Pirates Minor Leagues: Can A Bigger Tony Sanchez Be Better in 2012?


Lost in the flurry of sports failures in Pittsburgh last week was some positive news.  It was the news that the Pirates catcher of the future Tony Sanchez has bulked up this off-season.

Rob Biertempfel reported that Sanchez came to mini-camp in Bradenton as a more muscular 225 pounds.  Obviously reeling from his poor AA season, Sanchez said hopes he can ‘hit the ball like a man’ at a bigger weight this year.

If you recall the RumBunter interview below, Sanchez has successfully battled losing weight in the past.  Here is his quote:

"“I don’t know if you know – when I was at Boston College, before I got drafted, I was overweight and I did the “Jared Subway Diet” and all I did was crush tuna subs and became really disciplined with my diet. But I ate a lot of tuna subs and I lost 40 pounds, so… [laughing] It helped me get here.”"

It will be interesting to see if Sanchez can succeed in his pursuit to improve his offense after putting on weight.  If there is one thing the Pittsburgh Pirates could certainly use, it’s a talented young catcher that could hit a little bit.   Most of us are very familiar with his struggles at the plate for AA Altoona level last season in which he hit .241/.340/.318 in 402 at-bats.

But remember this: before he was hit in the face and had a broken jaw, Sanchez weighed 225 pounds.  After the injury he was on a liquid diet.

One has to believe that impacted him.  Perhaps it’s all mental when he steps in the box.  Could it be that while he maintained projectablity with a 10% walk rate (47 walks,) and a 19% strikeout rate ( 76 K’s), he needed a scapegoat for his poor power numbers?

Maybe Sanchez really is his own worst enemy?  He approached at-bats early in the season like a player that wanted to crush some home runs.  He tweeted and was engaging with fans, but then went a bit too far for some people’s taste and has since relinquished his account.

We do know that the game of baseball must be backed by mental toughness.  So whatever Sanchez feels is the reason for the down year, let’s just trust that his approach works.

There is no question that Sanchez was lighter last season, as reports say he weighed between 210 and 215 pounds.  We understand that he simply couldn’t put the weight back on despite efforts by  the Pirates to make sure he ate insane amounts of protein.

While Sanchez considered going to API this off-season, we hear that he has put on the added weight without going to the prestigious athlete factory.  It’s interesting to observe the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft react to his worst season as a pro, including the part about burning the video from all of his at-bats with the Curve.

With the offense-first Ryan Doumit now in Minnesota, Pirates fans are going to be forced to watch the out-making, hack-happy Rod Barajas in 2012.  It sure would help to ease the pain if Sanchez continues to improve on his defensive skill while mashing on minor league pitching and he turns out to be a bigger, badder player.

You know, one that hits like a man.