Seattle Mariners minor league pitcher Victor Sanchez died Saturday night, after suffering head injuries in a boating accident last month. He was 20 years old.
The pitcher, who played last season for the Jackson (Tennessee) Generals, Seattle's affiliate in the Class AA Southern League, also played for the Caracas Lions in his native Venezuela. Both the Mariners and the Lions confirmed his death.
“The Seattle Mariners are saddened to learn of the passing of Victor Sanchez," team general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "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."
Sanchez, who was born in Rio Chico, Venezuela, was swimming at a beach in the coastal town of Campano on Feb. 14 when he was struck in the head by the propeller of a motorboat, ESPN reported. He was in a medically induced coma for 42 days until his death.
The pitcher was supposed to travel to Arizona for a Mariners minor league mini-camp, which takes place prior to spring training. The team released a statement via Twitter on Saturday, expressing its sympathies to Sanchez’s family. “It is with sadness we share that minor leaguer Victor Sanchez has passed away. Our deepest condolences to his family,” the tweet said.
Sanchez was a 6-foot-tall, 255-pound right-handed pitcher. He was 7-6 with a 4.19 earned-run average and 97 strikeouts last season at Jackson, having signed with the Mariners as an international free agent at age 16 in 2011. Sanchez previously pitched for the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings of the Class A Midwest League in 2013, and the Everett (Washington) AquaSox of the Class A Northwest League in 2012.
His minor league teammates remembered Sanchez as being humble, quiet, soft-spoken and funny. "He wasn't like the normal young kids that come in with a lot of money and most of them need to be humbled a little bit and grow up a little," infielder Patrick Kivlehan said. "He kind of had that from day one."