Top 50 Prospects: #24 - Jonathan Sanchez

Jonathan Sanchez became a hot name on the lips of Giants fans after some big time performances in the winter leagues in '04 and the South Atlantic League in '05. But is he deserving of all the hype, or should Giants fans have their Foppert-detectors on?

Date of Birth: 11/19/1982 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 165 Bats: L Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 27th Round (#820 Overall) of the 2004 Draft
2005 Stats
Augusta - Low A 5 7 4.08 25 25 0 125.7 122 59 57 8 39 166 .254 1.27

Jonathan Sanchez emerged as one of the highest touted prospects in 2005 based upon glowing reports of his stuff, a bigtime performance in the 2004 winter league in Puerto Rico, and winning the strikeout title in the South Atlantic League in 2005.

So why is he ranked so low on this list when he’s making Top 10 lists elsewhere?

Sanchez deserves the excitement he’s brought about. He’s a power southpaw, which in itself is something rare. And he doesn’t just get good strikeout numbers, they are at a bigtime rate. His SAL total of 166 in 125.2 IP was only 2 K’s higher than the second place pitcher, but that pitcher had more than 26 more innings than Sanchez. In fact, out of the top 15 strikeout totals in the SAL, only 3 had less IP than Sanchez. And Sanchez comes with a three pitch arsenal, having improved his changeup a lot in the past year.

All that being said, Sanchez has a long ways to go before he can really reach the upper echelon of prospects. For all the strikeouts he gets, Sanchez still has an ERA over 4, which is high for the South Atlantic League. Hits, and runs, come in bunches for this young man and it can take a while for him to get out of his slumps. A lot of this comes from not having mature enough offspeed stuff. His changeup is on it’s way to being a good pitch, but he needs to keep throwing it consistently. His curve/slider is not a good pitch yet, and he needs to work on repeating his throwing motion before it will become truly effective. And he still needs to work on his strength, as his fastball velocity can waver. When on, he regularly throws in the mid-90’s, and needs to stay there to be effective. But for the first few weeks of the season, he was sitting in the high 80’s and touching the low 90’s. At 23, he doesn’t have as much time to work on these things as other prospects before his inflated value starts dropping.

That’s not to say that Sanchez isn’t a very good prospect. He’s still a power left-hander with a lot of upside, which is great to have, and he was an absolute steal by the Giants scouting staff in the 27th round of ’04 out of Ohio Dominican College. It’s just that a lot of Giants fans, still a little hurt by the overhyping of previous prospects (particularly Jesse Foppert), can be hard on the kids who get hyped big but don’t live up to it. Giants fans should get a splash of cold water and realize that Sanchez, while having a super-high ceiling as a pitcher, has quite a long way and a lot of development to go before he starts brushing it.

For 2006, a move to San Jose is likely, as Sanchez showed up for the playoffs in San Jose, and won 2 games in the playoffs, helping the Giants to their championship. However, expect Sanchez to have some problems early in San Jose. He has a tendency to groove pitches, and in the warm California air, chances are he’ll only be providing the power for a lot of home runs in the hitter’s league. It’ll be how he adjusts to that as the season goes on, whether it defeats him or he uses it to improve his pitches and his pitching, that will show the most important signs of whether he’ll be a long-term starter, or make a move to the bullpen.

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