Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman has torn the ACL in his left knee and will miss most or all of the 2015 season. Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated this afternoon that the Jays will look to fill Stroman's empty spot in the starting rotation with an internal candidate. The top three names are veteran Marco Estrada and a pair of excellent pitching prospects: right-hander Aaron Sanchez and left-hander Daniel Norris.
The 23-year-old Stroman had an excellent rookie debut season in 2014, going 11-6, 3.65 ERA in 131 innings with a sharp 111/28 K/BB ratio. Obviously losing his contributions is a damaging blow to Toronto, but it could be worse: it is a knee injury, not a blown elbow or shredded shoulder. And the Jays have two highly intriguing options to replace him: both Norris and Sanchez are among the very best pitching prospects in baseball.
Daniel Norris, age 21, is a 6-2, 180 pound left-hander who had a spectacular 2014 season, posting a 2.53 ERA with a 163/43 K/BB in 125 innings at three minor league levels. His K/IP ratio was the best among regular minor league starters at all full-season levels last year, and he doesn't do it with smoke-and-mirrors, hitting the mid-90s with the fastball and mixing in a quality curveball, slider, and change-up. He is rated as a Grade A prospect and the Number Four pitching prospect in baseball on my upcoming top pitching prospects list.
Sanchez, age 22, is a 6-4,190 pound right-hander who pitched 33 relief innings for the Jays last year, posting a 1.09 ERA with a 27/9 K/BB ratio. His minor league track record is inconsistent but his stuff is excellent, featuring a heavy mid-90s fastball, a hard breaking ball, and an improved change-up. He looked strong in relief in the majors last year but he has the pitches to start. Will he have the command? We'll have to see but the stuff is enough to get him a Grade A- and the Number Seven slot on the pitching prospects list.