We have heard that the New York Yankees have made a conscious effort to get younger and to rebuild and replenish their farm system. Their labor bore fruit last year with significant August and September contributions from first baseman Greg Bird and pitcher Luis Severino standing out the most. Another guy who could see time in the Bronx starting next year is Gary Sanchez. It’s a name you have heard for years because, well, he was signed by the Yanks way back in 2009 at age 17 as an international free agent. With the trade of John Ryan Murphy, the now 22-year old Sanchez is ready for his first extensive tour of duty in New York.
Sanchez has been talked up for some time, having been a Top 100 prospect according to Baseball America for the last five years. He is currently listed as the Yanks’ fifth-best prospect per mlb.com. His bat for a catcher is what the team is excited about with 89 home runs, a batting average of .274 and an on-base percentage of .339 in six Minor League seasons. In 2015 while splitting time at Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Sanchez hit 18 home runs and drove in 62 runs across 400 plate appearances. The questions about Sanchez surround his defense and the depth of the position within the Yankees’ organization.
There has always been this nagging feeling that New York was going to move him out from behind the plate because of his work behind the dish. In 2014, he led Eastern League catchers in errors with 17 and passed balls with ten. Also, catcher was the one position the Yanks have had a tremendous amount of depth in over the last half a decade, starting with Jesus Montero. There was also Francisco Cervelli on the roster along with Austin Romine and Murphy. Out of all these players, Romine is the only one left in the organization. It is clear the Yankees feel Sanchez is ready to take the next step.
In the just-concluded Arizona Fall League, Sanchez put on a tremendous performance finishing as a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player. You can see why the Yanks felt comfortable trading Murphy because he was considered a top prospect who received some playing time in the Bronx last year. For those who may start to get impatient with Sanchez’s progress and feel his path is blocked by Brian McCann for the next three years, remember this: Jorge Posada did not become the regular catcher for the Yankees until he was 26. When McCann’s contract ends, Sanchez will be the same age.