Scouting Yankees Prospect #4: Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees signed catcher Gary Sanchez for $3 million as their top International free agent in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic. Long lauded for his physical tools and yet often criticized for both his defensive game and overall work ethic, he has matured into one of the better two-way catching prospects in the game.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Gary Sanchez
Position: Catcher
DOB: December 2, 1992
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Batting and Power. Sanchez has never really been a high-average hitter throughout his minor league career despite the fact that he is extremely adept at making consistent contact and doesn't strike out very much, especially for a slugging type. He also isn't a high walks guy yet even though his patience, plate discipline, and pitch recognition are way above average in comparison to his peers. What it all means is that there is a good chance that he could develop into a high-average hitter in due time as he continues to sit on his pitches more, especially given his proclivity for using the whole field when hitting and not being so pull-happy. His natural power grades out as a plus tool overall too but the wear and tear of catching everyday does zap him of some in-game power, dropping it down to more above average from a production standpoint.

Base Running and Speed. Just like most catchers, Sanchez is not a real factor on the base paths but he is a bit more athletic than most. He'll swipe a base here and there when opposing pitchers ignore him, and he is a solid station to station runner for a slugging catcher type. The running impact will be minimal but he won't be a liability either.

Defense. Somehow, someway, Sanchez always has and continues to get drastically underrated on the defensive side of the ball. His plus arm strength doesn't go unnoticed by anyone and his accurate throws to second base have only gotten better with each passing year. However, it's in the blocking and receiving areas of his game where his perceived deficiencies are vastly overstated by his critics. He is not only better in both areas than most pundits realize, he actually excels in both to the point where he is an above average defender with long-term plus defensive potential as he continues to mature.

Projection. 'Hype' is a two-way street. Sometimes a player's amazing abilities are talked about so much that they can't possibly live up to tales of their talent. However, the converse is often true too; a player's deficiencies are so widely discussed and overblown that they actually become vastly overstated, and that has happened with Sanchez. What most folks don't realize is that, like most prospects, Sanchez is still developing and far from a finished product. Often compared to Jesus Montero in his younger days as a slugging catcher type, a fair comparison offensively, it's been hard for Sanchez to fend off those same comparisons defensively even though they clearly don't exist. Keeping up on his conditioning both short-term and long-term will remain a constant mantra for him to tap his size-able potential, but with above average plate discipline and hitting ability, above average or better power potential, and above average or better defensive abilities, Sanchez has the ability to be a difference-making, two-way catcher at the big league level. He has All Star potential; he just needs to keep working at his craft and not let up.

ETA. 2015. Sanchez's big league arrival has been ticketed for 2015 for some time now, especially given his 40-man roster designation. He should see his first big league action with a September call-up later this season.

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