SAN FRANCISCO -- When catcher Hector Sanchez made the leap from Class A Advanced San Jose to Triple-A Fresno, many assumed he was being fast-tracked to replace the injured Buster Posey -- to make a quick big league leap like Pablo Sandoval did in 2008.
While Sanchez has put up impressive offensive numbers at every stop along the way, don't expect to hear his named called in AT&T Park anytime too soon. As Fresno manager Steve Decker said on Sunday, the 21-year-old catcher will be a good Major Leaguer someday -- just not quite yet.
"We're talking about a catcher who has to handle the San Francisco Giants staff," Decker said. "This is a guy who's got to go up there and catch [Tim] Lincecum and Matt Cain and [Jonathan] Sanchez and Brian Wilson. You've got to be ready mentally, physically and emotionally to be able to make that next step. We're working hard. He's got a lot of tools, and we hope to develop him sooner rather than later."
The switch-hitting catcher batted .301 with an .832 on-base plus slugging percentage for the San Jose Giants earlier this year, knocking 13 doubles and eight homers in 42 games. One potentially concerning statistic was his walk-to-strikeout ratio, as he drew five free passes while striking out 41 times. Sanchez is batting toward the bottom of the order for the Grizzlies, and he hasn't hit for power nearly as well at that level, but there are no doubts about his ability to produce at the plate.
Decker, a former catcher himself, said Sanchez is "in the process of a lot of classroom time" right now, learning all the basic elements of playing the position. He has done well thus far, even earning rave reviews from Giants lefty Barry Zito after a rehab start, but he still has to refine his talent. Decker pointed to pitch selection as well as receiving, throwing and blocking techniques as chief among the many aspects of his game that need improvement.
But, most importantly, Sanchez is still learning -- and he has plenty of time to do so.
"Aptitude, retention -- just like when Buster was here, a lot of it is when he comes in to the dugout. 'Why did you do this? Why did you do that? That's not a good idea,'" Decker said, recalling times he explained Sanchez how to minimize pitch counts against bottom-of-the-order hitters as opposed to setting up and getting out a quality hitter.
"These are all things that he really has no idea how to do."
Huff flashes leather in Giants' Game 1 win
CHICAGO -- An unsung hero of the Giants' 13-7 victory Tuesday afternoon over the Cubs was first baseman Aubrey Huff, who contributed a pair of deft defensive plays.With Alfonzo Soriano on second base and one out in the fourth inning, Koyie Hill hit a swinging bunt up the first-base line. Ryan Vogelsong fielded the ball and threw low to Huff, who faced a difficult task in following the ball as Hill approached first base. But Huff made the grab, hoisting his glove afterward to show the umpire that he had the ball. Considerable credit for that play belonged to Vogelsong, said Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, who coordinates the team's infield defense.
"Vogey did a nice job throwing it on the inside of the runner," Wotus said. "If that throw's not made there, then you're going to have problems with the runner coming into play."With Aramis Ramirez at first base and nobody out in the seventh inning, Carlos Pena hit a chopper that third baseman Pablo Sandoval charged and fielded. Sandoval flung a hard, low throw to Huff, who executed the shortest of short-hop pickups for the out. A run ultimately scored, but a potential big inning was avoided. "You don't have a lot of reaction time, so it's a heck of a play," Wotus said. For good measure, Huff drove in runs with a first-inning single and a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.
Bochy convinced Wrigley is special
CHICAGO -- Count Bruce Bochy among the many who regard Wrigley Field as a baseball shrine."It's like you go back in time every time you come here," the Giants manager said on Tuesday as he surveyed the sun-drenched Friendly Confines. "It's nice to have a ballpark that has so much history and that constant that few ballparks have." Bochy takes nothing for granted about Wrigley. He observed that the visiting team walks through the same tunnel to the field that Babe Ruth once did. From a personal standpoint, Bochy recalled hitting his second career home run here while playing for the Houston Astros on Sept. 1, 1978. Echoing the widespread appreciation for Wrigley's intimacy, Bochy added, "It's not a stadium. It's a ballpark."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.