Jonathan Sanchez played in the Major Leagues for eight seasons and won a World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants in 2010 (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images).
At #14 on the Keizertimes top 20 Volcanoes players of all time is Jonathan Sanchez, a left-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico who played in the major leagues for eight seasons. He had a career record of 39-58 with a 4.70 ERA and 796 strikeouts in 786.1 innings.
Sanchez consistently was in the low-to-mid-90s with his fastball, while adding an effective change-up and slurve.
After spending the first 18 years of his life in Puerto Rico, Sanchez came to the U.S. in 2000 to attend Ohio Dominion University. In his four years there, Sanchez threw four no-hitters and became and set school records for most strikeouts in a single game (16), most strikeouts in a single season (105), most strikeouts in a career (311), and most shutouts in a career (10).
Sanchez was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 27th round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft. He started off his pro career in the Arizona Rookie League, going 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA in nine appearances. Sanchez finished the summer playing with the Volcanoes and, in his six starts, was 2-1 with a 4.84 ERA to go along with his 34 strikeouts.
Sanchez made 25 starts the following season in full-season A-ball with the Augusta GreenJackets. He had a team-leading 166 strikeouts and was second on the team in innings pitched (125.2) and third in wins (5).
In 2006, Sanchez showed major progression in Double-A with the Connecticut Defenders. After being named the sixth best prospect in the San Francisco system by Baseball America, Sanchez dropped his ERA all the way down to 1.15 in 13 games with the Defenders, which prompted the Giants to call up Sanchez on May 26, 2006.
Sanchez officially made his debut with San Francisco on May 28, 2006 and retired the side in his one inning of work against the Colorado Rockies — in the same game, Barry Bonds moved into second on the all-time home run list after blasting his 715th dinger of his career.
Sanchez picked up his first win with the Giants out of the bullpen against the New York Mets on June 4, 2006. In his first 22 appearances with San Francisco, the tall lefty recorded a 2-0 record with just 1.37 ERA. However, the organization sent him back down to Triple-A to improve his ability as a starter. Sanchez would rejoin the Giants in September, but struggled in his three starts.
The following season, Sanchez was ranked the #2 prospect in the organization — only behind former Volcano and Cy Young Award winner Tin Lincecum — and made the San Francisco roster out of spring training. But Sanchez struggled early in the season and was sent back to the minors. He rejoined the club in June, but multiple injuries hampered his ability to perform.
Sanchez pitched his first full season in the big leagues in 2008 and was the #5 starter in the Giants rotation. In 29 starts, Sanchez posted an 8-12 record with a 5.01 ERA and 157 strikeouts.
Sanchez reprised his role as the #5 guy in the rotation to begin the 2009 season, but started the year with a 2-8 record and was sent to the bullpen.
But after Giants flamethrower Randy Johnson went to the disabled list with a shoulder strain, Sanchez got a spot in the rotation once again and was chosen to start against the San Diego Padres on June 10, 2009.
It ended up being a career-defining game for Sanchez.
Sanchez not only threw his first complete game shutout, he became the first Giants player since 1976 to throw a no-hitter. It was the first no-hitter by a left-handed Giants pitcher in 87 years. He is also one of only three Puerto Rican pitchers to throw a no-hitter.
What also made the evening special was that Sanchez’s father, Sigfredo, who had never watched his son pitch in a Major League game, was in attendance.
Sanchez’s no-hitter proved to propel him to success for the remainder of the season. Sanchez finished the season with 177 strikeouts in 163.1 innings. His 9.75 strikeout average per nine innings was the fourth highest in the National League.
The 2010 season was, unquestionably, the best year of Sanchez’s career. As the #4 starter for arguably the best rotation in all of baseball, Sanchez had career highs in wins (13), strikeouts (205) and innings pitched (193.1). He also had a career-best 3.07 ERA as the Giants made the playoffs for the first time since 2003 after winning the National League West.
In his first playoff start, Sanchez struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings as the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves in game three of the National League Division Series (NLDS)
Sanchez also made two appearances in the National League Championship Series. Even though he lasted just two innings in game six, San Francisco defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 to clinch the series and advance to the World Series.
Sanchez was the losing pitcher in game three of the World Series, but the Giants went on to defeat the Texas Rangers in five games to clinch their first championship crown in 56 years.
But after an injury-plagued season in 2011, Sanchez was traded to the Kansas City Royals.
Even though he played parts of three more seasons in the big leagues, Sanchez couldn’t duplicate the success he had in 2009-10 as he struggled with command issues for the remainder of his big league career. With the Royals, he went 1-6, and was eventually traded to the Colorado Rockies on July 17, 2012.
Sanchez lost all three of his starts for the Rockies and became a free agent at the end of the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 and made the Opening Day roster. But after posting an 11.85 ERA in five appearances, he was released.
Sanchez would sign a multitude of minor league contracts in the years to come but could never land on a roster. However, in 2019 he started playing with Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League and led the team in strikeouts (102) and was second on the squad in wins (8).