Will Hector Sanchez replace Buster Posey?

Sanchez was promoted from Single-A to Triple-A on Thursday

By Troy Nelson

The San Francisco Giants made a fatidic move on Thursday when the organization promoted 21-year old Hector Sanchez from Class-A San Jose to Triple-A Fresno, bypassing Double-A altogether.

In case you don’t know the name, Sanchez is the Giants’ top catching prospect.

As of Thursday, he was batting .301/.321/.511 with 8 HR and 46 RBI for San Jose.

Sending Sanchez to Fresno can only mean one thing:

The Giants want to see what they have in him before they go and make a trade for an established veteran — particularly if that veteran has multiple years left on his contract.

Fact: With Buster Posey out for the year and incumbent Eli Whiteside struggling mightily in San Francisco (.180/.271/.279, 1 HR, 3 RBI), the Giants seriously need to upgrade the catcher position if they hope to defend their World Series title.

If you saw Thursday night’s game, you saw exactly why Whiteside is not the answer behind the plate. He allows too many base runners to steal on him. He drops too many easy pitches and doesn’t appear to hustle at times. He frequently allows relatively-easy pitches to get past him. And he can’t hit. Simply put, he’s a detriment to the team. He’s doing more damage than good. He’s gotta go. I don’t care what the Giants brass says publicly.

Backup catcher Chris Stewart is even worse. He has no business in the big leagues, period.

Sure, the Giants just drafted Oregon State Beavers catcher Andrew Susac in the second round of the First Year Player Draft (86th overall) — and I think they got a steal there. But Susac hasn’t signed anything yet, and he’s at least three or four years away from even sniffing the bigs.

Second-round draft pick Andrew Susac

The only other option the Giants have right now to upgrade their catcher position is to look at the trade market. Washington reportedly shopped All-Star/Gold Glove/Silver Slugger/Hall-of-Famer-sure-bet Ivan Rodriguez to the Giants, but they wanted way too much in exchange and Giants GM Brian Sabean balked.

Back to Sanchez.

The Giants want to see what they have in the Maracay, Venezuelan native before making any deals. As The Chron’s Hank Schulman wrote Thursday, “It’s not far-fetched to consider a catcher that young jumping from San Jose to the majors in the same season. Pablo Sandoval began 2008 in San Jose and was in San Francisco by Aug. 14, three days after he turned 22.”

Sanchez is a legitimate prospect with a legitimate bat. The switch hitter’s also got the mental makeup at a very young age to be something special.

Best case scenario, he gets an opportunity to show off his stuff and makes an immediate impact in San Francisco. Pipe dream? Maybe. But why not let him face some AAA pitching and see what happens?

So let’s say everything works in Sanchez’s favor. What does that mean for Posey?

A reader of mine made a good point the other day:

Believe it or not, I’d like the Giants to consider getting a catcher that will be a LONG term solution. In other words, someone younger than Pudge who can hit and catch and handle our pitching staff as the starting catcher…for years. I think the Giants should seriously consider moving Posey to another position. Most of the people in my family (wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, aunt, etc.) are in the medical industry and they think that the severity of Posey’s injury could have a long term effect on him. His ankle may never be stable enough again to allow him to crouch for hours on end and constantly be jumping up for throwing, running down passed balls, catching popups, etc. The ligaments that were torn do not heal easily, if at all, and they hold the fibia and tibula together at the ankle. (They are seperate bones and not attached to each other except by ligaments.) His entire ankle may be weakened, less stable, and more prone to injury for the rest of his life. We all have to face the possibility, at least, that Posey might not ever catch again.”
— Scott A., Portland

Well said, Scott.

I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV). But one would have to think that Dave Groeschner and the rest of the Giants’ medical staff are considering the same thing. Posey may never catch again.

Posey has publicly said he had every intention of coming back as a catcher, but there’s no way he (or anyone else) can know today how his body will respond to the surgery or how his ligaments will heal.

A Giants infield consisting of Posey at first base and Sanchez behind the plate might very well be in the future for this team.

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