Tony Sanchez will play in the Dominicans this upcoming winter, as Pete Ellis reported. Sanchez played 81 games in Triple-A this year, hitting .235 with a .758 OPS. He’s also played 25 games for the Pirates, amounting a .275 average and .669 OPS. In all, it was an inconsistent year for Sanchez at the plate, and the Pirates would like to see him make improvements in his approach.
“He’s going to see spin [in the Dominicans], he’s going to be challenged offensively to revisit his strengths as a hitter. It’s a gap guy with power,” Clint Hurdle said.
The thinking behind playing winter ball is simple, Hurdle said. “I think just to play at a competitive level with consistency and some connected at bats and time behind the plate, which is never going to hurt him.”
Behind the plate, Sanchez has struggled to throw out runners, throwing a mere 8 of 63 baserunners out in Indianapolis. Sanchez will play exclusively at catcher this winter.
“There’s nothing you can do in the offseason to improve your catching skills other than catch,” Hurdle said.
Besides purely baseball aspects, Hurdle believes that winter ball can make a player grow off the field. Hurdle played four years of winter ball and he said it was “the best thing he ever did.”
“The biggest thing for me is to get a guy out of his comfort zone,” he said. “There’s a part of me that wishes every player would have to go to winter ball. Leave the states, go in another environment, get out of your comfort zone, have to figure some things out, a different language, a different way of life. It just helps you growing up on and off the field.”
And from a competitive standout, Hurdle noted that there’s great pressure to play well.
“If you don’t produce they send you home.”