2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospect: #2 Aaron Sanchez
It is that time of year, where the team here at Jays Journal once again discusses the Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects. We have compiled our Top 20 and we wanted to create the most all-inclusive Blue Jays prospect ranking out there.
So, we took a mixed approach to our rankings. Not only did we take a ranking from each member of our writing staff, but we also figured in the rankings from other publications as well, including MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball.
As we continue to wind through to the bottom of our top prospect in the Blue Jays system, you can catch up with the previous members of the Top 20 by clicking here.
Today, we narrow in on pitcher Aaron Sanchez as the number two prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
Name: Aaron Sanchez
Date of Birth: July 1, 1992
Acquired: Drafted 1st round, 34th pick, of the 2010 Amateur draft.
Height/Weight: 6′ 4″, 200 pounds
- 2014 Baseball America #34 ranked prospect.
- 2014 MLB.com #23rd ranked prospect
Ever since GM Alex Anthopoulos shipped off former top pitching prospects Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard, Jays fans have awaited the career of prospect Aaron Sanchez. In late June, due to a struggling major league bullpen, the front office promoted Sanchez to Triple-A to test his readiness in fulfilling the major league deficiency. On July 22nd, after a rollercoaster first-half of the season, Sanchez was again promoted, this time to Toronto.
Upon his arrival, he dispelled any concerns over his fastball command. In his 24 outings, he limited his walks to a mere nine, something almost no one seen coming.
The bulk of the reason for this change to his previous achilles heel was a change Buffalo Bisons Randy St. Claire made to his delivery which was previously preventing his success. St. Claire said that Sanchez was dropping his elbow in the delivery causing his curveball, his best pitch, to level out and lose its pitcher friendly downward plane.
Once he raised his elbow, “His sinker was a bowling ball, his curveball was outstanding. I remember coming back (from a trip to Buffalo) and telling (John Gibbons) ‘What I’m seeing in these last three or four outings, he’s as good as any starter we have currently.’ That’s how good he looked,” Anthopoulos told Sportsnet.
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More or less, Sanchez was really good upon arrival at the mid-point of the season in Toronto. Pitching out of the pen, he totalled 33 innings with a practically noticeable ERA of 1.09. His walk rate plummeted to an impressive 2.5/9 innings but was within his career strikeout rate at 7.4 per nine innings.
Outlook and ETA
Unless Aaron Sanchez turns Ricky Romero come spring training, losing any and all talent he demonstrated last season (knock on wood), he’s going to start 2015 in a Jays uniform. Where he punches in his time card is another story.
The case has been made by some that he should remain in the bullpen and take on the vacant closer role. Personally, this idea couldn’t be more ludicrous but there are conceivably worse things in this world than Sanchez ending up in the bullpen.
Thing is, he has the stuff to be a cornerstone in the Jays rotation in 2015 and beyond. I’m not the only one to think so. Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus both believe Sanchez has what it takes to be a main stay in the rotation.
Right now, Sanchez’s arsenal features two plus pitches in his fastball, curveball combination. These were the only two pitches he needed at the major league level to dominate hitters. His other pitch, the changeup, is his last pitch but was not thrown at all at the major league level. According to Baseball Prospectus, Sanchez has demonstrated the ability to turnover his changeup with late fading action. They pro-rate the pitch to become an above-average offering.
If Sanchez can develop this pitch into an average offering (or a show-me pitch), used solely to keep hitters off his fastball and curveball, there’s no limit on his success in a rotation role.
Additionally, Sanchez will have to prove that last year’s improved fastball command was more than a fluke. Being it represents his biggest flaw to date, 2014 was certainly a step forward and may be attributed to his change in elbow position earlier on in the season.
In the event that Sanchez can dovetail both these factors, he could be, as Baseball Prospectus points out, a mid-rotation starter with high 6 talent.
At 22, it’s probably not the right time to cement his career into a finite bullpen role. If it only lasts this season, maybe the role makes sense, maybe.
Either way, this kid is going to produce in the future. However, this won’t be the last conversation had over his role in Toronto so stay tuned to his career for what it may mean in Toronto.