Name: Santis Sanchez
Height/Weight: 5’11’’, 190
How Acquired: Selected in the 5th round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Santis Sanchez has the arm strength and hands to be an above-average defensive catcher. Can he hit enough to be a two-way threat?
The Oakland A’s spent three of their first six picks on high school players in 2017. The last of those three picks was Sanchez, a catcher out of International Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. Sanchez was considered the top catching prospect coming out of the PR for the 2017 draft and one of the better defensive high school catching prospects.
A’s Scouting Director Eric Kubota likes Sanchez’s defensive potential.
“There is a long history of very good catchers coming out of Puerto Rico,” Kubota said right after the draft. “We see him fitting along that same vein. He is a big kid. He’s got a very, very strong arm. Well above-average in our evaluations. We think he has a feel for the bat with strength for power eventually.”
Sanchez made his pro debut with the AZL A’s, spending his entire pro debut season in Arizona. He got off to a slow start at the plate, collecting only four hits over his first 32 at-bats. Sanchez improved significantly during the final five weeks of the season, collecting 21 hits in 67 at-bats (.313 BA). His final line for his first pro season was .253/.306/.313.
Defensively, Sanchez went through some growing pains, as well. He was charged with five errors and nine passed balls in 208 innings and he caught only 19% of would-be base-stealers.
It isn’t uncommon for high school catchers to struggle a bit when adjusting to the speed of the pro game, and many of the successful stolen bases Sanchez allowed were more on the pitchers than a reflection of his throwing abilities.
Sanchez has well above-average arm strength and a quick release. He has good hands and quick feet, allowing him to move well behind the plate. At the plate, Sanchez has a big, aggressive swing that the A’s believe will produce power as he matures physically. Like most young hitters, he still needs to work on pitch recognition.
Although listed at 200 pounds, Sanchez came to pro ball significantly heavier than that. He firmed up some during his pro debut season, but conditioning will be an aspect of his game to watch as he matures.
A’s hitting coordinator Jim Eppard thought Sanchez was making strides both on the field and in the weightroom at fall Instructional League.
“He appears to be in better shape. He’s moving around better,” Eppard said. “Very aggressive in the box. He has a big arm. Like with any high school kid, he just needs more playing time. I know that the strength and conditioning people and the training staff got together with him and it seems like he is on his way. Now it is just a matter of continuing it.”
Sanchez turned 19 in late August. He is spending most of his off-season at home in Puerto Rico, where he is helping his family with their recovery from Hurricane Irma. Sanchez will likely spend the first half of next season at Extended Spring Training. If he has a strong stint at Extended, he should suit up for short-season Vermont during the second-half of the year.
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