You know the scene at the end of Field of Dreams where Ray Kinsella realizes the whole purpose of building the field was to bring back his Dad, then turns to Shoeless Joe Jackson and says, “It was you…” and then Shoeless Joe turns around and says, “No Ray, it was you” before he disappears into the corn and Ray realizes the answers he’d been seeking had resided within his own soul the entire time? That’s kind of what the Giants’ catching situation is like.
"I know you're a ghost, but I bet you're a better hitter than Whiteside."
The Giants today promoted 21-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez from Single-A San Jose to Triple-A Fresno, skipping an entire level of pro ball and putting the prospect one step from the big club (check out a scouting report on Sanchez here). It’s not unprecedented for a player to skip a level on his way up the ladder, but the fact that the Giants did it with Sanchez is interesting for more than a few reasons. It’s almost enough to make you think the team may be fast-tracking him to the big leagues.
It’s not unreasonable to think this move may be a reaction to the Giants’ search for catching help. It was reported yesterday that the Giants had moved on from their pursuit of Pudge Rodriguez likely due to Washington’s asking price. You have to figure if the Nationals are asking the moon for a 39-year-old catcher hitting a shade over .200, the price for any catcher is going to be too rich for the Giants’ blood. The Giants know they have to have better than the Whiteside/Stewart combination if they hope to win the division, but if trading for a catcher is cost prohibitive it makes sense for them to see if they have an answer internally. Sanchez has handled Single-A pitching (.301/.321/.551, 8 HR, 46 RBI) and the Giants want to see if he can do the same to the pitching two levels up. If he hits that well in Fresno, a call up to San Francisco isn’t out of the question.
Sanchez will also get the opportunity to work with Fresno manager Steve Decker, a catching guru who’s helped both Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey on their way to the Majors. The knock on Sanchez coming into this season was his defense; he wasn’t a natural catcher when the Giants signed him, and his skills behind the plate needed to be refined. He’s thrown out 42% of base stealers this year though, which shows he has a lot of natural ability in spite of being relatively new to the position. Working with Decker will go a long way in making Sanchez more comfortable behind the plate and a better all-around defensive player.
The Giants have shown a willingness to go with their homegrown players this season. Brandon Crawford, Conor Gillaspie and Brandon Belt have all been given opportunities with the big club, so it’s not out of the question to think the Giants may do the same with Sanchez. The team won’t give up a king’s ransom to get the likes of Pudge or Taylor Teagarden and looking internally may be their best shot at upgrading the position. If Sanchez hits at Fresno and shows improvement behind the plate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a Giants uniform by early July. If he does come up and plays well for the Giants, that’ll start a whole new round of “Posey should change positions” talk, too… oh, and it’ll give the Giants’ lineup a tremendous boost. That’s a little more important.
So maybe in late September if the Giants are celebrating another division title, Brian Sabean will look out into the mob scene on the field, see Hector Sanchez jumping around and whisper, “It was you…” only to have Sanchez look back and say, “No Brian, it was you.” Actually… wait, Sanchez doesn’t speak English. So it’d probably be, “No Brian, que eras tu." Whatever, you get the idea.