Sanchez Leans on Family for Fire

April 29, 2006 was a special day. When the flame-throwing righty started the game against the visiting Binghamton Mets, he had no idea that he'd end the night with a career-high 13 strikeouts. Sanchez held the opposition scoreless through seven innings, and recorded the win during the SeaWolves' 1-0 victory. The radar gun behind the centerfield wall consistently reached 97 miles per hour.

It was a pleasure of game to watch, especially for an Erie crowd that's had little to root for this season. But the great numbers weren't what made the game special for Humberto Sanchez. He was thinking about a few spectators in particular. "My mom was in the stands, and she brought my little nephew to the park. It was his first time at a baseball game…It was pretty emotional having my family there."

That's just the kind of guy Humberto is. No matter where he is or how well things are going, he keeps his priorities in order. And the number one thing on this man's list is, and always will be, family.

Despite moving to Bronx, New York at the age of ten, Sanchez remains very connected to the place he used to call home—the Dominican Republic. Much of his close family has since moved to America, but some, including an uncle and a few cousins, have remained. Sanchez believes that his Dominican background has had a lot to do with his success on and off the field.

The Dominican Republic has produced an incredible number of great ballplayers, including David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon. When asked how a small Caribbean nation about twice the size of New Hampshire could create so many household names, Sanchez provides a one-word answer: "Hunger."

Sanchez and other Dominican baseball prospects have a special desire that fuels their game. "It's a hunger to succeed. That's how we achieve the American dream. That's how we can get out better houses or nicer cars and watch our families grow." Individual achievements are important, but not for personal gain; they are steps towards improving the lives of families and loved ones.

Sanchez' uses this hungry mindset every time he steps out on the mound. His 6'6", 230 pound frame intimidates batters, and he always makes sure that he's the proactive antagonist of each at-bat. "I've been like that even since I came up…a guy who throws strikes, attacks the strike zone and gets people out."

Both his game and his appearance have led many scouts to compare him with fellow countryman Colon. Sanchez doesn't let himself get caught up in this statement—"I'm a little taller," he jokingly adds—and seems humbled by the concept of being measured up to a former Cy Young winner. It may seem like a little too much now, but not for long.

Humberto is currently the most stable member of a very promising SeaWolves rotation. He is among the league leaders in both strikeouts and innings pitched. In a very short time he has gone from an under-the-radar pitcher to a high-profile prospect, with an undeniable amount of raw talent that has scouts salivating.

Despite the definite possibility of great numbers in the near future, those aren't going to be the things that the family-man Sanchez looks back on when he is evaluating his career so far. "I just want to be a guy that the kids can look up to and say ‘This is a clean cut guy who goes about his business and takes care of his team and takes care of himself and respects the game.'"

Sanchez and his family are sure to have plenty to be happy about in the future, as the pitcher fights his way towards stardom.

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