Height: 6’2″ Weight: 220
Gary Sanchez was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2009 for the top bonus of the signing period. After inking the $3m deal he was sent straight to the Yankees GCL affiliate in 2010, bypassing the DSL, even though he was only 17 at the time.
He handled the aggressive assignment well, hitting .353 with 11 doubles and 6 HR in just 119 ABs. The performance prompted an even more aggressive promotion to Staten Island, the Yankees NY-Penn League affiliate, where Sanchez actually held his own as the youngest player in the entire league. He hit .278 with a couple of home runs in 54 ABs. Not a stellar line, but impressive for a 17 year old.
The performances had him in our Top 100 at the end of 2010 and checked in at #58 for our 2011 Top Prospect List:
Gary Sanchez C NYY – Very young and mostly projection. He still has a lot to learn behind the plate but has the tools to be at least above average behind the dish. His bat is already showing enough to be special and he’s flashing advanced power for a teen. He’s far off but could be a special bat/defense combo behind the plate. ETA: 2014.
Sanchez ran into issues with maturity on his next stop up the ladder. He made the jump to Low-A Sally League, got off to a slow start with both the bat and the glove and then had friction with the coaching staff which prompted a brief dismissal from the team at Charleston. When he made his way back to the team he proved over the second half to be a better student made some strides behind the plate.
Let’s take a look at his 2011 numbers and see what makes him a top prospect.
As a 17 year old, Sanchez flashed plus plus power potential right out of the gate. It was the one tool that wasn’t questioned heading into the season. In 2011, Sanchez hit 16 doubles and 17 home runs good for a .229 IsoP which is an elite level, especially for a 18 year old.
He only hit .256 on the season and it doesn’t matter which half of the year you look at, it wasn’t pretty. His 93 strikeouts in 301 AB was the root cause and a main focus that he will need to work on.
While Sanchez only had 8 errors on the season, he hasn’t made the necessary adjustments defensively yet. His pitchers have high wild pitch totals based on his ineffectiveness at blocking balls in the dirt.
He has an above average arm and is athletic enough to stick behind the plate long term if he’s given a few years to develop his skills.
Sanchez is still very young and has been pushed a level above where he should be at this point. He will probably be repeating the Sally League in 2012. It’s going to take him two years to develop his defensive game and in that time he’ll need to reign in his strikeout totals and learn to work deeper counts to get balls to drive and utilize his plus plus power potential.
There is still a lot of projection here. It’s a huge upside with a low floor. I don’t see Sanchez as a .300 hitter in the future, but if he can lower the strike out totals he could be a .270-.280 hitter with 30+ HR potential.
The biggest question is going to be his defensive development. Is he going to be given enough time? Will he mature enough to be a field general? He’s just 18 years old at this point. So time is on his side.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our on going series Touch’em All | Appalachian League and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.