- Full name Aníbal Alejandro Sánchez
- Born 02/27/1984 in Maracay, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 207 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School U.E. San Pedro Alesandrino
- Debut 06/25/2006
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Marlins tried to pry lefthander Jon Lester from the Red Sox in the Josh Beckett blockbuster, but Boston instead gave up Sanchez, a premium prospect in his own right. Since missing all of 2003 after having surgery to transpose a nerve in his elbow, he has dominated minor league hitters. He had an 88-90 mph fastball before his elbow operation, and now he sits at 93-95. Even with the life on his heater and his ability to command it, some scouts think his plus changeup is his best pitch. It has good cutting action, and he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. Sanchez' third pitch is his curveball, which is inconsistent and in need of tightening. He has a fluid delivery, though at times he'll fly open with his shoulder, which results in flatter stuff sitting higher in the strike zone. He has good control, mound presence and an understanding of how to get hitters out. In an ideal world, Sanchez would open 2006 in Triple-A, but Florida has a desperate need for starters and may be tempted to bring him to the big leagues.
Sanchez pitched well for two seasons in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League, then needed elbow surgery to transpose a nerve. After missing all of 2003, he came back in a huge way, leading the New York- Penn League in ERA and strikeouts and ranking as the circuit's top pitching prospect. Sanchez succeeded in Venezuela when he worked at 88-90 mph, and he dominated in 2004 when his velocity jumped to the mid- 90s. His fastball is also notable for its movement and his ability to command it to both sides of the plate. Sanchez has one of the system's better curveballs. His changeup shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch. With an electric arm and pitching savvy, Sanchez just needs more innings and continued good health. His curveball and changeup aren't totally reliable yet, but should improve as he gains more experience. He's not physically dominating, but he generates velocity with arm speed rather than extra effort. Sanchez will move to full-season ball for the first time in 2005, pitching at Boston's new low Class A Capital City affiliate. He might not need much more than two more seasons in the minors.
Minor League Top Prospects
Though Sanchez was one of the best rookie pitchers in the National League and threw a no-hitter against the Diamondbacks, it took him a while to get going in the Southern League. He was shut down for most of spring training with shoulder tendinitis, and didn't achieve consistent success until late May. After he dialed it in, Sanchez showed good command and control of four pitches, starting with a 91-95 mph fastball. He changes speeds well and gets good life on his heater, but scouts were even more impressed with his changeup. He locates it to either side of the plate with the same, easy arm action as his fastball. Sanchez' curveball has tight, downward spin and grades out as another above-average pitch. He tends to get around his slider at times, leaving it up in the zone as a result. The Marlins called Sanchez' delivery the cleanest among the stockpile of arms they acquired in the offseason, and it creates natural deception.
With a fastball that sits at 93 mph and a plus changeup, Sanchez edged Sowers as the top pitching prospect in the high Class A Carolina League before joining Portland. He allowed a total of three earned runs in his first five Double-A outings before tiring in the final month. He was limited to 60 pitches per outing late in the season. He maintains good arm speed to sell a nasty changeup with cutting action. He also features a curveball and a hard cutter that looks like a slider. He has an efficient delivery with a high three-quarters release point, though at times his front shoulder flies open, causing his stuff to flatten out. Sanchez possesses nice upside, and competed well as a 21-year-old in Double-A. He needs to sharpen his command, as he misses up in the zone at times, but he could develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter.
No pitcher dominated the CL the way Sanchez did. Armed with a lively 95-mph fastball and a plus changeup, he held opponents to a .187 average. Though he's not physically imposing, he generates his power with the sheer quickness of his arm. Sanchez fearlessly attacks hitters with an ultra-aggressive approach, but he's not just a thrower. He also shows advanced pitchability. His biggest need is to refine the command of his curveball, because several teams' approach against him was to look for the bender because they couldn't beat his heater or get good swings against his changeup.
No one knew quite what to expect this season from Sanchez, who had some success in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League in 2001-02 before being sidelined in 2003. Hitters never figured him out, as he easily led the league in ERA (1.77), strikeouts (101 in 76 innings) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.9). Sanchez relies heavily on his plus fastball, which sits in the mid 90s and has good life through the zone. He commands it to both sides of the plate exceptionally well for such an inexperienced pitcher. He'll need time to refine his secondary offerings, but his changeup is a plus pitch at times and his curveball can become one.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Southern League in 2006
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Carolina League in 2005
- Rated Best Fastball in the Carolina League in 2005