In 2009 the Pittsburgh Pirates were stuck in one of sports longest losing streaks, compounded by financial constraints. When the amateur drafty rolled around the Pirates passed on big name, big price tag prospects and drafted a little-known catcher by the name of Tony Sanchez out of Boston College with the fourth overall pick. The Pirates have since broken that losing streak making the playoffs the past two seasons, but the draft pick may be a lasting reminder of the dark days in Pittsburgh baseball history.
Sanchez has proven to be little more than a reliable back up in his call ups with the Pirates. It is becoming more and more evident with each passing year that the upper management of the Pirates are just not ready to have Sanchez be the everyday started for them in the big leagues.
In 2009 and through 2012, Ryan Doumit, Michael McHenry and a cast of others were the starting catchers for the Pirates which seemingly would pave a smooth path for Sanchez to the majors, yet he could not prove his worth in the minors let alone the majors, leading the Pirates little choice but to look to free agency with the signing of Russell Martin, Chris Stewart to be a back up, and looking outside the organization in Francisco Cervelli to replace the deaprted Martin.
Examining Tony Sanchez’s stats you find a less than impressive tenure thus far in the upper minors (Double and Triple A) with his highs being a .288 batting average, 10 home runs, and 42 RBIs. An even more disturbing trend throughout his career is the fact that every year he strikeouts twice as much as he walks, which is OK for power hitters, but he is far from a power hitter.
So not only is Sanchez firmly third string for this year for the Pirates, (he started the season as the club’s back up with regular back up Chris Stewart nursing a hamstring injury but was sent back down to the minors on April 17 when Stewart was deemed healthy) but a new prospect may be breathing down his neck
So not only is Sanchez firmly third string for this year for the Pirates, (he started the season as the club’s back up with regular back up Chris Stewart nursing a hamstring injury but was sent back down to the minors on April 17 when Stewart was deemed healthy) but a new prospect may be breathing down his neck for playing time in Indianapolis. Elias Diaz turned heads this spring training with his defensive skills, and ever improving offensive abilities which have trumped Sanchez’s thus far.
The Pirates will start Diaz in Altoona but he quickly progressed to Indianapolis where he continues to develop his skills in all areas as well as handling pitchers (and learning the nuances of the English language). Diaz is already producing good numbers in Indianapolis where he is batting close to .300 and is driving in runs at a good steady clip. He is also being used as a designated hitter so he is in the lineup every day. Tony Sanchez on the other hand is batting .239 with only four extra base hits.
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This all begs the question, what should the Pirates do with Sanchez…do they let him just stay a back-up (I think they will eventually give him a chance but if he can’t produce, then Diaz will become the man), will they have him switch positions (maybe a weak hitting middle infielder because he does not have enough power to play the corner infield positions of right field) or just let him fester in the minors and wait for him to fade away?
Whatever the Pirates do, this was a bad pick in every sense of the word. Tony Sanchez is a bust.