Today the Milwaukee Brewers announced the newest member to the 40-man roster, 24 year-old reliever Jesus Sanchez.
The move was made today in accordance with the official severing of ties with veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez and catcher Yorvit Torrealba who were both expected to refuse their outright assignments to Triple-A Nashville.
Jesus Sanchez has spent six years in the minor leagues, where he converted to the mound after starting out as a catcher. Sanchez was ne of the most effective members of the bullpen in Huntsville during the 2012 season and the Brewers are hoping to see that continue in Milwaukee.
Jesus Sanchez is the newest member of the Brewers’ 40-man roster. Could he be the answer in the bullpen? (photo from milb.com)
Jesus Sanchez was drafted in 2004 by the New York Yankees, and spent only about a year and a half in their system before being packaged in a deal that brought Bobby Abreu and Corey Lidle from Philadelphia in 2006. He stayed with Philadelphia until 2010, when the Phillies released him to the open market. A month later, the Brewers brought him into their system.
In his first year with the Hunstville Stars, the organization had plans for him as a starter. He pitched 99 innings over 14 starts and 30 total appearances, earning a record of 4-7 and striking out 66. He would also get his first career save after switching to the bullpen and ended 2011 with a 4.91 ERA.
In 2012, Sanchez turned things around in a big way.
He began the year again with Hunstville, but this time as a permanent reliever and, for all intents and purposes, the designated closer. Jesus Sanchez pitched 45 and 1/3 innings over 32 relief appearances, earning 11 saves and fanning 41 opposing batters. Teams facing Sanchez hit only .213 against him, and he brought his ERA down in 2012 to 1.59. That was far more than enough to gain him Southern League Mid-Season All-Star honors.
But he wouldn’t stay on with Huntsville for long – mid-way through the season Sanchez was promoted to Milwaukee’s Triple-A club, the Nashville Sounds. What did Sanchez do there? Just pitch in 20 relief appearances, earn a 4-1 record, collect 23 strikeouts in 26 innings and finish the year with a 1.71 ERA. It’s safe to stay he won’t be staying in Nashville for long with numbers like that.
It’s also safe to assume that Jesus Sanchez was never meant to be a catcher.
Sanchez has a fastball that tops off at around 93 but comes with excellent command – in fact his control of all of his pitches is what has surprised scouts the most from the converted backstop. He also possess an above-average change up and word is that his slider has shown consistent improvement since he began pitching. He has the stamina, certainly, to give a starting chance down the road but has shown to be much more beneficial as a workhorse and innings-eater out of the ‘pen.
Jesus Sanchez is the 37th man on the 40-man roster in Milwaukee as of today, and will likely start out the regular season in Nashville. But with reports out of Milwaukee saying that the team is looking for a significant retooling of the bullpen, an early move to Sanchez into the relief corps on a Major League level is not out of the question.
The real question is whether or not Sanchez can put up those startling numbers when he faces Major League batters.