The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Sanchez entered the 2013 season as the New York Yankees’ top prospect and future catcher.
In 2012, he enjoyed a breakout campaign, batting .290/.344/.485 with 48 extra-base hits (18 home runs), 85 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 117 games between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. Understandably, expectations were high for the young slugger heading into his age-20 season.
Opening the year back at Tampa, the 20-year-old struggled to progress offensively, batting .254/.313/.420 with 21 doubles and 13 home runs in 94 games. The Yankees moved him up to Double-A for the final month of the season, and he held his own with a .744 OPS in 23 games.
Sanchez showcases above-average power potential from a well-balanced swing, with plus bat speed and a feel for striking the ball. However, he has an overaggressive approach and tends to give away too many at-bats. His ability to control the strike zone has improved over the last year, but he still has plenty of room to improve.
In general, he’s an impressive young hitter, and the bat should play regardless of future position. Defensively, Sanchez has improved significantly over the last two years, but he still has a long way to go.
The 6’2”, 220-pound backstop possesses solid athleticism and agility, though it may not last for long as he continues to develop physically. It could also impact his ability to stick behind the plate moving forward. His blocking and receiving skills are still pretty raw and leave room for improvement. Sanchez’s arm strength is his biggest asset and helps negate some of the weaker aspects of his current defensive profile.
However, Sanchez’s chances of becoming the Yankees’ catcher were crushed when the team signed free agent Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract with a sixth-year vesting option, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
According to Andy McCullough of The Star Ledger (via Twitter), general manager Brian Cashman has received interest in Sanchez, among others.
Compared to J.R. Murphy, who could serve as a solid backup to McCann next season, Sanchez would bring back greater value in a trade, perhaps for an outfielder or starting pitcher.
ETA: Late 2015
Potential Impact: Above-average starting catcher