Pirates' prospect Sanchez has jaw fractured

2009 first-round pick beaned second time this month with Bradenton

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony Sanchez, the Pirates' top catching prospect, has a fractured jaw after being beaned Tuesday for the second time in a month.

He was struck on the left edge of the jaw in the first inning of Class A Bradenton's game with visiting St. Lucie, then walked off unassisted before being taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital. Doctors there performed a CT scan that showed no brain issues, and initial X-rays showed no fractures. But a second review found two small fractures in the jaw.

What remains to be determined is the extent of those fractures: Sanchez was taken to Tampa late Tuesday night with an aim of seeing a specialist to determine if the bones are stable or if surgery was needed.

Because of the wide range of possibilities for the final diagnosis, general manager Neal Huntington could not come close to offering a timetable for Sanchez's return. But he did say that the team would be "extremely cautious" in monitoring Sanchez for possible concussion symptoms.

Another reason for that: On June 3, Sanchez was hit in the head by a pitch, and the team held him out of action for five days because of concussion-like symptoms, then eased him back into catching only after a few days as designated hitter.

"It's obviously very unfortunate," Huntington said.

Is Sanchez leaning over the plate?

"He just has no fear," Huntington said. "He doesn't back off."

Sanchez heard good news earlier in the day when Major League Baseball announced that he and Class AA Altoona center fielder Gorkys Hernandez were selected for the Futures Game July 11 in Anaheim, Calif.

Sanchez, 22, is batting .314 with four home runs and 35 RBIs, and the Pirates see him on a track where he could be in Class AA Altoona this summer, if health allows.

Hernandez, also 22, had mostly struggled since being acquired in the Nate McLouth trade last summer, as his 2010 numbers .250, two home runs, 19 RBIs -- will attest. But he has batted .318 in June with a .410 on-base percentage and both of those home runs.

It will be Hernandez's second invitation, the first two years ago while in the Atlanta system.

"I'm excited because, two years ago when I went to Yankee Stadium, I got to play the entire game," Hernandez said Tuesday night from Altoona. "So maybe this year when I go, I can play the whole game again."

Perhaps the most deserving player went without a selection: Right-hander Bryan Morris is 6-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 14 starts between Bradenton and Altoona.

The rosters are chosen by MLB, with minimal input from the teams, and the balance needed to make the U.S. and World teams often leaves deserving players out.

Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more online at PBC Blog .


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