I never quite understood what Hector Sanchez was doing on the Padres' active roster, since they already had two catchers on the big club, but he quickly became a personal favorite, even before he further endeared himself to me by paying me a brief compliment in passing. Alas, all things must come to an end, and that includes Hector's one-month, 14-game stint with the Friars. He was designated for assignment today to make room for infielder Ryan Schimpf, who was raking in AAA and fills a more pressing need for the club.
Sanchez was never much of an offensive threat in his five years as San Francisco's backup backstop, but he made the most of his time in San Diego. The lifetime .240/ .276/ .348 hitter raked to the tune of .313/ .389/ .563 in the extremely small sample size of 18 plate appearances. He was used mostly as a pinch hitter, getting behind the plate in only four games, starting just one of them. Two of the games he caught in were the two games that fellow backup catcher Christian Bethancourt pitched in, so this leaves me to realize that our opportunities to see Bethancourt take the mound again will be far more limited. I had honestly been hoping on the extremely slim chance that we'd see Bethancourt gradually transitioned into something of a two-way player; I know that's absurd and beyond unlikely but, hey, a guy can dream. Until he can't, that is.
Ryan Schimpf earned his way onto the major league roster the old-fashioned way, by hitting until he could no longer be overlooked. Of course he had an assist from his now-teammates Brett Wallace, Adam Rosales, and Alexi Amarista, who have been absolutely abysmal at the plate, and was also helpd by the absence of Cory Spangenberg and Jemile Weeks, whose stretches on the disabled list continue to string along indefinitely. Aided no doubt by the Pacific Coast League's robust hitting environment, Schimpf has put up offensive numbers that are regardlessly quite impressive. The Blue Jays' 2009 fifth-round selection is amidst a breakout season after being signed as a minor league free agent, hitting an absurd .355/ .432/ .729 in 190 trips to the plate in 51 games with El Paso. He leads the Chihuahuas with 15 home runs, one more than Hunter Renfroe has in 90 more at-bats. Schimpf's batting average is good for sixth in the PCL among players with at least one plate appearance per team game played, and only two players ahead of him have as many at-bats: now-former teammate Alex Dickerson, and T.J. Rivera of Las Vegas. Schimpf's league-leading OPS of 1.160 outshines both of theirs, attesting to what a well-rounded offensive threat he has been.
While I was a fan of Sanchez in his short time with the Padres, and will be rooting for him wherever he ends up, I am legitimately excited for Schimpf to finally get his first taste of the big leagues, and look forward to seeing how his bat holds up at the highest level. I won't have to wait long to witness him in action, as he is set to make his major league debut tonight, hitting sixth and starting at third base.