Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hard Not to Be Proud

Prized pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez made his MLB debut for the Blue Jays Wednesday night against Boston. He threw two perfect innings in relief of starter R.A. Dickey.
Toronto Star Photo
   The life of a prospect blogger is something of a strange one, we'll be the first to admit.
Trying to balance a family, home, and a career, while at the same time checking Twitter multiple times a day, following games on milb.com, and writing about players who are years away (if ever) from the bigs can be a difficult task.
   It all comes together on nights like last night.
We've been following every start Aaron Sanchez has made for the past two years, ever since we first read about him piggybacking at Lansing with the now-departed Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard.  We've listened to milb.com's feeds, followed updates on their website, and even put up with sub-standard video feeds on milb.tv (one game this year made Sanchez and other pitchers in the game look like they were wearing clown feet from the centrefield camera, which was the predominant angle for the game).  We've read the reports, which have read from glowing, top of the rotation potential, to command-challenged, potential end of the bullpen forecasts for the young righthander.  We worried when he was shut down for a month last season with shoulder soreness, and we were elated when he dominated the Arizona Fall League.
   And last night, the major league's youngest pitcher (at the moment), made his MLB debut in relief in a tight game against the Red Sox.  Manager John Gibbons, who rarely gets credit for strokes of brilliance like this, likely brought Sanchez in at that point because he knew the Boston hitters would have trouble adjusting to Sanchez's mid-90s heat after flailing away at the low-80s knuckeball of R.A. Dickey.
   Sanchez left the ball up in his first inning of work, and got three flyball outs, the last one a loud one, uncharacteristic of a pitcher who had induced plenty of weak contact in the minors this year.  Sanchez overcame his nerves in his second inning of work, striking out a pair, hitting 98 on the Rogers Centre gun, and flashing a 12-6 curve that's been major league ready for some time.
    Sanchez's outing no doubt gave the club a huge lift.  Dickey told reporters who came to his locker after the game that the game was all about the youngster.  And as someone who has tracked his progress almost as closely as the team and his own family has, I agree.  There will be rough outings for him in the future, and his innings will be closely monitored (he only has about 30 left this year before the organization shuts him down), but last night was vindication for both Sanchez in the face of the negative reports about him, and for those of us who had faith in someone who was on a learning curve.
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