Pirates Sign First-Round Pick Sanchez

Article excerpt

Weeks of lively internal debates took place before the Pirates settled on catcher Tony Sanchez as their first-round draft pick.

They needed less than 72 hours to get Sanchez's name on a contract.

On Friday, Sanchez became the first of this year's opening-round picks to sign when he agreed to a deal with a $2.5 million signing bonus.

"I can't wait to get going," Sanchez said at a news conference at PNC Park. "I can't wait to get started. Ten days ago, I never thought I'd be here. It's a very surreal experience."

In a few days, Sanchez will attend minicamp for the Pirates' draft picks in Bradenton, Fla. From there, he will be sent to Single- A West Virginia and will become the everyday catcher.

Negotiations between the Pirates and Sanchez's agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, were smooth.

Before the draft, the two sides had a handshake agreement to accept Major League Baseball's slot bonus amount.

That's quite different than last summer, when the Pirates waged a protracted, contentious contract battle with agent Scott Boras and first-round pick Pedro Alvarez.

"A much easier process this year," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington scouted Sanchez once in April and for two games in May. Not long after that, discussions among the team's draft-day brain-trust -- which included scouts and scouting director Greg Smith -- began leaning toward choosing Sanchez.

Huntington finalized the decision Sunday, about 48 hours before the draft. …