Pittsburgh Pirates: Ranking Neal Huntington’s First-Round Draft Picks Part One

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CINCINNATI, OH – APRIL 9: Tony Sanchez #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates works behind the plate wearing Under Armour gear during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Pirates 3-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – APRIL 9: Tony Sanchez #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates works behind the plate wearing Under Armour gear during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Pirates 3-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Number 9 – Catcher Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez was drafted out of Boston College by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 4th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The only reason Sanchez was drafted was due to Huntington’s strategy to attempt to save money to sing prep pitchers at an over slot value in an effort to rebuild the farm system’s pitching. Unfortunately, as we discussed last week, this strategy completely backfired.

Sanchez was viewed as a defensive first catcher out of college who could grow into being an above average hitter. After a strong start to his career, injuries started to derail Sanchez. He was hit in the eye with a pitch, and there was a rumor he re-injured the eye in a bar fight.

Through it all, Sanchez made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2013. At first he was a fan favorite due to his fun personality and laid back ways. However, as he started to struggle on the field fans would start to feel differently.

From 2013 – 2015, Sanchez accumulated 155 plate appearances for the Pirates in 51 games. He slashed .257/.301/.375 to go with a 92 wRC+. This is not bad for a catcher, especially a back up catcher which is what Sanchez had become due to the Pirates have Russell Martin, Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. His defense, however, had become a total and complete liability.

Sanchez started to struggle with the yips, even on throws as simple as completing a strikeout. He was worth -3 defensive runs saved in those three seasons, he committed five throwing errors and his pitch framing only saved the team 1.7 runs. These defensive struggles are a big reason why he has not appeared in a MLB game since having one plate appearance with he Braves in 2017, and why he currently remains a free agent.

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