The Importance of Gary Sanchez


(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.

Categories : Minors


  1. Total Dominication says:

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

  2. Mike Myers says:

    So, Posada with more tattoos? Ill take it.

  3. theonewhoknocks says:

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

  4. Mike Tomohawkxia says:

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

  5. Reggie C. says:

    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.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    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

  7. infernoscurse says:

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

    goodbye Gary! hardly knew you

  8. craig says:

    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 says:

      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.

  9. Anders360 says:

    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 ?!

  10. Monterowasdinero says:

    Happy Birthday Pineda.

  11. Plank says:

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

    • Ned Telson says:

      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!

    • boogie down says:

      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 says:

      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.

  12. HookersAndIceCream says:

    The other forearm says “dirty”

  13. Robinson Tilapia says:

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

  14. pat says:

    CC is covered in tattoos, you buffoons.

  15. Loudog27 says:

    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 says:

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

    • Anchen says:

      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 says:

      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.

    • vin says:

      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.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      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.

  16. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    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.

  17. theyankeewarrior says:

    2016 Yankees:

    1B: Montero
    C: Sanchez

  18. Bronx Byte says:

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

  19. Gonzo says:

    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?

  20. Monterowasdinero says:

    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.

  21. Hardy says:

    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.

  22. PinedaColada says:

    But we can call him the Sanchize!

  23. PBFog says:

    His arm looks dirty.

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