The Lansing Lugnuts’ 2012 season has been built around phenomenal pitching. One of those talented young arms that got Blue Jays fans buzzing is Aaron Sanchez, who was drafted in the supplemental 1st round 34th overall in 2010 out of Barstow High School. “Being drafted by a great organization like the Blue Jays is an honor. I actually signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Oregon, but the chance to play professional baseball was too good to pass up,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez’s season has been one to remember. Coming into the season, the young 20-year-old Californian was ranked the Blue Jays sixth-best prospect by Baseball America, and proved every step of the way why he was so highly ranked. After a dominance performance this season, the right-hander was a Midwest League All Star in June, and was named the Midwest League’s top pitching prospect by Baseball America in August.
“Being named a MWL All Star was such an honor with the type of players in this league and the talent that was there. It was a fun experience. I didn’t pitch in it because I pitched the Sunday before the break, so it was too quick to have me pitch in the game, but it was a fun experience and getting the win was great.”
Aaron began his professional career in 2010 splitting time with the Auburn Doubledays and the Bluefield Blue Jays going 0-3 with a 2.16 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 17 walks in 10 games. In 2011, Sanchez would split time with the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Vancouver Canadians going 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 26 walks in 14 games. “My time in Vancouver was an unbelievable experience. It was incredible to be apart of a championship team. Helping my team get to the championship game was such a great experience. Vancouver sold out every game, the fans really made it a great experience. I wasn’t there for the championship game because I made the trip to Lansing for the Midwest League Championship Series, but the on edge feeling you get in a championship series is something you can’t take from me.”
Sanchez joined the Lansing Lugnuts in 2012 and is currently 8-5 with a 2.49 ERA with 97 strikeouts and 51 walks. Earlier in the season, Sanchez piggybacked starts with Justin Nicolino. “The season started off really good, it was good for everybody here including myself right up to the All Star break,” he said. “After the all star break I had a couple good starts before I had my first game where things went south, but I picked it back up until now. I feel my delivery and command is coming together.
“I feel starting in the piggyback system is the right thing to do as it helps us stretch out later in the year. We started off hot early in the year and we gradually got into our workload so now that it’s later in the year we have our own days to go five or six innings preparing for the playoffs. The Midwest League is great to be around Fort Wayne and Dayton pack the house every night it‘s fun to be in that kind of atmosphere,” explained Sanchez.
Sanchez credits a lot of his success to his pitch repertoire. “I use three pitches – a fastball, curveball and changeup. My fastball jumped, at the beginning of the year it was 92 to 95, in the middle it was 94 to 96, lately it has been around 95 to 99. Reportedly I hit 100, but you never know if those readings are accurate.
“I’m not sure when I started my great curveball; it was something I was messing around with in high school. I choked the pitch by changing grips and it constantly got better. It became an out pitch for me when I started professional baseball just need to throw strikes with it.” stated Sanchez.
Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman had this to add: “Aaron is a raw power arm he has three above average major league pitches, it’s just getting him out there to get the experience.”
Now that the Lugnuts are nearing the playoffs, Sanchez is focused on winning a championship with his team, adding, “Being able to pitch in the playoffs last year helped a lot. In the playoffs every pitch counts, it’s win or go home. We want to finish the season strong, you get rejuvenated playing extra baseball after the bittersweet ending last season. I think this is the year we get the W.”