If it were up to Buck Martinez, Aaron Sanchez would be in the starting rotation when the Toronto Blue Jays break camp.
Martinez, who is the play-by-play announcer for Blue Jays games on Sportsnet, listed the 21-year-old Sanchez along with R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison when asked by Tim & Sid on Sportsnet 590 The FAN what his starting rotation for Toronto would look like.
“He’s got the best stuff in camp,” Martinez said. “There’s no question about it. It’s not even close.”
Sanchez, who is widely considered the top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays system, stood out immediately to Martinez. He was blown away by Sanchez’s presence and power arm.
“This is a kid that’s going to get better the more he’s challenged,” Martinez explained. “He’s got the weapons. He’s got the composure. My goodness. The first time I saw him this spring, I didn’t know who he was. I saw him from 100 feet and said that’s Aaron Sanchez. He walks onto the field with a presence. People on the field understand when somebody’s got it and this guy’s got it.”
Martinez specifically mentioned an impressive performance where Sanchez was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles.
“He has the look in his eye," he said. "The other day, he had the bases loaded with nobody out. Pete Walker goes the mound, looks him the eye and Aaron says ‘I got this.’ Then he gets Nolan Reimold to hit into a 1-2-3 double play on a weak grounder that broke his bat, and then he gets Ryan Flaherty on a weak tapper back to the mound. So bases loaded, nobody out, no runs score and he was never in a jam.”
While it remains unlikely that Sanchez will start the season in the major-league rotation, the performance of the young pitcher also drew praise from Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
"You watch him pitch, he's got as good an arm as anybody in baseball you're going to see," Gibbons told reporters last week. "And he does it easy."
In three outings this spring, Sanchez has allowed just six hits with six strikeouts and three walks with no earned runs in 7.0 innings of work.
The Blue Jays originally drafted Sanchez in the first round (34th overall) in the 2010 MLB draft.