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What has changed? Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays

Aaron Sanchez was just another Jays' Minor Leaguer last year. Now he's a top-30 prospect. How'd that happen?


Changes in a prospects' stock are quite normal as they rise through the ranks of the Minor Leagues. Injuries, hot or cold streaks, or even just new information can really elevate or drop a young player in rankings. Throughout the season, Kevin Nielsen and I will be looking at some players that have been profiled before at Fake Teams, and checking in on what has changed since that time. Today's prospect is Blue Jays' right-handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

What we said last year

Sanchez was a relative unknown to most fantasy players entering the 2012 season. Entering last year, he had just 80 professional innings to his name, and those 80 innings were not terribly impressive. Sanchez did not rank on either Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus' top 100 prospect lists and he just barely squeezed into the back of Keith Law's list at 96. Despite his anonymity, our own Craig Goldstein had some really good things to say about him:

Sanchez's stats might not jump off the page at you, but what I like to see is that despite walking 43 batters in his 80 innings, he's also struck out 93.

I am high on Sanchez, and see him becoming a 2/3 type pitcher, though I don't think he gets there soon. If you are the patient type, I think he's worth stashing because he could turn the corner and go from inconsistent to dominant at any time. Realistically, he might never get there, but he's a quality arm with a high floor and worth a spot on your roster, even if you forget about him til 2014.

In short, Sanchez was a promising arm who really needed to hone his control to turn himself into a top prospect.

What we think now

Sanchez isn't flying under the radar any longer. This year he made all three of the big top prospects lists, ranking in the top 30 on each list. Really though, not a lot has changed regarding his future. During the 2012 season, Sanchez put together a fine campaign at Low-A Lansing. The righty finished with a 2.49 ERA over 90.1 innings, allowing just 64 hits while fanning 97 hitters. But once again, he struggled with control, walking 51. I am a bit surprised that a young pitcher that has walked nearly 5 batters per 9 innings to this point in his career is so universally beloved. It seems, as Craig mentioned, the stuff is just that good. Reports has his fastball in the mid to upper 90s range most of the season, with his curveball (rated the best in the system in 2011 and 2012) and changeup also garnering high praise. The changeup must be special as Sanchez allowed only 2 extra base hits to left-handed hitters last season. Now he really needs to refine his control and command to become a front of the rotation pitcher. His high rankings suggest that most experts think he will do so. Keith Law had this to say about his future:

Aside from not being stretched out to throw 150-plus innings, Sanchez also has to improve his command and control, something no one seriously doubts he'll do given his makeup, his athleticism, and how easily he repeats his delivery. It's time for him to take the leap in 2013.

So far in a (very) limited sample in 2013, Sanchez has walked just 6 batters in his first 14 innings in the Florida State League. I'm not quite as optimistic as either Craig or Keith, but I do think Sanchez has a chance to be a Gio Gonzalez/Yovani Gallardo type if everything falls into place.

For more on the Jays and their prospects, check out Blue Bird Banter.

Andrew Ball is a writer for Fake Teams, Fantasy Ninjas, and Beyond the Box Score.

You can follow him on twitter @Andrew_Ball.