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Diamonds in Single A: Karexon Sanchez

July 7, 2009
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Welcome back for another Diamonds in Single A column. I apologize for the hiatus, but I’ve been on vacation the past couple of weeks. For this column it’s time to look at the hitters, and I’m going to go all the way down to Lake County to find a hitter. This week’s hitter, Karexon Sanchez, is a very interesting player in low A who has shown both good power and speed in the lower levels of the Indians system.

Sanchez was signed out of Venezuela back in 2006. He switched from playing primarily third base to second base this year. He has also played at shortstop and could some day be a utility guy in the majors, if not something more. I am going to add in stolen bases and stolen base success rate to the mix this week because these are real assets in Sanchez’s arsenal:

2006 R 384 9 6 .9 5.96 386 770 22 69
2007 R/A_SS 366 9 3 .47 4.96 388 753 12 93
2008 A- 323 22 12 .32 4.06 411 733 12 60
2009 A- 355 12 7 .55 4.13 377 732 20 77

The doubles and home run pop shown are really good for a middle infielder — I for one always like the doubles to be over 20 when I judge for power in the lower levels. There is always the hope that as a player matures and gets stronger his power will grow. So, instead of 20 doubles and 10 home runs, he could one day reach 30 and 20. Sanchez could also have an increase in his power numbers if he improves his contact when he steps up to the plate.

Normally I am not a fan of batting average, but there should be concern that he is only a career .250 hitter and does not have a high walk rate, hence his lower OBP. The fact that his contact has been so erratic makes his power even more impressive, since 1/3 of all his hits this year have been extra base hits. When he is able to make contact it’s hard, and if he could get his average or walk rates up with the aid of a bit of coaching he would vault up the prospect list for the Tribe.

If we look at another stat, the stolen base statistic, it shows that even though Sanchez has shown the ability to steal bases, it’s still a skill in need of major work. His stolen base percentage is well below the 80% line that most teams want to see in their runners. Still, there have been major signs of improvement this year, and he is on his way to a 30 plus steal season and a near 20 percent jump in his success rate.

Sanchez’s most alarming statistic is his high strikeout totals, but these are actually in line with a few other players. His ceiling has been compared to Robinson Cano, but he reminds me more of Josh Rodriguez in the Indians system. Cano and Rodriquez both posted high strike out totals in the low level of the minors. The Cano comparisons should be tempered, though, because by the time Cano was 21 he was playing in AAA.

In short, with a look at Sanchez’s stats we see a player who is a mixed bag: there is speed and power potential, but both are hard to show when you struggle to get on base and make consistent contact. He is a player who could be something special if he can ever get his plate approach fixed, but at this point the odds of that are slim. He looks like another player who is in the line of being a potential utility infielder in the future, but without an improvement at the plate the odds are really stacked against the possibility of him making a contribution to the Tribe in the future.

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