LOS ANGELES — A handful of American cities are frequently subjected to good natured ridicule. Cleveland is a common target, for instance, as is any city in Northern New Jersey. Gertrude Stein once famously trashed Oakland when she wrote: “There is no there there."
Likewise, the small municipality of Barstow, Calif. has always been a dart board for wise cracks and barbs. Situated on Interstate 15, Barstow is famous as the primary pit stop between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Just like a stock car racer when visiting his pit crew, drivers attempt to flee Barstow in the shortest time possible.
Home to withering 105-degree desert heat and sizeable tumbleweeds, Barstow has never been considered an oasis for amateur baseball prospects. In 2007, righthander Matt Mitchell was drafted by the Royals in the 14th round. Only one other player has ever been drafted out of Barstow High.
That scenario will no doubt change thanks to Aaron Sanchez, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound righthanded pitcher who will be a senior at Barstow High this fall. As the summer showcase season progresses, Sanchez is establishing himself as one of the premier hurlers in the 2010 high school draft class.
His latest tour de force occurred at Orange Coast College, site of the tryouts for the Milwaukee Brewers Area Code teams. The Brewers annually field two Area Code teams, and the Southern California portion of their tryouts were held July 7-8.
Reports on several other participants will be posted to Prospects Plus in the next week.
Tall, pencil thin and exceptionally projectable, Sanchez was the star of day two. He has a remarkably easy, low three-quarters arm action which resembles a day dreamer skipping a smooth stone over the surface of a calm mountain lake.
His 91-92 mph four-seam fastball is complemented by an 81 mph circle change and an exceptionally promising 75-78 mph curveball. The first two curves delivered by Sanchez simply moved up and down; he eventually sharpened that pitch and it exhibited a bit of depth along with a distinct tilt and a tailing finish.
Unlike most young righthanders, Sanchez can confound lefthanded hitters with an 89 mph variation of his four seamer which moves suddenly to his arm side at the last moment. As a touchstone, Sanchez physically resembles Jered Weaver, and his mound presence and whip like delivery recall a younger, thinner version of Darren Dreifort.
Sanchez has the type of arm action and body type that promises additional future velocity. He adds advanced pitching smarts and an excellent feel for his secondary pitches. A virtual shoe-in to make the final Area Code roster, Sanchez will participate in the Aflac All American game on Aug. 16 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Scouting directors, crosscheckers and area scouts, meanwhile, will have to gird themselves for the inevitable trip to Barstow in the spring of 2010. Wrapping oneself in ice beforehand may make the experience bearable.
Not that Barstow doesn’t have some redeeming features. It boasts one of the busiest McDonald’s franchises in the world.
“It has two drive-through lanes,” mused one prominent and respected agent. He paused and added, “I have no idea why I know that."