- Full name Humberto A. Sanchez
- Born 05/28/1983 in Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'6" / Wt.: 270 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Connors State Junior College
- Debut 09/18/2008
- Drafted in the 31st round (927th overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 2001 (signed for $1,000,000).
Organization Prospect Rankings
The most highly regarded prospect the Yankees got from the Tigers in the November 2006 Gary Sheffield trade, Sanchez joined their ranks of injured pitchers soon after being acquired. He had missed the end of 2006 with elbow inflammation and he came down with forearm tightness in spring training. Finally, in mid- April, Sanchez had Tommy John surgery. In the fall, he was sticking to his throwing program--even during his honeymoon. He was back to playing catch at the Yankees' Tampa complex in December and wasn't expected to get into game shape until mid-2008. Exactly what shape he's in will be crucial for Sanchez, who signed for $1 million as a draft-and-follow in 2002 but teased Detroit with premium stuff and a lack of durability. At his best he has has shown easy velocity, sitting in the low 90s and dialing up as high as 97. His slider was a plus pitch before he got hurt, and he had a passable changeup and curveball. His control was always erratic, as was his conditioning. He has reached as high as 40 pounds above his listed weight, and he never has pitched more than 123 innings in a minor league season. With New York's starting-pitching depth at the upper levels, Sanchez could be ticketed for a long-relief or setup role in the minors this year, both to see how he takes to relieving and to protect his arm.
The key player for the Yankees in their Gary Sheffield trade with the Tigers in November, Sanchez originally signed for $1 million as a draft-and- follow. Though he started the 2006 Futures Game for the World Team, Sanchez became expendable when Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya passed him and the Tigers also drafted Andrew Miller. He's the young power arm New York lacked in Triple-A, where its rotation was loaded with finesse righties in 2006. Sanchez' fastball sits at 90-94 mph and he can dial it up to 97. His hard slider is a plus pitch at times, when it features so much downward break that it looks like a splitter. He'll also mix in a curveball and has an adequate changeup. Sanchez could use more consistency with his secondary pitches, mechanics and command, but his biggest need is to stay healthy. He hasn't done a good job of staying in shape, and while he reported to spring training last year in the best condition of his career, he still couldn't push his career high past 123 innings. Sanchez had oblique and groin injuries in 2005, then came down with a tender elbow and missed the last month of the 2006 season. He has a shot at making the Yankees rotation out of spring training, though his lack of durability lessens the likelihood of him throwing 160-180 big league innings. If he starts the season in Triple-A, he still should surface in New York before the year is out.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Sanchez moved to New York City when he was 10. The Tigers drafted him out of a New York junior college in 2001, and he signed for $1 million as a draft-and-follow after facing better competition at Connors State (Okla.) JC. He missed the first two months of the 2005 season with muscle spasms and an oblique strain, as well as most of August with a groin injury, but he finished strong as one of the top starters in the Arizona Fall League. At his best, Sanchez has stuff just a shade behind Verlander's and Zumaya's. Sanchez' fastball often sits at 93-95 mph. His low-80s curveball is a plus pitch with excellent depth. He uses his size for power, to intimidate hitters and to keep his stuff down in the zone. Sanchez can get out of sync with his mechanics, which contributed to his early injury problems and to the fact that he was never quite right all year. He needs to keep himself in better shape and repeat his delivery more consistently. His changeup is just fair. If Sanchez puts it all together, his big fastball and power should make him a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. He also could be a factor in the Detroit bullpen fairly soon if needed. He'll return to the Double-A rotation to begin 2006.
Sanchez moved from the Dominican Republic to the Bronx when he was 10. Taken as a 31st-round draft-and-follow out of Rockland (N.Y.) CC in 2001, he garnered some first-round interest the following spring after transferring to Connors State (Okla.) JC. He signed before the 2002 draft for $1 million. Sanchez presents an imposing figure on the mound and has drawn comparisons to Roberto Hernandez. His fastball can overpower hitters at 92-95 mph with hard sink. His curveball shows flashes of already being an above-average strikeout pitch. Sanchez has spotty control and finds himself behind in the count too often. He needs to build confidence in his changeup. He spent last offseason working his way into shape at the Tigers' spring training complex. They were pleased with his progress, but he needs to keep an eye on his body and maintain his focus. After handling his first taste of Double-A well, he'll return to Erie. Sanchez has middle-of-the-rotation potential, but needs to show better feel to avoid going to the bullpen.
Sanchez had surgery to remove scar tissue from his arm as a freshman at Rockland (N.Y.) Community College in April 2001, but the Tigers took him anyway that year as a draft-and-follow in the 31st round. When he flashed first-round talent at Connors State the following spring, they signed him for $1 million. Sanchez reminds scouts of Roberto Hernandez because he has the same build and arm action. He can intimidate hitters with his fastball, which sits at 92-93 mph and has plus-plus heavy sink. His curveball is improving and is an above-average pitch at times. Sanchez didn't dominate as expected last season because his mechanics kept going awry. When that happens, he can't command his pitches. Because he's not athletic, he has trouble repeating his delivery. Sanchez has yet to develop an effective changeup, so his future may be in relief. He remains a long-term project and will begin 2004 in high Class A.
A high school star in the Bronx, Sanchez attended Rockland (N.Y.) Community College and had surgery to remove scar tissue from his elbow two months before the 2001 draft. Undeterred, the Tigers selected him and monitored him as a draft-and-follow. After he transferred to Connors State, he blossomed into a possible first-round pick before Detroit signed him for a $1 million bonus. He pitched well at short-season Oneonta despite spending two stints on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain and right biceps strain. Sanchez, who resembles Jose Mesa, usually works in the low 90s with his fastball and touches 95. Besides velocity, his fastball also has good sink. He throws both a curveball and slider, and both are solid pitches. His changeup is excellent at times, though it's inconsistent. Sanchez carries a lot of weight on his frame and there are some concerns about his conditioning. While he shows four quality pitches at times, he needs to command them better. He's expected to begin 2003 in low Class A and will be promoted quickly if he shows early progress.
Minor League Top Prospects
Sanchez again showed the power stuff to excite observers and hint at his potential, but he also reinforced durability concerns when he lost the final month of the season to elbow tenderness. Following oblique and groin injuries in 2005, he bounced back by being practically unhittable with Double-A Erie and dominating in the Futures Game, but he had his three worst outings of the year with Toledo before being shelved. He might lack the command and consistent mechanics to hold up as a starter Sanchez pitches at 92-93 mph with his fastball, and can reach back for a bit more when he gets in trouble. He has two breaking balls, the better of which is usually a hard slider that breaks down and often gets mistaken for a splitter. He began throwing his changeup more with the Mud Hens, but it remained just a usable pitch. "He was really good and I love his stuff. It's electric and comes out of his hand good," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "He's physically imposing and tries to intimidate the batters. And I bet he does."
Sanchez received support for this list a year ago, but he missed the cut because of inconsistent performance and a myriad of injuries that limited him to just 15 appearances. He was dynamite in 2006 when he opened the year healthy, and allowing two earned runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts before climbing to Triple-A. The World team starter in the Futures Game, Sanchez has a power arm and a physical 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame. His fastball sits near 94 mph and he holds his velocity deep into games. His secondary stuff is inconsistent, but at times he'll show a well above-average hard slider. Sanchez needs to improve his mental approach and clean up his mechanics. He could become a middle-of-the-rotation starter or a closer if he maintains his health, which became an issue again when he missed the final month with a tender elbow.