Every Friday through the rest of the season I plan on looking at a prospect who is currently in the lower levels of the minors, but should be on the radar of every dynasty league owner for their next minor league draft. Today's prospect is one who is a long, long way from the Majors, but has a tremendous amount of upside, and could be extremely interesting for fantasy owners. He is the youngest player in the Northwest League by nearly a full year, and is one of the 10 youngest players to play stateside this year. I'm talking about Seattle Mariners' right handed pitcher Victor Sanchez.
The Mariners signed Sanchez last July out of Venezuela, where he had been considered to be one of the country's top July 2nd prospects for 2011. Sanchez signed for a $2.5 million bonus, which ended up being one of the largest given out last year. Despite not pitching in any league last season, the reports on Sanchez were very complimentary. However, as with many IFA prospects, he was not ranked particularly high on his team's top 10/top 11s during the offseason. Kevin Goldstein of BP did not rank him in his top 20 Mariners prospects, and Minor League Ball's John Sickels ranked him as the #15 prospect in the Mariners system, but noted that we needed to see him first before moving him anywhere higher.
A bit surprisingly, the Mariners were aggressive with their placement of Sanchez, sending him to the short-season Northwest League stateside for his debut at the age of 17. So far he has made 4 starts there, posting a 2.92 ERA in 24 2/3 innings pitched, allowed 23 hits, and posted a 20/9 K/BB rate so far. It is extremely early on in his career, but he is playing against players who, on average, are nearly 4 years older than himself.
Kevin Goldstein had this to say about Sanchez as a part of his 10-pack from June 18th (link $):
Sanchez is a bit undersized but thick and athletic, and he stands out as much for his polish as his stuff. His fastball sat at 90-94 mph on Friday, and while his breaking ball has potential, his changeup is the kind rarely seen in a teenager, featuring plenty of deception and fade.
I absolutely love hearing that a pitcher as young as Sanchez is already well on his way with his secondary offerings, and the performance thus far seems to indicate that there is a lot to like here. John Sickels recently released his updated top 120 prospects, and Sanchez made the list this time at #111.
Sanchez is a prospect who is too far away in my opinion to make a reasonable guess at what he could turn into in the Majors. It seems that he has the upside to be a top of the rotation type, but realistically this is going to take likely 4-5 years to get there. And he is also far enough away that he may not turn into anything at all. Just remember that he will still be just 22 years old in 2017. He is definitely someone I would be following if you play in deep keeper leagues.