Friday, November 15, 2013

Jays Flying in Arizona

  In the aftermath of a disappointing sub-500 season for the parent club, there is reason for optimism in the performance of much of the large contingent (thanks to that losing record) of prospects the club sent to the US Southwest to play in the Arizpna Fall League.
   Righthander Drew Hutchison, continuing his comeback from Tommy Joun surgery, has looked more and more like the promising starter the Jays skipped from Double A in 2012.  In his final AFL start, Hutchison surrendered one earned run in 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 4.  This performance comes on the heels of his worst outing last week.  Over the course of 6 starts, Hutchison has given up 18  hits, striking out 20, while walking only 6.  The cailbre of competition may have been lesser than what he would have faced in the majors, but one has to start thinking of Hutchison in terms of at least the back end of the major league rotation at some point next year.
   Andy Burns has built upon his strong season at two levels with strong play at the plate and several positions in the field.  After a slow start, Burns has caught fire over the last 10 games, and as play in the AFL winds down, sports a .343/.422/.443 line.  Burns has spent time at 3rd, 1st, and the corner outfield positions this fall.  With Brett Lawrie holding down 3rd at the major league level for some time to come, the
Jays are obviously looking for a spot for Burns.  His timetable for reaching the bigs has accelerated. Burns and Hutchison were named AFL player and pitcher of the week for the week of October 28 - November 3rd.
   Outfielder Kenny Wilson, who was sent to Arizona to make up for lost time after injuries limited him to 60 minor league games this season, got off to a hot start, then cooled somewhat.  As the season is drawing to a close, Wilson has heated up again, homering in consecutive games, as part of a 6-15 stretch.. Wilson is an interesting prospect, who seemed on the verge of leaping up the prospect rankings with a breakout season at two levels of A ball in 2012.  Injuries sidetracked him this year, and his up and down AFL stint still makes it hard to get a read on his prospects for the long term.  He has hit .267/.340/.411, and has been 11/16 in stolen bases.
  Catcher Derrick Chung, who was a last-minute injury replacement for A.J. Jimenez, has surprised with the bat as well.  Chung has split the catching duties in the AFL with Rockies prospect Dustin Garneau, and has hit for a surprising .390/.447/.439 line in 13 games.  Granted, that is a small sample size (45 plate appearances), but it builds in his .287/.341/.336 at Dunedin (Chung has not hit a professional home run). Chung played several positions in his 2012 debut season, but settled in behind the plate this year.  From all accounts, he has picked up the position quickly.  At 25, however, the clock is ticking loudly for him.  It's nice to see him contribute just the same.
   Righthander Marcus Stroman, after pitching 111 innings in his first full pro season, has had his load tightly monitored in Arizona.  After starting with New Hampshire this year, Stroman has shifted back to the bullpen, and has pitched mostly in one or two inning stints.  Stroman has continued to pitch in the 93-95 range with his fastball, and has further developed his change to go with his slider.  If we had to wager, we would be willing to say that Stroman will be the next prospect called up to the big club.  Whether or not that's out of spring training or not is the question, depending on the club's success (or failure) in landing starting pitching this offseason.
 

  And finally, righthander and prized prospect Aaron Sanchez overcame a bit of a slow start to nearly lead Salt River to the AFL playoffs.  Sanchez gave up one earned run in his last 4 starts, and finished with a 2-1, 1.16 record, striking out 21 in 23 innings. Control was still a bit of an issue, but more and more we're beginning to think it's a result of the movement on his stuff, particularly the late life on his fastball.  Sanchez is learning to harness that, and from the outings we saw, he has developed a smooth, repeatable delivery, despite what some observers were saying earlier in the fall.
   Here's an interesting comparison, now that the minor league season has been put to bed:

Sanchez
Team
League
W
L
ERA
G
GS
CG
SHO
SV
IP
H
R
ER
HR
BB
SO
WHIP
DUN
FSL
4
5
3.34
22
20
0
0
0
86.1
63
40
32
4
40
75
1.19
SRR
AFL
2
1
1.16
6
6
0
0
0
23.1
11
4
3
0
11
21
0.96
                            6      6        2.86    28    26       0         0         0    109.2   74    44    35       4      51     96     1.15

Syndergaard
Team
League
W
L
ERA
G
GS
CG
SHO
SV
IP
H
R
ER
HR
BB
SO
WHIP
STL
FSL
3
3
3.11
12
12
0
0
0
63.2
61
25
22
3
16
64
1.21
BIN
EAS
6
1
3.00
11
11
0
0
0
54.0
46
23
18
8
12
69
1.08
Minors

9
4
3.06
23
23
0
0
0
117.2
107
48
40
11
28
133
1.15


  Obviously, Syndergaard had the better season.  He started the Future Stars game, and topped several "best of" post-season minor league polls.  His BB/K ration was better than Sanchez', but other than that, there's not a lot a difference between their totals for the season. 
   We're feeling more and more comfortable with the notion that Sanchez is a keeper.






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