More than a few have asked this corner’s opinion of Yankees prospect catcher Gary Sanchez, who will turn 22 next week.
“Is he that good?” is often the query. “Will he ever play with the Yankees?” is another.
Sanchez has the potential to be very good. He hit .270 (116-for-429) with 19 doubles and 13 homers at Trenton last year. He slugged .406 and had an on-base percentage of .338. All are numbers that are acceptable and ought to improve as time goes on.
Behind the plate, his game still needs a decent amount of work. He has a terrific arm, but led the Eastern League catchers in 2014 with 17 errors and 10 passed balls. Even more concerning is, due to him shirking some non-game duties, he was suspended for a week last season and his shortcomings working with the pitching staff and rapport with his teammates damaged his clubhouse situation.
Yet, scouts love his arm, and figure he can average 20-25 home runs a season in the majors eventually. He is scheduled to start the 2015 season at Triple-A Scranton.
Yet, one has to think what Sanchez’s real future is with the Yankees. To begin with, with Brian McCann signed for several years, and John Ryan Murphy, whose catching skills far exceed Sanchez’s, seemingly set for the Yankees in 2015, Sanchez and, to a bit lesser extent, Austin Romine, become valuable as trade chips as the Yankees look to fill holes.
The Yankees used their catching surplus well in sending Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. There are plenty of teams who need a solid catching prospect who is young, and Sanchez would fill the bill in a possible swap for a shortstop or other needed piece. If a team asked for a “prime prospect,” Sanchez would be the man.
In no way is he big-league ready, but, if he stays focused, and works to improve both the baseball and non-baseball shortcomings he has, he is not all that far off. That bring the case, makes I’m very attractive as a piece in a major trade.
Obviously the Yankees are not going to trade first baseman Greg Bird or outfielder Aaron Judge in any deal, nor are they about to include right-handed Luis Severino or left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren in any trade. Chances are left-handed starter Ian Clarkin is not about to be offered as well.
The surplus is still in the catching area, with 18-year-old Luis Torrens, who also has a strong arm and advanced approach at the plate, set to start at Class-A Charleston in 2015. He has earned praise from scouts for the way he handles pitchers for one so young. He looms as a future Yankees catcher more than Sanchez at this time.
Bear in mind, this corner is not looking to exile Sanchez and downgrade his possible big-league future, The idea here is, given the situation in the Yankees system coupled with what is needed in The Bronx to make the Yankees a better club, we see no reason why Sanchez can’t be in play in any trade talks.
He would bring a nice return with the Yankees dealing from a strength.