One of the wild cards for the Yankees bullpen seems to be hard-throwing right-hander Romulo Sanchez, who was added to the 40-man this winter after a strong finish in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He worked primarily as a starter with Scranton, but most of his career — including all of his major league time with the Pirates — has been out of the bullpen.
Sanchez can get his fastball into the high 90s, but he’s never been an especially overwhelming strikeout pitcher. He’s actually never finished a season with more strikeouts than innings pitched, but that trend seems to be changing.
In his last four regular season appearances with Scranton, Sanchez had 22 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. During the Triple-A playoffs, he had 17 strikeouts in 10 innings. This winter in Venezuela, Sanchez has 47 strikeouts in 33 innings (his previous three winters combined he had just 22 strikeouts in 34.1 innings).
In a few weeks, Sanchez will report to Tampa with the rest of the Yankees pitchers and catchers. It will be his first spring training with the Yankees, and you can bet he’ll open some eyes with that fastball (he has a pretty good changeup too). He’s a long way from being a bullpen favorite, but Sanchez belongs in that group of pitchers who could make enough of an impression to break camp with the big league club — let’s call it the Albaladejo group — especially if he can cut down on the walks and continue to impress with the strikeouts.