KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are hoping Round 2 with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez goes significantly better.Sanchez was signed by the Royals to a Minor League deal last month. The 34-year-old has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013 when in five games with the Pirates, he posted an 11.85
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are hoping Round 2 with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez goes significantly better.
Sanchez was signed by the Royals to a Minor League deal last month. The 34-year-old has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013 when in five games with the Pirates, he posted an 11.85 ERA and a 2.42 WHIP.
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"It's an opportunity for him," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said by phone. "You never know. We'll see."
That 2013 season capped an incredible downward spiral for Sanchez, whose best season came in '10 with the Giants when he logged 193 1/3 innings, went 13-9 and posted a 3.07 ERA. Sanchez was money down the stretch that season, going 5-2 in his final seven games with a 1.03 ERA for the eventual World Series champions.
In 2009, Sanchez no-hit the Padres in a no-walk, 11-strikeout game.
That obvious talent was enough for the Royals to ship outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Giants for Sanchez and left-hander Ryan Verdugo in the 2011 offseason. The Royals' analytical department believed Sanchez would benefit greatly from spacious Kauffman Stadium and a superior defense.
But Sanchez simply couldn't throw strikes for the Royals. In 12 starts in 2012, he walked 44 batters in 53 1/3 innings while posting a 7.76 ERA and a 2.04 WHIP. The Royals had seen enough, and Sanchez was dealt midseason to the Rockies for right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who was instrumental in helping the Royals get to the postseason in '14.
After three starts and a 9.53 ERA with the Rockies, Sanchez became a free agent after 2012 and drifted through the Pirates, Dodgers and Cubs organizations for two years. He pitched once for the Cubs' Triple-A team in Iowa and gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning before being released.
Last spring, the Reds tried Sanchez out, but he was released midway through Spring Training and appeared to be out of last chances.
Enter Gene Watson, the Royals' director of professional scouting, who happened to watch Sanchez throw last fall for Mayaguez of the Roberto Clemente Baseball League in Puerto Rico.
In nine starts for Mayaguez, Sanchez still struggled with his command, walking 19 in 36 innings. But his fastball was electric as he struck out 39. He went 5-2 with a 2.75 ERA.
"He was hitting 92-95 [mph]," Moore said. "You get that from the left side, it catches your eye."
The Royals have been a refuge for reclamation projects in the past, from Guthrie to Ryan Madson to Joe Blanton and so on. Could Sanchez be added to the list?
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.