Sanchez Steadily Improves For Nationals





VIERA, FLA. — Though infielder Adrian Sanchez's climb in the Nationals system has been more steady than speedy, he has enough of a wow factor to be viewed as one of their most intriguing prospects in the low minors.

"I saw him quite a bit last year in the Gulf Coast League," international scouting director Johnny DiPuglia said. "He stood out, played the game well. He knows how to play and has a pretty good tool set."

DiPuglia said the 20-year-old Sanchez simply needs to work on what most young minor leaguers still require. He could "slow the game down" more, and he'll get that chance in a full minor league season for the first time. This spring training in Viera, Fla., he's one of 43 players invited to the club's accelerated development camp for minor leaguers.

General manager Mike Rizzo and former scouting director Dana Brown signed the switch-hitting Sanchez on a 2007 trip to Venezuela that also netted catching prospect Sandy Leon. Rizzo was an assistant GM at the time.

Sanchez played two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and one in the Rookie-level GCL before starting last summer back in the Florida complex league. He then hit his way up to low Class A Hagerstown, where he had no trouble adjusting.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Sanchez hit .378/.395/.538 in 119 at-bats in the GCL and .317/.330/.356 in 104 at-bats in the South Atlantic League last year. He's a good situational hitter who has gap power.

Farm director Doug Harris said Sanchez "has nice hitting instincts and barrel control for a young player. He has soft, quick hands defensively."

Sanchez played second base, third base and shortstop in 2010. He's expected to play mostly second base this season.

"He plays a solid second base with good energy," DiPuglia said. "(Offensively,) I think he has the ability to center the baseball and put it in the middle of the field."

CAPITAL GAINS

• Most of the players on the accelerated roster were in their low-20s, but one exception was second baseman Matt Antonelli, who will play this season at age 26. Antonelli, a Padres first-round pick in 2006 out of Wake Forest, had 57 at-bats with San Diego in 2008. He only had one minor league at-bat last year because of surgery on a broken hamate bone and the removal of a cyst that had formed.

• First baseman Chris Marrero, added to the 40-man roster this offseason, had four hits including a double in his first seven at-bats in major league spring training.