Scouting Report: Brian Sanches

Brian Sanches came to the San Diego Padres in the deal that sent Rondell White to the Kansas City Royals. The 25 year old, former second round pick, has been stuck at Double A Wichita for the last three seasons before coming over. At 25, his time in prospect status is dwindling. <br><br> Enlisting the help of a former scout within the Royals organization, we get more insight.

"Back in 2000, Sanches threw a no-hitter while pitching at Wilmington," Judd Choate, a former scout with the Royals, said. "Up to that point, he seemed to be one of the better prospects in the organization. After that, he went down hill. The rest of 2000 was lost as well as most of 2001."

A second-round draft pick out of Lamar University in 1999, the 25-year-old has seen his career stall after a strong beginning in which he threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter in back-to-back starts in 2000. Opponents were hitting just .218 off him that year. He has spent the last three seasons in Wichita, where he has become primarily a reliever.

A control pitcher, he had 73 strikeouts and 17 walks in 85 innings at Double-A Wichita before the trade. Concerning is the fact this is his third year in Double-A. In his last eight appearances before the trade, he had a 1.42 ERA over 24 2/3 innings while striking out 26, but opponents were hitting .260 against him during that stretch, .247 on the season. In 38 games (six starts) this year, he was 1-5, with a 3.16 ERA.

His fastball tops out in the high-80s, and he has a solid curve and change. Sanches doesn't have a plus pitch with his best offering being the curveball, and the changeup is newly developed.

"Sanches is a control pitcher," said Choate. "He has a curveball, which is probably major league quality. He has a fastball that only reaches the high 80s. From what I hear, he's developed a change up, but I don't know anything about that."

Since his 2001 season where his WHIP reached its zenith at 1.59, he has gradually regained control and lowered his WHIP each year. In 2001, he sported a 7-9 record, used primarily as a starter. In 2002, Sanches lowered his WHIP to 1.32 and his record improved to 10-6. That season he split time between starting and relieving. A 1.18 WHIP last season was by far the best of his career and accomplished primarily as a reliever who provided the occasional spot start.

In the same time frame his Strikeouts per nine innings have risen. In 2001, he was striking out an average of 6.38 per nine. That rose to 7.79 the next year, before leveling off at 7.70 last season.

"He only reasserted himself as a top minor league pitcher toward the end of 2002 and this season," said Choate. "Perhaps that success made him think he was a different kind of pitcher than he really needs to be. Who knows?"

The progress he has shown over the last year and a half has been promising. He may have found his niche as a reliever. His control has actually gotten better and it shows in his lowered walks/hits per inning pitched (WHIP). As a result his strikeout ratio has gotten better. The only concern is he was 1-5 on team that was over .500 for the season.

"Brian can probably pitch in the majors right now, although perhaps not that successfully."

In analyzing the trades for the Kansas City Royals, John Sickels says this trade might be the best of the bunch -- for the Royals.

"Not only is Sanches already 25 years old, but he took three seasons to succeed at Wichita."

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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