Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Sanchez – P
Sanchez started off slowly in the Arizona Fall League but steadily improved throughout the event. He led full-time starters with a 1.16 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 23.1 innings. Sanchez struggled with command early but it’s possible rust was a factor after a 6 week layoff between the end of his minor league season and the start of the AFL. His 1.91 SO/BB ratio could be better but made up for it by being nearly unhittable allowing only 4.29 H/9. Sanchez throws a fastball in the mid-90s, which is complemented by a good curve and change. He’s also not afraid to work inside and has the stuff to potentially be a top-tier MLB starter.
Marcus Stroman – P
According to Stroman, the Blue Jays plan for him is to become a starting pitcher and not a reliever like so many have assumed. His lightning quick arm kept hitters in check throughout the Arizona Fall League and impeccable control made for a 4.33 SO/BB ratio and helped lead to a 0.94 WHIP. He appeared in nine games, tossed 11.2 innings total and was credited with four holds. Stroman throws four effective pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, change) and is also working on a cutter, which definitely helps his case to become a starting pitcher at the MLB level. Stroman should start the 2014 season in Triple-A but is also a dark horse candidate to become a member of the Blue Jays rotation at some point next year.
Drew Hutchison – P
Hutchison is notably recovering from Tommy John surgery, which was performed on the young pitcher in 2012. He pitched very well throughout the event but had one very poor start that skewed his final numbers. He was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week and prior to his last appearance was leading AFL starters with a 0.57 ERA and matching 0.57 WHIP. He was shelled by the Scottsdale Scorpions giving up six earned runs in only two innings his last start to raise his final ERA to 3.32 and WHIP to 1.11. Regardless it was an impressive AFL performance by Hutchison who will be competing for a rotation spot in Spring Training.
Kenny Wilson – CF
Wilson started off the Arizona Fall League on fire but quickly cooled off after a great first week. The 23-year-old right-handed batter could potenially be exposed to the Rule 5 draft if he’s not added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster by November 20th. He finished the league batting .258/.333/.392 and led the Rafters with 12 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Strikeouts were Wilson’s biggest downfall as his K rate was close to 30% while his walk rate was less than 10%. Speed is Wilson’s biggest strength.
Andy Burns – 1B/3B/OF
Burns was nominated for the AFL’s sportsmanship award and had a very good fall season. He batted .312/.402/.403 and had nearly a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He was also named the AFL’s player of the week after he put up an OPS of 1.416 in week four. He did struggle at times in the field, evidenced by his four errors, and looked most comfortable at first base. He’s not a power hitter but has shown an ability to put the barrel on the ball. He had 24 hits in the AFL – 18 singles, 5 doubles and a triple but no home runs. He’s also a smart baserunner and had six successful steals in eight attempts.
Derrick Chung – C
Chung was a late addition to the AFL after the Blue Jays top catching prospect A.J. Jimenez was left off the Rafters’ roster. He was extremely impressive both at the plate and behind it batting .390/.447/.439 while keeping runners in check on the base paths. He only appeared in 13 games so his sample-size was a bit smaller but the late-blooming catcher’s performance was most likely a nice surprise for the Blue Jays brass.
John Stilson – P
Stilson didn’t finish the AFL season and was sent home about midway through the event. He was roughed up at times and allowed six earned runs in only two and a third innings and was guilty of a 3.86 WHIP (and 23.14 ERA… ugh). I’m not sure if Stilson was hurt or not but his struggles are concerning.