Some critics might point to his post-All Star numbers in Lansing this year -- 2-5 record, 4.36 ERA, and a slightly lower strikeout ratio -- as evidence to the contrary, but as is often the case with minor league numbers, there is a valid reason behind the differing stats.
"We got to the All Star break -- I was fortunate enough to make the All Star team -- then in the second half, right away I think I had two good starts and then I got sick," Sanchez revealed. "When I got sick I went through a spell there where it went downhill.
"After I got healthy [again] my body felt stronger after that time period, I think I finished pretty strong. I finished it where I wanted to get all year mechanically-wise, delivery-wise, the stuff obviously played from day one to day 142, so I think overall it was a good year for me."
Overall he finished the year going 8-5 with a 2.49 ERA and striking out better than a batter per inning pitched, and to this day he's still not sure exactly what ailed him during his disastrous July [5.92 ERA in six starts].
"I have no idea what it was. We left -- we were going to Beloit and when we got to Beloit, whatever it was I was drained. I was always tired," he said. "We never diagnosed it with anything but I didn't feel good at all."
He finished the regular season posting a solid 3.21 ERA over his final few starts and overall he was extremely pleased with his new-found approach and style on the mound in 2012.
"Command -- that's something many say to be my biggest flaw," he admitted. "Okay, I did have a few more walks than the other pitchers but they were competitive walks. They were 3-2, five foul balls, right on the corner and the umpire missed it kind of walks.
"Maybe occasionally there would be a four-pitch walk but this year I was going after hitters and I wasn't afraid of early contact. That's what kept me in the games getting into the fifth and sixth innings.
"Overall I think I improved in every aspect of my game that I needed to improve on. I started throwing a changeup that I was throwing [last] offseason because that's what I needed to do and when I got up to the Midwest League and into Lansing that was the biggest thing for me because you've got guys who cheat 94-95 mph and when I threw my changeup they were dead in the water.
"That was a big thing that helped me out all year, [hitters] not being able to sit dead red and me able to pull the change."
Sure an improved changeup helped a lot as did his go-get'em approach on the mound, but something often lost on the pundits is just how difficult it is for a young pitcher who constantly has his power increasing to keep learning how to control the added speed.
"I've jumped with velocity and every time I've jumped it's like I have to learn how to control that," he said. "I'd finally get that control and then I'd jump [again] two more miles per hour and then I have to learn to control that.
"I think once I've tapered off to where I'm going to be throwing for my career it's going to be a lot easier because I won't have to go through those spans where I'm trying to find my release point on 94-96 mph or 96-98 mph.
"Whatever it is, that's a big difference for me because people don't really realize that's hard to do. One to two miles per hour, with the movement that I do have with my fastball, you have to find that release point, find the whole tempo and delivery, to be able to harness that control.
"I felt like I mastered that and then bam, instead of being 92-94 mph it's 94-96 mph. And being 19 years old at the time, that's tough to do."
There is good news on several fronts when it comes to Sanchez. First, at some point the fastball velocity has to plateau because he can't get much higher than the current 96-98 mph range. Second, he has learned to control yet another level of velocity. And third, and perhaps most importantly, he has learned to become a pitcher and not just a raw thrower like he was in 2011.
"Pitching-wise it's night and day, a whole 180 [degree turnaround]. I think I started to figure things out and I knew what kind of year that I needed to have, and that's what I wanted to strive for when I left Lansing last year in August.
"I think at the end of last year I started figuring out things and I took it into last offseason, and when I got back to Spring Training [this year] I felt I had a pretty good understanding of what I needed to do. I think this past year was a big year for me and I think next year will be an even bigger one," he concluded.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez has always been known for his top-shelf stuff but also for his wild tendencies. He followed up his sub-standard 2011 season with a very consistent 2012 campaign that not only saw him become a better pitcher but one who is starting to harness his control.
Sanchez Harnessing His Control
Aaron Sanchez has always been known for his stuff but now he's becoming a better pitcher.
Aaron Sanchez can control his added power now
Oct 30, 2012