Pirates prospect catcher Tony Sanchez was just named to represent the organization in next month’s All-Star Futures Game, but his appearance could be in jeopardy after he was hit in the left cheek by a pitch while playing for High-A Bradenton on Tuesday, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Kovacevic originally reported that the injury was not considered serious, however he writes in a follow-up tweet that a new scan of the catcher’s left cheek showed two possible fractures. The team has yet to make an official announcement on the extent of his injury.
Sanchez, 22, was selected out of Boston College as the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s First-Year Player Draft. Though he is more highly-regarded for his defense behind the plate, he’s no slouch with the bat, either. He hit .309/.409/.539 in his first taste of pro ball last season and entered play on Tuesday with a .314/.414/.454 triple-slash to go along with four home runs and 35 RBI over his first 207 at-bats with High-A Bradenton this season.
Sanchez was ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect by Baseball America over the winter.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.