Cards claim lefty Sánchez off waivers

February 6th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- Just in time for Spring Training, the Cardinals added a pitcher to their roster, claiming left-hander Ricardo Sánchez off waivers from Seattle on Thursday.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals designated infielder Ramón Urías for assignment.

Sánchez, 22, was the top international signing by the Angels in 2013, when he got $580,000 to sign out of Venezuela, according to MLB Pipeline. But he has spent most of his time in the Braves system, spending 2015-18 there before being designated for assignment and traded to the Mariners.

Sánchez hasn’t pitched at a level higher than Double-A, where he spent this past season. He had a 4.44 ERA in 146 innings and 27 starts, with 135 strikeouts and 38 walks. He has struggled with his development at times, but the good thing for the Cardinals is that there’s time for him to unlock his potential. He uses three pitches -- a 94-mph fastball, a breaking ball that can spin and a deceptive changeup. MLB Pipeline had him ranked 23rd on the Mariners’ list of Top 30 prospects.

The Cardinals were looking to add a pitcher before the start of Spring Training next week, and they’ve worked lately to add left-handers to both their Major League club and farm system. Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, whom the Cardinals signed to a two-year deal in December, is a lefty, as is the club’s now No. 3 prospect, Matthew Liberatore, acquired from the Rays last month. Sánchez will now join them in big league camp.

Urías thundered through Mexico’s professional league with a 1.011 OPS in 106 games in 2017 and signed with the Cardinals in ’18. He’s listed as the Cardinals’ No. 29 prospect and was added to the 40-man roster last offseason because he was Rule 5 Draft eligible. The 25-year-old hit .263/.369/.424 in 96 games for Triple-A Memphis last season. He played mostly second base but also has seen time at shortstop and third base.

Urías has never reached the big leagues and would likely have had a difficult time getting there this year, with Tommy Edman, Yairo Muñoz, Edmundo Sosa and others projected as the Cardinals’ utility infielders heading into spring.