Keith Law recently went to go see the Trenton Thunder play the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays Double-A affiliate), where both teams sent out their best pitchers, Bryan Mitchell for the Thunder and Aaron Sanchez for the Fisher Cats. Law released some of his notes on the two teams:
He currently ranks as the system's 14th best prospect, up from 18 in 2013, however the hype has never matched the results. In four full seasons and one start into his fifth, the 22-year-old has a 4.52 ERA, a 4.4 BB/9 and a 8.2 K/9. It's easy to see that control has been an issue throughout his career. Last week was no different; he reached 95 mph, but he was wild and hitters were on his pitches all night. He racked up a high pitch count early on and could only reach four innings before he gave up four runs.
Mitchell's fastball is a four-seamer with no movement, just a little downhill plane from his 3/4 arm slot, so he tries to offset it with a cutter at 91-93 that I think will probably end up his best pitch, especially if he shifts to a relief role. His curveball is short with mostly downward break, 81-83, occasionally getting slurvier up to 85, but he didn't command it well and put a number of pitches of all varieties in the dirt.
It didn't seem like Law was very impressed with Mitchell overall, seeing him as a potential reliever at the highest level. He believes that if Mitchell can't throw his curveball for strikes, he should scrap it and then he could go fastball/cutter out of the bullpen. Now that Jose Ramirez has been made a reliever,the idea of moving Mitchell to the pen sounds even more disappointing. I have never been very impressed by Mitchell, so I think this would be the best thing for him.
Williams has been the No.2 prospect in the organization since 2012, but scouts are starting to give up on the toolsy outfielder. Law took issue with Williams last year; when he saw him it was right after his DUI, he was overweight, and he appeared to put in little effort during the game. In 2014, Law still seems unimpressed with the 22-year-old.
Mason Williams hit a pair of pitches hard, including a line drive single the other way on a 95 mph fastball, but as usual was too aggressive for his own good, seeing a total of seven pitches in his four at bats; he keeps jumping on the first fastball near the zone he sees rather than trying to work the count to get a more favorable pitch or location.
After watching him this spring, I completely agree with this assessment. It seemed that Mason would simply swing at anything and everything, whether it was in the zone or not. The problem with his overly aggressive approach is that he's good at making contact, but it isn't necessarily quality contact. He gets the bat on the ball, somehow, and ends up hitting an infield grounder that doesn't do anything for him. Law still likes his tools, since he still has bat speed, can run, and play great defense, but "it's been two-plus years now where the aggressiveness has been a known issue, and he's getting to the age where we need to see him make an adjustment."
A lot has been made of Gary Sanchez's defensive abilities. He's the Yankees' top prospect and one of the best catching prospects in the game, based on his bat, but what about his glove? There has been a mix of reports about how good or bad he is behind the plate, but it didn't sound like Law could definitively rule one way or the other since Mitchell was so wild. He felt Sanchez had some trouble, but he wasn't that bad overall.