There has been a lot of communication back and forth today, asking for an opinion on Pirates prospect catcher Tony Sanchez. We guess that’s what happens when you’re a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not that we matter, but it’s hard not to be a fan of the guy.
Understand this: he is a solid offensive season away from being in PNC Park. His defense should improve again this year – specifically his accuracy – which is what we observed as an area of opportunity after watching him last year. Being the fourth overall pick in 2009 comes with some serious pressure.
Why he couldn’t overcome his challenges with pitching at the AA level is intriguing to us, especially after posting an OPS of 976 and 870 while in A ball for the Power and Marauders.
Is it Sanchez being bull-headed, or is it the Pirates development team not being able to get Sanchez to make the necessary adjustments?
We don’t know.
But here’s what matters: it’s all on the capable shoulders of Sanchez this year. He has the ability to be an above average two-way catcher, a rare breed in the catching ranks. But will he make the most of his ability?
The guy has had some tough things happen, but before you call him a bust, realize that each time he has been down, he’s gotten back up. Sanchez appears to be a guy you should not bet against.
When he was on Twitter he gave us some funny banter about a number of things – he probably interacted with you as well. He has a great attitude. An outgoing personality is a good trait to have, when the organization you work for drafts as many pitchers as the Bucs have in the past several years. Neal Huntington was quick to point out how well Sanchez’s game calling skills improved last season. We think if he can get to Pittsburgh, Sanchez will quickly become a fan favorite.
He has another trait that shouldn’t be overlooked and Cocktails pointed it out in his solid interview with Sanchez: the guy is relentless. Pittsburghers love work ethic and Sanchez has it, in spades. Remember that 25 inning game?
Another thing we admire: Sanchez is confident in his skin, too. Why else would he Tweet this pic of himself as a youngster before he went to a ‘fat camp?’
But are all of those things enough?
Simply posting a not-so-flattering picture doesn’t tell us one way or another if Sanchez will ever improve enough to make the big leagues, despite his team needing his talents so desperately. While he sucked at the plate in AA, he wasn’t blown away. He was able to show patience and still manage to have a decent walk rate. He wasn’t a whiff machine. Both of those facts are important to remember.
So after reading what the guy has been able to overcome in his life…
after interacting with him in Bradenton and understanding his passion…..
after watching him comeback from a broken jaw…..
and most importantly watching his reaction to what was the worst year of his life (well, maybe outside of fat camp…), it sure does make us want to cheer for him to make it.
And we think he will make it – we think he will be the Bucs starting catcher as soon as 2014. It sucks to type this, but we’re just not certain he will ever live up to the expectations of being the fourth player taken in 2009.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t stop cheering for him to do so.
And we know that Sanchez won’t ever give up on trying to do everything in his power to live up to those expectations.