Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/18/14
JONATHAN SANCHEZ LEFT HANDED PITCHER Born: November 19, 1982 Height: 6’0″ Weight: 200 Bats: Left Throws: Left Drafted: 27th round, 820th overall, 2004 (Giants) How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent College: Ohio Dominican University Agent: Tom O’Connell WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES Sanchez is a lefty with good stuff who’s had very high K rates through most of his career, but who’s also struggled with control problems.  Until the last couple years, his fastball generally averaged about 90-92, peaking at 95-96.  His best weapon has been a changeup and he also throws a slider.  He’s a flyball pitcher who’s had mild gopher ball problems at times.  Given his control issues, he generally has not gone very deep into his starts.  Despite the changeup, he has a platoon split for his career, allowing a .758 OPS to right-handed batters and .664 to left-handed batters.  He’s had nagging injury problems, particularly biceps tendinitis in recent years.  The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract for 2013 with an invitation to spring training. 2004 R:  5-0-1, 2.77 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 26.0 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 A-:  2-1-0, 4.84 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 7.7 BB/9, 13.7 K/9 In his debut, Sanchez dominated in rookie ball but struggled badly with his control in six starts in the short season Northwest League.  Still, he showed the quality of his stuff by allowing only 16 hits while fanning 34 in 22.1 IP. 2005 A:  5-7-0, 4.08 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 125.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 11.9 K/9 Sanchez pitched better than his ERA indicates in his full season debut.  He led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 166, edging out former Pirate Kevin Hart.  After the season, Baseball America rated Sanchez the Giants’ sixth best prospect. 2006 AA:  2-1-2, 1.15 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 12.1 K/9 AAA:  2-2-0, 3.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 23.2 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 MLB:  3-1-0, 4.95 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 5.2 BB/9, 7.4 K/9 The Giants jumped Sanchez up to AA and, due to needs at the major league level, moved him to relief after a few starts.  They brought him up to the majors at the end of May and he pitched for two months in relief, posting a 1.37 ERA.  He went down to AAA for six starts in August, then returned to the majors and joined the Giants’ rotation.  He struggled as a starter, posting a 7.36 ERA in four starts. 2007 A+:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 3.0 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 15.0 K/9 AAA:  0-0-0, 2.18 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 20.2 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 11.8 K/9 MLB:  1-5-0, 5.88 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 52.0 IP, 4.8 BB/9, 10.7 K/9 Sanchez opened the season in the Giants’ bullpen, but they sent him to the minors in mid-May, at which point he had a 5.52 ERA.  He came back up in early June due to an injury and pitched much better until a strained rib cage muscle put him on the disabled list in late June.  He returned in mid-July and mostly got bombed over seven appearances.  The Giants sent him back to the minors in August, but he returned in September to make four mostly poor starts. 2008 MLB:  9-12-0, 5.01 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 158.0 IP, 4.3 BB/9, 8.9 K/9 Sanchez spent the season in the Giants’ rotation.  He seemed to wear out in the second half of the season.  He had an ERA of 3.79 at the end of June, but struggled until he went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain in mid-August.  He returned at the beginning of September, but got bombed in his last two starts, resulting in the final 5.01 ERA. 2009 MLB:  8-12-0, 4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 163.1 IP, 4.8 BB/9, 9.8 K/9 Sanchez made strides, holding batters to a .221 average, although the control issues continued.  He no-hit the Padres in July, with the only runner reaching on an error. 2010 MLB: 13-9-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 193.1 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9 Despite leading the NL in walks, Sanchez had his best season, holding hitters to a .204 average and .650 OPS.  He made a career-high 33 starts and pitched very well in September. 2011 A+:  0-0-0, 20.25 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 2.2 IP, 6.8 BB/9, 10.1 K/9 AAA:  1-0-0, 3.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 MLB:  4-7-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 101.1 IP, 5.9 BB/9, 9.1 K/9 Sanchez pitched well early in the season; he had a 2.73 ERA in six April starts.  He struggled increasingly with his control, though, and finally went out in late June with biceps tendinitis.  He returned to the Giants for three poor starts in August and missed all of September.  On the season his fastball velocity was down just a hair below 90.  The Giants traded him to the Royals for Melky Cabrera after the season. 2012 AAA (KC):  1-1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4.7 BB/9, 8.8 K/9 MLB (KC):  1-6-0, 7.76 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 7.4 BB/9, 6.1 K/9 MLB (Colo):  0-3-0, 9.53 ERA, 2.29 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 7.1 BB/9, 7.1 K/9 Sanchez had a disastrous season.  His time with the Royals included missing about a month starting in early May with biceps tendinitis.  The Royals finally traded him to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie in July.  He made three awful starts with Colorado, then went out in early August with the same injury and did not return.  His fastball velocity for the year was down to an average of just 89, so it seems doubtful he was healthy most of the time. He became a free agent after the season. The Pirates are getting some upside with very little downside by signing Sanchez to a minor league deal.  Whether they can get any value from him may depend on whether he has an out clause and, if so, when it takes effect.  Ideally, he’d spend at least a month or two in AAA showing he’s recovered from whatever the issue was in 2012, as well as showing that he’s recovered at least some of his velocity.  It’d make sense for the Pirates to consider him as a reliever, but it’s not clear yet whether they’ll do that. STATS Baseball Reference–Majors Baseball Reference–Minors Fangraphs MLB.com MiLB.com CONTRACT INFORMATION 2007: $381,000 2008: $395,000 2009: $455,000 2010: $2,100,000 2011: $4,800,000 2012: $5,600,000 2013: Minor league contract PLAYER INFORMATION Signing Bonus: N/A MiLB Debut: 2004 MLB Debut: 5/28/2006 MiLB FA Eligible: 2013 MLB FA Eligible: 2013 Rule 5 Eligible: 2013 Added to 40-Man: 11/18/04 Options Remaining: 0 MLB Service Time: 6.071 TRANSACTIONS June 8, 2004: Drafted in the 27th round, 820th overall pick, by the San Francisco Giants; signed on June 16. November 14, 2003: Contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants. November 7, 2011: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Ryan Verdugo to the Kansas City Royals for Melky Cabrera. July 20, 2012: Traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie. October 29, 2012: Became a free agent. February 6, 2013: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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