Friday, February 5, 2021

2021 Phillies Top Prospects Countdown: #18 LHP Cristopher Sanchez

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Sanchez, image- MLB.com

Acquired in an off-season trade last year, lefty pitching prospect Cristopher Sanchez looks to be a possible contributor for the big league team in the near future.

The Phils sent infielder Curtis Mead to the Rays in a November 2019 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.

In 2019 Sanchez played full-season ball for the first time.  He opened the 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 that year 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 played the following 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.  

Prior to the pandemic last year, Sanchez pitched in a pair of Phillies spring training games, allowing three earned runs over 1 1/3 innings while striking out three and uncorking two wild pitches.

This off-season, Sanchez appeared twice with the Toros with nothing noteworthy to mention.

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.  Sanchez, listed at six-foot-one 165-pounds, quickly ranked among the top prospects for his new organization.

Opponents do not 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.

Consistency is said to have been the difference maker that allowed Sanchez to up his game in 2019.  Repeating his delivery much more routinely, the result was more strikes.

A member of the Phils' 40-man roster, the 24-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.  Possibly a dark horse candidate, Sanchez could have a shot at making the big league roster this year.

You can keep tabs on this year's Phillies prospects countdown by clicking on this link.

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