Yuma, Arizona - Arizona Western College announced that Yuma-area baseball player Angel Sanchez has signed an official letter of intent to attend AWC for the 2012-13 school year and play baseball for the Matadors next spring.
The announcement comes just six weeks before Sanchez steps onto the AWC campus for the first time to begin fall classes, and just two months after the Matador Baseball team made their first appearance in the Region I Playoffs in six years.
The Sanchez name has been synonymous with baseball success at AWC for the past two decades, and Angel certainly hopes to continue that tradition. Sanchez’s father, Angel “Bombi” Sanchez Sr., started two years under then-Matador head coach John Stratton in 1991 & 1992 at second base, joining forces during his sophomore year at AWC with future major leaguer Bengie Molina in 1992 to become the best middle-infield combination in the state of Arizona. Two years ago, Angel’s older brother, Sergio, came to AWC for his freshman season of college ball, and wound up one of the Matadors’ best hitters (led the team in runs batted in and batted .313) while playing the entire year at shortstop (as well as earning a pair of saves on the mound as a Matador relief pitcher).
Now, it’s the younger Angel’s turn to make his bid for a starting job in the Matador infield in 2013, and he brings strong credentials with him to do just that. Sanchez was a three-year starting varsity infielder for the Kings, including playing his sophomore campaign alongside his brother, Sergio. Sanchez played both middle infield positions (as well as some time in the outfield) as a sophomore, batting .329 in his first year on the varsity. As a junior, on a young Kings’ squad, Sanchez emerged as one of their top players, hitting .361 with 10 runs batted in while stealing 5 bases playing almost exclusively shortstop. This past season, Sanchez and his teammates showed what they’d learned as a young squad the year before by contending for the Arizona 5A State Playoffs until the regular season’s final day, and Sanchez was a major reason for the team’s resurgence, hitting .407, with 10 doubles, 8 stolen bases and 9 runs batted in. Sanchez earned postseason honors all three years, including making the 1st Team All-Gila Valley Region team in both his junior and senior campaigns.
While the legacy of his father and older brother might seem to loom large, Angel’s new head coach knows that things start anew for the young infielder now, and that Angel will be judged on his own merits. “We’re excited to have Angel join our program,” remarked AWC Head Baseball Coach Drew Keehn. “We see the way he’s matured over the last couple of years, and with our young team that found the ability to grow and mature throughout the year this past spring, we think Angel has a chance to fall right into place with that attitude, and grow with the rest of our team.” Keehn and the Matadors reached the postseason for the first time since 2006 this past May, making the Region I Semifinals, and finishing with a 33-24 overall record.