So I’ll start off with the bad news first, I’ve been paying more attention to Aaron Sanchez’s outings after Keith Law wrote that Sanchez’s delivery is the reason for his lack of command, something Tom Dakers touched on here. What is even more worrying than the lack of command is Keith Law stating on his "Behind the Dish" podcast that he is actually now worried about potential arm injuries with Sanchez and his delivery problems. Ugh, 2013 just keeps on giving to Blue Jays fans. Keith Law reiterates this point in a chat he did on October 17:
The Dude (Hartford, CT): Sanchez for the Jays breaks out next year.
Klaw (1:09 PM): I hope you're right, as he's a great kid with absurdly good stuff, but the shorter stride and more upright finish are real concerns. The Jays have not had a good track record with young arms recently; this may be a window into why.
In Sanchez’s second start in the Arizona Fall League later that day he did nothing to dispel the notion that he has control issues. This game was actually broadcasted, which seemed like a huge bonus until I actually heard how Sanchez’s pitched. He completely lost the strike zone in the second inning. A former scout, now analyst for MLBPipeline.com, was on the broadcast and mentioned that Sanchez really loses his command and velocity from the stretch. He also said Sanchez looked too upright.
Sanchez ended up only going two innings, giving up three hits, two walks, one strikeout, and one hit batsman. He ended up throwing 44 pitches with only 21 for strikes. I would think this backs up Law’s observations, one can only hope the Jays staff are aware of these issues but I have to admit I’m starting to wonder.
And to finish it off, there's this tweet that came from someone watching the game who said they were directly behind home plate:
Aaron Sanchez looks...different than when I saw him last year. Not in a good way.— Adam Wells (@adamwells1985) October 18, 2013
OK let’s move on as I’m getting depressed writing this. Marcus Stroman had another clean inning on October 16th with two fly outs and one strikeout, with some excellent video from Jason Cole of his strikeout:
The reliever-versus-starter debate rages on with Stroman as I again was able to have my question answered in a recent Baseball America chat on the Eastern League Top 20 prospects:
Clint (BC, Canada): Where do you stand on the reliever or starter debate with Marcus Stroman? Does the cutter he's added make starting more realistic?
Josh Norris: The pure stuff has never been a question for Stroman. It is, unfortunately, about the height. And I say that as someone who’s 5-foot-7 myself. He allowed 13 homers in 111 2/3 innings this year with New Hampshire, a sign that his fastball, which can have downhill plane, straightens out enough to find its way into hitters’ happy zones. That said, I’m always of the opinion that you give a guy every chance to start before slotting him into the pen.
I think it’s getting obvious at this point that the Blue Jays will or should try Stroman as a starter, and if it fails then the 'pen it'd be. Stroman went on Twitter and reminded us why all AFL statistics should be taken with a grain of salt:
Back to Scottsdale, AZ! Air is so dry out here man. Slippery fingers all day! Lol #nogrip— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo7) October 17, 2013
@1BJW still moves but not as much! Just have to execute better!— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo7) October 17, 2013
A potential bullpen arm for the Jays next year, John Stilson, also had two innings of work in the AFL. His first inning was not good as he was hit hard, but he bounced back in his latest outing earning a save giving up a hit to go along with two strikeouts. Bernie Pleskoff was at that game and had this to say about Stilson:
#BlueJays John Stilson comes on and throws gas. This man has good control on his 95mph FB, his 88mph Slider and 90 mph cutter. Impressive.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) October 14, 2013
I’ve watched Stilson a fair amount this year with the Buffalo Bisons, and the only thing I would add is when he’s on he’s exactly the guy Pleskoff describes above, but I found that his fastball command was really inconsistent outing-to-outing. Overall, he does seem to have an impressive arm and I have no doubt he’ll see some time in Toronto next year.
Moving on from the AFL, Baseball America released its 2014 Top 50 draft list, the only thing of note to me was former Jays first round pick Tyler Beede (who, as we all remember, did not sign with the Jays) ranking seventh overall. Now it’s incredibly early and this list will change quite a bit by June, but again ugh. In the article they mention that Beede has three above-average pitches but command had become an issue for him (he would have fit right in with the Jays), so it’ll be interesting to see where he is drafted next June.
And finally from Baseball America they’ve handed out their 2013 draft report card ($) for the Blue Jays. The best pure hitter and power hitter nods went to the same man, Rowdy Tellez:
"The left handed-hitting Tellez could become an above-average power hitter at the major league level and has unparalleled raw power in this class"
Uh, I’ll take more of that. If Tellez can reach his potential he could salvage what seems like a down draft for the Jays even though it is far too early to judge yet.
The best fastball went to right hander Clint Hollon who they said reaches up to 95 and has the all important downhill plane, sink and above average life on his fastball. They do mention that left hander Jake Brentz could get the fastball up to 97 but was inconsistent.
Outfielder Jonathan Davis and shortstop Tim Locastro were the fastest runners as well as the best athletes. Jonathan Davis was given the best defensive player, with a mention that he has a chance to become an above-average centre fielder. So if Davis can figure out how to hit at all, the Jays may have something there.
Note: this piece was written by ClintB, it was erroneously attributed to Minor Leaguer at the time of publishing.