hook for that money anyway, so obviously they’ll try to get him right and hope that he can be a weapon for them later in the season — just as they’re currently doing with Steve Delabar. It could make for a pretty deadly bullpen if it all works out and everybody stays healthy, especially once rosters expand in September, with options like Janssen, McGowan, Sanchez, Cecil, Loup, Redmond, Delabar, Santos, Wagner, and maybe even Morrow.

One might suppose that they wouldn’t have been crying if somebody took that contract off their hands, but the money is already so spread out that I don’t think it matters too much in the grand scheme. If it meant clearing that almost-$4-million for next year, that would be a different story, but in practical terms they’d be clearing about $1.4-million this year, then only $750K from the budget for each of the next three years. Not helping them that much unless they really want to add another guy at about his salary and really are already stretched to the max — neither of which is impossible, but I just don’t see it when the obvious answer is that they think he can help this year if he gets himself straight, which wasn’t going to happen pitching as sparingly in the majors as his current performance warranted.

Gibbons: The Jays Were “In On” Headley

It’s real fuckin’ easy to say after the fact, but according to a tweet from MLB Network Radio, in an appearance on Power Alley with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette, John Gibbons said that the club was “in on” Chase Headley. You can listen to Gibbers’ comments on that, as well as on Aaron Sanchez’s workload, and the fact that Ryan Goins is going to be playing a lot (because he really helps the club’s defence — though also, for some reason, they seem optimistic that he’s found a better level at which to hold his hands while at the plate, which according to a piece from Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun, is a little higher than where Kevin Seitzer had lowered them to earlier in the season).

The Headley thing… I honestly don’t know how inside the trade talk stuff John Gibbons would be. I think a lot of people might immediately start thinking that this means that the team was in it down to the wire, our in-over-his-head GM beaten out for Headley’s service by the smooth-talkin’ total pro Yankees, or some such utter fucking horseshit. The way I imagine it is more that Gibbons was aware that they were looking at Headley, was asked how he might be a fit, what plans there might have been to use him, whose playing time would have to be sacrificed, etc. I’m entirely just making that up, but I dunno… I’m sure not going to jump to any bigger conclusions based on Gibbers’ supposed knowledge of high level trade talks. He’s got his own job to do, y’know?

Renewed Focus On Pitching Trades?

An insufferable criticism that is too often levelled at the Jays without the hint of any basis in truth — at least as far as anything on the public record is concerned — is the one that goes that the front office operates without a plan. It’s one of those things that people without anything better to piss and moan about, who are unwilling to take a moment’s thought about  the reality of how the front office works, use just because they have some pathological need to spray piss all about as a means to defend against having to contemplate any other of their own feelings.

But… uh… sometimes you maybe see a little kernel of truth in it.

I mean, I know they didn’t actually do anything yet to address the lineup, and that not remotely every rumour you hear is actually true, but… um… really? Back to pitching? We didn’t entirely see these hitters coming back to full health on the horizon? All of the sudden it’s, “Hey, Hutchison’s been bad, maybe we should get a pitcher”?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that these guys are getting closer to returning — and seem to be doing so on or ahead of schedule — but… really?

Layin’ Down The Law

Lastly, Keith Law had a chat with readers today at ESPN.com, and while there weren’t many Jays-related tidbits, one sure stands out. *COUGH*

Keith (kc) [via mobile]
A few years back you were on record as saying Sanchez> Thor. What changed during development to make them flip flop?
Klaw
The Jays shortened Sanchez’ stride, claiming it would help him get over his front side more – when the opposite is true – and it has ruined him in several ways. He’s less athletic, his command has gone backwards, he doesn’t finish the breaking ball as consistently, and of course guys with upright finishes and short strides are at greater risk of injury. Meanwhile, Thor just keeps getting better, going from a below-average curveball to a solid-average one in about a year and a half – and the Mets didn’t touch what was already a good delivery.

Ouch.

This is better, at least:

Sagar (NYC)
Jim Bowden suggested that the Mets could get Franklin Barreto for Bartolo Colon. Any thoughts on Barreto? Wouldn’t that be a steal for the Mets?
Klaw
Zero chance of that happening. Like, zero to the power of ten.

sanchezMTL
According to a piece from Shi Davidi at Sportsnet, Aaron Sanchez and Ryan goins are set to join the Jays on Tuesday. Sanchez is obviously the key one there, as the club’s long talked-about top prospect. He’ll be pitching out of the bullpen, where he’s made two appearances of late for Buffalo, and per MLBTR, will accumulate about 70 days of service time if he remains with the club for the rest of the season, which should leave him well short of Super Two status.

Nothing official has been announced, so we have no idea yet of the corresponding moves to make room on the active roster, and on the 40-man, but if I were Brad Mills, I probably wouldn’t be unpacking any more of my stuff right now. (Also, according to a tweet from Jamie Campbell, Tolleson will hit the paternity list, which makes the Goins move wholly more justifiable).

Update

Apparently with the bullpen getting their heads handed to them yesterday, even more changes are coming, as Shi Davidi has added to his piece an update suggesting that Esmil Rogers is on his way back to the Jays’ bullpen, too.

To be fair to Brad Mills he’s not as bad as a lot of people (understandably) think he is based on his career, his previous appearances with the Jays, and last night. After all, he was given four starts by the best team in baseball, and this season in the minors produced the lowest walk rate of any stint anywhere in his pro career, and his first strikeout rate above one-per-inning since 2008. However, now I really think he probably shouldn’t unpack.

Rogers has been working as a starter, and should allow Todd Redmond to stay in the short relief role he seemed to move into just before the break. In Esmil’s last five starts he’s allowed nine runs over 29.2 innings (2.73 ERA), with 20 strikeouts and 13 walks, and has thrown 65% of his pitches for strikes, though… we all know that Triple-A numbers don’t mean a hell of a lot. Still, some of the peripherals on him before he was sent down suggested that he might not have been as bad as he looked. Fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that they won’t need to even think of ever moving him back into the rotation, too — and maybe we’re closer to preventing that eventuality, as Jeff Blair tweets that the Jays agree with a comment Joe Siddal was making on the radio last night: they think Hutchison was tipping his pitches. So… there’s that.

Update Update

It’s official. Alex Seixeiro of the Fan 590 tweets that Sanchez, Goins, and Esmil Rogers are up, Brad Mills is DFA, and Erik Kratz and Darin Mastroianni have been optioned back to Buffalo. OK? OK.

sanchezMTL

No, obviously it’s not a permanent move. Don’t get your boxer-briefs in a twist, for fuck sakes. But yes, according to a tweet from Bisons play-by-play man Ben Wagner, Aaron Sanchez has been moved to the bullpen, obviously with a view to bringing him up to help the big league club (and limiting his innings in the process so that he doesn’t have to be shut down in mid-September).

This comes on the heels of the Jays making a waiver claim today, acquiring Brad Mills, the former Jay who became expendable when Oakland traded for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and designating 2010 first round pick Deck McGuire for assignment in the process.

Brad Mills

So… Brad Mills is back, and is going to end up on the 25-man roster of this club. A corresponding move has yet to be announced, but it could be a relatively simple one, despite the news about Aaron Sanchez being moved to the bullpen. The Jays currently have three catchers and five outfielders, so it’s not outlandish to think that Kratz or Gose or Mastroianni could be optioned down, with Mills joining a pitching staff with an eight-man bullpen — or, perhaps, a six-man rotation.

I’m just spitballing here, but the Jays toyed with the idea of a six-man rotation earlier in the season, with what seemed like the intention of preserving some bullets for a guy like Drew Hutchison. Now Marcus Stroman fits that bill as well, as both pitchers will be depended on down the stretch as they head into uncharted waters in terms of the innings they’re being asked to log. Their hitting the wall ought to be a very real fear for any Jays observer even half serious about them making some kind of playoff run — which, at this point… uh… we’ll just be happy if we get to the point where we have to worry about it.

Stroman has been so good, and the Jays have been so bad, that it’s hard to see how they could honestly take him out of the rotation at this point, but the Jays seem to be enamored with how the Cardinals did things with their young arms last year, and surely they noticed that Michael Wacha spent about a month in the bullpen, after originally getting called up as a starter, before rejoining the rotation for the stretch drive. I’m not saying this is really what the Jays are onto, I’m just sayin’…

Anywho, in Mills they have… something? The left-handed former Jay made three starts for Oakland (two of which were on the road, FYI), allowing eight earned runs over 16.1 innings, with 14 strikeouts and seven walks. Not great, but not terrible, either. He can eat some innings for the club, and in Triple-A this season with Nashville, he was pretty spectacular: 77 Ks and only 18 BBs in 75 innings.

He doesn’t have a lot of experience in the bullpen, so… we’ll see how they intend to use him, I guess.

Aaron Sanchez

The Jays having Aaron Sanchez moved to the bullpen is the clearest signal yet that they intend to bring him up to help the big club this year. And I’m OK with that. Seems like reasonably good asset management: sure, you’re giving him some service time and adding him to the 40-man a bit earlier than necessary, but they obviously feel he’s going to be up and contributing in the big leagues sooner than later, so I’m not terribly bothered by that, and in return, instead of giving away talent to bring in some pricier veteran bullpen piece, you just use a guy who seems like he should be able to be successful in the role. We all know he’s had his struggles with command, but it could work — cutting down on the variety of pitches he’s throwing might help, right? Right???

This also, if we’re being honest, makes you wonder a liiiiiitle bit about just how constrained the club is with respect to adding payroll, but I think it’s a reasonable enough idea on its own to not believe that’s the only thinking behind it — especially because it’s not like they’d be asking to add some hugely expensive (in baseball terms) reliever down the stretch, but just the pro-rated salary of a guy making a few million bucks. I mean… they can’t be that stretched, can they?

Whatever the case is on that front, as a baseball move it could work. The way Sergio Santos (who is out of options, FYI) has been going lately, along with the fact that Chad Jenkins exists, suggests that it behooves the Jays to address their bullpen (and that’s to say , and this would be a pretty damn decent way to do it, I think. Shit, if they think Mills can give them enough innings to justify it, how about adding both Sanchez and Stroman to the ‘pen? That’d make for a really impressive relief corps., though they’d obviously be taking a big hit in the rotation to do so. But given the fact that they may need to pull things back for Stroman anyway, if they want to have him continue to be available through September and (hopefully) October, maybe it’s a thing? Hey, and maybe he can even stay there once Brandon Morrow comes bffffffffffffff — hahaha, sorry, couldn’t get through that sentence with a straight face.

I probably shouldn’t be focussing quite so much on that angle, but it certainly intrigues.

Deck McGuire

Ahhhh, Deck McGuire. It sure does hurt to see his name two spots ahead of Chris Sale when you look at the first round of the 2010 draft, but before we lament his D’ing FA too vociferously, let’s remember some context. First off, he may not necessarily be on his way to another organization. He could get through waivers unclaimed, and with the way he’s pitched — 23 walks in 55 innings, with just 38 Ks and a 5.59 ERA since moving up to Triple-A — and the fact that he spent parts of four seasons at Double-A, it wouldn’t be surprising. And that’s just sort of it: the writing has long been on the wall here, unfortunately. You don’t struggle so badly to get out of Double-A for so long and keep your prospect status intact.

And the draft stuff? Let’s not forget that there were actually twelve GMs who passed on Sale (whose violent delivery led a large number of observers to see his future in the bullpen), and that lots of picks from that draft have busted just as badly — Barret Loux (6) is out of baseball, Karsten Whitson (9) didn’t sign and ended up an 11th rounder this year, Christian Colon (4) is in his third season trying to get out of Triple-A, and even Billy Beane and the A’s ended up with something of a disappointment in Michael Choice (10). Sure, McGuire was the “safe” pick, and that sure adds fuel to the ol’ moron fire when it comes to this conversation – he can’t even get a safe pick right! — but the fact that he was safe allowed the Jays to gamble on other picks, which they did in the sandwich round, drafting Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Asher Wojciechowski. Say what you will about the guys that they were traded for, but two of those prospects were key pieces that turned into 2/5ths of the Jays’ current rotation, while the third will soon be on the big league roster in the bullpen, as we discussed above. The Jays kinda nailed the 2010 draft — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Prospects bust sometimes. Have you heard??????

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Shi Davidi does great work these days, as he did back when he used to be with the Canadian Press, and I very much don’t care that I continue feeling the need to roll my eyes at it when the Rogers man gets a “scoop” on the Rogers-owned team, but I suppose that simply goes with the territory — even in an environment where the club tightly controls its message and may not even be as thrilled that this reached the public through non-official channels as we may suspect. Whatever the case, let’s just get the eye rolling over with and get to digging into what he posted this morning at the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet, which is an excellently delicious scoop, telling us that top prospect of the Rogers-owned Blue Jays, Aaron Sanchez, is now a step closer to the majors, as he’s been promoted to the Buffalo Bisons.

WHA???

The piece notes that part of the reasoning, perhaps, is the fact that Sanchez has looked better in his past two starts. This is very much true: Sanchez struck out a season high seven batters in each game, for a total of 14 strikeouts over 11.2 innings, and walked just three over that span — his one-walk outing on Sunday was a season low, and the two walks issued in his previous start matched his season low, and did for the first time since late April.

Still, though, its two games. Or, at least, that’s the painfully easy way that those inclined to rush to doomsaying about the Jays mishandling him would look at it. I think our old friend GROF has an excellent take on the other side of that, though:

It absolutely will be an interesting new challenge for him, and maybe it does make sense that a guy who can induce weak contact and ground balls the way that Sanchez can should be forced to harness it even more tightly as he faces guys with much better ideas of what to do at the plate. Shit, it’s not like he necessarily has to master a level before moving up in the world.

There are many examples of guys whose command remained a work in progress even as they ascended to the big leagues. Two that jump immediately to mind are the man who Sanchez’s name has been most linked to in trade talk this year, Jeff Samardzija, and Aaron’s future teammate (and possible second-half rival for a rotation spot), Brandon Morrow.

In 2008, Samardzija posted a 4.98 BB/9 (and just a 5.21 K/9) at Double-A, but moved up nonetheless, even ending up in the majors before finding himself in Triple-A for the bulk of 2010. In that stint he walked 5.42 batters per nine, then walked 20 in 19.1 innings in a September call-up with Chicago, and yet never saw the minors again, blossoming two years later (after a walk-heavy season in the Cubs’ bullpen) with a three-win season in which he struck out more than a batter per nine and walked just 2.89 per.

And Morrow… well… let’s not take too deep a depressing stroll through his career numbers, but rest assured, walks were a big problem for him in the minors, and as he matured as a big leaguer became less so. Granted, some of that is down to the fact that he only pitched just over 100 innings as a minor leaguer in the Mariners’ organization — and just 16 before making his big league debut!

Good examples or not, obviously none of this means that Sanchez will follow that same kind of path to success, it simply speaks to the fact that, as much as we’ve harped and focused on the walks, it’s not necessarily outlandish that he’s being moved up at this point. Nor is it necessarily some sort of dubious, Ricciardian plan to throw fans a bone in the event that the club is unable to procure the kind of rotation help it badly needs over the course of the remaining weeks before the trade deadline — something, the most cynical among us would surely wonder, they perhaps are doing preemptively, knowing that the money and the prospects simply aren’t there. (It’s not, I might add, a “showcase.” Hint: it’s never a showcase.)

I don’t know… on the surface it all does seem a bit rushed, and maybe smacks of desperation a little more than we’d like to see. But that’s mostly only if we take the view that this has zero to do with legitimate development, and that’s a hard case to make. Whatever’s going on, I want Sanchez to succeed, I want him to do it sooner than later — as I’m sure the Jays would be thrilled to see, as well, as it would allow them to add his talent to their big league roster down the stretch and for many dirt cheap years to come, rather than trading it away in exchange for an expensive veteran they’ll only have for one or two – but ultimately I understand that we have accept that he needs to develop at his own pace. Like Drew says, things may not come so easy for him at first.

Even if they do, we have to accept that in our most ridiculously hopeful scenario, with just 109.2 innings pitched last season (including the Arizona Fall League), and already 66 on the books this year, the idea that Sanchez would be able to come in and offer the Jays rotation help down the stretch is still pretty seriously fucking fanciful. Saving enough innings to use him as a bullpen weapon in September and — dare I say it — October, with a view to transitioning him to the rotation full-time in 2015, though? And giving him the odd spot start before then to help ease the load on Stroman and Hutchison? Hmmm.

I can live with that.

And if some deal for a massive rotation upgrade comes along that the Jays can’t allow themselves to pass up, I can live with that, too. Now who’s up for a trip to Buffalo? Sanchez is pitching there now! Holy shit!

sanchezafl

In this guest post from Kyle Matte, we’re treated to some actual Pitch F/X data on Aaron Sanchez, whose arsenal of pitches, it turns out, looks as sparkly among the raw numbers as it does in our fantasies. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

The Blue Jays minor league system has been an area of much debate this winter – not so much to laud its merits, but as a calculation of ammunition should the organization be unable to improve the major league rotation with money and money alone. That’s the ideal outcome, of course; to sign a player like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, and augment the present without hindering the future. Plans B, C, and D are being formulated on Twitter, blogs, and in the various comments sections, however, with fans putting together packages of minor league prospects that they believe could entice a team such as the Rays or Indians to part with a pitcher like David Price or Justin Masterson. I’ve succumb to this line of thinking more than once, and given the near-ready status of Marcus Stroman, it has instead been right hander Aaron Sanchez at the front of my hypothetical.

That ends now. We’ve all read the glowing reports on Sanchez’ right arm, such as Jason Parks’ Baseball Prospectus Top 10 Blue Jays Prospect List, in which he ranked second with the statement “7 FB; 6+ potential CB; 6 potential CH” next to his name and picture. That sounds really awesome, and if you’ve seen the video of Sanchez from the Arizona Fall League, it looks really awesome, too. What those numbers necessarily mean can be difficult to grasp, particularly for those of us without a scout school education, as there are different variables and characteristics that go into each of those grades. Thankfully for us, three of Sanchez’ AFL appearances came in parks with the PitchFX system in place, and BrooksBaseball.net has published the data for a closer inspection.

Note: a small sample size alert is in full effect, as only 146 pitches (67 fastballs, 23 sinkers, 28 curveballs, and 28 changeups) were recorded.

In order to gain a better idea of what Sanchez’ 7 fastball, 6+ potential curveball, and 6 potential changeup look like – and in another sense, just how good they might be if he could ever learn to consistently harness and locate them, I utilized Sanchez’ PitchFX data, applied a 5% error to the horizontal and vertical movement measurements, and compared the values to customized pitching leaderboards from the 2013 season on FanGraphs. Which major league right hander does Sanchez’ fastball have the most in common with? Who else throws a curveball with a similar shape at this velocity? What about his changeup? I was able to find answers for all of these questions, and the outcomes were staggering.

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