It seems, when a player is a highly touted prospect, he naturally undergoes more scrutiny than usual.
Such is the case with Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez, who was stamped as “can’t-miss” after signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 by scouts Victor Mata and Raymon Sanchez.
Perhaps some figured Sanchez would hit .335 and smack 30 homers at Double-A Trenton in 2013. One view was Sanchez’s 2014 season, in which he hit .270 (116-for-429) with 13 homers and 65 RBIs, was a disappointment. Such is the life when a recruit is hyped.
In reality, Sanchez did make a lot of progress this season. He is learning patience at the plate and his power will continue to develop. He is still young, not turning 22 until next Dec. 2. The progress is the type that, while being of the utmost importance, is not always noticed by the fans.
“I really thought Gary had an excellent season,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin.”He really made strides in a lot of areas. He calls a game better. He improved a lot in blocking balls. He became a much-better all-around catcher.
“He ought to be able to start next season at Triple-A (Scranton).”
The one blot of Sanchez’s season was a five-game suspension handed down by Franklin in June. Following that, however, Sanchez seemed to take the game more seriously and seemed much more focused. That earned Sanchez his end-of-the-season plaudit from Franklin.
“Gary has skills that will play at the major-league level,” added Franklin.” Like any prospect, he’s learning how to put it all together, on-and-off the field.”
His bat is still rated highly, and Sanchez is projected to be a .260-.270 big-league hitter who will likely hit 20 home runs annually.
Sanchez’s future in the Yankees organization, with Brian McCann signed through the 2018 season is unclear, which is something the Yankees have to address in the off-season. Is Sanchez a player, with McCann in the lineup, who will see action in The Bronx in the future, or is he a key trade chip?
Catcher is easily the deepest position in the Yankees system. In addition to Sanchez, Luis Torrens is coming up behind him and has been impressive, while John Ryan Murphy and Francisco Cervelli have proven themselves on the major-league level. Austin Romine also remains in the picture. The Yankees also recently re-signed Kyle Higashioka, who is a solid defensive catcher with a legitimate bat in his own right.
So it makes sense for the Yankees, to fill a hole for 2015, to trade one of these talented catchers. Murphy could no doubt start for a several big-league teams, while Cervelli could fill that bill as well. Romine still draws interest, leaving Sanchez as the bridge between that group and Torrens.
Given Sanchez is ready for Triple-A, and the Yankees will likely carry just two catchers in 2015, this is a logjam that ought to be broken to the benefit of the organization. There simply is not enough room for what is legitimately an overload of talent.
It would not be surprising if one – possibly two – of these catchers ends up in a trade deal over the winter.