Family comes first for Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez.
The 18-year-old left the Single-A Clinton Lumber Kings for the first three weeks of June in order to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Venezuela.
Sanchez returned to Iowa and made four starts before his mother, Moraina Rodriguez, came to the U.S. to watch him pitch for the first time as a professional.
Sanchez responded with a game to remember: a no-hitter against Lansing on Wednesday night.
Sanchez went all nine innings, striking out eight without issuing any walks. He hit the second batter of the game with a pitch, and two Lansing batters reached on errors by shortstop Ketel Marte, but there were no hits in the 105-pitch masterpiece.
It was the first no-hitter pitched by a Clinton player since Jordan Shipers threw one in 2011. At age 18 and 168 days, Sanchez became the youngest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Clinton franchise history.
“With his mom being here, that’s the biggest thing,” LumberKings manager (and former Tacoma Rainiers infielder) Eddie Menchaca told the Clinton Herald. “Here’s this guy, far from home, spending most of his time alone. I get the chills just thinking about it. That’s unheard of. It’s like a movie.”
Sanchez was signed by the Mariners at age 16 when he was considered one of the top prospects on the international market. The burly right-hander carries 255 pounds on his 6-foot frame.
Sanchez starred for the Everett Aqua Sox last year, and 2013 is his first campaign with a full-season club.
After Wednesday’s gem, Sanchez is 2-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 12 starts for the Mariners Low-A affiliate. His control is remarkable: he has issued only eight walks in 632/3 innings with 41 strikeouts.
Sanchez features a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, plus a very good change-up. He is working to develop his breaking ball.
FOOTBALL PLAYER DELIVERS POWER
The Mariners drafted third baseman Patrick Kivlehan out of Rutgers University in 2012, even though he had played college baseball for only one year. Kivlehan focused on football in college, spending four years as a defensive back.
He opened the season at Clinton, and was promoted to Advanced-A High Desert in mid-June.
The Mariners hope the third baseman will show a power bat, and High Desert is conducive to home run hitting. However, Kivlehan homered just one time in his first 96 at-bats for the Mavericks.
But the homers started to happen for Kivlehan last week. On Wednesday, he homered twice in a 10-8 loss to Lake Elsinore. He backed that up with a grand slam in the first inning Thursday, giving him three homers in four at-bats.
He did it again Friday, launching a solo blast for his fourth homer in three days.
After 28 games in the California League, Kivlehan is hitting .299 with a .382 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage (through Friday).Mike Curto is the Tacoma Rainiers’ radio broadcaster.