Aaron Sanchez: Future Closer Or MLB Starting Pitcher?
Top Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez has been called up after making eight appearances with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. While in upstate New York on a family trip, he was a must see prospect and well worth the trip to visit the Syracuse Skychiefs. Blessed with an ideal pitcher’s frame and power fastball/curveball combination, the right-handed pitcher has been ranked highly on top-100 prospect lists. About to debut, is Sanchez Toronto’s closer of the future? Or is he the frontline starter multiple scouting contacts have loosely compared to Justin Verlander?
Only 22, the 6-foot-4, 200 pound Sanchez is lean and projectable. Athletic and well-proportioned, the lanky right-hander can add an additional 20 pounds without being sapped of his mobility. With a prototype pitcher’s frame, Aaron Sanchez has the body for durability, but doesn’t incorporate it well into his delivery. His staying tall and stabbing with a short stride places stress on his arm to generate velocity. It may be the cause of arm issues which have limited him to a career high of just 90 1/3 innings pitched prior to this season.
Aaron Sanchez opened the first inning with a 92-94 mph fastball. After cruising through the first frame, he took the pitch up a notch. Innings two through five saw Sanchez sit 94-95 mph, touching 96. When down in the zone, the pitch featured late sink and explosive life. The top-100 prospect’s command came and went, flashing solid average. During lapses, Sanchez left the fastball up in the zone where it was barreled by opposing hitters.
After five scoreless innings, a cheap single to center field by Nationals catcher Sandy Leon opened the door. After another hit and sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third, Sanchez allowed a sacrifice fly and two more singles before ending the inning. The seventh included another run fueled by a hit by pitch, walk, wild pitch, balk and hit. When under duress, Sanchez appeared lost and unable to right himself. Additionally, when Triple-A hitters made adjustments to key on first pitch fastballs, Sanchez didn’t counter punch. With his stuff, Aaron Sanchez has the stuff to attack and excel. Instead, he overthrew and left pitches up. It’s an adjustment he’ll have to make at the MLB level.
at 79-81 mph, Sanchez possessed one of, if not the best curveball scouted in person. the pitch buckled knees and generated swings-and-misses even though it wasn’t reflected in the strikeout column. When scouting games, the sign of an elite breaking pitch is its ability to make my eyes cross (seriously). Sanchez’s breaking pitch featured two plane depth and 12/6 movement. It’s a hammer and one of the few 70-plus pitches scouted in person in 2014.
Because Aaron Sanchez worked quickly and efficiently through the first five innings, he barely needed an 88 mph change-up. With arm action identical to the fastball, it has the potential to be a quality third pitch. For now, the change-up is still a work in progress as the right-hander throws the pitch hard and straight.
For whatever reason, it appears the prospect community has begun to sour on Aaron Sanchez and his questionable command. Does he walk too many batters? Yes, but the Blue Jays have pushed him heavily this season. Having ended 2013 in High-A, his preparing to debut at the MLB level is surprising given the top-100 prospect entered the season with just 256 professional innings across three-plus seasons.
While the easy projection is at the back of Toronto’s bullpen, Sanchez has the ability to develop into a rotation stalwart with time. My one concern is the fact his baseball movements are loose (for lack of a better term), and seven years of scouting has taught pitchers with this profile rarely are able to fully correct command issues. So while walks will keep Sanchez from ever being the ace he was envisioned to be, the stuff is present for the right-hander to become an adequate two/dynamite three if things break right.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 2/3 Starter On First Division Team or Closer Fastball 65 70 Curveball 60 70 Changeup 40 50 Control 40 50 Command 30 40
Owning Aaron Sanchez
In the Ottoneu Experts League, Sanchez has been a member of team ROTOscouting since joining the league in 2012. Like other fantasy baseball owners, the combination of durability and command concerns is problematic. Aaron Sanchez’s trade value is diminished and dealing him now would be at a low point. Hold the top-100 prospect and see how things shake out in Toronto. Remember, 5×5 leagues value shut down closers similarly to frontline starters. If Sanchez clicks, either outcome results in a fantasy baseball force.
22 Jul 2014 / Mike Newman / 1
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