A few top pitching prospects debuted and at least one Dodgers hitter stayed red hot.
Dodgers Prospect Countdown: #4 Angel Sanchez
Born November 28, 1989 in Tenares, Dominican Republic. Attended Santo Domingo Autonomous University in the Dominican Republic. Signed on July 12, 2010. Listed at 6'3 and 177 lbs. Bats and throws right-handed.
Pitched in 13 games for the Dominican Summer League Dodgers after signing in 2010, making one start. He posted a 4.02 ERA in 31.1 innings, allowing a home run and 24 walks with 23 strikeouts.
Began his 2011 campaign at Low A Great Lakes and made 20 appearances, including 16 starts. Posted a 2.82 ERA in 99 innings. Allowed 5 home runs and 39 walks while striking out 84. Held opposing batters to a .198 average and produced a 1.11 groundball rate.
Sanchez is a rare case. He declined to sign a pro contract as a teenager so he could attend college and finally signed as a 20 year old for just $7,500. However, it seems like that arrangement may pay off for both him and the Dodgers as he was one of the organization's best pitchers in 2011.
Tall and very lean, the 22 year old righty has two pitches that already baffle hitters and could develop a third. He starts with a low to mid 90s fastball that has some movement and he's hit 97 on the gun. His changeup may be his best pitch, as he'll throw it in any count and back to back. It has hard, late action down and away from lefties. He shows signs of a good downer curve but struggles to throw it with consistent break and control.
What sets Angel apart is his deception. He hides the ball extremely well behind his head, much like Clayton Kershaw. Hitters have to cheat on his fastball, starting their swings early, in order to pull it. His delivery isn't textbook but his arm works well and there aren't any serious red flags. He needs to work on his command but isn't afraid to pitch inside and already shows signs of working both sides of the plate.
Average. Given that he turned pro so late in relation to other DR guys, it's hard to say how much projection he has left. Physically, he could easily put on another 20 lbs in the next few years which may increase his fastball velocity. Not that he needs it, though, as his fastball already grades out as a plus.
What Sanchez really needs is more consistency, which should come with more experience. He doesn't have great command and needs to do a better job of throwing quality strikes. He also needs to refine his breaking ball or experiment with a slider. Were he to develop a good breaking ball, his ceiling would be the moon.
My reason for rating him so high is his upside. Throwing that hard with a very good changeup and very good deception could get him far. He just needs to take the next step in his development. He could potentially be a #2 or #3 starter.
Angel is slated to start 2012 in High A Rancho Cucamonga, though the Dodgers could move him aggressively given his age. I expect him to spend the majority of the season in the California League, with a late season call up to Chattanooga a possibility if he shows significant progress. The environment will make it a challenge, so hopefully he's up for it.
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