The busyness of the MLB offseason has unfortunately thrown my Arizona Fall League updates for a bit of a loop. However two of the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects, pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, both made an appearance in the 2013 Fall Stars game so I figured it was a good time to get caught up on the AFL.
On Saturday night the top prospects from the Arizona Fall League gathered for the All-Star game, which was formerly known as the Rising Stars game. Aaron Sanchez, ranked number 20 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List, started for the AFL East All-Stars and pitched two scoreless innings.
Sanchez managed a ground out from the first batter he faced on two mid-90s fastballs in the zone. He then struck out the second batter on five pitches and generated two swinging strikes with his curveball. Next Sanchez was forced to face MLB.com’s number one prospect, Byron Buxton, and walked him on four pitches but did attempt to pitch inside. He left a fastball up in the zone to the next batter, who cracked a single, but was able to strand the runners on first and second with a line-out on a 1-1 pitch.
In the second inning Sanchez forced Corey Seager to chase on a fastball out of the zone that generated another swinging strike before Seager flew out to center. The next batter grounded out on an inside fastball at 94 MPH. With two-out Sanchez allowed a line drive single to the left-handed hitting Brett Nicholas on another fastball that was clocked at 95. Sanchez retired the final batter on two pitches to finish with two hits and one base on balls allowed and no runs against him.
Sanchez was extremely effective against some of the league’s best hitters and perhaps most impressively 18 of his 29 pitches were thrown for strikes. According to AFL observers he struggled with command early but now that he’s back on a regular throwing schedule is starting to groove.
Marcus Stroman entered the game in the fifth inning for the AFL East. The first batter faced he generated a called strike from his fastball and swinging strike from his changeup but allowed a single on an inside slider. He lost the next batter on four straight pitches to lead to a two-on, no out situation.
Stroman went back to the fastball and struck out Seager swinging on five pitches before changing the pace to the next batter with three sliders and a fastball before getting another swinging strikeout, which came courtesy of his changeup. He then cleaned up the inning with a fly ball out on the first pitch to the next batter. Stroman finished the game after 19 pitches with 10 being for strikes and was throwing his heater in the range of 93-96 MPH.
The AFL East lost the game by a final score of 9-2.