Sunday, January 6, 2013

Prospects! part 7: Lansing Lugnuts - pitching

Gone, Baby, Gone: Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, , David Rollins, Noah Syndergaard
The Lansing Three Two Guy: Aaron Sanchez
Dark Horses: Javier Avendano, Tyler Ybarra

Photo: Emily Jones/

Aaron Sanchez (current ranking* - #1) draws raves from just about everyone.  The tall 20 year old righty throws in the mid-90s and impresses with his secondary pitches.  He has a great curve and decent change.  The big knock is his command and control, as can be seen by his 51 walks in 90 1/3 innings in 2012 to go with his 97 strikeouts.  I don't need to write a lot about Sanchez because you're going to be hearing a lot from him over the next couple of seasons until he reaches the majors.  The Blue Jays were very cautious with the innings totals of Sanchez, Syndergaard and Nicolino and the thought is that the Jays will let them throw more innings (maybe up to 130 or so) in 2012 beginning in Dunedin. 
Photo: Vancouver Sun

Javier Avendano is a name that will be on a lot of lips in 2013.  He had an outstanding season in Vancouver and started the year working out of the bullpen in Lansing to get him in some games early.  Originally signed by St. Louis, the Blue Jays picked him up in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft (much like Gabe Jacobo) and wanted to take a look at him as a starter so they sent him down to Vancouver where he played the role of co-ace with teammate Taylor Cole.  Now 22 (but 21 throughout the season), Avendano throws major league quality heat (around 92 mph) with a changeup, a curve, and a sinker to go with it.  Because he logged quite a few innings in 2012 (108 1/3 between the two levels), Avendano will most likely not have a restrictive limit in 2013 and will probably start in Lansing (although I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a promotion quickly if he continues to dominate).  How dominant was he?  Well, in Vancouver, he posted a 1.27 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, a 30.1% strikeout ratio, and only an 8.3% walk ratio.  This Venezuelan will be on the fast track this year and may join Sanchez in Dunedin by mid-summer.
Photo: WhitecapWendy (taken from

In two years since returning from a year off due to family issues, Tyler Ybarra has been making huge strides in his minor league career pitching the entire year in full-season A ball after a 2011 in Bluefield in Rookie ball (bypassing Short-Season A ball altogether).  While seeing a significant uptick in walks in 2012 (against much better competition), Ybarra actually increased his strikeout totals in fewer innings pitched.  Ybarra throws a low-90s fastball and a good slider which generates many of his strikeouts.  He should start 2013 in Dunedin and it will be interesting to see if the 23 year old maintains his success.


* This is the rank of the player in's team Top 20 rankings compiled by Jonathan Mayo.

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