December 19, 2012
While his 2012 season with the Lansing Lugnuts ended early in September, right-handed pitcher, Aaron Sanchez, states that while he is excited to get some time to relax during the off-season, his focus on baseball will not cease.
“The off-season is a time where I get an opportunity to relax a bit after an eight-month grind, but it is also a time to work hard and prepare for the year ahead,” the 20-year-old said.
Sanchez is staying in shape this off-season while attending API in Carson, California. API is a private personalized performance institute described by MLB.com as a ‘high-tech fitness boot camp for professionals.’
Interestingly, he is not the only present Blue Jays’ prospect to attend. “My [former] teammate, Kevin Pillar also works out at API during the offseason. He is also an incredibly hard worker,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez discussed that his own hard work during the off-season helps prepare him for the workload in the year ahead. “When I’m at API, I am focused on putting weight on in the right areas staying lean, staying strong, and getting that good conditioning in so when spring training comes around you’re ready to go and get after it next year.”
For next year, expectations will be high for Aaron Sanchez as he is the last remaining pitcher of the proclaimed ‘Lansing Three’ after Justin Nicolino was traded to the Miami Marlins and Noah Syndergaard was traded to the New York Mets during the present offseason.
Expectations are also high, as fans have witnessed just how good of a pitcher Sanchez has become since joining the Blue Jays after being drafted in the supplemental first round (34th overall) in the 2010 MLB draft out of Barstow High School.
In the first half of 2012, Sanchez started the year paired up with recently-departed, Justin Nicolino, in a piggyback system where he would pitch three or four innings a night. He found great success with the system, going 6-0 with a 0.77 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 28 walks in 47 innings of work.
The piggyback system was designed to keep pitchers’ arms fresh and was a system that Sanchez felt helped his development into his first full-season of professional baseball. “I feel the piggyback system was the right thing to do as it helped us stretch out later in the year instead of at the beginning,” Sanchez said. “It helped us gradually get into our workload and at the end of the year we were still able to go five or six innings every outing.”
Sanchez’s strong performance during the first half of the season allowed him to be named to the Midwest League All Star game in June, but unfortunately, he did not get the opportunity to pitch in it as he had pitched the day right before the break, “It was an incredible honor to be named to the Midwest League All Stars with the type of kids in this league and the talent that was there. While I did not get to pitch, it was a lot of fun to be there with those guys and getting the win that night,” he said.
In the second half of the season, Sanchez posted a 2-5 record with a 4.38 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 23 walks in 43 1/3 innings of work. Bringing his complete season stats to 8-5 with a 2.49 ERA with 97 strikeouts and 51 walks in just over 90 innings of work, “There’s always going to be ups and downs in this game,” Sanchez told JaysProspects regarding his second-half performance, “I think the first half everything went really well. Everything I did in my four days went well. I have to give a lot of credit to Vince Horsman for what he’s done with me and where I’ve come since the beginning of the  season.”
Lugnuts’ pitching coach Vince Horsman, however, believes in his pitcher just as much as Sanchez believes in his coach. “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,” Horsman said. “He’s looking better with each game he pitches.”
Discussing his pitches, Sanchez discussed that he presently uses a fastball, a curveball and a changeup. “My fastball jumped at the beginning of the year it was 92-94MPH, midway through the year it was 94-96MPH, at the end it was 95-99MPH. I reportedly hit 100MPH on a few occasions, but you never know how accurate those guns are.”
“I’m not sure when I started my curveball, it was more something that I was messing around with during 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. Now I just need to throw strikes with it,” added Sanchez.
Despite being named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week in July and Baseball America’s Midwest League’s Top Pitching Prospect at the end of the 2012 season, Sanchez states that one of his favorite accolades is his ability to get along with his teammates and those that surround him.
“I consider myself one of the most outgoing players on the [Lansing Lugnuts] team [last season]. I’m not hard to talk too. I’m easy going. I’m not afraid to go up and talk to anybody.”
While Aaron Sanchez is talking to everyone, expect everyone to be talking not only to him but also about him in the seasons to come as this young pitching prospect has tremendous talent.