A roster crunch in Tampa Bay has led to an opportunity with the Phillies for lefthander Cristopher Sanchez.
The prospect-rich Rays added five players to their 40-man roster in November but were unable to find room for the 23-year-old. He seemed to be a sure bet to go in the Rule 5 draft until the Phillies grabbed him in a trade on Nov. 20 and put him on their 40-man roster.
In order to pull off the deal for Sanchez, the Phillies parted ways with 19-year-old Australian third baseman Curtis Mead.
“We’re excited about him,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “Power stuff from the left side. Our scouts identified him early last season and stayed on him and really pounded the table for us to acquire him.”
Sanchez, who signed with the Rays for $65,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2013, has a reedy, 6-foot-5, 165-pound frame with a side-saddle delivery similar to that of David Price.
Sanchez spent most of his career pitching in Rookie ball before making his way to the Midwest and Florida State leagues in 2019. In 74.1 innings, he gave up just 56 hits, struck out 74 batters and finished with a 1.94 ERA.
“His stuff and his performance really spiked last year,” Klentak said. “He’s a good-looking power pitcher with the ability to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground.”
The most eye-catching part of Sanchez’s 2019 season was the jump in velocity. His fastball averaged 95 mph and touched 98. His changeup and slider are also solid pitches that are getting better, giving him the potential to have three average or better pitches as a starter.
The club will get a look at Sanchez in big league camp and will learn a lot more about him in the coming year. For now, the team is intrigued by his package and ceiling and views him as someone who could develop into a mid-rotation starter or high-leverage reliever.
Sanchez is expected to begin the season in the Double-A Reading rotation.