Braves acquire promising lefty Sanchez from Angels
Atlanta ships prospects Kubitza, Hyatt to Halos while improving pitching depth
ATLANTA -- Extending their mission to improve the organization's pitching depth, the Braves have acquired Ricardo Sanchez, an intriguing 17-year-old prospect who had been with the Angels.
The Braves sent third baseman Kyle Kubitza and right-handed pitcher Nate Hyatt to the Angels in exchange for Sanchez, who had stood as one of the Halos' top 10 prospects per MLB.com's rankings.
Sanchez might not be as highly regarded as Max Fried, Tyrell Jenkins or Manny Banuelos -- three prospects Atlanta acquired in other deals this offseason -- but the young Venezuelan enriches the depth of a pitching crop that was considered rather weak just a couple of months ago.
Lebi Ochoa, who joined the Braves as a senior advisor to the player development department in October, signed Sanchez for the Angels in 2013.
Sanchez posted a 3.49 ERA and notched 43 strikeouts in the 38 2/3 innings he completed for the Arizona League Angels this past season. The raw lefty possesses a fastball that has touched 95 mph and an above-average curveball. He stands as a high-upside prospect who will become more projectable as he develops over the next couple of seasons.
Kubitza, who had been placed on Atlanta's 40-man roster in November, hit .295 with eight home runs and a Southern League-best .405 on-base percentage this past season. His limited power potential has created reason to doubt whether he has the same upside as Dustin Peterson, a third-base prospect the Braves acquired when they sent Justin Upton to the Padres.
Hyatt posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 73 batters in 63 innings for Class A Advanced Lynchburg this past season. The 24-year-old right-hander possesses an above-average fastball, and he has shown some improvement with his command during the early stages of his professional career.
Hyatt: As a junior at Appalachian State in 2012, Hyatt saved a school-record 16 games and was drafted in the 13th round by Atlanta. He has remained in the bullpen as a professional, and he has continued to pitch well. After Hyatt posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 73 batters in 63 innings in 2014 for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, the Braves named him the organization's pitcher of the year. He attacks hitters with an above-average fastball and a solid slider. Hyatt has always missed a lot of bats, averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in two years at Lynchburg, but he also struggles with his command at times. He'll need to refine that as he advances to the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
Kubitza: The highest drafted position player in Texas State history, Kubitza has steadily ascended through the Minor Leagues. He had the best season of his career in 2014 with Double-A Mississippi. Kubitza hit .295/.405/.470 with eight home runs and led the Southern League in on-base percentage. While he is a patient hitter, his swing has a tendency to get long, leading to a lot of strikeouts. Kubitza's swing is geared more to hitting line drives than home runs, which produces a lot of doubles, but doesn't fit the traditional third-base profile. His defense has improved in the Minor Leagues, and his strong arm and soft hands are assets at third.
Sanchez: The Angels signed Sanchez out of Venezuela in 2013 and he made his professional debut a year later in the Arizona League. As a 17-year-old, he posted a 3.49 ERA and struck out 43 batters while walking 22 in 38 2/3 innings. While Sanchez is still young and raw, he already shows significant promise. He can throw his fastball up to 95 mph, and his curveball gives him a second pitch with above-average potential. He also has a nascent changeup. Sanchez has a smooth delivery, but he is still learning to repeat it and his command suffers as a result. Still just a teenager, he has plenty of upside and simply needs time to learn the intricacies of his craft.
-- Teddy Cahill