By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. — Altoona Curve pitcher Angel Sanchez is only 25 years old but he’s been around. Since being signed as an international free agent by the Dodgers in 2010, Sanchez has been with five different organizations — the Dodgers, Marlins, Rays, White Sox and Pirates.
Sanchez has had a lot of practice packing and unpacking. He pitched for five different teams in 2014, including the Curve after the Pirates claimed him off waivers from the White Sox on July 31.
“It’s hard (moving around),” Sanchez was saying recently at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “It’s hard because you get used to one place then you get traded.
“You need to make new friends and new teammates and you have to look for a place to live.”
Sanchez pitched six games (five starts) for the Curve last season, posting a 0-2 record and 4.32 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. Not gaudy numbers, but the Pirates thought enough of the Dominican right hander to send him to the Arizona Fall League.
“I got a chance to pitch about two times a week, both starting and relieving,” he said. “It was a good experience, a lot of competition.
“It was a great opportunity to work with all of those guys,” Sanchez continued. “I learned a lot from the hitters and pitchers.”
Sanchez said that fellow Curve players Josh Bell, Dan Gamache, Elias Diaz and Tyler Glasnow were among his teammates in Arizona and Curve pitching coach Justin Meccage was on the staff.
Sanchez did well enough in Arizona that the Pirates invited him to his first major league spring training camp in February, and that turned out to be another great experience as he was able to rub elbows and discuss the ins and outs of the game with Pirate big leaguers.
“What an opportunity to be around and watch how those guys work and go about their business,” Sanchez said. “I talked to (Francisco) Liriano a lot and to a couple relievers. When I was in the bullpen, I asked questions about how they hide the ball.”
Besides talking and learning from the big leaguers, Sanchez said, “I also got the opportunity to pitch in a big league game against the Tampa Bay Rays at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
“I don’t remember the names of the guys I faced,” Sanchez said, “but the day will come when I’m ready for them.”
Sanchez has appeared in 98 minor league games and has an overall record of 22-40 with a 4.98 ERA.
“He’s done really well for us coming from another organization,” Curve manager Tom Prince said. “My first look at him was in spring training and he’s continued to do what he did there.”
The Curve pitching staff has been outstanding in the early part of 2015, and Sanchez has been a big part of it. In his first four starts, the 6-1, 190-pounder allowed only one run and two walks in 22 2/2 innings.
“He’s fit into our organization well,” Prince said. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do — get the hitters out. He’s making progress.
“He’s focused and he throws all of the pitchers over the plate,” Prince continued. “He’s got a sneaky arm and the ball gets on hitters quick — you can tell by their swings.”
When the season is over, Sanchez goes back to his hometown of Tenares, D.R., where he helps with youth baseball programs.
“I love to help little kids,” he said. “It’s what people did for me when I was little. I tell them what it’s like in the U.S. and try to give them advice on how it works here.”