Opening Day. Eastern League debut. No problem for Aaron Sanchez.
The Blue Jays' top prospect allowed one hit and struck out five over five innings in his first Double-A start as New Hampshire blanked Trenton, 6-0, on Thursday night.
Sanchez (1-0) walked two and threw 38 of 67 pitches for strikes. The only hit he gave up was a two-out single in the third inning to Yankees No. 2 prospect Mason Williams. Sanchez faced three batters over the minimum while recording five outs on the ground.
"For me, it was just going out there and trying to improve what I did in Spring Training," he said. "Attack hitters, work in my fastball and use my off-speed [pitches]. That is the game plan and everything went well tonight. I just felt like [catcher] A.J. [Jimenez] did a great job reading things and messing up the timing of the hitters. I felt like we had that good connection all night. Everything just worked out for the better all night."
While a review of the third inning might indicate that the 21-year-old right-hander had some control issues, Sanchez (1-0) felt there were no problems on the mound.
"I wouldn't say I had command issues, a couple of pitches got away from me," he said. "They were competitive walks, they weren't anything that was crazy. After the walk, it was just about getting back into the zone, and I felt like I did a pretty good job tonight."
In his four previous season debuts, Sanchez was 0-1 with an 8.76 ERA. On Thursday night, he allowed his parents -- who were among the crowd of 6,360 at Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park -- to go home happy.
"It was a good night," Sanchez said. "I had a lot of things working tonight. We have a special group of guys here and I just want to help the team win. I felt like I did a good job of that tonight.
"I haven't seen my parents, my dad, since the start of Spring Training and my mom since January. That's a good little gift for them to be here and get a win for the team. It doesn't come down to just me, it's a collective win."
Casey Lawrence took over in the sixth and allowed one hit over two innings before Scott Gracey fanned four over two one-hit frames to wrap it up.
Kenny Wilson collected two hits and drove in three runs, while Jimenez went 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Fisher Cats, who never looked back after scoring four times in the top of the second.
"For me, when I get run support like that, it settled the game down for me," said Sanchez, MLB.com's No. 23 overall prospect. "You go out there with a little more confidence. You get to attack hitters a bit more than if it was a 1-0 ballgame."
Thunder starter Bryan Mitchell (0-1), the Yankees' 14th-ranked prospect, took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits over four innings.