BLUF: Extremely high-ceiling arm with #2 potential if control/command improve to match raw stuff.
The Player: Aaron Sanchez (RHP, Toronto Blue Jays) – A supplemental round choice in 2010, the Blue Jays gave him $775,000 to sign. Made ten starts between the GCL and NYPL in 2010, posting a 2.16 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 17 walks in 25 innings. Spent most of the 2011 season with Bluefield (Appalachian League), posting a 5.48 ERA in 42.2 innings. Promoted to Low-A Lansing (Midwest League) in 2012 and finished with a 2.49 ERA in 90.1 innings while working in a piggyback rotation for much of the year. Allowed just 64 hits and struck out 97, but walked 51.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (NYPL 2010), Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 190): Great frame. Long, lean body. Extremely long legs, Has added strength since signing in 2010. Nearly ideal raw frame with tons of projection. Plus-plus pitcher’s body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Smooth and easy. Looks like he’s playing catch at all times. Long legs get out of whack at times, leading to varying stride lengths and landing points. Arm angles vary and lead to overall inconsistency. Good athlete that has potential to have regular mechanics. Must focus on repeating delivery. Potential for easy, clean delivery that allows the ball to explode on hitters.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 91, Low – 98, Average 93-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 91, Low 97, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Has natural life down in the zone. Shows occasional groundball-inducing sink. Ball “explodes” on hitters because of length and ease of delivery. Plus projected movement once mechanical inconsistencies are ironed out. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: Potential for near-elite pitch. Easy plus-plus velo and flashes of movement that could make pitch impossible to square. Easy delivery allows velo to actually play up from mid-90s average. Dominating potential. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Hard and tight. 12-6 break that can be outstanding swing-and-miss pitch. Go-to secondary pitch. Gained consistency throughout 2012 season. Throws for strikes. Still learning to throw out of the zone on command and will be helped when he does. Average pitch now with plus potential. A couple of scouts were assertive and tossed future 7’s on the pitch. Grade – 50/60
Change-up (CH): Had little feel entering the year. Still below-average but shows very nice arm speed and associated deception. Sink is occasionally plus and can miss bats. Flashes rare average CH at this time and should get there. Good velo separation from FB. Grade – 30/50
Control: Below-average strike throwing ability at present. Has bouts where he loses the strike zone. When mechanics are in order, can pound zone with all three pitches. More of a thrower than a pitcher right now. Control is hampered by inconsistency with mechanics. Has athleticism and arm action for future plus control. Showed signs of improvement throughout season but nothing reliable. Grade – 40/60
Command: Complete lack of command at this time. Struggles to move FB to both sides of the plate. Works up too often and needs to take advantage of angle and create more leverage to the plate. CB/CH command lags with FB command. Projection is difficult given current control profile but player is a solid athlete and the arm works. Fringe-average command projection is reasonable at this time and he could exceed that with polish and experience. Grade – 20/40
Summation: Exciting, high ceiling arm. Easy top five player in the organization. Likely top pitcher. Tons of projection. Frame is ideal for a pitcher and there is solid athleticism as well. FB has 7 potential with velocity and plus movement. Near elite pitch at peak with bat-missing potential. CB has potential as second out pitch. Already flashes plus with regularity and could be devastating. CH lags behind but shows flashes. Arm speed is good and some sink is noted. Third potential average-or-better pitch. Quality three pitch mix possible with two dominating offerings. Control/command profile is huge question. Has fundamentals – body and arm action – to suggest development. Doesn’t need pinpoint command with raw stuff. Potential number two starter if control/command come along. Needs considerable development but has outstanding ceiling.
Relative Risk: High. Still a teenager and the control/command issues must be overcome.
Future: Despite control problems, Sanchez had little trouble with Low-A hitters in 2012. He will be tested more at High-A and must begin developing his ability to throw strikes. The Blue Jays are not shy about promoting players and a big step forward early next year could land him in Double-A before the end of 2013. The more likely path has him reaching Double-A in 2014 and entering the big-league picture late that season and in 2015.