Luis Mercedes Escoba Sánchez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 210 lb.
- Debut April 10, 1981
- Final Game October 6, 1985
- Born August 24, 1953 in Cariaco, Sucre, Venezuela
- Died February 4, 2005 in La Guaira, Vargas, Venezuela
Luis Sánchez was signed by the Houston Astros in September 1971, at the age of 16. He was sent to the Cocoa Astros to begin his career in 1972. There, he was 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 71 innings, allowing only 55 hits, with 6 complete games among his 11 appearances and a 31/49 BB/K ratio. Moving up to the Midwest League in 1973, Sánchez was 5-9 with a 4.22 ERA for the Cedar Rapids Astros. He gave up 140 hits in 130 innings, but improved his BB/K ratio to 43/93. Back with Cedar Rapids in 1974, Sánchez was 9-4, leading the league with a 1.59 ERA. He gave up 122 hits in 147 innings and further improved his BB/SO to 44/130. Sánchez split 1975 between the MWL and the Double A Southern League. For the Dubuque Packers, he was 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings, but he spent most of the year with the Columbus Astros. There, he was 6-12 with a 4.02 ERA. He surrendered 137 hits in 132 innings with a dreadful 64/60 BB/K ratio.
On October 24, 1975 the Astros sent players to be named later to the Cincinnati Reds for Joaquin Andujar. The players were Carlos Alfonso and Sánchez. The Reds sent Sánchez to the Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League in 1976. In 2 games, he was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 8 innings, giving up 11 hits with 5 walks and 5 strikeouts. The Reds released him on July 28. He caught on with the 1979 Caracas Metropolitanos and went 2-4 with a 4.89 ERA. In 1980, Sánchez was 14-9 2.03 ERA for the Aguascalientes Rieleros. He gave up only 149 hits in 177 innings with a 35/155 BB/K ratio. He also appeared in 5 games for the Albuquerque Dukes (during the Mexican League strike?), going 2-1 5.32 ERA, with 27 hits in 22 innings and a 10/15 BB/K ratio.
In February of 1981, the California Angels bought Sánchez from the Veracruz Eagles, and converted him into a reliever. He was hit pretty hard in only 8 innings with the Salt Lake City Gulls, but he was 0-2, 2.94 ERA, 2 saves for the Angels. He gave up 39 hits in 33 2/3 innings with a 11/13 BB/K ratio. In 1982, he was 7-4, 3.21 ERA, 5 savese, giving up only 89 hits in 92 2/3 innings but striking out only 58 against 34 walks. In 1983, his strikeouts were down even more. He was 10-8, 3.66 ERA, 7 saves, with 92 hits in 98 1/3 innings and 49 strikeouts against 40 walks. Sánchez improved his K rate and his BB rate in 1984, but his hits went up. He was 9-7, 3.33 ERA, 11 saves with 84 hits in 83 2/3 innings and a 33/62 BB/K ratio. 1985 would be Sánchez' roughest year with the Angels, and his last. He was 2-0, but with a 5.72 ERA in 61 1/3 innings. He gave up 67 hits and 27 walks, with 34 K. Sánchez even spent time with the Edmonton Trappers, giving up 7 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, with a 10.13 ERA. In December, Sánchez was traded, with Tim Arnold, to the Montreal Expos for Gary Lucas. In February of 1986, the Expos sold him to the Yomiuri Giants.
Known as the "Mad Venezuelan" in Japan, Sánchez once tried to plunk coach Mutsuo Minagawa. When he called Minagawa dumb, he was fined a few thousand dollars. The closer for the 1986 Yomiuri Giants, Sánchez went 4-1 with 19 saves and a 2.32 ERA and 42 K to 12 BB. Sánchez made the All-Star team that year. He also once stormed the plate after a Japanese hitter used the F-word in a confrontation with him. In his second season in Japan, Sánchez went 0-3 with 9 saves and a 2.82 ERA, for a composite ERA of 2.54 for Yomiuri. It would be his final professional season.
He died in his native Venezuela at the beginning of February in 2005. He was 51.