Sanchez would have been a good rotation fit

* If the Blue Jays could guarantee that RHP Aaron Sanchez would not get injured, fine keep him in the minors, but since they can't why not go with him in the rotation? Many evaluators say Drew Hutchison and Sanchez were the best arms in camp this spring. .... 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2015 Canadian draft list

By Bob Elliott

The Blue Jays have been careful with their young arms.

They were careful with right-hander Brandon Morrow.

They shut him down early in 2010 -- three innings after Aug. 28 -- not due to an arm injury, but because he had reached 146 1/3 innings -- a bump of 77 over the prior year.

What happened in 2011?

Morrow opened on the disabled list with soreness in his right arm. Still, he managed to get within two outs of the prescribed 180 innings.

Again they were careful.

A torn oblique muscle cost Morrow 12 starts in 2012 and a tender right forearm last year allowed him to make only 10.

The Blue Jays were careful with right-hander Drew Hutchison.

Hutchison pitched 68 2/3 innings his first year as a pro at class-A Auburn and class-A Lansing and 149 1/3 the next year at Lansing, class-A Dunedin and double-A New Hampshire.

After three starts at double-A in 2012 -- his 45th in the minors, 234 2/3 innings in all -- he was promoted to the Jays and in his 11th start blew out his elbow.

Now, after nine starts and 35 innings re-habbing last season, Hutchison is back. One could argue he has the best stuff in camp. What is the most that the Jays can expect from him this season? Around 150 innings? Can he make 20 starts ... 30 starts?

Shaun Marcum missed all of 2009 and came back made 31 starts pitching 195 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays were careful with Kyle Drabek.

When Drabek won the double-A Eastern League pitcher of the year honours in 2010 making 27 starts and pitching 162 innings at New Hampshire. The Jays expected the Fisher Cats to go deep into the playoffs. When he only had one start as Trenton eliminated the Fisher Cats on Sept. 9, Drabek was promoted, making his major-league debut Sept. 15.

He make three starts for the Jays, pitching 17 innings, finishing at 180 for the season, keep him under the recommended 20% bump from the year before.

Drabek blew out his elbow a second time on June 13, 2012 (his 30th career start) and has not started for the Jays since.

And your point?

Well, the Jays were careful with Morrow, Hutchison and Drabek.

All three starters were injured.

Should they be careful with right-hander Aaron Sanchez too?

Three ex-major leaguers in Dunedin said Sanchez, 21, was “the best in camp, next to Hutchison” called him a “special player, age doesn’t matter” and asked “why put a special arm like that in the minors when he is ready?”

This was last week before Sanchez tsked-tsked the Tampa Bay Rays opening day lineup -- Ben Zobrist, David DeJesus, Evan Longoria, James Loney, Desmond Jennings, Yunel Escobar, Ryan Hanigan and Curt Casli -- on Friday, like a double-a team he’s scheduled to face with New Hampshire next month after Saturday’s demotion.

In 5 1/3 innings Sanchez faced 19 Rays hitters allowing two singles to Loney and one to Escobar while walking three and striking out a pair.

Sanchez has only made 54 starts, although since the Jays were careful with him and others, he piggy-backed with other starters. He has pitched 256 innings in the minors.

Another top evaluator asked if I’d ever seen Dwight Gooden pitch.

Yep, his rookie year with the New York Mets in 1984 when he won the rookie of the year at age 19 ... he struck out 10 in seven innings as the Montreal Expos 2-1 at Shea, he fanned 11 in nine innings ...

“Look up what he did the year before.”

At class-A Lynchburg, Gooden made 27 starts going 19-4 with a 2.50 ERA walking 112 and striking out 300 in 191 innings.

No one is saying Sanchez is Gooden, but others have made the class-A jump to the majors: Bret Saberhagen (374 innings in the minors before joining the Kansas City Royals.

Sanchez logged almost as many innings in the minors as Gooden (269-to-256). Yet, Sanchez’s innings logged total lags behind Noah Syndergaard (293 2/3 career innings), who made 11 starts at double-A Binghamton and started the Futures Game last year. Both Syndergaard and Sanchez were Jays drafts in 2010 behind Deck McGuire. 

Sanchez trails Justin Nicolino (327 1/3 innings) drafted in 2009 and the third member of the 2012 Lansing Trio. The Jimmy Key clone made nine starts at double-A Jacksonville last year.

If the Jays for all their care could guarantee he would not get hurt, then let him move along at the prescribed pace.

Despite all the care, avoiding injury is not possible.

Sanchez would have been a good fit for the rotation and should be the first arm the Jays turn to when they need help.


SEARCHING: General manager Alex Anthopoulos and pro scouting director Perry Minasian were scouting expected first-round  pick Nicholas Gordon last week in Orlando.

Gordon is an athletic shortstop from Olympia High School in Windermere, Fla. is the son of former big league pitcher Tom Gordon.

Like his father he also pitches and his fastball has been clocked at 94 MPH.

The Perfect Game Scouting Service ranks Gordon the No. 2 pick in North America on its combined list of high schoolers and college players. The Jays have two first-round picks 9th over-all and 11th. The second pick is due to the fact that the Jays failed to sign No. 1 pick Phil Bickford who went to Cal-State Fullerton.