Jorge Anthony Sanchez Jr.
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 215 lb.
- School Boston College
- High School Miami Killian High School
- Debut June 23, 2013
- Final Game September 2, 2017
- Born May 20, 1988 in Miami, FL USA
Tony Sanchez was the #4 pick in the 2009 amateur draft.
Sanchez was not heavily recruited out of high school due to weight issues, but he would cut 35 pounds from his frame in college. As a freshman at Boston College, he batted .318/.402/.425 and threw out 38.3% of attempted base thieves. In 2008, the sophomore was his school's offensive leader, batting .313/.394/.517. During 2009, Tony hit .346/.443/.614 and threw ouf 19 of 49 would-be base-stealers (leading the conference in runners thrown out). He set a school record with 63 runs. He was named third-team All-American by Louisville Slugger and became the first Boston College player to make the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team. He finished college 5th all-time on the Boston College home run list with 24.
Sanchez was originally ranked as a late first-round/early second-round pick for the 2009 amateur draft but his stock rose right before draft day and he went 4th overall, to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the highest a Boston College player had ever been picked; Chris Lambert (#19, 2004) had held the record previously. The choice was viewed by some as a signability pick; with only a couple of top prospects in the draft and a weak crop thereafter (according to analysts), there was seen to be little range in talent between #4 and #20, for instance, leading a cash-strapped team to pick someone easier to sign.
Sanchez was signed by scout Chris Kline for $2.5 million and made his pro debut on June 21st with the State College Spikes, going 1 for 2 and driving in the winning run. Tony hit .308/.357/.385 in four games for the Spikes then .316/.415/.561 with 46 RBI in 41 games for the West Virginia Power and finally was 2 for 10 with a walk and two doubles for the Lynchburg Hillcats to conclude his first pro season. Baseball America rated him the #12 prospect in the South Atlantic League, right behind teammate Rudy Owens.
Tony started 2010 well offensively with the Bradenton Marauders at .314/.416/.454 after 59 games but only threw out 9 of 61 attempted base-stealers and had eight errors. He made the US team for the 2010 Futures Game but was beaned by a Jeurys Familia fastball shortly thereafter, breaking his jaw. After surgery, he missed the remainder of the season. Hank Conger replaced him on the US roster for the Futures Game. In 2011, he was promoted to the AA Altoona Curve, where he played 118 games. he hit .241/.340/.318, but did have 58 assists while playing full-time at catcher. Even though Pittsburgh was plagued by injuries to their catchers (Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder most notably), Sanchez was not called up, let alone promoted to AAA, given his troubles with AA pitching. He got into a bit of trouble after the season, as newspapers reported in late January of 2012 that he had suffered a broken jaw in a barroom scuffle while participating in the Florida Instructional League the previous October. The injury had healed in time for spring training, where he was a non-roster invitee at the Pirates' big league camp.
He was unimpressive in his AAA debut, hitting .233/.316/.408 for the 2012 Indianapolis Indians. Much like Pittsburgh's prior catcher taken in the first round, Neil Walker, he did better with more exposure to AAA pitching, starting 2013 with a .306/.389/.563 line with 20 doubles and 9 home runs after 55 games.
Sanchez was called up to the major leagues by the Pirates in late June of 2013 to give Pittsburgh an extra bat for some interleague games when they would be using a DH. In a corresponding move, they sent down fellow rookie Brandon Cumpton, who had made two starts while some starting pitchers were out. He got the start in place of regular catcher Russell Martin on June 23rd against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He went 1 for 3, his first major league hit being a ground rule double to right off Joe Blanton in his first career at-bat. He only played two games for Pittsburgh, going 2 for 8, before being sent back to AAA. He was the star of the 2013 AAA All-Star Game when he hit a three-run homer off Jarred Cosart in the 2nd inning in the International League's 4-3 win over the Pacific Coast League. When Michael McKenry went down for the year, he was back in the majors to stay as Martin's backup. His playing time fell somewhat when Pittsburgh traded for John Buck, though Sanchez was Francisco Liriano's personal catcher for the last couple of times. For the season, he hit .288/.368/.504 in 76 games for Indianapolis, .233/.288/.400 in 22 games for the Pirates and .176/.176/.235 in 4 games for Altoona (on a technicality late in the year; he was sent down to the Curve in late August because their season would end in time for him to be a September call-up, while Indianapolis was going to the playoffs, which would delay his return to Pittsburgh). His first homer in the majors was a solo shot off Tim Lincecum. He was Pittsburgh's third catcher on the roster for the 2013 NL Wild Card Game when they needed fewer pitchers but was removed before the NLDS; he had not played in the Wild Card game.
The Pirates acquired veteran back-up catcher Chris Stewart in a trade before the 2014 season, a move that seemed to guarantee that Sanchez would return to the minor leagues, at least to start the season. However, Stewart required a knee operation before the end of spring training, opening a job at the major league level for Tony. He was the hero of the Pirates' second win of the season, a 16-inning duel with the Chicago Cubs on April 2nd that took a team record 5:55 to complete; he was called in as a pinch-hitter for P Stolmy Pimentel and drove in Jose Tabata from third base with a single off Carlos Villanueva to end the drawn-out affair. He was sent down to AAA on April 20th when Stewart came off the DL, having hit .333 in 18 big league at-bats. His stay in AAA did not last long however, as he was back in Pittsburgh on April 26th when starting catcher Russell Martin went on the disabled list. He played 26 games in the majors that season, hitting .267 with 2 homers and 13 RBIs. With Indianapolis, he hit .235 in 81 games, with 3 homers and 47 RBIs. he then spent most of 2015 back at Indianapolis, where he hit .236 in 94 games. He played only 3 games for Pittsburgh, going 3 for 8.
In 2016, Tony signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays, but after only playing in the minors, was released on July 28th and signed by the San Francisco Giants a week later. He hit .201 in 45 games for the Buffalo Bisons and .200 in 16 games for the Sacramento RiverCats, further damaging his prospects of ever being considered for a major league job again. In 2017, however, he hit better than he had in years after signing a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Playing for the Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League, he hit .272/.355/.374 in 70 games, with 4 homers and 40 RBIs. On August 31st, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in return for veteran 2B Tony Phillips.
Sources include Boston College bio