Jan
03

Prospect Profile: Gary Sanchez

By

(Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

Gary Sanchez | C

Background
Raised in Santo Domingo, the largest city and capital of the Dominican Republic, Sanchez signed with the Yankees for $3M on the first day of the 2009 international signing period. He was 16 years old at the time, and it remains the largest signing bonus New York has ever given to an internationally signed amateur. Thanks to the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Sanchez figures to hold the record for the foreseeable future.

Pro Career
The Yankees skipped Sanchez over the Dominican Summer League and brought him stateside for his pro debut in 2010. He hit .353/.419/.597 (188 wRC) with six homers in 136 plate appearances with the rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate after a stint in Extended Spring Training, earning him top prospect honors in the circuit according to Baseball America. The Yankees bumped him up to Short Season Staten Island very briefly at the end of the season, and he played 30 of 47 total games at catcher. Both Baseball America (#30) and Keith Law (#68) ranked Sanchez as one of the 100 best prospects in baseball the next spring.

Following some heart tests that revealed nothing serious in February 2011, the Yankees assigned Sanchez to Low-A Charleston to start the season. He was the second youngest player in the South Atlantic League. Sanchez started slowly before being demoted to Extended Spring Training for disciplinary reasons in May, after he reportedly refused to catch a bullpen session and enter a game off the bench. He returned two weeks later and finished the season on a tear, clubbing eight homers in his final 13 games and finishing with a .256/.335/.485 (122 wRC+) line and 17 homers in 343 plate appearances. Sanchez’s season ended three weeks early due to a sprained left thumb, and despite playing only 60 of 82 games behind the plate, he led the league with 26 passed balls. Following the season, Baseball America ranked him as the 14th best prospect in the league, and he again cracked Keith Law’s (#55) and Baseball America’s (#81) top 100 lists the following spring.

The Yankees held Sanchez back and again assigned him to Low-A Charleston to start 2012, but he earned a midseason promotion by hitting .297/.353/.517 (136 wRC+) with 13 homers. He hit .279/.330/.436 (118 wRC+) with High-A Tampa to finish the season, ending with a combined .290/.344/.485 (~129 wRC+) batting line in 474 plate appearances. His 18 homers led all minor league catchers, and he cut his passed ball total to 18 despite playing 91 of his 116 games at catcher. Baseball America ranked him as the fifth best prospect in the South Atlantic League and ninth best in the Florida State League after the season. Sanchez got handful of at-bats in winter ball in recent weeks, but not much.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 lbs., Sanchez stands out for his huge power from the right side. His swing is sound and he can drive the ball to all fields, and although he’s willing to work the count and wait for a pitch he can punish, he can get caught being too passive at times and pile up strikeouts. It’s worth noting that his strikeout rate did drop from 27.1% in 2011 to 22.4% in 2012, though he obviously still has work to do. Sanchez can struggle with high-end breaking balls, both hitting and receiving them.

Defensively, Sanchez’s best tool is his excellent arm. He gets rid of the ball quickly and has thrown out 29.7% of attempted base-stealers as a professional even though the Yankees do not emphasize holding runners in the minors. His footwork behind the plate is okay and improving, ditto his hands and receiving in general. Although he has yet to be turned him loose and allowed to completely call his own game, Sanchez has received more responsibility behind the plate over the years as his English has improved. The work ethic problems that led to demotion in 2011 were a non-issue in 2012. There is plenty of video at both MiLB.com and YouTube.

2013 Outlook
Sanchez, who just turned 20 last month, is expected to return to High-A Tampa to start the season after playing only 48 games at the level this past summer. Another midseason promotion figures to be in the cards, this one to Double-A Trenton.

My Take
The comparisons to Jesus Montero are inevitable and unfair. They’re each their own individual players — Montero was the more polished hitter but Sanchez has a much better chance of staying behind the plate — and should be treated that way. I like Sanchez because of his right-handed power and raw hitting ability, something the Yankees will need in the big league lineup very soon. The breaking ball issues due concern me a bit, but I am encouraged that his strikeout rate did drop as he moved to a higher level, albeit in a small sample. Sanchez is one of baseball’s best catching prospects, but his climb up the ladder has been a little slower and more deliberate than I expected.

Categories : Prospect Profiles
  • trr

    Just turned 20, so should have 2 – 4 years to develop. I don’t know that I would consider any NYY prospect “untouchable”, but he’s at the top of the list, IMHO

    • Herby

      The only thing untouchable in Brian’s world is his wife.

      • Hoss

        You mean 50 Cent isn’t his son?

      • Barry

        The other arm says dirty.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He’s absolutely the least touchable to me due to what appears to be a growing consensus around scouting reports, all pointing in the right direction, and the real possibility he can stick at catcher.

      A lot of prospects exite me, but no one has me more exited as to what they could potentially be for this franchise than Sanchez.

      He’d *sniff* make some of the *sniff* heartache go away.

    • Upstate Yanks

      Yea knowing the way we treat high end prospects he’ll be up sometime around age 30.

      • Ed

        Remember when we used to bitch constantly about how they ruined Hughes, Joba, and IPK by rushing them ridiculously fast thru the minors?

        • gc

          Exactly. As the man said….”Play the young kids NOW. I want to bitch and moan about them underperforming sooner!”

        • JobaWockeeZ

          The whining was mostly about Joba and that was well deserved.

          • Ted Nelson

            He meant from fans in general, not just from you individually.

      • Ted Nelson

        What highest prospects are you referring to?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Thisa Guy and Thata Guy.

      • jjyank

        Uhhh, no.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      While I agree that he’s the closest thing to untouchable, Jesus will likely be the more regarded prospect yet the best we got from that chip was Pineda.

      I’m expecting him gone frankly. He’s talented, hyped and had a disciplinary issue.

      • Ted Nelson

        The best they got was a top of the rotation starter with 5 cost controlled years left…

        I was not in favor of that move, personally, but objectively at the time it’s about impossible to say it wasn’t a good return.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I honestly still don’t see it that way, Ted. You got a guy with a full season’s worth of success at the MLB level. I get why this isn’t the best example, but that was about a half season more of success than Ivan Nova had at the time – or that was what I was screaming at myself with at the time.

          To me, it was very underwhelming at the time. That being said, I hope Pineda is able to approach something near what we hoped we were getting again.

          • LK

            True, but you were giving up a guy with a month’s worth of success at the MLB-level. It’s hard to expect much more back.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Very good point. I’m probably valuing our guy more then because he’s our guy.

              • LK

                Sure. That’s part of the fun of being a fan. I was certainly very attached to Montero as well. As much as the Pineda injury sucked, watching Jesus struggle through 2012 in pinstripes would’ve been very tough as well.

            • thenamestsam

              Not only this, but the reality is that there’s always a tradeoff between more years of team control and more demonstrated MLB success. If you go after guys who have 2 years of success in MLB you’re getting one year less pre-Arb year where you’re getting the absolute best deal possible on a player. Getting a slightly worse player with an extra pre-Arb year might actually be better than getting a better player with one less year under some circumstances.

              Obviously Pineda hasn’t worked out at all and some of the criticisms of the process are fair, but it’s important to remember that Mike and many others (and rightly so) talked repeatedly about how it was critical that the Yankees get multiple cost-controlled years from anyone they dealt Montero for. Now that Pineda is hurt there has been a huge outcry that we should have gotten someone more established. Not lumping you in with that, just saying there’s inevitably a tradeoff there.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s a trade-off. If you get the proven veteran via trade you’re going to give up more in prospects and then spend more money and/or have fewer years of control. There’s more risk in the young cost controlled guy, but also more reward.

        • JU

          All due respect Ted, but I can very easily question that trade, even at the time it happened. To just matter of factly say that Pineda was a top of the rotation starter could be called hyperbole. He was an unpolished 2-pitch pitcher who had a half season of success. He also lost velocity as the season went on. All that aside, they traded the best hitting prospect they’ve had in 20 years for the most volatile commodity in baseball – a young pitcher without a track record – this one in particular that was not nearly a finished product and already showed signs of arm problems.

          I’m not saying that Cashman was stupid for making the deal, but I can very easily argue against the trade.

          • Ted Nelson

            I didn’t say that you couldn’t, in fact, I said that I did argue against the trade at the time. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good, fair return, though. I didn’t love the trade, but Pineda has far more positives than those marginal negatives and Montero has his own short-comings as well. I like Montero, but he’s not perfect. If you were going to trade Montero, a guy who was ranked the #16 prospect in baseball, had a strong rookie year, and sits in the mid-90s is not a bad asset to get.

            Pineda had a strong September, by the way, had a strong minor league track record, and plenty of great SPs rely on 2 pitches, especially early in their careers. Also, how about some context for losing velo on a 95 MPH FB as a season goes on. I have no idea, but that might not be particularly uncommon for a 22 year old.

            • JU

              “but objectively at the time it’s about impossible to say it wasn’t a good return.”

              This was the statement I was referring to, so I apologize if I misinterpreted it, but I think I was being pretty objective. Everything you said about Pineda was relavent, which is why I’m not blasting the trade. All I’m saying is that the trade was not a no brainer, which is how it was being portrayed by virtually everyone who talked about it at the time. Montero’s warts aside, he was still a top end hitting prospect, and to trade that away for a player that was not a sure thing (not that there is such a thing) and had shown things to be concerned about, could easily be objectively argued against.

              That being said, I totally see where you are coming from…

              • Ted Nelson

                Yeah, I’m not at all saying it’s a no-brainer, just that it was a pretty good return.

  • Blake

    They like Stewie’a defense better

  • Robinson Tilapia

    #erection

    • jjyank

      #coldshower

      • MannyGeee

        #yeshomo?

  • Vern Sneaker

    Prospects so often disappoint but Sanchez is SOO promising. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

  • Walter

    I have to say watching a few scouting videos… Sanchez and Austin have way more bat speed than Mason Williams. Some of the videos I saw really make his swing look slow and putrid. I hope he’s better than those vids.

  • Frankeee1

    Any other position but catcher and he would be in AA/AAA and we would be talking about his being rushed. Held back also due to maturity issues which are certainly understandable. Imagine being 17 and living in a foreign country and trying to learn a new language and being asked to master the fine art of catching and hitting a base ball at the same time. I had much more trouble hitting bad curve balls from never been high schoolers like myself and my biggest adjustment was learning how to drive at that age. Cant wait to see him develop.

  • your mom

    Hard to imagine it’s taken this long for a prospect profile on Sanchez. Seems like he’s been around forever despite only being 20.

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

      I have a tendency to let the IFA guys slip through the cracks. I was surprised I hadn’t done one either.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You never did one on Derek Jeter. He’s turning 39. Get to steppin.

        • Bo Knows

          That guy was such an overdraft….only hit.210/.311/.314 in rookie ball and on top of that he made 21 errors.

          I don’t see anything special from that so called “ShortStop” Jeter, he’ll never make it out of A ball.

          Mark my words we are going to regret seeing the Yanks pass over Peter Janicki

          • Jim Is Bored

            It makes me really happy that you actually found a real guy taken 2 picks after Jeter to finish the joke.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Going the extra mile gets you far around here.

              • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

                Usually about an extra mile.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  That’s true. Misspelling “Romine” or “salary” gets you much farther.

                  Also, not knowing it’s Steve Pearce.

            • Bo Knows

              If something is worth doing you shouldn’t go half assed

            • Bo Knows

              If something is worth doing you shouldn’t go half assed

          • MannyGeee

            this is awesome. thank you…

          • Havok9120

            You, sir, win ten Internets.

        • RetroRob

          Mantle first.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      The Jesus one didn’t come until he was in AA.

  • dkidd

    his expression in that pic reminds me of posada

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Do the Yankees have language instructors for these guys? It seems like you would want to help them get caught up in language and culture as quickly as possible…

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    Crown jewel?

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Trade him to Seattle for Hultzen and a torn labrum.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Torn labrums are worth a lot, especially when they are undetecatble or happen after a trade occurs.

    • Blake

      If they throw in an A ball pitcher with a bum elbow I’ll think about it

    • jjyank

      Come on man.

  • Hoss

    Mike, Capital of the DR is Santo Domingo.

  • Reggie C.

    Sanchez could be on the cusp of top 10 prospects lists with a half season of dominating FSL pitchers. That would raise Sanchez’s prospect star to the point where he’d be “the guy” you package for a Mike Stanton, or if the Mariners ever wise up, Felix Hernandez.

    p.s., I still think Jesus Montero will “hit” and as soon as next season with the Safeco fences being brought in. Man needs to learn to take a walk though.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I really hope he doesn’t so we don’t give him up for Taijuan Walker.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Just give up the dream of Felix Hernandez being in Pinstripes.

      • MannyGeee

        There’s still a chance… Seattle could go all Houston or Colorado on us and add a pinstriped uniform to their closet…

    • thenamestsam

      Lumping Felix in with Stanton at this point is just not right. People have been pining for Felix for so long that they haven’t noticed that he doesn’t have nearly the value now that he did when they first started pining for him. He’s not 23 any more, he’ll be 27 around opening day, and he doesn’t have 5 years of control at a very reasonable price left, he has 2 years and $40M left. Still an incredibly attractive target, but not on Stanton’s level.

      • Ted Nelson

        Agreed, and I would also say that at the time some of what you were paying for was that he might just keep getting better. He’s leveled off at very good or great, though, so I think it’s fair to say he’s less likely to make the jump now to amazing than it was at 23, 24.

  • Magical Mystery Team

    Tattooing your last name on your forearm may not fit in with the staid tradition of the Yankees, but I’m sure it comes in handy on those bleary-eyed mornings when you can’t quite remember who the hell you are.

  • Robert

    Who are the Yankee invites at catcher this year for spring training?

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

      Yogi.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Apparently, some dude named Cervalie.

        • MannyGeee

          there are none… That Lettuce Guy or bust, BITCHES!

          • Reggie C.

            celery cap?

  • Reggie44

    It’s a shame will never see him , will trade him for more damage goods. Will trade him and for some reason we keep Cervalie around.

    • Jim Is Bored

      That’s one of the more interesting misspellings of Cervelli that I’ve seen.

    • jjyank

      Your crystal ball sucks.

  • JU

    Mike, you mentioned Sanchez being too passive at times, and the K%. Do you have any swing-and-miss numbers on him?

  • chuck

    Put a bow on him and send him to Miami for Stanton.. Too bad we dont have enough to make that happen. The Yankees don’t seem to keep players who behave poorly in the minors.. any examples? They’ll sign them as free agents.. but Montero was a goner all along. I kinda turned on him after he started taking curtain calls for meaningless home runs. Twice in a game?
    I wish teams were a bit more wreckless with prospects.. Like if a guy is tearing up AA just promote him and see what happens. Baptism by fire. Is his value really gonna deflate that badly? Is his morale gonna die after a half dozen strike outs and a send down? Id think it might be a motivator. Im not educated on options or whatever so I dont really know the risk involved.. but I think it would be fun to watch.

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s not uncommon for a team to promote someone from AA. It’s not for every prospect, but it happens.

      An option is used when you have a guy on the 40 man in the minors: being in the minors uses an option, not calling him up. One reason teams don’t tend to bring up just anyone from AA, though, is if he’s not on the 40 man you have to add him. He’s also starting to accumulate service time. Some teams (Tampa, for example) make an effort to hold some guys down longer so that the six cost controlled years they get from the guy are more productive.

      Another reasons is that they don’t think he’s likely to succeed. And I would argue that it would not be fun to watch an unprepared kid get totally housed in meaningful games, causing the Yankees to lose more games.

      Yet another reason is that they still have things to learn. Things that might be easier to learn against AA and then AAA Ps. If you put first graders in calculus you might find a genius once in a while, but mostly you’re not likely to benefit them as they’re not learning the fundamentals they are supposed to. There is an argument that you’ll stunt a prospect long-term by rushing him. I don’t totally buy it, but a ridiculously aggressive promotion to MLB could do the trick. Especially since he’s probably a bench warmer or BP arm on a good team like the Yankees, so he’s not actually playing every day.

      • chuck

        Alright that all makes a lot of sense. Thanks really that totally cleared a lot up for me.

  • Andy

    Somebody please tell me that that isn’t his own name tattooed on his arm.

  • george coffey

    Ithink the pineda situation was a yankee foul-up.why was pineda not visitedby a yankee official after the trade.When he came to camp out of shape,why was he not sent to the minor league camp.Why was Cashman screaming the loudest that he w as not throwing 95.the kid tried to throw too hard,too soon,injured himself.Why would the yankee abuse their own player.

  • Mike in Davie Florida

    Sure looks like his arm says Sanchez…….Is that in case he can’t remember his name?