Sanchez Fighting Through It

TRENTON, NJ - Gary Sanchez has had a bumpy road in his minor league career recently and his numbers this season haven’t been what some expected them to be. In nine games this year, he has batted .156 with only three RBI and has struck out 13 times in just 32 at-bats. The old saying "numbers never lie" may be true, especially in Sanchez's case, but so is "numbers don't tell the complete story."

Trenton hitting coach P.J. Piliterre isn't too overly concerned with Sanchez's numbers thus far, saying it's still early in the season.

“I’m confident that this is an early season lull for him,” Piliterre said. “I don’t think he’s really giving away at-bats by any means. His swing is where we want it to be. He’s not getting the best luck either. But he’s kept a great attitude about it. I’m very confident that he’s going to pass through this.”

As for Sanchez himself, it’s tough to feel good when your numbers are not anywhere near what many think he can do. He has, however, kept a positive mindset and is not worried too much over his numbers or about anyone else in the lineup.

“I’m focused on my at-bats,” Sanchez said. “I don’t really think about who’s behind or ahead of me in the lineup. I’m trying to focus on the pitcher. Sometimes you’re going to have good days and sometimes you’re not.”

Aside from trying to get his offensive numbers back up, Sanchez made it a point of emphasis to work on his communication and defense skills in the offseason and so far it's being shown. He has thrown out six hitters so far this year.

“I’ve improved a lot on my defense,” Sanchez said. “I know it’s still a long way to go, but I want to come in every day wanting to learn more.”

On Sunday against the Portland Sea Dogs, Sanchez went to the mound several times to try and calm down his pitcher whenever they were in a tight situation. One instance was in the second inning when he talked to starter Luis Severino after loading the bases with only one out. He then proceeded to get the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Trenton Thunder manager Al Pedrique sees that maturity and thinks that it is a direct result of Sanchez focusing on working on more team-oriented goals during the offseason and showing the organization that he’s progressing.

“As a player, I can see that he’s maturing more,” Pedrique said. “During Spring Training, he was all about helping the pitching staff, showing the organization that his defense has improved, that he wants to get better. I think his makeup so far has been outstanding.”

But offense isn’t all what makes a successful player and Sanchez knows that. He’s focused on all facets of the game in order to become a better ball player and hopefully ascend the minor league ranks in order to finally reach the big leagues.

At the end of the day, it’s up to Sanchez to get out of his current slump at the plate. He’s only 22 years old, a young age for someone who’s been signed to the Yankees since 2010, so there’s still time for him to get his offensive game to a respectable level for this season and for his career. Piliterre is optimistic that Sanchez can pull through.

“Some guys like Gary have to dig themselves out of a hole,” Piliterre said. “But it’s still early, he’s got plenty of time to get out of it, and I’m fairly confident that he’s going to.”

Despite being in Trenton for the third season in a row, there are many that still think he has what it takes to make it to the majors. It should be mentioned that Sanchez is still growing not just as a baseball player, but physically as well.

On the road to make it to the highest levels of baseball, Sanchez is faced with roadblock that if he can overcome, he will come out as a much better all-around baseball player. Those same people, despite the numbers, believe he can overcome this slump as well.

“My expectations are high,” Piliterre said. “If you look at his numbers on paper last year, it was a solid year for a 21-year old in this league. For a guy that is now 22 years old, people think he’s a veteran, and he’s still a guy that is maturing, still learning as a hitter and as a baseball hitter. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s a talented hitter and I know he is a smart hitter.”

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