Pirates Select Tony Sanchez

Two years after passing on catcher Matt Wieters in the draft the Pirates selected a catcher with the fourth pick in the 2009 Major League baseball amateur draft.

The Bucs tabbed Boston College backstop Tony Sanchez. He was rated by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and ESPN as the top college catcher available in the draft, as well as being the best overall defensive catcher and having the best throwing arm of any college catcher. Sanchez is one of the three finalists for the 2009 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher (winner will be announced on June 26) and was tabbed as one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the nation's premier amateur baseball player.

"We are very pleased to add a player with the tools, skills and intangibles of Tony Sanchez to our organization," said Pirates Director of Scouting Greg Smith. "Tony is the best catcher in the draft. He has an above average defensive package, a potential solid offensive package and displays the character and leadership abilities of a championship player."

In 58 games as a junior with Boston College this season, Sanchez, 21, led the team in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.614), on-base percentage (.443), home runs (tied with 14) and runs scored (63), a single-season school record. He also ranked second on the team in doubles (19) and third in RBI (51). Defensively, he threw out the most would be base stealers in the Atlantic Coast Conference (19), while becoming the first player in Boston College history to be voted on to the All-ACC first team.

"With the selection of Sanchez, we add a young man with a combination of present abilities, potential upside and personal traits that is matched by few in the draft," said Bucs General Manager Neal Huntington. "He is an advanced player at a premium position and was the highest rated player on our board when it came time for the Pirates to make their selection."

Sanchez was one of the most productive hitters in Boston College history as the 6'1", 220-pounder batted .317 in 161 career games. He ranks fifth all-time at Boston College with 24 home runs and 124 RBI, sixth with 202 hits and eighth with 125 runs.

Sanchez was thrilled to be selected so high in the draft.

"That's unbelievable," Sanchez said. "What an honor to be picked by the Pirates. We were just sitting around and I could barely breathe watching TV I was so nervous. It's an unbelievable feeling for my family and for me and for everybody involved – my teammates and my coaches. I'm so fortunate to be picked at that spot and I'm excited to get out there and start playing."

Sanchez also played in the prestigious, wooden bat Cape Cod Baseball League in 2008 for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and led the team with a .326 batting average in 34 games. He was named as the starting catcher in the 2008 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game and was a member of the All-League team.

Before enrolling at Boston College, Sanchez was a catcher for three years at Killian High School in Miami, FL, where he graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. He was a three time All-Dade County selection, served as the team captain in 2005 and 2006 and led the team in every offensive category as a senior in 2006.

Sanchez indicated that he hopes to sign quickly and get his professional career started.

"That's one of my biggest strengths right now that I want to get out there and I want to start playing as soon as I can," Sanchez explained. "That's my strategy and what I want to do. The quicker that I get out there and start getting experience with my coaches and the pitcher – the quicker that I get out there the better."

Huntington indicated that if Sanchez signs quickly he probably will be assigned to the Class A West Virginia Power.

Here is a look at the Pirates picks in the first three rounds of the draft:

Compensation Round A, Pick 49 overall

Victor Black, RHP, Dallas Baptist Univ., 6-4, 204 — Black's fastball stays in the mid-90s, and he has improving mechanics and command. He has a durable frame, and can develop an effective changeup to complement his velocity.

Round 2, Pick 53 overall

Brooks Pounders, RHP, Temecula (Calif.) Valley HS, 6-5, 225 — Another right-hander with an imposing frame, Pounders' fastball tops out at 92. Velocity, and a useful changeup and curveball, could develop down the road.

Round 3, Pick 84 overall

Evan Chambers, CF, Hillsborough CC (Tampa) 5-11, 210 — Good defender with speed and potential for above-average power. Great personal character, as well.


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