As the New York Yankees work towards improving upon the result of the 2012 season, a loss to Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, there is one position where the team must exercise patience to realize the potential it holds—catcher.
Down at the ground floor of the organization sits a 20-year-old showcasing unlimited potential as the backstop to the Yankees Single-A team in Tampa. His name is Gary Sanchez.
In splitting his time between the South Atlantic League Charleston RiverDogs and the Florida State League Tampa Yankees, Sanchez hit a combined .288 with 18 home runs and 85 RBI. He also flashed some speed on the base paths by swiping 15 bases in the 116 games he played with the two teams.
Behind the plate he showed what he can become by gunning down runners at a 30 percent rate.
According to Baseball America, the young backstop is the third-ranked prospect in the Yankees system and is rated the best power hitter in the New York Yankee organization entering 2013 (as well as the best power prospect in the South Atlantic League).
The recent departure of Russell Martin, who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaves the Yankees with a void to fill for 2013. General manager Brian Cashman has implied that the team may try to use existing resources (Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine) behind the plate rather than signing a free agent, or trading for a replacement.
That may indicate a willingness to let Sanchez develop on a schedule rather than rushing him through the ranks to satisfy an immediate need.
On the other hand, the Yankees are currently without a right fielder. There are rumors that Ichiro Suzuki has shown a desire to resign with the team and is waiting on the team to take care of more pressing matters.
However, should Suzuki not sign with New York, does the team once again reach into its minor league pockets to secure an established outfielder? Is Gary Sanchez the bait the team needs to acquire someone to man right field?
One can only hope that Cashman will use restraint and not drain the Yankees of their future behind the plate. To date there is no reason to believe that he will trade Sanchez, but given the organization's history of looking for the quick fix, it will always be a possibility.