Humberto Sanchez – Detroit Tigers
Position: Starting Pitcher Height: 6-6 Weight: 230 Born: 5/28/83 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Taken in the 31st round of the 2001 draft, Sanchez was the classic draft and follow candidate. After a solid 2001 season with Rockland Community College, Sanchez underwent surgery to remove scar tissue from his right arm, causing many teams to shy away from the talented youngster. After transferring to Connors State for the 2002 season, Humberto displayed outstanding skills, including a 92-93 mph fastball with outstanding sink, and was projected to be taken in the first round of the upcoming draft. Smartly, the Tigers didn't let that happen, offering him a $1 million dollar bonus to sign with the organization.
Scouts love Sanchez' intimidating fastball and the incredible sinking action he is able to generate with it. In combination with his overpowering fastball, Humberto flashes an above-average curveball and a passable change-up. His curveball is inconsistent at best, but he has shown progress with the pitch during his three years in the system. Unfortunately, Sanchez' change-up has not progressed with the same success as his curveball, but the makings of a solid major league pitch can be seen. With his large frame and defining arm action, Sanchez often reminds scouts of Roberto Hernandez. Much like Hernandez early in his career, Humberto struggles to repeat his mechanics, leading to spotty control, and high walk totals. In his first two seasons as a professional, Sanchez had walked almost as many batters as he had struck out, but so far in 2004, that trend has begun to improve. Sanchez has improved his strike out rate while lowering his walk rate, and these changes have resulted in an overall improvement that is very encouraging to the Tiger brass.
Aside from his minor surgery following his freshman year at Rockland Community College, Sanchez has remained the modicum of good health. His innings totals have been low to this point, and the organization continues to keep a watchful eye on him. Nothing is certain with regards to the health of young pitchers, but so far Sanchez appears to be holding up well.
Sanchez started 2004 with High A Lakeland, where some of his numbers are bit deceiving. His high ERA was a result of a few particularly bad outings, after which he recovered nicely. The Tigers promoted Sanchez to Double-A Erie in August to help fill the voids in the Seawolves rotation. In two starts at AA, the 21-year old has been dominant, walking six and striking out 15, in only 12 innings. Sanchez will likely begin the 2005 season back in Erie looking to hone his control and refine his mechanics. With some consistency and continued good health, Humberto has the makings of a solid number two or three starter down the road. Each and every good start solidifies his status as one of the Tigers better pitching prospects, and just one of many in the systems stable of young arms.