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Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez dies

PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners have confirmed the terrible news that came out of Venezuela earlier tonight. Victor Sanchez has died from head injuries suffered in a boating accident six weeks ago. He was only 20. The team has issued the following statement.

The Seattle Mariners confirmed tonight that Venezuelan pitching prospect Victor Sanchez has passed away from injuries he received on February 13 when he was hit in the head by a boat propeller while swimming off Carupano, Venezuela.

“The Seattle Mariners are saddened to learn of the passing of Victor Sanchez,” said Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President and General Manager Jack Zduriencik. “Victor was a tremendous young man and a wonderful teammate. He was a very talented player who was close to fulfilling his promise as a Major Leaguer. He will be missed by his teammates, and the coaches and staff at the Mariners.

“The entire Mariners organization sends our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time.”

I never met Sanchez but I did see him pitch. After seeing his name on reports and the numbers that followed in 2013 I made an effort to see him pitch in a minor league game in spring training last year. You couldn’t miss him. I had heard he was big – 6-feet, 255 pounds – but to see him on the mound I couldn’t help but smile. He had presence even though he was just 19. He had the look of someone who could be a force down the road.

I asked Jackson Generals broadcaster Chris Harris about him and he had nothing but good things to say. Sure he had good stuff, that was a given for the prospect, but most of Chris’ words were about the person Sanchez was. A big sweetheart who was extremely popular with his teammates. A number of organizational people said the same thing. This will hit them hard.

So many hands are put on these young prospects. Scouts, scouting directors, coaches, instructors, managers, trainers, teammates. Beyond that there are the broadcasters, affiliate owners and staffs and host families all who were part of Sanchez’s daily baseball life. I remember when Felix Hernandez talked about how this organization had always felt like family for him from before he even set foot in this country. He felt like he was treated like a son by many. It is a two way street and many are feeling this loss.

Of course none more than his family. It is heartbreaking to think they have lost a son. Heartbreaking to think that Victor was enjoying his last days home in his country before heading back to the US at a beach. And while we don’t have all the details, it sounds like it was a family vacation. My thoughts are with them tonight.

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