In my Arizona Fall League post I said that I would go into further detail on the prospects that are participating. Well, I am officially reneging on that idea as the AFL is over and I thought it would be a better idea to report on the top overall prospects throughout the Phillies system. I do not like how Baseball America and other such publications combine both pitchers and position players together in prospect rankings. As you can read in my Happ/Coughlan post, it is almost impossible to compare pitchers and position players. So in order to solve my own issues I will create two separate top 10 lists. I will do a player profile for each prospect in descending order and alternate between the pitcher and position player lists in order to build the suspense on who will be number one.
I have decided to rate righthanded starter, Jesus Sanchez, as the 10th best pitcher in the Phillies minorleague system. Jesus Sanchez is quite possible the most intriguing prospect in all of the Phillies system, he started his professional career as a catcher and switched over to pitching only one season ago. Jesus Sanchez came over to the Phillies from the Yankees as part of the Bobby Abreu trade. Honestly, Sanchez is the only player that has a legitimate shot at making a Major League roster of all the players involved in that deal.
Sanchez was born in Valencia, Venezuela, so he started his professional career fairly young. He came to the Phillies organization at the age of 18 and played catcher full-time until 2008. During the 2008 season while playing for the Lakewood BlueClaws, Sanchez made the decision to give up his catching duties in an effort to become a pitcher. The decision was very radical but as he was only hitting .220 with 1 homerun over his career, it appeared highly unlikely that Sanchez would find himself in the organization much longer. Sanchez played 35 games in 2008 as a catcher and after deciding to change his position he was removed from everyday competition and trained at the spring training facility in Clearwater to hone his skills as a pitcher.
2009 was Sanchez's first season as a professional pitcher and was immediately thrown into Lakewood's starting rotation. The move to insert Sanchez into the starting rotation was a shocking decision but proved to be a successful one. Sanchez led the Lakewood pitching staff in every single statistical category among pitchers with enough innings to qualify. In 2009, Sanchez was 4th in the South Atlantic League in wins with 10, while posting an impressive 3.44 ERA in 136 innings. Sanchez's 2009 season was astounding when you consider that this was his first season pitching as a professional. As you could imagine Sanchez did have some adjustment issues in the beginning of the season but finished the season in tremendous fashion as he was 7-2 with a 2.59 ERA, after the all-star break.
Sanchez became a workhorse towards the end of 2009 going past the 6th inning on a consistent basis. Sanchez is not an overpowering pitcher but has the ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes. His fastball usually comes in between 90-93 mph, he possesses an above average changeup, and an improving slider. The most impressive aspect of Sanchez's abilities is his command of multiple pitches along with his pitching efficiency as he pitches deep into ballgames. It is very likely that Sanchez will start the 2010 season in Clearwater and will be promoted to Reading sometime around midseason assuming he continues his success.
Current Pitching Rankings
10. Jesus Sanchez