The Importance of Gary Sanchez

The Montero-Pineda trade: A dissenting opinion
Prospect Profile: Branden Pinder
(Matt Burton/MiLB.com)

The Yankees traded away more than just everyone’s favorite prospect when they agreed to send Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Michael Pineda last week, they also traded away their only impact bat at the upper levels of the minors. Jorge Vazquez has the gaudy stats, but he isn’t exactly young and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about his ability to contribute in the bigs. Austin Romine is a quality prospect, but more for his well-rounded game than pure offense. Brandon Laird can hit, but not like Montero.

With no impact bat on the horizon and a lineup that isn’t getting any younger, Gary Sanchez has suddenly became a very important cog in the Yankees’ machine. Despite being just 19 years old and with fewer than 600 pro plate appearances to his credit, he’s the best offensive prospect in the system with Montero on the way out, a right-handed bat offering power and patience worthy of the $3M signing bonus the team gave him in 2009. He’s not as polished as Montero was at that age, but their offensive upside is comparable.

“Sanchez has a purer swing and more patience at the plate than Jesus Montero, to whom he’s often compared,” said Baseball America in the subscriber-only write-up of their top ten Yankees prospects list. “Sanchez has similar raw power, too, and scouts project him as a plus hitter in terms of both average and pop.”

That raw power was on full display in 2011, as Sanchez clubbed 17 homers in 343 plate appearances for Low-A Charleston. That matched Montero’s homer output at the same age and level in 2008, just in 226 fewer plate appearances. Sanchez also produced a .229 ISO in 2011, which is better than Montero’s best single-season power showing (.228 ISO in 2010). That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the reason Sanchez had such a relatively low number of plate appearances is because he was sent to Extended Spring Training for two weeks for disciplinary reasons before missing the final three weeks of the season with a sprained thumb.

As brilliant as his hitting tools are, Montero has never been one to draw many walks or post gaudy OBPs. Both he and Sanchez drew 36 walks in the minors this season, but the latter came to the plate 120 fewer times. Sanchez’s 10.4% walk rate this year was better than Montero’s best single-season walk rate (9.1% in 2010) by a not small margin. At the same time, Sanchez also struck out in 27.1% of his plate appearances this year, which is Chato territory. Montero’s worst strikeout rate came this year and was just 21.1%. Like I said, the hitting tools are similar, but Jesus was much more polished at the same age.

Sanchez’s defense lags behind his offense, but the general consensus is that he has a better chance to remain behind the plate long-term than Montero because he isn’t as big (listed at 6-foot-2, 220 lbs.). Reports on his defense this year weren’t great, but at this point the glovework is secondary. As impressive as Dante Bichette Jr. and Ravel Santana were in their pro debuts this year, Sanchez is the team’s best hope of replacing the offense they’re trading away in Montero. He’s got the kind of power and patience needed to be a star hitter, but he also has more to work on than his prospect predecessor. Sanchez isn’t just a fun lottery ticket to follow anymore, he’s an important piece of the team’s future.

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The Montero-Pineda trade: A dissenting opinion
Prospect Profile: Branden Pinder
  • Total Dominication

    I think you meant to say reports on his defense were not great.

    • Bo Knows

      Meh its a dichotomy

      26 pb’s BAD

      31% CS GOOD

  • Mike Myers

    So, Posada with more tattoos? Ill take it.

  • theonewhoknocks

    I wish you picked a better picture. That Sanchez tattoo on his arm makes me think less of him. I miss Montero already.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      I was thinking the same thing. Pretty lame ink.

      • Ned Telson

        Very astute observation sir. Good day to you!

    • Monterowasdinero

      Looking at that pic makes me want Montero to just destroy the AL and the Yanks this year. This guy is our future?

      The hell with the scouts-prove them all wrong Jesus!

      • JJ

        Judging a player because of his appearance.

        Hooray for maturity.

        • Monterowasdinero

          Judging a guy who puts his own name across his own arm and has already had discipline problems.

          Hooray for insightfulness.

          • pat

            You realize CC has his name across his back, right? Or is it only a problem if you had discipline issues already? When is it OK?

            • JJ

              It’s only OK when it works for the point he’s trying to make.

          • JJ

            CC Sabathia has “SABATHIA” written in big letter across his upper back.

            How’s that any different? Wanna judge CC because of it? Might wanna be a bit more ‘insightful’ before you stupid statements.

            • Monterowasdinero

              Hidden by the uniform. I don’t know the history of CC and his tats but having your name on your arm as it appears in the photo just seems egotistical and immature. But I saw Mantle play so I am old and make stupid statements when it comes to this subject matter.

              • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                Ah, play the “I saw Mantle play, I’m older and better than you” card, that’s gonna win you a lot of arguments

                • the Other Steve S.

                  who said better? Oh, thats right, you did.

                  • Monterowasdinero

                    Thanks Steve S. Bexy likes to chime in to support me from time to time….

                  • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                    Yeah it wasn’t heavily implied or anything like that. Why would you think that?

                    Go bother LookoutLanding already.

                    • rachel owlglass

                      “I am old and make stupid statements when it comes to this subject matter.”

                      He clearly said something self-deprecating. Stop inviting negative attention with your “snark”.

              • Cris Pengiucci

                just seems egotistical and immature.

                Just keep in mind how old this kid is. Yes, immature, as most kids are his age. Egotistical? Well a lot of kids his age, with his talent would be too. Not saying it’s right or wrong, or that it should be right or wrong, just saying he’s not that much different than the majority of kids his age. The ones that are different are the exceptions.

          • Monteroisfinito

            Funny, your boy had some issues of his own with maturity and lack of hustle.

            • Captain

              exactly, Montero had his own issues

          • Voice of Reason

            You really think making character judgments based on tattoos is insightful? Yikes.

            But like everyone with taste, I too hate that tat. Just awful.

            • MannyGeee

              two very valid points:

              he’s 19, hes allowed to get a stupid tattoo, so dont be so quick to judge him based on his appearance. only slightly more acceptable than judging him based on skin color, really.

              counter point…. what a stupid fcking tattoo.

          • Ned Telson

            Cmon now gentlemen, can’t we all get along here. Let us bury the hatchet and bask in our Yankee fanhood together.

            Good day to you both!

            • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

              Do you have a goatee?

            • Monterowasdinero

              Well said Ned!

          • Rainbow Connection

            DiMaggio beat women. What now???

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        I’m judging that tat hard, but it seems pretty damn foolish to wish that Montero becomes an offensive force for another AL club, especially vs. the team that you root for.

      • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

        If you want to defect to the Mariners, just let me know. I will gladly help you.

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

          Seriously. I can help arrange transport, help you pack things, whatever you need.

      • SanchezIsTheFranchize

        I’m copyrighting this name.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If you look closely, the tattoo is actually a picture of Javy Vazquez. Trade the bum.

      • MannyGeee

        funny, i thought it was Latin for “Cowboy Up”… i smell a rat.

    • Ryan

      Just because he has a tattoo doesn’t mean he wont be a damn good player. He is only 19 and already has great stats to go along with him. A tattoo should have nothing to do with how his work ethic and how good of a player he is.

  • Mike Tomohawkxia

    expecting big year from Sanchez. If he repeats Low-a again he might put up his GCL numbers.

  • Reggie C.

    If Sanchez can’t perform the defensive duties of catching, could he be transitioned to a 1B or corner OF role? Perhaps sanchez could succeed Teixeira down the line.

  • jsbrendog

    i had my name tattoed on my forearm so a) i wouldnt forget and b) people would know who i am when i forearm smash their face/hit moonshot hr off of them

    • Mike Myers

      I didnt realize thats his OWN name…hahahah!

      Reporter “what your name?”
      Sanchez “uhhh…once sec….Sanchez!”
      Reporter “whats your first name?”
      Sanchez “uhhh….Sanchez?”

      • jsbrendog

        well mr sanchez sanchez….

  • infernoscurse

    that tattoo means he will get traded cause how many catchers wear long sleeves during an entire game

    goodbye Gary! hardly knew you

    • Mickey S

      AJ Burnett’s five year 16.5MM per tatted right arm says Hi!

      • Joe R

        When did AJ learn how to catch?

      • Monterowasdinero

        Does it say Burnett on it?

        Did we get the right guy?

        • MannyGeee

          yes, in WingDings Font

  • craig

    I think the Yankees feel they have a few options for catcher with Romine, Sanchez and Murphy + Martin may be able to stick around for a bit.

    I liked the Pineda/Jesus trade…call me crazy.

    By 2013, the staff could be CC, Pineda, Nova and then you need 2 of Banuelos, Betances, Phelps, Warren Campos and everyone else to fill out the 4/5 spots. If any of these guys turns out better, that is a plus.

    Add to this, the fact that the Yankees have focused a lot of picks on high upside position players besides the catchers mentioned (Williams, Santana, Bichette, Gumbs + Bichette and others) and they may have figured out a way to “win now” and build for the future, while lowering the payroll.

    There are certainly a lot of unknowns and “ifs”, but aren’t there always? These are just new ones we haven’t had to deal with before. I am excited with what has gone on, but that could be because I actually think Cashman has autonomy and knows what he is doing.

    • CountryClub

      You’re not crazy. RAB had a poll on Saturday and over 80% of the people that voted thought it was a good or great trade. I guess it’s possible we’re all crazy…but at least we’re in the majority.

      • MannyGeee

        but holy shit were those 20% loud over the weekend, huh? amirite?

  • Anders360

    People, When is the Montero trade going to become official ? have you guys heard anything about the players involved taking the physical ? Its been like a week already and NOTHING ! where are these people ?!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      At home in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

    • JJ

      It hasn’t been a week. The trade was first announced Friday night. Assuming the doctors work on a typical work week, it’s really only been 1 business day. Even if the doctors worked weekends, the players still had to fly to Seattle / NY over the weekend.

      • Anders360

        Sigh… Fair enough .

  • Monterowasdinero

    Happy Birthday Pineda.

  • Plank

    Who is this ‘Gary Sanchez’? He sounds made up.

    • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley Ned Telson

      What a funny comment fellow RAB-er! I enjoy your enthusiasm toward the Yankees and all of baseball. I would also like to add that I find the conversation you add to discussions both useful and thought-provoking.

      Good day to you!

      • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

        You must be his twin from the parallel Evil Universe.

      • Plank

        I truly greatly dislike you.

    • boogie down

      It’s funny you should say that: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s production company is named “Gary Sanchez Productions” because they felt “Gary Sanchez” sounded like a hilarious made-up name.

    • Rainbow Connection

      He’s a great-hitting, bad-defensive quasi-catcher that the butt hurt Montero fans are attacking because Montero is a great-hitting, bad-defensive, quasi-catcher that was traded.

  • HookersAndIceCream

    The other forearm says “dirty”

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Just shut down the blog and claim you’re protesting SOPA after this comment. No one will top it.

    • jjyank

      I literally started laughing out loud. My classmates probably think I’m crazy.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I hope him AND Murphy develop as planned and give the team the same problem Montero/Romine did in a few years.

  • pat

    CC is covered in tattoos, you buffoons.

    • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

      Yeah, but you can’t actually see his.

      • Bo Knows

        except for the big ass one on his arm

  • Loudog27

    Couldn’t Sanchez higher strikeout relate be due to his patience at the plate? It seems like the more you walk the more you strikeout.

    • jsbrendog

      the swisher effect. they are soemtimes correlated yes indeed. not always though. valid observation

    • Anchen

      It could and almost certainly does. However, a high strike out rate in the low minors means he’s either taking more than he should or some other issue. Adam Dunn, one of the great three true outcomes players highest rate of strikeouts in the minors was 101 in 538 PA. It’s not an issue yet, but high strikeout rates in the low minors can indicate issues in their swing or pitch recognition as they move up.

    • Mike Tomohawkxia

      that’s why swisher is garbage and Cano is god. but don’t try to explain that to the OBP crowd cause everyone knows walks>>>>hits.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        You seem intelligent. Swisher is garbage? Just because he isn’t Cano, along with almsot every other hitter, doesn’t make him garbage. Who from the “OBP crowd” claims walks to be better than hits?

        • MannyGeee

          I think ur sarcaso-meter is broke…

      • AP

        I don’t know if anyone would make the argument that walks > hits, but I think it’s pretty fair to say that OBP > AVG

      • Needed Pitching

        not walks>>>>hits
        hits>>walks>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>outs

      • I Live in My Mom’s Basement

        I believe the NoMaas universe is crossing over to RAB.

    • vin

      Maybe, but I’m not sure if that’s really the case in the minors though. Manny Ramirez would strike out 120 times a year despite being in total control of the strike zone, but plenty of those K’s were because the pitcher threw a perfect pitch (or a close ball called a strike). Minor league pitchers don’t usually have that skill.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yes, of course. More walks will results in more strikeouts just because working deep counts won’t always work out in the hitters favor. In the low minors though … eh, they’re a problem.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    IMHO, the Yankees made the proper move in trading Montero for Pineda. It strengthen a weakness and did not weaken a strength. We have Martin and Cervelli(the cat with 9 lives) for this season. Romine working on his hitting in AAA. We have improved without serious depletion of our farm system. All staying within the framework of 2014 payroll. The Yankees have won once in the last 10 years. They have stayed within the mission to win every year. I doubt the team could have improved the pitching enough without trading a ton of prospects or increasing payroll if we kept Montero. His value was used effectively to secure a better chance at winning the WS.

  • theyankeewarrior

    2016 Yankees:

    1B: Montero
    C: Sanchez

    • theyankeewarrior

      Whoops, meant 2018.

      :(

      • vin

        2018 Yankees:

        C: Austin Romine
        1B: Gary Sanchez
        LF: J.R. Murphy
        RF: Greg Bird
        DH: Jesus Montero

        • Bo Knows

          More partial to the 2018 signing of Bryce Harper to be our RF

  • Bronx Byte

    No point in over hyping Gary Sanchez until he shows good numbers and good defensive skills at AAA.

    • Mike Tomohawkxia

      Montero was hyped in the GCL.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      So a guy has to get all the way up to AAA before you take notice?

      • MannyGeee

        yeah, like Shelly Duncan!

    • AP

      but I want to overhype him NOW!

  • Gonzo

    I’ve heard the strikezone can be pretty rough in the low minors due to inexperienced officiating.

    Is he getting called strike 3 or swinging strike 3 more often?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Statcorner has that data, but they’re striking for SOPA today. So I can’t tell you.

      • Gonzo

        Thanks.

        Reminds me of language confusion joke.

        Texan:
        I don’t get Spanish at all. The sopa ain’t soap, the ropa ain’t rope, and the butter is meant to kill ya!

  • Monterowasdinero

    Do the Yanks have any official policy on tattoos/location etc? Seems like our pitchers have the most visible ones. I know we have a facial hair policy. Seems like every player who leaves us grows facial hair and every Red Suck has a goatee.

    The Montero Moustache will soon be seen.

    • MannyGeee

      also, what happens if you tattoo facial hair onto your face. loophole FTW!!!

  • Hardy

    It is mid-january and a player who had the sixth-highest wRC+ in MLB over the last three years and turns 28 this year is still available as a free agent.
    If the Yankees need more bats, they don’t have to rely on their farm system.

    • Needed Pitching

      even the Yankees have payroll limits

    • MannyGeee

      yeah, but they also dont want to pay by the pound. Hes gonna be stupid expensive.

  • PinedaColada

    But we can call him the Sanchize!

  • PBFog

    His arm looks dirty.