|Cristopher Sanchez, image- MiLB.com|
The Phils sent infielder Curtis Mead to the Rays in a November trade in exchange for the promising native of the Dominican Republic.
Signed for a reported $65,000 by Tampa Bay in 2013 at age of 16, Sanchez would go on to make his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following year. In 13 outings that season, he notched a 7.77 ERA. The Rays would have him repeat the league twice. In 41 total appearances there, Sanchez collected an 8-7 record with a 4.15 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
In 2017 Sanchez split time between starting and relieving in the Rookie level Appalachian League. With Princeton, he sported a 1-6 record with a 10.01 ERA and a .353 batting average against.
The following year, he opened the year back in extended spring training and went the short-season route with Princeton once more. Pitching exclusively as a starter at this point, as a 21-year-old, Sanchez looked better, tallying a 3-2 record with a 4.60 ERA over 10 outings. The Rays would promote him to wrap up there season and he joined Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League. In two regular season starts, he went 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA. Overall that season, Sanchez collected a .302 BAA, a 7.8 K/9 mark and a 4.7 BB/9.
Last year, Sanchez played full-season ball for the first time. He opened the 2019 campaign with Class A Bowling Green, where he again split time as a reliever and a starter. In 11 games (four starts), he had a 3-1 record with two saves, a 2.01 ERA, a .190 batting average against and a 0.97 WHIP. He would earn a promotion to Class A Advanced Charlotte and posted a 1-0 record, a 1.85 ERA, a .231 batting average against, as well as a 1.21 WHIP in 12 appearances (six starts). He ended the season with an appearance at Triple-A Durham. Overall, in 24 games, Sanchez recorded an 8.7 K/9 mark and a 3.1 BB/9 mark.
His splits last season did not clearly favor one role over the other, as with Bowling Green he tallied a 0.83 ERA out of the bullpen and a 3.38 mark as a starter. Then with Charlotte his ERA was just about a full run better in the rotation (1.54 ERA as a starter, 2.53 ERA in relief).
Sanchez also played this off-season in the Dominican Winter League for the Toros. He made just five relief appearances, none of which came after he was acquired by the Phillies.
A valued talent, Sanchez was somewhat buried in a Rays farm system that is deep with promising arms. Tampa Bay feared Sanchez could be lost at the Winter Meetings' Rule 5 Draft, so trading him made more sense. The hurler with the lean six-foot-five frame quickly ranked among the top prospects for his new organization.
Opponents don't generally go deep off of Sanchez, as he's notched a 0.4 HR/9 mark in his minor league career to date.
He touts an exciting skill set highlighted by fastball velocity that steadily resides in the high 90's and features remarkable movement. He regularly clocked triple digits last summer as well. He also has a change up and a slider in his repertoire that he is looking to refine and get to a big-league-ready level.
A member of the Phils' 40-man roster, the 23-year-old will be in camp with the big league team in spring training this year, so he'll get plenty of opportunities to impress important team personnel. He'll have a chance to make the team, but it is more likely to see him get additional time at the Triple-A level with Lehigh Valley, to open the 2020 regular season.
It remains uncertain what role Sanchez will move forward with, but the Phils may want to see what he can do as a starter. If so, his path to the majors may be a bit longer than if he was pitching in relief.
You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect countdown by clicking this link.