* Aaron Sanchez, shown here during spring training, had a rough outing last Saturday for New Hampshire. But the Jays' top pitching prospect is taking everything in stride this year, including his 30-pitch per inning limit sent down from the Blue Jays' top brass. .... 2014 Canadian draft list … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
Previous weeks: Burns versatile, Scout ranks Jays prospects V .... Lawrence a cool cat, Scout ranks Jays prospects IV ... De Jong II, Scout ranks Jays prospects III ... Copeland picks up Janssen, Scout ranks Jays prospects II .... Pompey burning bases, Scout ranks Jays prospects I .... Matt Boyd.
By Bob Elliott
Six men faced.
This is the Blue Jays' prized prospect?
The arm that other teams always inquire about?
That was Aaron Sanchez pitching for New Hamsphire Saturday night against the Portland Sea Dogs.
That was Sanchez on a 30-pitch per inning pitch limit.
“It felt like I was out there for 10 minutes, you work so hard for five days to get ready and it was like I was hardly even on the mound,” said Sanchez Wednesday afternoon from Manchester, N.H.
“They thought my innings were climbing too quickly the first month so they brought in a 30-pitch per inning restriction. I was upset we had to use the bullpen for the whole game.”
Blake McFarland, John Anderson, Tony Davis and Tyler Ybarra followed Sanchez to the mound and didn’t fare much better in the 18-0 loss. Outfielder Matt Newman worked the ninth, the only Fisher Cat with a scoreless outing.
The first inning went like this, as Sanchez recalls:
Lead-off man Mookie Betts: “Walked him on four pitches.”
Deven Marrero: “Called strike, ball, ball, ball, ball.”
No. 3 hitter Travis Shaw: “Called strike, a foul ball, a ball, then a 1-2 curve ball that he fouled off, he must have [fouled] three or four and then I walked him.”
Clean-up man Stefan Welch: “I started with a ball, then a strike, another ball and then a ground ball.”
Except first baseman Mike McDade booted the grounder allowing a run to score.
Blake Swihart: “A called strike, a ball, a curve ball for a strike, then a ball, a foul ball and then I walked him.”
That forced in a run.
Sean Coyle: “I hit him with a first-pitch curve.”
That forced in another, and after 29 pitches manager Bobby Meacham popped out of the dugout -- on instructions from 1 Blue Jays Way.
“I was up in the zone, I was down low, my ball kept running off the plate,” said Sanchez.
Now a lot of guys with his line (0 IP, 0 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 BB) would have received the message to call a writer and tossed it in the can, knowing full well the questions wouldn’t be about his best Little League memory.
Sanchez returned the phone call and dealt with the adversity.
“Did Sanchez complain about the plate ump?” asked a scout, who was at the game, “He didn’t? Good for him. Impressive for a 19-year-old. He certainly could have. The ump had a real small zone. The kid didn’t get a pitch, he lost pitches. There were 13 walks in the game.”
Sanchez said he had a similar bad outing last year at Dunedin and pitched six innings, five innings and seven innings in his next three outings -- without allowing an earned run.
Sanchez pitched 25 innings for the Gulf Coast Jays and Auburn in 2010, 54 1/3 innings at Bluefield and Vancouver in 2011, then 90 1/3 innings at Lansing and 86 1/3 innings last season.
He was at 48 1/3 innings entering Saturday’s start.
He’s still at 48 1/3 innings.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m pitching any differently, or that there is pressure since they brought in the 30-pitch limit, they’ve told me it is something that I can’t worry about,” said Sanchez. “I piled up too many innings early, then Saturday I didn’t do my job.”
The Jays' concern about his arm is real, as every other day it seems like another pitcher is undergoing Tommy John surgery. His pal, former Blue Jays draft pick and former member of the Lansing trio, Noah Syndergaard, traded to the New York Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal, flew from triple-A Las Vegas to New York to have his right elbow examined.
Mets doctors examined Syndergaard’s right forearm after he had a flexor pronator strain. An MRI showed no structural damage. Syndergaard is 5-2 with a 4.02 ERA this season in 10 starts, striking out 57 in 53 2/3 innings.
The secret to an organization’s success may be keeping it’s personnel healthy. Is keeping innings down a fool-proof answer? The Jays are trying.
An American League pro scout gives us his take on the top 10 Blue Jays prospects:
1. RHP Aaron Sanchez, N.H.
“Recorded zero outs the other night. Zero. Walked four men, but he’s still No. 1. Maybe the lettering isn’t as big as one of those banner outside the Rogers Centre, but his picture will be there one day.”
2. RHP Marcus Stroman, Buffalo
“I know he’s starting but our guys see him as a reliever. He’ll get there maybe after the all-star break.”
3. Franklin Barreto, extended.
“I really like his bat. He’ll hit in the big leagues some day if he stays healthy. Am not sure he projects as a big-league shortstop. He could be like Alfonso Soriano and be moved to the outfield -- without the pop.”
4. LHP Daniel Norris, Dunedin.
“He might not be the best arm in the organization but he has the best numbers (3-0, 0.80, 45 base runners in 45 innings with 52 strikeouts).”
5. OF Dalton Pompey, Dunedin.
“Everyone says how the game is turning to more athletic players. They don’t get much more athletic than this guy. He runs well, steals well and is learning how to bunt which will utilize his speed more.”
6. 3B Mitch Nay, Lansing.
7. OF D.J. Davis, Lansing.
“Some guys are down on this kid because of the strikeouts. He’s not Greg David or Augic Schmidt. He’s still young. Not a lot of big leaguers from Mississippi but you have to give the kid a chance.”
8. LHP Sean Nolin, Buffalo.
“Have seen him twice, where I really liked him and the other time he was short. Am going to have to see him some more.”
9. C A.J. Jimenez, N.H.
“They talked a lot about him as the catcher of the future when he was in the Futures Game. My best case: a back-up.”
10. RHP Deck McGuire, Buffalo
“In honour of the anniversary of him being picked 11th over-all in the draft in 2010 and the fact he’s finally out of double-A, I’m sliding him in here. They’ve had two guys make the majors from that draft: Sam Dyson and Nolin. And Sanchez.”
At Buffalo: Brad Glenn was 4-for-4 with a double, triple and an RBI, as Matt Tuiasosopo was 4-for-5 with two doubles in a 6-2 win over Indianapolis on Monday ... Sean Nolin has a 2.70 ERA in his first seven starts with 34 strikeouts in 40 innings.
At N.H.: Ryan Schimpf is hitting .279 with 10 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and a 1.044 OPS in his first 32 games ... Andy Burns hit a solo homer and C Pierce Rankin had two hits in a 6-3 loss to Portland.
At Dunedin: Dalton Pompey is hitting .331 (58-for-175) tops in the organization, with eight doubles, three triples, five home runs, 26 RBIs, a .405 on-base mark and a .902 OPS. He’s stolen 19 bases and has 27 runs scored in his 45 games. Pompey had his errorless game streak snapped at 170 games last week ... RHP Taylor Cole has posted a 2.58 ERA in 59 1/3 innings ... At .325 Derrick Chung has the second highest average in the system with 11 doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs.
At Lansing: OF D.J. Davis had a pair of hits in a 9-2 loss to Fort Wayne ... Justin Atkinson is hitting .330 in 33 games ... Matt Dean is hitting .312 with nine doubles, three triples, two home runs, and an .833 OPS in 33 games ... LHP Shane Dawson has posted a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings, with eight walks and 18 strikeouts.