Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Top Prospects: #7 – Tony Sanchez

The Pirates Prospects 2012 Prospect Guide will be released later this week, featuring over 250 prospect reports, the 2012 top 50 prospects, a feature on the top four pitching prospects in the system, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top ten prospects over the next week.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

10. Nick Kingham

9. Kyle McPherson

8. Stetson Allie

We continue the countdown with the number seven prospect, Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez saw some major struggles on offense in 2011.

7. Tony Sanchez, C

The biggest disappointment in 2011 for the Pirates was the season that Tony Sanchez had at the plate. In his jump to the AA level Sanchez struggled with his hitting, showing a total lack of power production. He’s the best bet for a two way catcher in the system, and some might argue that he’s the only starting option they have, which is why his season was so disappointing.

Sanchez wasn’t overmatched at the plate, as evidence by his strikeout and walk rates. His problem was that he was making bad decisions, swinging at pitches that he could make contact with, whether or not those were pitches he could drive. That could be chalked up to the difficult jump to the AA level, where Sanchez would see tougher pitches.

He did make some strides on the defensive side of the ball, with the biggest improvement coming with his game calling. He already excelled in blocking pitches in the dirt, and his arm held up in his first 100+ game season, with pop times in the upper 1.80 range in September. The big issue he has to work on defensively is his throwing accuracy. He got a little wild at times, leading to a lot of throwing errors.

The question heading in to 2012 is where will Sanchez start out? He could make the jump to AAA. That would be aggressive, but it would be no different than the jump Chase d’Arnaud made in 2011 after a similar season at the AA level. The Pirates have Ramon Cabrera and Carlos Paulino coming up from Bradenton, with Sanchez blocking them if he stays in Altoona to start the year. The 2011 season was a down year for Sanchez, but he could rebound. He’s got the defense to succeed in the majors. His offense will determine what kind of catcher he will eventually become.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_46YTB5OO4O7UM2OVB44UZSTXNA Nate

    I really like Sanchez and hope he pans out for the Bucs, but I’d still be trying to pry a young catcher away from the Yanks, Blue Jays, or the Reds. 
    We don’t really have much to offer the Yanks.  
    Jays need a closer and an infielder (Hanny and D’Arnaud) and have Arrencibia & D’Arnaud at catcher. 
    And the Reds likely won’t deal in division, even though they need bullpen help as well.  Would Hanny, Owens, and Grossman be enough to net Grandal and Yonder? Or would that be an overpay?
    meeehhhh…I’m bored and rambling.

  • Anonymous

    I think the Jays are going to go with Sergio Santos @ closer next season, so I don’t think they’ll be in on the Hammer.  Besides, dealing with Alex Atholpoulos is like dealing w/ Rays GM Andrew Friedman: you’re bound to overpay!

    With Grossman rehabbing from his hamate bone surgery, and Owens’ value taking a dip from his poor 2011 showing, I would hang on to these guys to see if they can bounce back next season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blaine-T-Spellman/1451740722 Blaine T. Spellman

    Do you consider pop times of 1.9 seconds being major league average (that is my understanding)?  I wonder if you factor in the inaccuracy of the arm with the slightly above average pop times and merely say the base stealing defense is simply average?  So the blocking is above average, the arm is average, and the bat and game calling are questionable.  That does not sound like Yodier Molina (elite defense-solid bat).  Sounds more like a second tier starter or perhaps a backup.  Hope he picks up the offense in ’12 like he did before the injury.  Hope he figures out how to become the catcher of the future.  A lot is riding on this kid.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3G6S3MLR7RKSHPBY62TA5KKR4A michael

    Tim;  ” The biggest disappointment in 2011 for the Pirates was the season that Tony Sanchez had at the plate.”
       I’m guessing you mean in the minors…..  Pedro was a much bigger disappointment.    Looking forward to both guys having monster seasons in ’12 !!

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