Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prospect Profile: RHP Humberto Sanchez (#12)

Prospect Profile: RHP Humberto Sanchez (#12)When Brian Cashman traded slugging right fielder Gary Sheffield to Detroit for three young pitchers before the 2007 season, Dominican-born right hander Humberto Sanchez was considered the key player. Having acquired Bobby Abreu from the Phillies (with Cory Lidle) before the 2006 trade deadline for a song, the Yankees were dealing from a position of strength when Sheffield was reunited with manager Jim Leyland.

New York received three right-handers, most notably the 23-year-old Sanchez. Though he started the 2006 Futures Game, Detroit considered Sanchez expendable with the emergence of Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya.

The Yankees gambled on Sanchez’ 97 mph fastball, his plus slider and his potential. They gambled that the oft-injured flamethrower could stay healthy and provide a powerful compliment to Phil Hughes and recently drafted Joba Chamberlain.

In mid-April, his 2007 season was scratched. Sanchez had Tommy John surgery. He has yet to see game action the Yankees. With Sanchez nearing a return to game action (possibly with the GCL Yankees), I thought I’d revisit the book on Sanchez.

Scouting Report: RHP Humberto SanchezProspect Profile: RHP Humberto Sanchez (#12)

Humberto Sanchez has teased Yankees’ fans (and before that Tigers’ fans) with a mid-90s fastball, premium stuff and immense potential. Due to the Yankees starting pitching depth at the upper minor league levels, Sanchez could be ticketed for a long-relief or setup role upon his return.

Humberto Sanchez’ Repetoire:
Fastball: easy velocity, 92-94 mph, touches 97 mph
Slider: plus pitch, downward / splitter break
Curveball: potential plus pitch, downward break, low 80s
Changeup: least refined offering, “show me” pitch

According to BA's 2008 prospect handbook, Sanchez has three hang-ups: 1. injury history; 2. control issues; and 3. his conditioning. “He has reached as high as 40 pounds above his listed weight and he never has pitched more than 123 innings in a minor-league season.” He will need to stay in better shape and repeat his delivery more consistently.

Injury History:
Sanchez missed the first two months of the 2005 season with an oblique strain, as well as most of August with a groin injury. In 2006, Sanchez was in the best condition of his career yet still missed the last month of the season with a tender elbow. In April of 2007, Sanchez had Tommy John surgery.

Sanchez last saw game action in 2006. After an impressive start at Double-A Erie (Detroit), Sanchez was bumped up to Triple-A where he went 5-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 51 1/3 innings.

For his minor league career, Sanchez has logged 454 innings. He has posted a 4.16 ERA while surrendering less than a hit per inning (8.29). He has struck out 446 batters but walked 230.

Baseball America Prospect Rankings: 2006 - #6 (Detroit); 2007 - #3; 2008 - #12.

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