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5.26.2006

Sanchez So Soon? 

The news is out: the Giants are calling up their latest phenom, El Lefty Malito Jonathan Sanchez, who has never pitched higher than Double-A ball. For those who aren't familiar, he's 23 years old, from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and this is only his third year in the pros.

He caught the Giants' attention last year in low-A Augusta with 166 Ks and only 39 BBs in 125.2 IP as a starter. Sensing he might help the big-league bullpen, the Giants moved him to Double-A this year and converted him to relief. He's been nearly unhittable.

The last time the Giants brought up a young heralded hurler, it was Merkin Valdez, and he didn't fare well. Two games out of the bullpen, and Merkin was overmatched. Since then, he's bounced from starting to relieving and hasn't really found the groove he was in before his call-up. He wowed everyone in spring training, and there was buzz about him making the opening day roster. He didn't, and instead he is struggling as the closer in AAA Fresno.

Are the Giants repeating the same mistake? Is Sanchez being rushed? If they truly need a lefty in the pen, Jack Taschner seems to have fixed the problems that plagued him at the start of the year with the big club. He's been in Fresno since his April demotion and still giving up too many hits, but he's cut down on the walks and bumped up the Ks.

Is a raw 23-year-old who has barely cracked Double-A really a better choice than a 28-year-old who's had major-league success except for one rough patch? Taschner may not be The Future, but he's nowhere near road kill. Perhaps he's got a nagging injury that prevents him from being called up right now.

My guess: The Giants give Sanchez a chance to acclimate; if he pulls a Merkin and shows right away he's not ready, he goes to Fresno and Taschner comes up.

Are the Giants calling up Sanchez too soon? Are they mishandling him by yanking him back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen? Discuss.

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More small print updates:

Ishikawa is also back up. I've added Sour Grapes (a Giants-related blog) and Cardinal Diaspora to my blog list.

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