Brawley native Jacob Sanchez joined the ranks of the Joliet Slammers professional baseball team midway through the 2012 season, after graduating from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant.
The right-handed pitcher almost immediately made his presence felt in Illinois, going 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts. According to the team’s official website, he racked up some 29 strikeouts in 26.2 innings in 2013, as well as back-to-back strikeout performances.
He is hoping to build on that success as he makes the jump from the Frontier League to the majors — last Friday, the Chicago White Sox purchased his contract from Joliet.
“There was definitely a mixture of emotions when I got the call,” said Sanchez, 23. “I was excited, happy. It was pretty unreal. It’s something you think about, dream out for most of your life and then when you get that phone call and hear them say, ‘We’re gonna give you the opportunity to play professionally’ … It was one of the best moments I’ve ever had.”
After a solid senior season at Wesleyan, Sanchez was initially unable to find a team willing to sign him. He describes this interim period as one in which he “kind of just sat around.”
Sanchez, who has been helping coach the Brawley Union High ball club in the offseason, has been in the White Sox’ minicamp in Glendale, Arizona, since this past Sunday. From there, he will head to Great Falls, Montana, where he will continue his journey up the ladder.
“Chicago’s still a ways away,” Sanchez acknowledges. “It’s a grind every day but you gotta keep working. Most people see all the good stuff but they don’t see the toll the physical and mental grind takes on you.
“You’ve gotta be away from your family and you have to prepare yourself for that. My motivation is that I’ve got a 2-year-old daughter back home and a wonderful fiancée who allows me to keep on playing.
“I also work with kids down in the Valley during the offseason and I’d like to give them that extra motivation to help them push through and chase their own dreams.”
Sanchez would like to express his gratitude to personal trainer Edgar Guillen, friends and family for their love and support.