Prospect of the Week: Aaron Sanchez

I had no idea how hard it was to find pictures for these articles without breaking any laws (always a good idea). The connection for this one? Aaron Sanchez and the CN Tower are both lanky. - John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

The inaugural Prospect of the Week post focuses on the consensus top prospect in the Jays' organization, right handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

Hello folks, after going back to school this week I realized I needed something to fill all the time I’m supposed to spend doing actual work. I decided I would start a "Prospect of the Week" post in the lead up to the start of the season. With all of the moves Alex Anthopoulos made this off-season I figure the Blue Jays (and Bluebird Banter) have a few extra eyes interested in the team. While the regular die-hards may know everything there is to know about the Jays prospects, some of the new folks may fancy a quick introduction to a much thinner farm system than years past.

As you may know I am not a scout (although one day I wouldn’t mind having that job), so these posts will mainly consist of a gathering of many different experts’ opinions on each prospect along with video that gives a good introduction to each prospect. I don’t really have any schedule of which prospects I’ll write these posts for, so if you want me to do the legwork of combining scouts’ opinions for a certain prospect, just comment on this post.

Without further ado, the first prospect featured will be Aaron Sanchez, who is the last man standing of the Lansing Three that originally consisted of Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, and the aforementioned Sanchez. He was born on July 1, 1992 in Barstow, California, which is where he played high school baseball. The Jays snagged Sanchez with the 34th pick (supplemental pick for loss of Marco Scutaro) in the 2010 draft. When he was drafted, his command was an issue and it was uncertain if he had what it took to make it in pro ball. Since then, Sanchez has successfully gone through the lower ranks of the Jays’ farm system ending the 2012 season on the roster of the Lansing Lugnuts sporting a smooth ERA of 2.49.

Sanchez was long considered the member of the Lansing Three with the highest ceiling, although his chances of success were far from a sure thing. With AA trading away both Syndergaard and Nicolino this offseason, it’s quite clear he decided that betting on the high risk Sanchez was the best option for the Jays. If Sanchez can grow into his lanky 6’4" frame and fix his slight command issue there’s no reason he cannot one day be at the front of the Jays’ rotation.

Pitches

Fastball- Sanchez’s best pitch is his fastball which regularly hits mid-90’s on the radar gun. Although his control of the pitch is not elite at this point, there is still a fair bit of time for improvement. Many scouts give the pitch a rating around 65 on the 20-80 rating scale which should bode well for the future(for those unfamiliar with the rating scale check this out).

Here’s a quick glimpse of what Sanchez brings to the table with the heater (from a few years ago):

Aaron Sanchez (RHP) - Barstow HS, CA (via farmsystem)

Here’s another look at Sanchez’s mechanics with some slow motion:

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays - Lansing Lugnuts - Class-A Midwest League (via MLBProspectPortal)

Change-Up- The rest of Sanchez’s pitches are not major league ready as of yet and the command is very hit or miss with the change-up and curveball. Scouts have reported that the inconsistency in his mechanics when throwing his secondary pitches lead to him sometimes not being able to find the strike zone with a map and a compass. If he wants to continue his success from 2012 Aaron will have to focus on making sure he can throw all three pitches for strikes. (5.1 BB/9 during 2012 with Lansing). His change-up would probably be rated middle of the road right now with the potential for future improvement if he nails down consistent mechanics.

Curveball- The other secondary pitch in Sanchez’s arsenal has the potential to be devastating as well but it is too often thrown repeatedly for balls, which will lead advanced hitters to routinely lay off of it. Baseball Prospect Nation sums up Sanchez’s curveball by saying "Average pitch now with plus potential. A couple of scouts were assertive and tossed future 7’s on the pitch."

Sanchez’s curveball can be seen here striking out Phillies' prospect Kyrell Hudson (Can't embed time-specific clips so it's at the 34 second mark):

Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez strikes out Phillies OF Kyrell Hudson - spring training 2012 (via MLBProspectPortal)

Outlook

As you can likely gather by now, the future of Aaron Sanchez hinges on his ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes more often. While his fastball is above average, his curveball and change-up lag behind currently, which is not uncommon for pitchers drafted out of high school. The 2013 season will likely see Sanchez start in High-A ball and if successful, could possibly have him end the year in New Hampshire with the Double-A Fishercats.

By trading away two-thirds of the Lansing Three, Alex Anthopoulos took a huge risk and in a sense put all of his eggs in Sanchez’s basket. If the Jays are successful in the immediate future due to the trades he made and are also successful in three to four years thanks to the maturing of Sanchez, among other prospects, then the risk will have paid off. At this point only time will tell.

So now you know all there is to know about Aaron Sanchez. In the comments let us know where you think Sanchez will start and finish the 2013 season and if you think he can successfully make the leap to better competition. You can also request any other prospects you’d like to see written about or you could tell me to never do another one of these ever again.

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