Lefty pitcher Cristopher Sanchez looks to be a possible contributor for the Phillies 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 Dominican Republic native.
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 appearances that season, he notched a 7.77 ERA. The Rays would have him repeat the league twice. In 41 total appearances there, Sanchez tallied 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 posted some dismal numbers, with a 1-6 record with a 10.01 ERA and a .353 batting average against.
In 2018, 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 that point, as a 21-year-old, Sanchez looked much improved, sporting a 3-2 record with a 4.60 ERA over 10 outings. The Rays would promote him to wrap up the 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 along with 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 COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 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.
The following off-season, Sanchez appeared twice with the Toros with no noteworthy statistics to mention.
In 2021, he pitched with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As a member of the IronPigs, Sanchez posted a 5-6 record with 4.68 ERA, a .211 batting average against as well as an 11.0 K/9 mark in 19 games (17 as a starter).
He was called up to the majors and optioned back and forth as was needed throughout the season as well. Overall, in seven games (one as a starter), Sanchez notched a 1-0 record with a 4.97 ERA and he struck out 13 batters in 12 2/3 innings of work.
A valued talent, Sanchez was somewhat buried in a Rays farm system that was deep with well touted 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.
He touts an exciting skill set highlighted by fastball velocity that resides in the mid-to-high 90's and features movement. He also has a change up and a slider in his repertoire that he has improved on each year.
Consistency has been a key for Sanchez in making improvements. Repeating his delivery much more routinely, the result was, of course, more strikes. The Phillies' needs may determine which role Sanchez fills going forward.
Sanchez is on the Phillies' 40-man roster and is getting work in Spring Training with the big league team. It is possible he could open the regular season with the Phillies. If there isn't room for him there when camp breaks, he would be assigned to Triple-A once more where he'll stay ready for the first opening back in the majors.
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