JFtC continues our Toronto Blue Jays On the Fringe of 40 series. This time, we profile catcher, Tony Sanchez
The Blue Jays are playing hard these days, and it seems like fickle umpires are getting in the way. The Canada Day game at the Rogers Centre was one of the longest in franchise history but that’s not really where the news came. The news was how many players were tossed by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, who not only tossed Edwin Encarnacion and John Gibbons in the first inning, but ended up tossing Russell Martin as well. Josh Thole had to jump in to finish the game, but as the only back up catcher for the Blue Jays, maybe it’s time to look at a catcher in waiting…Tony Sanchez.
The @BlueJays have signed C Tony Sanchez to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League spring training.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 19, 2016
While Sanchez isn’t posting career high numbers, he has been playing well for the Buffalo Bisons and seems to be on a steady, if slow, climb. His numbers posted so far are, in 34 games, 23 hits, five doubles, three home runs, and 10 RBI. His batting average is posted at .204.
Interesting when compared to current Blue Jay back up catcher Josh Thole. Thole’s numbers, in 30 games, are nine hits, one RBI, with a batting average of .127. With the ejection of Russell Martin from the game this past Canada Day (or in the event of an injury), the need for another catcher the Blue Jays can call on is important. As great as Ryan Goins did as a reliever, it’s not optimal to have players go all over the place. Position depth has to be in place.
Tony Sanchez does have a successful pedigree. He was a top hitter at Boston College, ranking fifth all-time in home runs (24) and RBIs (124). In 2009 he managed to throw out nineteen base runners and was the first player from Boston College to be voted to the All-ACC First Team. In 2009, Sanchez was the No.4 overall draft pick with Pittsburg and there were high hopes. Hopes that didn’t seem to come to fruition. Still climbing upwards, Sanchez was named Triple A All-Star MVP in 2014.
Sanchez had his first MLB hit with the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 23, 2013. It was a double off of RHP Joe Blanton. Hilariously, it stuck in the scoreboard and had to be retrieved after the Pirates’ at bat was done.
Sanchez has his plan of attack when catching, and he spoke about this to Amy Moritz of The Buffalo News. When discussing the problems with the use of a pitch clock, he said you’ve got to “know who’s on deck, who’s hitting, his strengths and weaknesses, how I want to attack him. Then I’ve got to look in to get my sign if there’s a runner on base. Then I’ve got to give my pitch to the pitcher on the mound. He’s got to want to throw that pitch. If he doesn’t I’ve got to go through a whole ’nother set of signs.”
Knowing your batters, their strengths and weaknesses is imperative, being quick and accurate with stealing runners is as well. If Sanchez can truly store this information, increase his numbers to where they had been projected to go, and work in a quick and accurate manner, that will only help the Blue Jays at this point. Let’s face it, some of the Blue Jays success stories have been players that have been on a steady build.
Though Sanchez does not have the numbers to be a MLB starting catcher, in a long season with so many games and potential injuries – and now ejections- to consider, having a solid call up is becoming increasingly important. Russell Martin aside, what happens behind plate in Martin’s absence needs to be addressed. Tony Sanchez is just on the fringe…can he catch a knuckleball??
*Featured Image Credit: Dave Nelson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.