Pirates prospect interview: Tony Sanchez

Catcher Tony Sanchez was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now 24 years old, he's still waiting to make his major-league debut. He batted a combined .251 at Double A Altoona and Triple A Indianapolis last season, with eight home runs and 43 RBI. Sanchez spoke with PiratesDugout.com recently.

PD – Looking back at last season, were you pleased with the way things went?

TS – I made a lot of strides in different aspects of my game. It took me a little while to adjust to the hitting level in triple A, but I did a lot of good work with my pitchers and defensively I felt really strong behind the plate. As far as getting a September call up which was one of my goals coming into last season, I obviously didn't reach that goal, so I was a little in that, which meant that I didn't accomplish all that I wanted to do. This year I really want to get off to a hot start in Indianapolis and see how quick I can make it to Pittsburgh.

PD – How important is that trust level between a pitcher and a catcher? You've worked with most of the power arms in the system, how important is that trust level?

TS – It's the most important aspect of my game. If those pitchers don't trust me they are going to be out of whack on the mound. That's one of things you come into spring training early to build on. Those guys – my pitchers to me are just as important if not more important to my career than I am and I pride myself in the relationship I have with my pitchers. I like to say that I work harder for them behind the plate than I do for myself at the plate.

PD – What's been the impact that Russell Martin has had on the catchers after the first few weeks of spring training?

TS – You know Russell has so much experience, him and McKenry, they know so much about the position and they are both grinders and they work so hard. They love to not cheer us on, but root for us to do better than we do. They are both great about that. They let us know about what they think about certain things that we're doing and what they do in certain situations. It's all knowledge and when those guys talk you listen.

PD – What do you see from guys like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole? Why are these two guys so special?

TS – It's about their mentality, they have a here's my best stuff see what you can do with it mentality, and they are not afraid to come after any hitters and the throw a lot of strikes, and they have plus, plus pitches. They have three pitches that they can throw for strikes that are a lot better than a lot of other guys. They know it and they don't act like they know it, but on the mound it's here I'm coming at you with my best stuff – good luck.

PD – Two of the top six players selected in the '09 draft have played in the major leagues: Stephen Strasburg with Washington and Dustin Ackley (Seattle), and overall six of the top 10 selections have made it. Are you dissapointed that you aren't there yet?

TS – Hungry is the perfect way to put it," I am not too disappointed. I would love to have had some time in the big leagues, but there is no point in looking back and dwelling on the past. I only want to look into the future. Most top-five picks are in the majors already (within four years), and obviously I have not made the big leagues so I am in the back half of those percentages. But I am still young. It's my own fault for not hitting.

PD – Is it tough trying to live up to expectations? And what are your expectations for this season?

TS – Whatever happens, happens. I just try and control what I can control. What I do in Triple A will determine how fast I make it up.

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