First I'll start with likely the Jays top overall prospect Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez had been dealing with a blister issue the past couple of starts and had been pulled in the first inning of his previous start due to it. Well I'm thinking after his performance this past Wednesday; he's clearly good to go. I listened to the game and Sanchez was sitting comfortably at 95 mph and topped out at 97 mph. The Dunedin broadcast mentioned he was using far more breaking stuff than previously as well, noting that Sanchez would usually just use his fastball until he got into trouble. Sanchez went 5 strong, giving up no runs, 4 hits, 1 BB and 6 K's, and even better he got 9 groundouts to go along with that.
I also got the chance to watch the combined Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek start for the Bisons. I'll start with Drabek and unfortunately I'll be updating Hutch's performance in a later section of this post. Drabek of the two looked way ahead of Hutch, he was pitching ahead, with some of the best control I've seen from him, the fastball was topping out at around 92 mph, and his curve looked great.
I was lucky this past week that the Lugnuts were on MiLB.tv and Norris was starting. To the first two batters Norris started out with a bang striking them both out swinging before giving up a long home run and then a four pitch walk. I've read Norris can lose his delivery and control (Something Norris mentions in this FanGraphs interview) and I thought this was what I was about to see, but to his credit he ended up having a great outing striking out 8, walking one and only giving up the one run.
It wasn't mentioned on the broadcast but according to an excellent twitter follow his fastball was sitting:
@StivBators he was sitting 93-94 for the most part.— Chad Hillman (@HillmanChad) August 16, 2013
Now the last person I expected to include in this section is Ricky Romero, his start on Saturday after watching the first inning I fully expected to put him in the Ugly section. His fastball was 88 mph and he looked almost like he was slinging the ball. But he really found his stride by the 3rd inning and was able to go 7 strong innings only giving up one run and more importantly for Ricky only one walk, progress.
Also a quick note from listening to Marcus Stroman's start on Saturday, this is from the Trenton broadcast regarding Stroman "best changeup in the league", yeah I'll take that, especially because I believe that was a pitch he was working on to start the year.
Now for some more good stuff, this time from the experts at Baseball Prospectus on Marcus Stroman, this comes from their "What Scouts are Saying"
"One of the most inspiring minor league pitching performances I've seen this year."
They also mention that he's ready for the big leagues right now but are still concerned over his size and durability noting:
"go back the last 25 years and you won't find a right-hander his size that's been a starter in the league for longer than three years"
Okay so there are some durability concerns along with perhaps some home run concerns but I don't care, I really want to see Stroman up in September, please!
Baseball Prospectus also had some really great things to say about A.J. Jimenez, which after seeing what the Jays have gotten out of the catcher position this year could be very important for 2014.
"The consensus among scouts that I've spoken to about Jimenez is that he is a no-doubt big-leaguer."
They mention that he's got a rocket for an arm but the big question is the bat, and whether it will be enough for him to be an everyday catcher. Jimenez will likely be a September call up; it'll be interesting to see how much playing time he's given.
Unfortunately along with Drabek's excellent relief/shared start for the Bisons, once again Drew Hutchison struggled. According to the few times they mentioned it on the broadcast Hutch's fastball was sitting around 90 mph and it was up in the zone. I listened to a start in New Hampshire not too long ago where Hutch was lighting up the radar gun, but the minor league guns can be unreliable, or so I've been told anyway, I'm guessing the 90 mph is closer to where he's at. He was hit quite hard in the first two innings before seemingly getting things under control and finishing much stronger in his 3rd and final inning due to pitch count. During the in game interview Bisons manager Marty Brown did mention that he thought Hutch had figured "some stuff out" in his final inning.
I'm going to throw Deck McGuire into the "Bad" despite his complete game victory this week, which seems really odd, but right after that start Baseball Prospectus had this to say about McGuire:
"His entire arsenal is, for lack of a better word, "soft."
I think AA's has learned from his mistake with this 1st round pick and has made a change in his drafting philosophy where he will never, ever again sign a first round pick!
We'll see if the Jays see enough in Deck to protect him for the upcoming rule 5 draft this winter.
This isn't too bad but this is from Bisons manager Marty Brown in his in game interview when asked how Sierra was after being hit by a pitch:
"Mo can be a bit dramatic at times"
And finally some stuff that doesn't quite fit into anything else, here's a few quotes from John Gibbons from his interview on XM from Friday August 16th about Josh Johnson:
"We're not sure if he'll be back at all to be honest with you; it has been a frustrating year for him"
Gibby said the arm injury came out of nowhere for Johnson, he said Johnson felt great after his start in Seattle and that the MRI only showed a strain, but by the time he's ready to go they may be looking at "a couple of young pitchers" (so please mean Stroman here)
And finally I was fortunate enough to hear an interview while the Bluefield Jays game was in a rain delay with former Dodger GM and now professional crosschecker for the Jays, Dan Evans. Here are the highlights:
Dan Evans said he's seen each affiliate 6 times this year except Vancouver (I'm guessing because they're low on prospects), and that he saw Sanchez not too long ago and said this "hit 98, his changeup and I think curve are plus pitches".
And on Norris Evans said "a no doubt big league player for me, it's just a matter of time, we are so pleased on his progress this year"
And Finally Evans had this to say about the Bluefield team, "one of the most talented short season teams I've ever seen", Evans mentioned he was going to stay in Bluefield longer than he was supposed to just because of the talent there.
So from that, 2019 everybody!