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Baseball: From Hap Minor to Freddy Sanchez

July 13, 2002

showcase, an event to highlight the best athletes the game has to

offer. Instead, it just demonstrated what a quagmire professional

baseball has become and why many fans are leaving the sport in

droves.

If something isn't done to save the sport, we may be hearing the

death knoll of professional baseball as we know it.

*

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Freddy Sanchez has never been known as a home-run hitter. From his

times as a successful baseball player at Burbank High and Glendale

Community College, to his two-plus seasons in the minor leagues,

Sanchez has enjoyed only an occasional power serge.

However, Wednesday, Sanchez -- who plays for the Trenton Thunder

in the Boston Red Sox organization -- proved he does have some pop in

his bat at the Double A All-Star Game at Dodd Stadium in Norwich,

Conn.

Playing for the American League-affiliated all-stars against the

National League team, Sanchez opened the scoring in the first inning

with a towering home run. The solo shot off of Reading right-hander

Ryan Madson blasted off a third-tear billboard in left-center field.

Sanchez had just two home runs this season. He added a third in a

game Thursday.

Starting at shortstop, Sanchez went one for two to help the

American League to an 11-2 win in front of a crowd of 8,009.

A former Foothill League Player of the Year at Burbank, Sanchez is

enjoying a fine season with Trenton. Last month, he had a 27-game

hitting streak and he is batting .323 with 96 hits, 56 runs scored,

34 runs batted in, 34 walks, 22 doubles and 18 stolen bases.

He has also reached base by hit or walk 36 straight games and has

hit safely in 40 of 43 straight games.

As the Red Sox prepare for a run at the playoffs, Sanchez could

prove to be a valuable commodity for the club. If Boston doesn't

bring him up, Sanchez could also be prime trade-bait for a team in

need of a quality consistent player.

Said Josh Goldfine of Sports Ticker Insider Report: "Trenton

middle infielder Freddy Sanchez is the only position player who could

bring anything of significant value in a trade. Sanchez ... is a pure

hitter whose ability to put the ball in play and do the 'little

things' may make him valuable to many teams in a rebuilding process."

If he is brought up when teams expend their rosters in September,

or if he's traded, it looks like Sanchez has a long, successful

career in front of him.

And come to think of it, Freddy Sanchez -- a local product with

many local ties -- could just turn out to be a new breed of role

models that our young players can look up to. Heaven knows they need

something positive to emulate.

* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be

reached at 843-8700, or by e-mail at jeff.tully@latimes.com.

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