Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Profile: Outfielder Lolo Sanchez

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While Travis Swaggerty is the Pittsburgh Pirates’best outfield prospect, Lolo Sanchez could continue to climb the ranks and become a  solid MLB player.

Lolo Sanchez is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates future options in center field. Him, along with Travis Swaggerty and Jared Oliva, rank as some of the Pirates’ top outfield prospects. But the speedy outfielder could be a reliable part of the outfield for the Bucs in a few seasons.

Sanchez was signed out of the Dominican Republic, and made his professional debut at age 17 in 2016 in the Dominican Summer League. There, he was very steal happy. Sanchez tried to steal a base 12 different times, but was only successful four times. Overall, he hit .235/.359/.275. Despite his low power numbers, he showed really good plate discipline for a 17-year-old, walking 24 times in 190 plate appearances. That results in an outstanding 12.5% walk rate.

In 2017, Sanchez showed improvement in Rookie Ball, seeing his slugging percentage rise to .417. He also collected more hits with a .284 batting average, and still put up a strong on-base percentage of .359. He walked more than he struck out, with a 21/19 ratio in 234 plate appearances. He stole 14 bags, but again, was caught a handful of times, seven to be exact.

2018 was Sanchez’s first full year of professional play at A-Ball. Through 441 plate appearances, Sanchez posted a .243/.322/.328 with a 90 wRC+. He did walk 9.3% of the time and stole 30 bags in 43 attempts. Overall, it was a big step back from 2017. His wRC+ dropped by 33%, and his isolated slugging percentage went down by 47 points. Although he still put up a solid strikeout rate of 16.3%, it was nearly double of what it was in 2017 (8.1%).

Sanchez got off to a great start in 2019 at A-Ball. Through 263 plate appearances, Sanchez hit for a strong line of .300/.377/.451 with 20 stolen bases. He did see his walk rate decrease below 9% to 6.3%, he saw his strikeout go down by a large margin from 2018 to 10.6%. His was his best power hitting season so far with a .150 ISO, the highest mark of his career so far.

However, when he was promoted to High-A ball, Sanchez’s production dropped to a .196/.300/.270 line, and 77 wRC+. Oddly, his walk rate jumped back above 9% at 9.2%. That’s seen in the large difference between his batting average and on base percentage.

Now, Sanchez has been given a 60 current and future grade for his speed. Although he is fast, he steals a lot, and gets caught a lot. In the 124 times he has attempted a stolen base, he has been caught 34.7% of the time, or 43 times. He has stolen 81 bags, and at least 30 in a season twice.

His speed is very useful with his solid career .342 OBP and 9.1% walk rate. Defensively, he is one of the Pirates’ best defensive outfield prospects. FanGraphs gives him future grades of 55 for both his arm and fielding prowess. He is also a fairly rangy defender with his plus speed grade.

Next. Pirates New Young Core of Pitching Prospects. dark

Batting wise, he only has a future grade of 50, with 45 future grades for his game and raw power. I think a good major league comparison for Sanchez’s ceiling you could make for Sanchez is Dexter Fowler. Fowler has a career batting line of .260/.359/.419. He has never been that big of a power hitter, but he gets on base consistently at a good rate.

Early in his career, he averaged about 15-20 stolen bases a season. Overall, he has a 105 OPS+, making him a slightly above average bat. A good defensive comparison I could make is 2019 Bryce Harper, who had +10 DRS, an 11.0 UZR/150, and 6.0 range runs. He also posted a strong 4.7 arm runs above average. While Sanchez may never be a big hitter, probably something close to Fowler’s 105 OPS+, he will definitely make up his offensive shortcomings with his ability to field and throw out runners.

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