The Atlanta Braves acquired Ricardo Sanchez in 2015 from the Angels by sending third baseman Kyle Kubitza and right-handed pitcher Nate Hyatt to the west coast. Sanchez was 18 at the time of the trade and is still only 19, and seems to be developing nicely.
For you literalists out there, I’m using the term “sleeper prospect” because I live in Rome, Georgia and nobody except Ben Poplin is talking about Ricardo Sanchez here. Touki and Riley get lots of love (and rightly so), while Sanchez gets very little attention across the board.
Ricardo is a young left-handed pitcher with promise. He is one of many young lefties with promise in the Atlanta Braves organization. There might not be another organization in baseball with an arsenal of left-handed pitching prospects that compares. I’ll take it.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything to write home about when it comes to Ricardo Sanchez and one can understand why many other pitching prospects are getting more attention than him. In rookie league ball, he posted an okay 3.49 ERA, and last year in Rome he posted a 5.45 ERA. This year, he’s sitting on a 5.27 ERA.
But if you’ve read my articles before, you know that I’m all about developing young talent and giving young guys the benefit of the doubt. And based on what I’ve seen with Sanchez, while his numbers aren’t there yet, the 19-year-0ld seems to be developing just fine.
The Venezuelan native has experienced highs and lows in his second season in the South Atlantic League. In four April starts, he posted a 2.84 ERA and a .194 opponents’ batting average but was 3-3 with a 9.45 ERA in June.
Since the All-Star break, Sanchez seems to be turning things around. It’s certainly a small sample size, but so is almost everything in minor league baseball. Sanchez is coming off two really promising starts.
After struggling for the most part since April, Sanchez went 7 innings and struck out 11 batters on July 1. It was his best outing yet and he gave up only one run on one hit. His 11 strikeouts was a career high for Sanchez.
Fast forward to Wednesday, July 6, and Sanchez threw for 5 innings giving up zero runs. Perhaps the most impressive part of his July 6 performance against the Greenville Drive was something that was not seen in the box score. Sanchez worked his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 3rd inning. This might not sound important, but for low-A 19-year-old pitchers, this is everything.
— Ben Poplin (@BenPoplin) July 6, 2016
Here’s the book on Ricardo Sanchez:
He’s got a three pitch mix – fastball (92-94), changeup (82-85) and a curveball (70-75). His fastball is solid, but might need more movement eventually. His changeup still needs work and looks a little too much like his fastball. His curveball has potential to be straight up nasty.
Here’s my synopsis of Sanchez:
He worked hard this off season, and showed up with a bang to start his 2016 campaign. Then he got banged up. Being that he’s still only 19 years old, it took some time, some coaching, and some confidence to get him back “in the game.” Which is what we’re seeing now.
Guys like Sanchez have the stuff, but they need to maintain that confidence to continue to progress. And I think Sanchez has it. I’m very excited to watch his progress and I believe that Ricardo Sanchez is much better than his career 5.69 ERA.
Sanchez is currently listed as the Braves #17 prospect, but based on what I’ve seen from him lately, look for him to move up by next season. In a farm system stacked with pitching talent, don’t sleep on Rome’s Ricardo Sanchez.
— enasti (@BravesOwner) July 6, 2016