Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #13 – Tony Sanchez
The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, 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 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Jin-De Jhang, C
18. Vic Black, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 13 prospect, Tony Sanchez.
13. Tony Sanchez, C
The Pirates made a controversial pick when they took Sanchez with the fourth pick in the 2009 draft. Sanchez was rated as a late first rounder, and there were several prep pitchers ranked at the top of the lists that year. None of the prep pitchers really stood out, but all of them had big demands. The Pirates picked Sanchez to save money, opting to spend the saved money in the middle rounds on several different prep pitchers. That’s an approach other teams took as well. It doesn’t look good for the Pirates that their group of over-slot picks have been disappointing so far.
As for Sanchez, he’s seen his prospect value drop the last few years due to a poor bat and no power. He’s suffered two broken jaws, getting hit with a pitch in the face in 2010 and getting in a bar fight in 2011. That has set his progress back some due to the weight loss that came from his all liquid diets during the recovery periods. The jaw injuries can’t account for all of the struggles.
Sanchez hasn’t hit for a strong average in the upper levels, and hasn’t hit for a lot of power. He did hit for a decent average in Altoona during the 2012 season, but it was his second year at the level. He finally showed some power in Triple-A later in the year, but it was in a small sample size and his average was down.
On the positive side, his defense has been coming along as expected. He’s got an above-average to plus arm, and is very athletic, specializing in blocking pitches. He’s improved his game calling the last few years, and works well with the pitching staff. His defense is strong enough that he could split time behind the plate in the majors in 2013.
The Pirates signed Russell Martin over the off-season, showing that they didn’t think Sanchez was ready. That will give him a year or two to iron out his hitting in Triple-A. Sanchez will make the majors because of his defense, but his offense will determine his value. After his struggles the last two years his potential has fallen somewhere in the range of a strong defensive backup and an average starter with defense and power.