Jesus Sanchez struck out the side in his Phillies debut last night as part of a 13-6 win over Florida State. He pitched the 8th inning and perfect innings from Joe Savery and Drew Naylor (two, got the win).
Sanchez, who has just pitched for one year (2009 with the BlueClaws), was added to the Phillies 40-man roster this year to protect him from the Rule-5 draft, which is how he got to big league camp.
The transfer from catcher to pitcher came at the end of 2008, when he was a struggling catcher with the BlueClaws. He came back in April of 2009 and by the end of the year was one of the better pitchers in the league (he had a 2.40 ERA in the second half).
“He’s opened up some eyes, and you pull for him because he’s got outstanding makeup, just a fine young man and a great worker,” Phillies AGM Chuck LaMar said. “He comes out every day trying to get better. He will tell us whether he’s a starting pitcher or a reliever, but he will start in 2010.”
Sanchez added: “I think you’ve got to take every opportunity in this business. You do your best and see what happens. It’s worked pretty well for me. I thought it was going to be harder, but changing positions isn’t easy. I pitched a couple times when I was little, but that was the thing that scared me. I had never done it before. It’s been OK. I’ve been learning every day and I try to practice everything they tell me.”
From last year…
We did a ClawCast with Sanchez (here), where he noted that he’s been able to benefit from his background as a catcher: “It’s a little bit easier looking at swings and figuring out what kind of pitches can hurt hitters. It helps a lot.”
And another ClawCast with Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Gorm Heimueller (here), who said: “He’s not only a hard worker but he’s very smart. He picks up stuff. A lot of it has been fastball change-up, he needs to improve on his breaking ball, he knows that. From a year ago, his improvement has been great to see.”
By the way, Sanchez pitched in the Mother’s Day jerseys, BruceClaws jerseys (pictured), and the Irish Heritage Night green jerseys.