He’s a physical pitcher against left-handed hitters. There aren’t many pitchers like him in the KBO.”
Hanwha’s signing of Butch Smith, an “injury-riddled player,” was a hit-or-miss affair. The team can laugh about it now, even though it was a failure. Ricardo Sanchez, who was brought in as a replacement, has a 1.39 ERA in six games and a 100 percent win record. Hanwha’s gift of Sanchez raised the eyebrows of scout Kim Jin-young, who is in charge of recruiting foreign players.
Sanchez made a start against LG on October 10, throwing 112 pitches over eight innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight to secure the 안전놀이터 win. Sanchez, whose seven-inning outings were his longest in the minor league rotation, had his best outing of his professional career in his sixth appearance in Korea. He pitched a comfortable game that didn’t waver despite dealing with the elements, as a surprise downpour in the third inning halted the game for 43 minutes.
His fastball reached over 150 kilometers per hour. Especially against left-handed batters, he actively battled and shut down the LG bats. Only Oh Ji-hwan had two hits, and he shut down Park Hae-min, Moon Sung-joo, Kim Hyun-soo, Moon Bo-kyung, and Shin Min-jae.
His 1.67 walks per nine innings ranks at least sixth among the 54 pitchers with 30 or more innings pitched. That means they didn’t struggle to adjust to the strike zone despite coming to a new league just this year and during the season. Sanchez is the only player in the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings who is in his first season in the KBO.
After the game, Sanchez said, “It’s not easy for a left-handed pitcher to get to the body of a left-handed hitter. It took me a long time to learn, and eventually I got used to it in training. It took me a long time to apply it in the game, but I finally did it. The ball on that side of the plate doesn’t produce a lot of hard hits. So I’ve been actively learning about it, and I’m utilizing it in my matches.”
Scout Kim Jin-young, who was watching the interview from the sidelines, said that he noticed this advantage when he watched Sanchez pitch in the U.S. “I noticed how he fought against left-handed batters,” he said, “and I thought it was good because he fought well against left-handed batters. There are not many pitchers like this in the KBO. It’s a fastball-based pitch, and he threw it aggressively even in full-country.”
Manager Choi Won-ho also smiled at Sanchez’s performance. “He has a fastball and throws strikes aggressively. There aren’t many left-handed pitchers who can do that against left-handed batters. He doesn’t have good fastball movement, but he seems to have studied course utilization.”