By Mike Harrington
Bisons fans had a memorable, albeit short, stint of watching Blue Jays megaprospect Marcus Stroman on the mound in Buffalo this year. It looks like they're about to get a chance to see Toronto's other big arm.
As first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays promoted 21-year-old right-hander Aaron Sanchez from Double-A New Hampshire to the Herd today. Sanchez is 3-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 14 starts with the Fisher Cats but has been particularly impressive in winning his last two outings, allowing three runs in 11 2/3 innings -- but striking out 14 and walking just three.
Sanchez, who is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, is generally considered the top Toronto prospect still in the minors. He was listed as MLB.com's No. 19 overall prospect prior to the season and was ranked No. 32 by Baseball America.
The callup of Sanchez will give the Bisons a pair of 2010 first-round draft choices in their rotation. Deck McGuire, who recently joined the team from New Hampshire, was the No. 11 pick that year and Sanchez went No. 34 as a compensation pick for the loss of former Bison Marco Scutaro in free agency. And Stroman, remember, was Toronto's No. 1 pick in 2012.
Sanchez's career to date has been marked by careful logging of his innings, especially since he missed a month last year with shoulder discomfort. He's yet to throw more than 91 innings in a season, although he finished last year strong, getting additional innings in the Arizona Fall League and earning the starting nod in the league's Rising Stars Game. Sanchez is already at 66 innings this year so he will certainly blow by that number in 2014.
Sanchez had an impressive spring with the Blue Jays, capped by 5 2/3 scoreless innings in an outing against Tampa Bay that featured the bulk of the Rays' major-league lineup. He was so good that broadcaster Buck Martinez, the former Jays catcher and manager, said he should open the season in the big-league rotation. The Blue Jays followed the advice of Toronto Star columnist Richard Griffin and played it safe with Sanchez, putting him in Double-A.
The Bisons play their series opener tonight in Toledo, with Sean Nolin scheduled to start. There's no word yet how the rotation might go although Sanchez's normal day to pitch would be Friday so stay tuned. The team does not return home until opening a series June 20 against Rochester.
Noon update: The Toronto Star is reporting Sanchez's Triple-A debut will come Saturday at Toledo.