At just 20 years of age, Springfield's Eduardo Sanchez emerged to become the top relief pitcher in…
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (7): No other player rose through the ranks like Sanchez in 2009. Starting the year at Palm Beach, he translated a strong FSL debut into a promotion to Springfield. While in the Texas League, he took over as the team's closer and struck out batters at a rate of 10.08 K/9. Very impressive for a 20-year-old. When the St. Louis Cardinals were looking for help in the bullpen down the stretch, Sanchez' name was mentioned as a possibility to help bolster the pen.
Though slight of build at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, he possesses a fastball that sits at 95 mph and reaches 98. Plus, he has the makings of good command to go with his big time velocity. Also, Sanchez' slider is an above average pitch that gives him another strikeout pitch. Though so young, many in the organization believe he has the poise to handle late inning pressure situations. It is not out of the realm of possibilities to see the young Venezuelan in the big leagues before the end of 2010.
Message board community (8): Eduardo Sanchez makes the highest entry of any first-time ranked player (non 2009 draftee) onto this year's prospect list. Sanchez also developed as much as any player on the list. Rising from low A level Quad Cities at the end of 2008, by the end of 2009 he was at Double A Springfield and many thought he should be in Triple A or even the major leagues. As impressive as Sanchez's stats appear, they were even more impressive when you consider he got knocked around for six earned runs in his last 11 innings.
Sanchez isn't overpowering, but his ball supposedly has great movement and he seems solid in all areas with a 3:1 K:BB ratio, a 50% ground ball rate and below-average home runs allowed. One thing to be cautious of though – whether he has just been lucky or there is something about the way he pitches, Sanchez has had a BABIP well below league average every year at every level.
Sanchez should start the season in Triple A, which is an impressive feat for a 21-year-old. While there are many that expect Sanchez to finish the year in the St. Louis bullpen, I personally do not share that belief. I actually expect Sanchez to regress in 2010 as his BABIP comes back up to normal levels and due to what I believe was overuse in 2009. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (4): OK, here is where I step out of the line in terms of my prospect ranking versus the others. Take another look at the list of prospects to date and the ones you know are remaining to be unveiled and show me anyone who is as close to the majors with more upside than Sanchez. Other than Jaime Garcia perhaps, I don't see any. That is one reason why we named Sanchez our TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Reliever of the Year for 2009.
I had no qualms whatsoever about putting Sanchez ahead of Daryl Jones, David Freese, Allen Craig, Blake Hawksworth, etc. on my personal list. People keep asking for Jeff Luhnow's initiatives to deliver and I see Sanchez perched at the mouth of the pipeline. In other words, count me among those Carioca mentioned who expect Sanchez to make his St. Louis debut in 2010. I will be disappointed if he doesn't.
Sanchez totes upper 90's heat, a good slider and command to go with it. The only rap I have heard about him is his slight build. For those doubters, I offer Billy Wagner, listed today at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds and Mariano Rivera, 6-foot-2, 170, combined the owners of 911 career major league saves. What did they look like at age 20 and did it matter?
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