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April 12. 2014 9:18PM

Roger Brown and Allen Lessels: Jays' top prospect Sanchez takes the mound today


Fisher Cats pitcher Aaron Sanchez, right, talks with pitching coach Jim Czajkowski at a workout earlier this month. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats fans get their first look at right-handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization, this afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

Sanchez made his first two Double-A starts last week on the road and brings his 96-mph fastball to the mound against the Binghamton Mets in the final game of the first home series of the season. Game time is 1:35.

"He's pitched well, he was really good in both outings," said manager Bobby Meacham. "I'm glad to see the consistency. I had him all last year and he showed similar traits. ... We'll see if he can continue like he's been. He's on track, throwing the ball better than I have seen him with all three pitches, fastball curve and changeup."

The fastball leads the way.

"He throws 97, sits at 96, and is anywhere between 94 and 98,

somewhere in there," Meacham said. "Once he starts to locate his fastball, in and out, like he wants to, the sky's the limit."

Sanchez, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds and out of Barstow, Calif., played for Meacham in Single-A Dunedin last year.

He had 20 starts and went 4-5 with a 3.34 earned run average. In 86 1/3 innings, he allowed 63 hits, struck out 75 and walked 40.Sanchez got the ball in New Hampshire's season opener at Trenton on April 3 and allowed one hit, struck out five and walked two over his five innings in a 6-0 win.

He went another five at Reading on Tuesday and allowed five hits and two runs while striking out three and walking two. New Hampshire lost that game, 6-5.

The future for Sanchez, Meacham said, is bright.

"He's a guy, the hard work he does is going to pay off in the end," the manager said. "He's going to continue to build on things and be consistent because of his hard work. His work between starts, his side bullpens, he's getting better at those. He works hard all the time and he's doing quality work as opposed to just work."

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Durham's Sam Fuld was placed on waivers by the Oakland A's Saturday when they activated outfielder Craig Gentry from the disabled list. Fuld was out of options and could not be sent to the minor leagues.

Fuld, who played at Phillips Exeter Academy, was hitting .200 with one home run, four RBIs and five runs scored in his first seven games with the A's. He has also played some exceptional defense.

He is expected to draw interest from other major league teams.

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No Eastern League player is off to a better start at the plate than Portland second baseman Mookie Betts, who leads the league with a .469 batting average.

Betts collected two hits in Saturday's 10-4 triumph over New Britain. Six of his 15 hits this season have been for extra bases: four doubles, one triple and a home run. Betts is the No. 10 prospect in Boston's organization according to SoxProspects.com.

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The season will get off to a late start for Byron Buxton, who MLB.com has rated as the top prospect in minor league baseball.

Buxton, center fielder in the Minnesota Twins' organization, was scheduled to begin the season at Double-A New Britain, but will likely go to extended spring training after he injured his left wrist diving for a ball on March 16.

Buxton isn't expected to join New Britain until May at the earliest, Local fans could have the chance to see Buxton when New Britain plays at New Hampshire on June 26-29.

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Kennett of Conway graduate Jeff Locke, a left-handed pitcher, was reinstated from the disabled list Friday and optioned to Indianapolis, Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate in the International League. ... Salem's Terry Doyle is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA after one start with Birmingham, the Chicago White Sox Double-A affiliate in the Southern League. ... Reliever Brian Wilson, who pitched at Londonderry High School, is currently on a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Rancho Cucamonga, a Single-A affiliate of the Los Angles Dodgers. ... Jordan Cote, who pitched at Winnisquam Regional of Tilton, has a 7.71 ERA (no decisions) in three relief appearances with the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. Cote has allowed three runs (two earned) in 2 1/3 innings. He's issued three walks and struck out one. ... Former Portsmouth shortstop Mike Fransoso had one hit in his first 23 at-bats with Single-A West Virginia (Pittsburgh). ... Former Nashua North and Franklin Pierce pitcher Kevin McGowan allowed five runs (three earned) in his first start with the Savannah Sand Gnats, the New York Mets' Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. McGowan walked three and struck out three in five innings.


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