No prospect in the Yankees farm system has restored their stock in the organization and around baseball more than catcher Gary Sanchez. His raw power at a premium position is what has kept him among the organizations top-prospects despite concerns about his defense and attitude over the last few seasons.
In a list released by MLB Pipeline this week, Sanchez is ranked as the #2 catching prospect in all of baseball. Earlier this winter, Baseball America ranked the catcher as the second best prospect in the Yankees farm system.
Sanchez opened the 2015 season at Trenton and had an all-star campaign for the Thunder before earning a well-deserved promotion to Triple-A.
The 22-year old Sanchez hit 18-homers and drove in 62 runs in 93 games between the two levels before earning a September call-up to the majors. The young backstop then went to the Arizona Fall League and led the league in homers (7) and RBI (21).
In 565 minor league games over six seasons, the imposing 6’2″, 230 LBS. Sanchez is a career .274 hitter with 89 homers and 374 RBI and a .797 OBP.
Despite his success at the plate, Sanchez commitment to improving on defense and maturity concerns are the main factors that have prevented him from fulfilling his promising potential.
In 2014, former Thunder Manager Tony Franklin benched Sanchez multiple times as a course of disciplinary action for his behavior.
“That benching was the low point of his career, it was his rock-bottom,” one team executive told Pinstriped Prospects. “He has come a long way in the last year and a half, his attitude has seen a drastic improvement and it has allowed him to grow as a player and a person.”
The Yankees went out this winter and traded back-up catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for outfielder Aaron Hicks. The move has opened up a door of opportunity for Sanchez to battle for a spot on the major league roster.
After allowing a career-worst 26 passed balls in 2011, Sanchez has worked tirelessly to bring that number down; in 2015 he allowed only two.
The organization is pleased with the progress that he has made defensively and they will give him the opportunity to compete for the big league back-up catcher position in spring training with veteran Austin Romine.
“He has come a long way in making himself atleast a serviceable catcher on the defensive side,” said one scout from an AL West club. “I have seen him a lot over the last four years and I think that his skills have gotten to the point where you can live with them in order to get that power into the lineup.”
When asked about Sanchez heading into 2016, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman recently told reporters, “we would like to unleash the Kraken.”