Thursday, June 15, 2006

Just how good is Humberto Sanchez?

Humberto Sanchez has been on a tear for a while and has reached the point where he is now the best pitching prospect for the Tigers. He has always had this type of potential but injuries and inconsistencies have caused him to have several subpar years for the Tigers since being one of their only premier draft and follow signees in a long time.

So now the question that Tigers fans and fans of minor leaguers in general is just how good is this guy and how good can he be?

Sanchez features a sinker that ranges from 92-94 with extreme bite that creates a lot of ground balls as well as swings and misses. His offspeed repetoire includes a good but inconsistent curve ball and an improving change up.

All of that had scouts drooling but Sanchez as his minor league numbers show struggled with control and that bit him with high numbers all around.

Before this season his minor league numbers were:

4.73 ERA 331.0 ip 321 h 203 r 174 era 24 HR 183 BB 317 K 29 WP 4.98 BB9 8.62 K9 1.52 WHIP

Yet with all of those issues the potential is even seen in these numbers. A high K9, fewer hits given up than innings pitched, and a sinker that did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the yard. Lack of control really killed him and this was likely caused by a delivery that he was unable to repeat.

This season Sanchez has had the breakout year that everyone has been waiting on. His potential has come to fruitition dominating the Arizona Fall League and dominating in his return to the AA Eastern League. He has had two starts in AAA and has kept up his blazing stuff blowing away International hitters. He is now knocking on the door of the big club.

AA Erie:

1.76 ERA 71.2 ip 47 h 17 R 14 ER 2 HR 27 bb 86 K

AAA Toledo:

0.71 ERA 12.2 IP 9 H 1 R 1 ER 0 HR 3 BB 12 K

As is visable from these numbers Humberto has continued to keep the ball in the yard BUT has thrown more strikes and has in turn dominated hitters. That improved control has also lowered the rate of hits given up. Likely due to the fact that he has been in great pitchers counts this season. Sanchez is now sitting at a 10.58 K/9ip with a 3.24 BB/9ip between AA and AAA. That is a good sign of things to come as K/BB is often a great indicator of future success.

So what does the future hold for Sanchez? The sky is really the limit. With his stuff and with him seemingly figuring it all out this season he could become an anchor on a pitching staff in the majors. Sanchez could also become a dominating bullpen arm, at this point though it seems he should get every shot at starting. There is a chance that Sanchez will be used as trade bait to help push the current club over the top. Part of me doubts that move given the fact that Dombrowski and the Tigers love power arms and Sanchez certainly fits the bill since a 92-94 mph sinker is almost unfair.


Eddie B said...

There were always signs that he was going to break out, but it is finally good to see him doing so. My hunch is that he is being groomed for Maroth's spot, while Miner is being dangled to acquire the final bat. Upon Maroth's return, Humberto gets moved into the bullpen, where he can keep his innings down in September, and maybe even contribute if there are games in October.

The Tigers really had some luck with high school pitchers gaining value after being drafted in the early part of this decade, with Zumaya and Sanchez. With all the hype that surrounds him, it's hard to realize that Humberto was once just a 31st round DFE.

Lee Panas said...

Good story. He's been one of the best stories in the system this year. It would be great if he could help the Tigers as early as this year.

Mark said...

Like you said Eddie, I think that we should expect to see Sanchez at some point this season and he will end up in the bullpen when it's all said and done. If he can produce anything near what Zoom has done this season I'll be happy.

On a side note, have the Tigers ever had a pretty dominant sinker-ball pitcher?

Anonymous said...

Would Humberto's repertoire compare favorably to Brandon Webb?

Anonymous said...