Name: Gary Sanchez
DOB: December 2, 1992
Batting and Power. Statistically Sanchez has been a bit of an enigma offensively during his minor league career. Nearly everything about his approach and style suggests eventual high-average hitter and high on-base guy; above average patience, solid plate discipline and pitch recognition, high contact rate and rather low strikeout ratio for a slugging type, and an ability to use the whole field. However, despite the patient approach he hasn't been a high walks guy yet and while the career .274 average is more than solid it is a bit lower production-wise than he's capable of achieving. Perhaps a bit too overzealous at times to make better use of his above average or better power potential and therefore getting a little too pull-happy, he's at his best when he doesn't worry about hitting for power and employs a line-drive, hit-first mentality consistently. He has everything in place to be a high-average hitter, he just needs to stay within himself more often. Approaching a .300 average with 30-plus home run potential is absolutely not out of the question when he's going right, he has the kind of natural ability.
Base Running and Speed. Being both a catcher and slugger normally suggests well below average running abilities but that is not the case with Sanchez as he is a bit more athletic and nimble than most backstops. He's a solid station to station runner for a heart of the order hitter and he'll even swipe the occasional base when pitchers underestimate him. He's not much of a factor running the bases overall but he won't clog them up either and that is another feather in his cap tools-wise.
Defense. For years Sanchez has always been vastly underrated defensively for seemingly no apparent reason. His best tool by far is his plus arm strength and consistently accurate arm, and he even shows quick transfers too, often times clocking around 1.8 seconds on throws to second base [putting him in elite company]. A solid blocker and receiver too, two areas of his game often times wildly exaggerated by his critics as deficiencies, physically he is above average in nearly way defensively. It's on the mental side, however, where he's made the most progress over the years. Once perceived to lack the desire to catch, that aspect of his game is no longer in question. He not only wants to be behind the plate but he wants to excel there and it consistently shows in his play in recent seasons. The whole package combines to give him above average or better defensive potential behind the plate long-term just as long as he keeps up on his conditioning [he has the type of physical frame that needs constant attention] and the inner competitive fire doesn't burn out. He can be as good as he wants to be, plain and simple.
Projection. Being as good as he wants to be isn't just relegated to the defensive side of the ball. With his kind of above average patience, pitch recognition, and plate discipline, as well as above average or better power potential while throwing in above average defensive abilities too, Sanchez really has just begun scratching the surface of his long-term potential. He hasn't shown that kind of consistent above average production to date, however, and a big reason for that is the longer time it has taken for him to realize that top-shelf talent alone doesn't make a great player -- consistent hard work is needed too. He has made marked strides in that regard over the past couple of seasons to the point where his work ethic is no longer questioned. Still, sustaining the flames of his inner fire over a longer period of time will absolutely be needed for him to fulfill his big league All Star potential on both sides of the ball. He has the natural talent to be a difference-making impact player both offensively and defensively, he just happens to be a guy won't be able to let up, one who will have to make practicing and improving a higher priority in his craft.
ETA. N/A. Sanchez made his big league debut last season, albeit just for a couple of at-bats. While his entire game is big league ready right now and a solid case could be made to hand him the big league backup catcher's spot in 2016, the better plan has him gaining a bit more experience back in Triple-A. He should begin the season in Scranton as the everyday starting catcher to further prove his motivation question marks are behind him and he will be the first one called up to the Bronx should the need for a catcher arise. A bit more minor league seasoning should have him primed for a bigger big league impact by the following season.