Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez threw five hitless innings and struck out eight in the Arizona Fall League yesterday. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Fall League has featured three consecutive days of Toronto Blue Jays pitching. Despite my best attempts to get this post up yesterday after Marcus Stroman‘s unbelievably exciting performance by the time I got around to it, Aaron Sanchez was already pitching. So here’s your AFL update from the last three days from a Toronto Blue Jays perspective.
Wednesday – November 6, 2013
Drew Hutchison was named the Arizona Fall League’s best pitcher last week but followed up with a rough outing on Wednesday allowing 7 hits and 6 earned runs in two very shaky innings. Hutchison struck out two, walked another and allowed a run home to Andrew Susac on a bad miss over the middle of the plate.
Kenny Wilson led off for the Rafters and was 0 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout. Reigning player of the week Andy Burns manned first base and was 1 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout. Catcher Derrick Chung was 1 for 3 with a walk.
The Arizona Fall League has started to use instant reply as a test environment before it’s implemented in MLB next season. For now teams in the AFL are allowed unlimited challenges (this would not be the case in MLB but it’s TBD how many challenges will be allowed) and on Wednesday three of the six plays were overturned.
Burns and Wilson were both involved in plays that were reviewed and both resulted in their favour. Burns reached on a fielding error that was called correctly on the field, which I was able to find video on below.
Thursday – November 7, 2013
For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays this game was all about the electric two innings that the Salt River Rafters received from Marcus Stroman who entered the game in the seventh inning. He struck out five in two perfect frames and those watching the game live on MLB.com/MLB Network were raving about his lightning quick arm and devastating changeup, which is almost an unfair combination.
Many scouts see Stroman as a reliever with the biggest knock being his height but I’m convinced he has what it takes to be a starter. At under six feet he’ll never get the “plane” or angle on his pitchers that is ideal but with his stuff it may not matter. He was able to hold velocity into the later innings this year in New Hampshire and throws four different pitches, which all flash plus at times. In my opinion he could be a starter with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, most likely not out of Spring Training but possibly as early as June.
Burns had a rare start in right field and kept swinging a hot bat. He was 1 for 3 with a triple, walk and two runs scored. Wilson had a night to forget at that plate and was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and a walk.
Friday – November 8, 2013
Aaron Sanchez started yesterday afternoon to keep the streak of Blue Jays pitcher appearances alive. He flat-out dominated and did not allow a hit in five innings and struck out eight. He did allow an unearned run in the fifth on a strange sequence of events (hit by pitch, throwing error on pickoff attempt, throwing error by Sanchez) but when it came to actually pitching he was untouchable. Unfortunately the game was not shown on TV so there’s no video to embed of Sanchez’s start.
Derrick Chung handled the catching duties and was 1 for 4. In twelve games he leads the Rafters in OBP and average and is batting a very nice .378/.442/.432. The small-sample-size be helping Chung but overall he’s been much better than I would have expected going into the AFL. He’s been steady both at the plate and behind it and has shown he might have what it takes to become a serviceable MLB catcher someday.
All video courtesy of MLB.com.