Yankees Prospect Profile: Gary Sanchez

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Will the best prospect in the Yankees' organization continue to make strides through the upper levels of the system?

Background:

The Yankees signed then 16-year-old Gary Sanchez to a $3 million contract in the summer of 2009 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The $3MM bonus happens to be the fourth-largest bonus given out by New York, trailing Hideki Irabu ($8.5MM in 1997), Jose Contreras ($6MM in 2002), and Andrew Brackman ($3.35MM in 2007), respectively. Since coming stateside as a 17-year-old in 2010, Sanchez is a .275/.342/.468 hitter with 58 home runs in 1,522 plate appearances while catching 277 games behind the plate.

2013 Results:

Combined between High-A and Double-A: 117 games, 509 PA, 253/.324/.412, 15 home runs

Sanchez, once again, had a solid season at the plate in 2013. He started last year at High-A Tampa, where he left off in 2012, and hit .254/.313/.420 with a 108 wRC+ in 399 plate appearances. Although that may not sound too impressive, Sanchez ran into a slump in his final 115 plate appearances with Tampa, hitting just .200/.252/.257 after hitting .276/.338/.486 in his first 284 plate appearances. Perhaps he got bored. When Sanchez got promoted to Double-A, though, he made a good first impression in front of his new teammates, as he hit .250/.364/.380 with a 113 wRC+ in 110 plate appearances. Sanchez then went 6-for-26 (.236 BA) in the postseason, en route to Trenton's Eastern League Championship.

Depending on who you ask, Sanchez is either getting "better" behind the plate or is still "an absolutely atrocious receiver." Personally, I think I might side with Mike Ashmore's take on Sanchez, given he covered the Thunder on a daily basis. What most agree on, though, is Sanchez's arm, which is an absolute cannon. He threw out 44% of attempted base-stealers, and some say he even has an 80-grade throwing arm.

No matter how good Sanchez's arm is, however, he will need to improve his receiving skills while he's still in the minors so he can stick behind the plate long-term. He was kept in Tampa for longer than most wanted so he could improve said receiving abilities, mainly with catching harder-throwing pitchers. Sanchez also yielded 13 passed balls in his 96 games behind the plate. For reference, Chris Stewart allowed 12 passed balls in 108 games behind the dish last season for New York, so you know Sanchez has some room for improvement in that area.

2014 outlook:

Following the signing of Brian McCann, people (mostly fans) wondered if the Yankees would trade Sanchez since he appeared to be "blocked" from the big league catching position. Thankfully, no such trade has happened (yet) and the 21-year-old is set to be the starting catcher for the Thunder in 2014. Because he is still so young and still has plenty of room to grow behind the plate, it wouldn't surprise me if the Yankees kept Sanchez in Trenton the entire season, even if he rakes at the plate. Sanchez is the consensus, and perhaps obvious, top prospect in the Yankees' system, but he will need to improve his game behind the plate if he wants to reach his full potential.

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