JONATHAN SANCHEZ
LEFT HANDED PITCHER
  Born: November 19, 1982
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 27th round, 820th overall, 2004 (Giants)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
College: Ohio Dominican University
Agent: Tom O’Connell

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Sanchez is a lefty with good stuff who’s had very high K rates through most of his career, but who’s also struggled with control problems.  Until the last couple years, his fastball generally averaged about 90-92, peaking at 95-96.  His best weapon has been a changeup and he also throws a slider.  He’s a flyball pitcher who’s had mild gopher ball problems at times.  Given his control issues, he generally has not gone very deep into his starts.  Despite the changeup, he has a platoon split for his career, allowing a .758 OPS to right-handed batters and .664 to left-handed batters.  He’s had nagging injury problems, particularly biceps tendinitis in recent years.  The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract for 2013 with an invitation to spring training.

2004
R:  5-0-1, 2.77 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 26.0 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
A-:  2-1-0, 4.84 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 7.7 BB/9, 13.7 K/9

In his debut, Sanchez dominated in rookie ball but struggled badly with his control in six starts in the short season Northwest League.  Still, he showed the quality of his stuff by allowing only 16 hits while fanning 34 in 22.1 IP.

2005
A:  5-7-0, 4.08 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 125.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 11.9 K/9

Sanchez pitched better than his ERA indicates in his full season debut.  He led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 166, edging out former Pirate Kevin Hart.  After the season, Baseball America rated Sanchez the Giants’ sixth best prospect.

2006
AA:  2-1-2, 1.15 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 12.1 K/9
AAA:  2-2-0, 3.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 23.2 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 10.6 K/9
MLB:  3-1-0, 4.95 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 5.2 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

The Giants jumped Sanchez up to AA and, due to needs at the major league level, moved him to relief after a few starts.  They brought him up to the majors at the end of May and he pitched for two months in relief, posting a 1.37 ERA.  He went down to AAA for six starts in August, then returned to the majors and joined the Giants’ rotation.  He struggled as a starter, posting a 7.36 ERA in four starts.

2007
A+:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 3.0 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 15.0 K/9
AAA:  0-0-0, 2.18 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 20.2 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 11.8 K/9
MLB:  1-5-0, 5.88 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 52.0 IP, 4.8 BB/9, 10.7 K/9

Sanchez opened the season in the Giants’ bullpen, but they sent him to the minors in mid-May, at which point he had a 5.52 ERA.  He came back up in early June due to an injury and pitched much better until a strained rib cage muscle put him on the disabled list in late June.  He returned in mid-July and mostly got bombed over seven appearances.  The Giants sent him back to the minors in August, but he returned in September to make four mostly poor starts.

2008

MLB:  9-12-0, 5.01 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 158.0 IP, 4.3 BB/9, 8.9 K/9

Sanchez spent the season in the Giants’ rotation.  He seemed to wear out in the second half of the season.  He had an ERA of 3.79 at the end of June, but struggled until he went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain in mid-August.  He returned at the beginning of September, but got bombed in his last two starts, resulting in the final 5.01 ERA.

2009
MLB:  8-12-0, 4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 163.1 IP, 4.8 BB/9, 9.8 K/9

Sanchez made strides, holding batters to a .221 average, although the control issues continued.  He no-hit the Padres in July, with the only runner reaching on an error.

2010
MLB: 13-9-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 193.1 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9

Despite leading the NL in walks, Sanchez had his best season, holding hitters to a .204 average and .650 OPS.  He made a career-high 33 starts and pitched very well in September.

2011
A+:  0-0-0, 20.25 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 2.2 IP, 6.8 BB/9, 10.1 K/9
AAA:  1-0-0, 3.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.6 K/9
MLB:  4-7-0, 4.26 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 101.1 IP, 5.9 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Sanchez pitched well early in the season; he had a 2.73 ERA in six April starts.  He struggled increasingly with his control, though, and finally went out in late June with biceps tendinitis.  He returned to the Giants for three poor starts in August and missed all of September.  On the season his fastball velocity was down just a hair below 90.  The Giants traded him to the Royals for Melky Cabrera after the season.

2012
AAA (KC):  1-1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4.7 BB/9, 8.8 K/9
MLB (KC):  1-6-0, 7.76 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 7.4 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
MLB (Colo):  0-3-0, 9.53 ERA, 2.29 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 7.1 BB/9, 7.1 K/9

Sanchez had a disastrous season.  His time with the Royals included missing about a month starting in early May with biceps tendinitis.  The Royals finally traded him to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie in July.  He made three awful starts with Colorado, then went out in early August with the same injury and did not return.  His fastball velocity for the year was down to an average of just 89, so it seems doubtful he was healthy most of the time. He became a free agent after the season.

Sanchez figured to be a low-risk signing with some upside.  He went into spring training seemingly a long shot for a rotation spot.  After struggling to throw strikes his first couple times out, he pitched mostly well and won a job as the fourth starter, partly due to an injury to Jeff Karstens.

UPDATE:  Sanchez struggled badly through four starts and one relief appearance.  The Pirates designated him for assignment at the end of April.  He’ll probably clear waivers, but it’s hard to say whether he’ll declare free agency at that point.  He may not, as he’d be giving up what remains of his guaranteed salary.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2007: $381,000
2008: $395,000
2009: $455,000
2010: $2,100,000
2011: $4,800,000
2012: $5,600,000
2013: $1,375,000

  • Up to $750,000 in bonuses based on innings
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2004
MLB Debut: 5/28/2006
MiLB FA Eligible: 2013
MLB FA Eligible: 2013
Rule 5 Eligible: 2013
Added to 40-Man: 11/18/04
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 6.071
TRANSACTIONS
June 8, 2004: Drafted in the 27th round, 820th overall pick, by the San Francisco Giants; signed on June 16.
November 14, 2003: Contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants.
November 7, 2011:
Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Ryan Verdugo to the Kansas City Royals for Melky Cabrera.
July 20, 2012: Traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie.
October 29, 2012: Became a free agent.
February 6, 2013: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
March 27, 2013: Added to 40-man roster by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
April 30, 2013: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.