Gary Sanchez, 18, was signed back in June 2009 out of the Dominican Republic. He is listed at 6’2″ and 195 lbs., he was signed for $3 million which is a lot compared to the $1.6 million the Yankees gave fellow catching prospect Jesus Montero in 2006.
Sanchez immediately made some of the Yankees top prospect lists immediately after signing, but it wasn’t until he played his first year of professional ball in America that he jumped nearly to the top of those lists. Currently he’s ranked no. 2 on both Baseball America’s and John Sickel’s prospect lists.
Sanchez was impressive in instructs before finally getting a chance to play in 2010. An abdominal injury caused him to miss spring training last year, but that hardly held him back. He started with the GCL Yankees (rookie ball) where he tore the cover off the ball. In 31 games in Tampa he hit .353 with six homers and a 1.016 OPS. That earned him a promotion to Staten Island (short season A-Ball) where he hit a still impressive .278 and a .759 OPS over 16 games. Not as impressive as his time in Tampa, but 17 year-olds almost never play that high. There was also a silver lining as he threw out base runners at a much better clip in Staten Island, a 54 caught stealing percentage compared to a 19 percent rate in Tampa.
Sickels said about Sanchez that he could be Montero with a better glove and Baseball America said that he has a higher ceiling than anyone in the organization including Montero. High praise, but considering that many consider him better defensively at his age than Montero was if his bat continues to develop it’s easy to see where he is drawing those comparisons.
From what you read on Sanchez it sounds like he is slightly more polished than Montero was at his age, but with less power potential. His development at this point depends on his ability to adapt to tougher pitching at each level especially as breaking balls get better.
His defense has been praised and although it is still a work in progress there has not been the questions of whether he will stick behind the plate or not like there were with Montero. Reports out of Staten Island were especially impressive, but because of the small sample size of games don’t bank on him being a gold glover yet.
2011 will be a big year for Sanchez. It’s hard to tell where he will start out, but it will likely be in Charleston (Low-A) as he’s probably too young for High-A Tampa. It’ll be a big year though, but not a make or break year by any means. It’s big because it’ll be his first full season as a professional so seeing how he’ll adapt not only to better pitchers will be huge, but also how he deals with the rigors of catching everyday will be important too. A poor showing will be upsetting to some, but at 18-years-old it’s not out of the question that he’ll struggle against more advanced players.
Expect the Yankees to take it slow with this kid. There is a lot to get excited about, but because of his age it could still be three to four years until he gets to the majors if at all. Remember, there are no guarantees with players this young.
|2010||17||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-A-||47||173||33||57||13||8||43||14||44||.329||.393||.543||.936|