Sanchez, Mariners prospects heating up Winter League

No. 11 prospect posted a 2.00 ERA through two starts in Venezuela

Sanchez, Mariners prospects heating up Winter League

SEATTLE -- Victor Sanchez, one of the Mariners' top young pitching prospects, is off to a hot start in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Sanchez, a 19-year-old right-hander out of Rio Chico, Venezuela, has posted a 2.00 ERA with the Leones del Caracas while allowing two earned runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in nine innings in a pair of no-decisions.

The 6-foot, 255-pound teenager is Seattle's No. 11 rated prospect by MLB.com and went 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Jackson this past season. Sanchez is one of a handful of Mariners prospects already in action in the VWL, where teams have played 10 games so far.

Infielder Gabriel Noriega, a 24-year-old who hit .281 in 101 games for Triple-A Tacoma last season, has played all 10 games for Cardenales de Lara and is batting .250 (9-for-36) with six runs, a double, triple and four RBIs.

The other Mariners position prospect seeing significant action so far in Venezuela is Ji-Man Choi, who has hit .259 (7-for-27) with a home run, two RBIs and three runs in seven games for the Tigres de Aragua. Choi, 23, has played first base most of his pro career, but began converting to the outfield this year for Tacoma and has started in left field in all seven of his games in the VWL.

Left-hander Kyle Hunter has pitched well in relief for the Tigres de Aragua, allowing just one hit over three innings in four scoreless appearances with one walk and three strikeouts. Hunter, 25, was 5-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 38 outings for Jackson last season.

Right-hander Mayckol Guaipe, a 24-year-old who had a 2.89 ERA in 40 games for Jackson, has already made six relief appearances for Caribes de Anzoategui with a 3.18 ERA (two runs in 5 2/3 innings).

James Gillheeney, a 26-year-old southpaw who went 3-11 with a 5.62 ERA for Tacoma, has gotten off to a good start with Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Mexican Winter League, as he's 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts, with nine strikeouts and no walks in 9 1/3 innings. He's the only Mariners prospect so far playing in Mexico.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.