Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Gary Sanchez

Pitchers and catchers report today down in Tampa, Florida at George M. Steinbrenner Field and while we have already met two pitchers from the 2019 Yankees, we have yet to meet a catcher. Why not start it off by meeting THE catcher for the New York Yankees this season, Gary Sanchez. Meet the 2019 Yankees: The Gary is definitely not lazy Edition.

Gary Sanchez, 26-years old, is a right-handed batting and throwing catcher for the New York Yankees. With his 6’2” and 230 lb. frame (according to Baseball Reference, he looks much thinner this offseason) the Yankees have potentially one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball, assuming health and assuming that his poor production in 2018 was injury related or a sophomore slump of a fluke.

Gary Sanchez was born on December 2, 1992 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sanchez grew up in La Victoria, Dominican Republic where he was raised predominantly by his mother, Orquidia Hererra, and his grandmother, Agustina Pena, along with his three brothers and one sister. Sanchez was signed by the New York Yankees out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year old in July of 2009. Sanchez received $3 million in a signing bonus and began his season with the Gulf Coast Yankees. By the 2011 season Sanchez was already considered to be one of the best prospects in all of Major League Baseball according to Baseball America. Sanchez was widely considered the Yankees best prospect by the 2012 season according to Baseball America and the fourth best prospect in all of baseball. Sanchez bounced around and worked his way through the Yankees system until the 2015 season when the young catcher, fresh off an appearance at the 2015 All-Star Futures Game, was promoted to the Major Leagues.

Sanchez made his MLB debut as a pinch hitter on October 3, 2015 and was included on the Yankees 25-man roster for the 2015 American League Wild Card Game in the postseason. The Yankees were eliminated by the Houston Astros in the Wild Card Game, prematurely ending their season, leading the team to send Sanchez to the Arizona Fall League for the winter. Sanchez would lead the AFL in home runs that season and was named the Fall Stars Game MVP as well as being named the second-best prospect in the AFL by Baseball America. After a strong winter the Yankees decided to trade catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins for Aaron Hicks, thus opening the door for Sanchez in the Bronx.

Sanchez dueled Austin Romine for the back up job to Brian McCann in 2016, but ultimately began the season back in Triple-A. Sanchez was called up once in May during that season before coming back to the Bronx on August 3rd, this time to stay. Sanchez began assaulting MLB hitters after his call up and ended the season with a .299 average with 20 home runs and 42 RBI in just 53 games played. Gary finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award vote behind the Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer and looked to be the Yankees starting catcher for the 2017 season.

Sanchez was named an AL All-Star in 2017 as a reserve and he participated in the 2017 Home Run Derby. Prior to the competition Sanchez’s spot in the Derby was questioned by then Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, who stated that Sanchez did not deserve an invitation to the Derby, having hit only 13 home runs compared to Morrison’s 24 home runs. Sanchez went on to hit his 31st home run in 2017 on September 14, breaking the record for most home runs in a single season by a Yankees catcher, passing Yogi Berra who hit 30 in 1952 and 1956, and Jorge Posada who did it in 2003. Sanchez helped the Yankees get within one game of the World Series in 2017, losing to the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Sanchez struggled in 2018 before news of a shoulder injury that required surgery popped up during the offseason. Sanchez finished the 2018 season, his worst season statistically, with a .168 average, 18 home runs and 53 RBI in just 89 games played. Gary also led the league in passed balls with 18 while also making two separate trips to the disabled list with a pair of groin injuries after being criticized for a lack of hustle.

Gary isn’t lazy. He may have been during his minor league years with the Yankees, he himself even credited the birth of his daughter for the transformation from a player “going through the motions” to a player lauded for his work ethic, but now Gary is scary… and he will be in 2019 as well. Write it down.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)