With one more week to go in the Arizona Fall League, some of the Blue Jays prospects are heating up as the weather cools down and winter closes in on us here in Canada.
Drew Hutchison, coming off an AFL Pitcher of the Week award, couldn’t keep up the great work he’s been doing. In his one start this week, Hutchison only went two innings and was charged for six runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out two. It was a rough outing that was broadcast on MLB.com in which the league was testing technology and procedures for using instant replay to review umpires’ calls. The commentators noticed that Hutchison never got back into a groove after two parts of a play were challenged (in succession), creating a longer than usual delay. Hutchison still has some very solid numbers for the season, with a 3.57 ERA and three walks and 16 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
Aaron Sanchez went completely the other way from Hutchison in his appearance this week. The Blue Jays’ top prospect came out and dominated, throwing five no-hit innings, walking one and hitting a batter with eight strikeouts. The 21 year old gave up an unearned run, primarily by losing focus after hitting the batter, committing two errors himself, one on a pickoff throw and the other on a routine ground ball hit back to him. Sanchez has been practically unhittable with only his lack of command hurting him. Overall, Sanchez has a 0.98 ERA over 18 1/3 innings with only five hits against but nine walks and 18 strikeouts.
Marcus Stroman also had an eye-opening appearance this week. The “Stro Show” only pitched in one game but threw two perfect innings striking out five and causing quite a stir on Twitter. Stroman’s quality stuff is making most commentators change their minds: they’re now saying that they see him as a starter whereas before most would have said that they see him only as a closer. Whether or not he sticks in a rotation, Stroman’s stuff and composure are probably major league ready at this point. Overall, the numbers are good but one bad appearance keeps them from being as jaw-dropping as Sanchez’s. Stroman has pitched to a 3.72 ERA in 9 2/3 innings with six hits and three walks against and 11 strikeouts.
Catcher Derrick Chung keeps impressing in the Arizona Fall League. Thought of as mostly an “org guy” after his 2012 season, Chung is opening a lot of eyes as an excellent defensive catcher with the ability to make good contact. He went two for nine in three games this week, driving in a run and taking a walk but his overall stats show a .378/.442/.432 line in 37 at bats. Commentators on the MLB.com broadcast spoke highly of Chung’s leadership and defensive skills while projecting him as a possible major league backup catcher.
Week 4 Player of the Week Andy Burns continued to contribute to the Rafters with a strong Week 5. Playing pretty much everywhere but his actual position of third base, Burns hit in all five games he played, extending his hit streak to over ten games. He went 7 for 19 with a triple, two walks, one RBI and four runs scored. Overall, Burns is now hitting .343/.418/.433 in 67 at bats. He hasn’t gone deep but has four doubles and a triple with 13 runs scored and 12 RBI.
Center fielder Kenny Wilson had a good game yesterday, going two for five but those were his only two hits of the week in four games. He added three walks and stole two bases but is also striking out a lot, with eight strikeouts this week. Wilson has been shining on defense, making an outstanding catch that was broadcast for all to see on MLB.com early in the week and throwing two runners out on the bases yesterday. Wilson’s season numbers are still solid with a .250/.333/.313 line with 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts but he has struck out 26 times in 80 at bats.