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40 in 40: Ricardo Sanchez

A tale of two Ricardo Sanchezes. Sanchezzeses. Sanchezzi.

MLB: Seattle Mariners-Media Day
let’s play a little game
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Sanchez has been playing affiliated ball since 2014 and is headed into his second year on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, but the lefty is yet to receive his big-league callup. As such, searching his name currently returns other, more famous Ricardo Sanchezes in search results, including a popular Christian musician, a retired Army general, a Spanish water polo player, and others (to be fair, our Ricardo might be more famous than the retired water polo-playing one, but he is the only one to not have his own entry on Wikipedia). Taking a page out of my favorite trivia format (Geeks Who Drink forever), let’s play a 50-50 round on which Ricardo Sánchez I’m talking about: Christian Music Star, Mariners Prospect, or both?

Question One: Which Ricardo Sánchez was born in Venezuela?

Isla Larga in Puerto Cabello

Answer: The Mariners’ Ricardo Sánchez was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, in the unfortunately-named state of Carabobo (which literally translates to “stupid face” in Spanish, but is a corruption of the original Arawak phrase Karau Bo, which translates to “many waters on the savanna”). Meanwhile, “Puerto Cabello” means, literally, “hair port,” and got its name from the Spanish explorers who claimed the water in the port was so calm a boat could be moored by a single hair. Those fanciful fellas!

Question Two: Which Ricardo Sánchez has spent ample time in the Phoenix metro area?

Flowering desert (poppies amid prickly pear, choll
true story: this looks like something your co-worker on a desert vacation stuck a filter on and posted on Instagram last week, but it’s actually an archival photo from the 1960s
Photo by Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Answer: Both! Ricardo Ángel Sánchez, the Christian musician, was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, while Ricardo José Sánchez, the Mariners prospect, got his start on the Angels’ AZL team (based in Tempe, AZ) before being traded to Atlanta, where he spent the next four years of his career before being DFA’d in a roster crunch situation. Seattle picked him up, after which he reported to the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, AZ, reunited with the desert once more.

Question Three: Which Ricardo Sánchez was alive when the Spice Girls hit #1 on Billboard with “Wannabe”?

Answer: Sorry, fellow olds, the answer is not both; only the singer Ricardo was around at radio peak for this particular earworm (no word on if the Spices Five influenced his music). The Mariners’ Ricardo was born in 1997, so despite having six years of pro ball under his belt, he’s still just a wee lad of 22 years of age.

Question Four: Which Ricardo could be reasonably described as a control artist?

I typed “control artist” into the Getty archival search function and it gave me pictures of The Offspring from 1999, make your own judgments

Answer: This one belongs to our own Ricardo, who carved his walk rate down to 6.2% from a mark of almost 10% in his first exposure at Double-A. Command is key for the lefty, who doesn’t overwhelm physically (5’11”/210) or with a big fastball, generally sitting 91-93 and topping out at 94 mph. In his first year as a Mariner, Sánchez posted the best K-BB numbers of his career by a significant amount alongside a career-best WHIP of 1.34—still slightly higher than one would like, but combined with a reasonable FIP/xFIP of 3.4/3.5, a good sign that Sánchez can put the ball in the zone without having too much damage done against him. His 50% groundball rate is also encouraging, and a solid 10 points higher than where he was while with the Braves at Double-A, again indicating an improved ability to spot the ball low in the zone.

Here’s an example of Sánchez spotting up the outside of the zone beautifully, leaving Leody Taveras (Texas’s #5 prospect per MLB Pipeline) a mere spectator, filmed at Arkansas through a container of potato salad:

While it may look as if Sánchez was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the cavernous confines of Dickey-Stephens Park, with a road ERA almost a full run higher than his home ERA, that split was a mere 3.89 at home vs. 4.16 away as late as August 29. Sánchez, whose 146 IP was a career-high by 25+ innings, simply ran out of gas down the stretch, looking obviously fatigued as he labored through his final few games. The 17 earned runs he gave up in his last three games were just one fewer than what he’d given up in his past ten starts combined. While “best shape of his life” is a Spring Training cliché, it will be interesting to see if Sánchez’s struggles with fatigue down the playoff stretch inspire some changes in his off-season regimen, or if the Mariners have targeted him as a strength and conditioning camp attendee. As a lefty who can offer multiple innings, Sánchez has some bullpen appeal, like organization-mate Anthony Misiewicz, but his curve lacks Misiewicz’s plus spin rate and doesn’t have as much bite, making him a better length option than a shutdown reliever type.

Question Five: Which Sánchez has been Grammy-nominated for effortlessly melding Latin and Caribbean grooves with jazz and funk influences to become one of the most musically diverse worship leaders of our time?

Admit it, you thought it was the Mariners prospect.

Bonus round: Which Ricardo Sánchez has an adorable little son?

Answer: No shade to the teenage sons of the other Ricardo, but that would be the Mariners’ Ricardo’s Ricardo Jr., who is just ten pounds of cute in a five pound bucket with ten additional pounds of cheeks. Even the normally staid Evan White couldn’t resist nabbing Junior for a photo op at the Texas League All-Star Game this season (swipe to the second picture; “with my wife and my sons”, the dry humor of Evan White continues to grow on me):

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Con mi esposa y mis hijos

A post shared by Evan White (@evanwhite_12) on