ANGEL SANCHEZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: November 28, 1989
Signed: International free agent, 2010 (Dodgers)
How Acquired: Waiver claim (from White Sox)
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’S PLAYER PROFILE
|Sanchez turned pro via an unusual route, signing with the Dodgers at age 20 out of a Dominican college. He has good stuff, including a 92-95 mph fastball with good movement, and a good cutter. He’s thrown a curve, slider and change, all of which have some potential. He hasn’t, however, shown the ability to locate or to work hitters. Although he’s remained a starter with the various teams he’s been with, he doesn’t hold his velocity late in games. He’s a strong groundball pitcher who hasn’t had great K rates. He’s had reverse platoon splits every year but his first and last ones. The Pirates were the third team to claim him on waivers during the 2014 season.
The Dodgers started Sanchez off in the rotation in low A and he pitched well, with decent walk and K rates. Baseball America rated him the Dodgers’ 12th best prospect after the season, a high ranking for an international player in his first pro season.
The high-offense California League was a much tougher assignment for Sanchez. He had especially severe problems with gopher balls, allowing a HR exactly once every four and a half innings. He fell completely apart in the second half, with an ERA of 8.75. BA still ranked him 25th in the Dodgers’ system.
The Dodgers sent Sanchez back to low A and he didn’t really pitch any better there, considering that he was out of the hitting-mad Cal League. He pitched better in two starts after a promotion back to high A, then got included in the trade for Ricky Nolasco. He pitched much better in high A with the Marlins. BA ranked him 16th in the Miami system after the season.
Miami moved Sanchez up to AA and he struggled badly. The Marlins removed him from their 40-man roster and the Rays claimed him. After just two bad starts, the Rays designated Sanchez for assignment when they claimed Cory Burns from Texas. This time the White Sox claimed him. The Sox sent Sanchez initially to high A, where he had one good and one bad start, then moved him up to AA, where he struggled over three starts. Chicago dfa’d Sanchez less than a month after acquiring him and the Pirates claimed him. He didn’t pitch very well in six games, five starts, with Altoona, although he wasn’t as bad as he’d been in his earlier AA outings. Opponents hit .303 against him and he had some gopher ball problems, allowing five in 33 innings.
During the off-season, the Pirates designated Sanchez for assignment and he cleared waivers. He returned to Altoona and made significant progress. He showed much better command and walked very few, although he also didn’t strike out many. In mid-June the Pirates moved him up to AAA and he pitched even better, holding opponents to a .217 average and improving his K rate. Unfortunately, he came out of an early August start with elbow pain and eventually had Tommy John surgery.
Sanchez missed the season due to the surgery. Until the injury in 2015, he figured to be a strong candidate for a September callup. He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft and wasn’t selected, unsurprisingly. The Pirates released him in March 2016 and then immediately re-signed him, apparently as a way of reworking his contract to reflect the fact that he was going to spend the 2016 season rehabbing. He also re-signed with the Pirates for 2017.
Not only was Sanchez healthy in camp, he was throwing harder than ever, which sometimes happens after Tommy John. In one- and two-inning outings, he was sitting at 96-97 mph, with a low-90s cutter. He opened the season in the Indianapolis bullpen and pitched well there, better than his ERA indicates, as shown by his xFIP of 2.88. In fact, if you believe in xFIP, he pitched better than Edgar Santana and Dovydas Neverauskas. He struck out a lot of hitters, didn’t walk many, and had a good groundball rate of 54.1%. He was tough on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .646 OPS. Left-handed hitters did much better against him, at .795. The Pirates called Sanchez up amidst an extensive bullpen reshuffling in late August. He had major problems initially with gopher balls, giving up five in his first 7.1 IP. (His xFIP, which normalizes for HR rate, was less than half his ERA at 4.23.) The struggles got him relegated to forgotten status; at one point he went 16 days without pitching. He finally got into two more games at the end of the season and pitched very well.
Sanchez is one of three relief prospects — the others being Dovydas Neverauskas and Edgar Santana — who offer higher ceilings, without quite being blue-chip prospects, than the sort of low-upside veterans who’ve increasingly fascinated the Pirates in the last couple years. Each of the three has two options left, so the Pirates have the opportunity to sort through them and see who comes through . . . assuming they’re willing to give them opportunities.
|2018: Major league minimum
2017: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $7,500
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 8/24/2017
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2013
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2014)
MLB Service Time: 0.040
|July 12, 2010: Signed as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
July 6, 2013: Traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Josh Wall and Steve Ames to the Miami Marlins for Ricky Nolasco and international bonus slot four.
November 20, 2013: Contract purchased by the Miami Marlins.
June 13, 2014: Claimed off waivers from the Miami Marlins by the Tampa Bay Rays.
June 30, 2014: Designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays.
July 2, 2014: Claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays by the Chicago White Sox.
July 31, 2014: Claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
December 8, 2014: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
March 15, 2016: Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
March 16, 2016: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
August 23, 2017: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.