Both Tony Sanchez and Bryce Harper grew up as catchers, but the similarities would seem to end there. Sanchez was seen as a late first round talent after his junior season at Boston College in 2009, and the Pirates were criticized heavily when they slected him fourth overall that year. He is a defense-first catcher, and his long-term offensive ceiling is probably that of a league average hitter. Harper, on the other hand, was one of the most hyped prospects in history when he was drafted number one overall at age 17 in June of this year. His impact will come at the plate, where his tremendous power potential is virtually unprecedented from a player so young. There have always been some small doubts about his ability to stick at catcher, and the Nationals have already moved him to the outfield to get his bat to the majors sooner.
That being said, with both currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, it sounds as if Harper may be rubbing off on Sanchez a bit.
“He made me a better hitter today,” said Sanchez, the Pirates’ first-round pick in 2009. “I was watching him hit and I saw how he transferred his weight and I thought, ‘Man, that’s how he drives the ball 500 feet. Let’s see what happens when I try and do that transfer.’ And lo and behold, I hit a bomb down the line. I’m like, ‘No wonder he’s so good.’ “
It was Sanchez’s first home run of the fall season. He is now hitting .316/.350/.474 in 19 at-bats.