Victor Sanchez Scouting Report (2014)
When the Seattle Mariners signed 16-year-old pitcher Victor Sanchez to a $2.5 million in 2011, visions of another Venezuelan pitcher, Felix Hernandez, danced through many fans’ heads. King Felix signed as a 16-year-old in 2002. He made his MLB debut at 19. Soon after, he was a superstar, winning the AL Cy Young award by 25. Can the Mariners repeat that success with Sanchez?
19-year old Victor Sanchez has moved through the Mariners farm system with ease. On Sunday, the right-hander made his Double-A debut with Jackson, Seattle’s Southern League affiliate. He became the league’s youngest pitcher since Taijuan Walker in 2012. Like Walker, Sanchez skipped the California League. The similarities between the two end there. Walker is a physical specimen oozing potential. Sanchez (six foot, 255 pounds) is at physical projection, with a body resembling Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon.
Sanchez brings solid tools and a high floor to the table. His pitching motion is free and easy. Repeatable mechanics point to strong command and the ability to limit free passes. If he keeps his weight in check, durability should be Sanchez’s calling card. He has an advanced plan of attack, changing speeds and eye levels, manipulating the hitter’s aggressiveness to obtain desired results. His greatest success is achieved by establishing strike one, which enhances his strengths and plays to hitter’s weaknesses. He features three pitches with major league potential.
His 2-seam fastball sat 88-90 MPH, featuring arm-side run and sink, but lacked the late life expected from a top-100 prospect. Command and the ability to work ahead of hitters allowed the pitch to play up. When forced into a fastball count, Chattanooga sat on the pitch, resulting in solid contact. Dodgers minor leaguer O’koyea Dickson deposited a fastball over the left field fence for a home run. How can a top prospect survive with an average fastball?
The key to a successful changeup is deception. Sanchez’s changeup is advanced beyond his age. At 79-82 MPH, the changeup is difficult to read out of his hand. When he throws it, his pitching motion and arm speed are identical to the fastball. The pitch features terrific arm-side run and late, fall-off-the-table sink. He can throw it for a strike, or force a hitter to chase. A plus pitch, it’s acareer maker for Sanchez.
Sanchez’s third offering is an 11-5 curveball. In terms of command, the pitch lags behind both the fastball and changeup. At 19, it still has the makings of a strong third pitch though. Sanchez was most successful starting the 77-79 MPH curveball at the hitter’s letters. The pitch bent over the inner half, dropping for a strike. It buckled the knees of right handed hitters. Sanchez didn’t show consistency with the pitch, but it flashed solid average. It’s the reason he’s likely to spend all of 2014 in Double-A.
Victor Sanchez’s prospect status has been somewhat overstated. He’s a near finished product despite his young age, but offers little in untapped potential. Even with his size, it will be difficult for him to gain velocity. Maybe it ticks up a mile or two when in mid-season form, but the fastball/changeup combination projects as a 4th or 5th starter. With refinement of his breaking ball, the ceiling peaks at mid-rotation starter. Victor Sanchez is more sure thing than the next big thing.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 4/5 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 45 50 CurveBall 40 50 Changeup 60 70 Control 50 60 Command 50 60
Owning Victor Sanchez
From a fantasy baseball standpoint, owning a pitcher like Sanchez is a dicey proposition. Sanchez doesn’t project to be more than a mid-rotation starter. With few slots to store minor league players on your fantasy league team, Sanchez isn’t worthy of a valuable slot since it’s unlikely the finished product would be better than what’s readily available on the waiver wire.
8 Apr 2014 / Chris Blessing / 3
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