‘Alumni in Spring Training’

The Pittsburgh Pirates have some of the most famous Major League baseball players in the history of the game as Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente and Barry Bonds all donned the ‘black and gold’.   Although the Pirates have various alumni in the Hall of Fame their last two decades of baseball have been very forgettable.  Pittsburgh has not had a winning season in the last 18 seasons which is the longest drought in North American professional sports. 

The Pirates look to rebound from a dismal 2010 season which saw the ‘Bucs’ finish with the MLB’s worst record (57-105).  Pittsburgh finished 2010 with the National League’s worst earned run average and batting average.  However, 2011 looks promising with former Northwoods League standouts, Jason Jaramillo and Tony Sanchez, in Bradenton, FL the home of the Pirates Spring Training camp. 

Jason Jaramillo played for the St. Cloud River Bats in 2002 with fellow National League pitcher Thomas Diamond.  The Racine, WI native was drafted in 2004 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2nd round.  Jaramillo spent the past two seasons at the Major League level with the Pirates after being traded from the Phillies in 2008. 

The Oklahoma State University catcher is having a very impressive Spring Training in the Grapefruit League.  Jaramillo has played in 13 of the 25 Spring Training games and is currently hitting .500 in 22 at-bats.  The 3rd string catcher is in the top-6 in home runs, doubles, RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage for the Pirates this Spring Training. 

Also in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is catcher Tony Sanchez, formerly of the Battle Creek Bombers.  Sanchez was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 as the 4th overall pick, the highest draft pick in Northwoods League history.  The Miami native was a NWL All-Star in 2007 while playing in Battle Creek.  Sanchez hit 17 doubles, 3 home runs and 30 RBI in 61 games for the Bombers. 

Sanchez has spent the past two seasons in Minor League baseball playing for the State College Spikes, West Virginia Power, Lynchburg Hill Cats and Bradenton Marauders.  The 6’0’’ 215-pound catcher has hit .300 or better in three of his four stops throughout the Single-A baseball.  Sanchez had an injury shortened 2010 season as he was hit by a pitch in the face and was forced to have his mouth wired shut for the majority of the season.  Although his injury kept him off the diamond for a while, Sanchez came back strong in 2010 and made the Arizona Fall League which is for the best prospects in Minor League Baseball.  According to Baseball America, Sanchez is currently ranked as the 79th best prospect in the Minor Leagues. 

Follow these two Pirate catchers this 2011 season as they try to get the Pirates over their losing ways.