Gary tends to bulk up a bit, so he will have to stay on top of his conditioning.
Early in 2015, Sanchez got married and they have a child. He was noticeably more mature after that, especially off the field. And he was in better shape on the field.
- July 2009: The Yankees signed Sanchez to a $3 million bonus, more than they'd ever give a Latin teenager. He was signed by scouts Raymon Sanchez and Victor Mata.
In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Sanchez as 7th-best prospect in the Yankees organization.
In 2010, Gary was named as #1 prospect in the Gulf Coast League. And he was second-best prospect in the Yankee farm system in the winter before 2011 spring training, behind only C Jesus Montero. He was at 4th-best prospect in the Yankee organization in the winter before 2012 spring camps opened. And he was at #3 in the spring of 2013.
Then, in the winter before 2014 spring training, the Handbook had Sanchez as the #1 prospect in the Yankees organization. They had Gary as #2 in the spring of 2016.
May 2011: The Yankees sent Sanchez back to extended spring training for two weeks as punishment for his suspect work ethic. He missed two weeks for the insubordination.
What happened? Sanchez threw a tantrum, pouting and refusng to do his chores like a typical little kid.
Gary declined to warm up a reliever after not starting a second straight minor league game in favor of a fellow catching prospect John Ryan Murphy. The New York Yankees sent the 18-year-old Sanchez packing.
They demoted Sanchez from Class-A Charleston to their Tampa spring training facility for a 10-day timeout.
Early in 2012, Gary was impressing everyone with his aggressiveness and hard-nosed playing style. But by late in the season, he seemed disinterested at times in working to improve.
But by 2014, Sanchez had obviously matured and is now one of the most mature players on his team, the Trenton Thunder (EL-Yankees). It wasn't always that way, of course.
"It was one of those things where he didn't want to work, he didn't want to do those extra things like blocking," said pitcher Manny Barreda, who has been with Sanchez in each of his stops in the system. "Back then you couldn't tell him what to do. He was young kid -- it was tough.
"His work ethic has changed so much," said Barreda. "He's more dedicated -- you can see now he takes it pitch-by-pitch, game-by-game. He's probably one of the more mature guys [in the clubhouse], despite being one of the younger guys here."
Gary's daughter, Sarah, was born in 2014, delivered by his wife, Sahaira. Inspiration was born with her.
"It is a beautiful experience to become a dad," Sanchez said. "It is kind of like once you become a dad, that's your all and you want to make sure you can provide everything she needs. It was very important because, when she was born, it was kind of like a new life began for me because it is a lot of responsibility, so you want to make sure that you can give it your all so you can get to the big leagues and you can stay in the big leagues and, definitely, it is a changing experience."
It was more than Sarah that changed Sanchez's attitude, though. Part of it was simply growing up. As he turned 22 and 23, he better realized what was possible.
"It was a basically a combination of becoming a dad and a personal goal of mine to find a better routine, just a better way of achieving what I wanted, which was to get to the big leagues," Sanchez said. "It was a combination of everything that helped me find a way that I could be better off the field and on the field."
Hitting instructor Marcus Thames would tell Gary, "Don't take the food off your baby's tongue by being lazy."
Everything started to stick for Sanchez. By the middle of that 2015 season, Yankees minor league manager Josh Paul saw a different person and player than the raw 16-year-old Sanchez had once been.
"I've never seen anyone work harder on a baseball field," Paul said. "It's a pretty amazing story, actually."
Paul tells a tale from last year in which Sanchez caught every frame of an 18-inning Double-A game, but still was in the weight room postgame to do his extra work. The tedious stuff that many young catchers have trouble focusing on were now on Sanchez's daily checklist.
"That is the buy-in that he had, he understood that his defense was much more important than his offense," Paul said. "He accepted that and worked to that end. What I saw in 2015, especially the first couple of months of the season, offensively he was struggling, but he didn't take any of those at-bats behind the plate. He went back there, worked his butt off and was there to support his pitchers and learn how to separate his offense from his defense. By putting his defense first, he was putting his team first. That's the kind of catcher we are all looking for. He is growing into a true team leader." (Andrew Marchand - ESPN,com - 9/06/2016)
June 13, 2014: Sanchez, who ranked 35th on Baseball America’s annual list heading into this season, has been benched at Double-A for repeated disciplinary reasons.
Nick Peruffo of the Trentonian reports that Sanchez sat out a second straight game Thursday and afterward had a closed-door meeting with Double-A manager Tony Franklin.
Franklin declined to reveal any specifics, but here’s what he did say:
"It was disciplinary action. I needed to take care of that today, to get things clarified and cleared up. I’m not going to tell you what it was, but it was a violation of some of our guidelines and I needed to take care of it. Gary is out of there for a couple of days until we decide he deserves to play again, plain and simple."
2015: Sanchez was selected to represent the Yankees in the All-Star Futures Game.
September 12, 2015: The Yankees recalled catcher Gary Sanchez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, prior to a doubleheader with the Blue Jays.
"I have no words. Very emotional and this is any baseball player's dream," Sanchez, 22, said through an interpreter. "After the game, the manager came, grabbed me, brought me into the office and told me the news. I called my wife, mom and grandma. I was super excited to give them the good news."
"Our guys feel that he has matured a lot from a physical and mental standpoint. His work ethic has been tremendous," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You look at his numbers in  at-bats that he had [in the Minors], you start talking about 18 home runs, that's pretty significant. "They feel like that he made some great strides this year and we'd like to see it. I'm going to try to get him in. I can't promise what's going to happen because the games don't always present themselves, but I'd like to see him."
Sanchez said the biggest improvement in his game is his game-calling ability. He credited Josh Paul and Julio Mosquera for helping him with that initiative in the Minors, and said his focus grew, as well. (G Raynor - MLB.com - September 12, 2015)
Aug 27, 2016: Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez enjoyed his first career curtain call after becoming the fastest player in Major League history to reach 11 home runs, doing so in his 23rd career game in the Yankees' 13-5 win against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Sanchez connected for an opposite-field blast off Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy in the fourth inning, clearing the wall in right-center field and giving the Yankees a 5-2 lead at the time.
"I don't have an explanation for it," Sanchez said, through an interpreter. "I'm doing the same routine that I was doing in the Minor Leagues, I'm doing it here. I'm getting really good results right now. That's it."
"Right now, it seems like he's seeing the ball really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He had some walks today, which tells me he's seeing the ball good. He's not going out of his zone. He seems to be hitting everything." (B Hoch - MLB.com - Aug 27, 2016)
Sept 3, 2016: Shelf space may soon be at a premium for Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who will be bringing home both the American League Player of the Month Award and the Rookie of the Month Award after a record-setting August. Sanchez hit .389/.458/.832 with 11 home runs, nine doubles and 21 RBIs in 24 games after being recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 3.
"It feels great to win the award, but the reality is that the focus is to keep winning games right now," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "We want to keep winning games, and we want to keep winning series. This is a new month now, so that's what we want to focus on."
The 23-year-old is the first catcher in Major League history to win both awards in the same month, and the first player to do so since Jose Abreu of the White Sox in July 2014. Sanchez led all American Leaguers in slugging percentage (.832); ranked second in home runs, extra-base hits (20) and on-base percentage (.458); third in batting average; and tied for fifth in doubles.
Upon his promotion, Sanchez became the first player with at least 11 home runs in his first 23 career games. He also was the first player to win consecutive AL Rookie of the Week honors.
"Pretty impressive, considering what he's done, coming up at an important time and facing good teams," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's really impressive." (B Hoch - MLB.com - Sept 4, 2016)
Rays manager Kevin Cash had this to say about Gary:
"[Logan Morrison] and I were talking on the bench. And we were trying to figure out if we've ever seen anybody come up and do something like this. … We've seen him quite a bit here the last couple of weeks, and what a talented player. Offensively, defensively. We saw in New York as strong an arm as I've ever seen from a catcher. And then, offensively, just has a very, very good approach at the plate and a ton of power." (Chastain & Hoch - MLB.com - 9/21/16)
- February 7, 2017: Gary Sanchez, said he had opted out of the World Baseball Classic after agreeing to play for Team Dominican Republic.“I actually said yes initially,” Sanchez said, through an interpreter at the Thurman Munson Awards to benefit the AHRC New York City Foundation in Midtown. “I was going to be on the team. This last week, I spoke to my family, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt I had to be in spring training for the full spring training to get ready for the season.”
All of baseball was in awe by Gary's power in 2016, when the slugger terrorized opposing pitching staffs with a historic home-run hitting tear. The audience never saw the origin of that surge, an adorable toddler with curly black hair who loves to babble and play with her daddy.
Sanchez had a transformative moment in a Trenton, N.J., hospital back in 2015, when he and his wife Sahaira welcomed their daughter, Sarah, into the world. Sanchez snipped the umbilical cord, admired her face and made a silent promise to be the best father he possibly could.
"Imagine, just like that, you're a dad," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "The responsibility that comes with that, being a dad, it's a big responsibility. It's something that you have to take very seriously. There's a kid now that you want to provide for and make sure that she's comfortable and has a good life."
Then just 22, Sanchez recalls being "very surprised" when he found out that Sahaira was expecting, but "at the same time, very happy." "When I first saw her, I was afraid to hold her," Sanchez said. "As a man, you feel like you're going to hurt the baby. She was very tiny and fragile. I didn't want to harm her in any way."
Signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic, the Yankees dreamed on Sanchez for years, but disciplinary issues peppered his record and suggested that he had some growing up to do. Sarah turned out to be the final piece of the puzzle.
"Even before my daughter was born, I was in the process of becoming a more mature player," Sanchez said. "Once she was born, it was kind of like a switch went off. I saw the opportunity in front of me. I just decided, whatever I need to do and whatever it takes to get to the big leagues, let's get it done now."
"Before, you had to force him to do things," bench coach Tony Pena said. "Now he understands that he needs to keep improving. He's doing it. Sometimes it's the nature of human beings. Some people grow up faster than others. I think there are a lot of Latin American players that it takes a long time to grow. I love to see the way he handles himself."
Could it all be traced back to the arrival of little Sarah? Sanchez doesn't mind that suggestion one bit. "Definitely, when you have a daughter, it's kind of like a source of energy and motivation," Sanchez said. "It pushes you to do more, to be better. Maybe in the future, if I have another one, I'll have even more motivation." (Hoch - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
|Birth City:||Santo Domingo, D.R.|
|Draft:||2009 - Yankees - Non Drafted Free Agent out of D.R.|
Sanchez has above-average tools across the board, except for speed.
He has well above-average raw power, for a 60 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Gary has a fundamentally sound swing, and he improved his two-strike approach. His overall plate discipline took a jump up in 2015.
Gary hits from an open stance and uses the whole field. He has no significant holes. He has fast hands for a quick bat. His vicious, rapid swing has loft and line-drive power. His is a quick, compact stroke that generates incredible torque, for plus power to all fields.
Power is a tricky tool to grade. There are really two components of power: raw power and power production (power that translates into home runs and extra-base hits).
Gary is a run-producer.
- Sanchez has a pure, effortless swing and more patience at the plate than Jesus Montero, to whom he was often compared. Sanchez has similar raw power, too, and scouts project him as a plus hitter in terms of both average and pop.
He's willing to go deep into counts looking for a pitch to drive, which can lead to strikeouts. He struggles with breaking pitches.
Though Sanchez strikes out a lot, he has a knack for barreling balls and using the entire field.
- Gary has very good power to all fields—a grade of 60 for power on the 20-80 scouting scale. He gets good extension from his righthanded stroke. He has solid bat speed. He will hit for both average (.260 to .270 range for a 50 hit tool grade) and power (20-25 homers per season).
He recognizes pitches, even breaking balls, very well. He has a good approach at the plate. He has a good swing path and the fine bat speed to catch up to very good fastballs.
But Sanchez's swing can get too long at times.
While the production slipped in 2013 (.253 with 15 home runs between Tampa and Trenton), his coaches feel that hidden behind the lower numbers, there was some real progress made.
"He's been able to make a certain adjustment on pitches all year," said Tampa hitting coach Marcus Thames.
"Whether it's keeping his hands inside of the baseball, or laying off tough breaking pitches in the dirt, he just hasn't been fooled on a consistent basis. The kid can really hit. He puts all the work in the cages and during batting practice, and it really shoes. He has power to all fields. For a guy at this level to be able to hit line drives from foul pole to foul pole is pretty impressive to me", said Thames.
In 2014, Sanchez still drew raves for his bat, which shows the potential for both a high average and lots of power. He can get his hands in and turn on the inside pitch with power, but evaluators did note that he struggled with both breaking pitches and changeups, which wasn’t surprising for a 21-year-old at Double-A in 2014.
August 24, 2016: Sanchez is one of five players in Major League history (since 1913) to record nine or more homers in his first 21 career games, joining Trevor Story (10 homers this year), George Scott (10 in 1966), Alvin Davis (9 in 1984), and Mandy Brooks (nine in 1925).
He's also one of nine players in Major League history (since 1913) to record 15 or more extra-base hits in his first 21 career games, joining Brooks (18 in 1925), Joe DiMaggio (17 in 1936), Roy Weatherly (16 in 1936), Chris Dickerson (16 in 2008), Story (15 this year), Scott (15 in 1966), Mitchell Page (15 in 1977), and Johnny Mize (15 in 1936).
According to Katie Sharp of River Avenue Blues, Sanchez joined Joe DiMaggio as the only other Yankee to have 10 or more extra-base hits within his first 16 career games. And he became the first Yankee ever with nine homers in his first 21 career games.
He's also in the top five of Yankees with the most hits in their first 20 games in the Major Leagues, with his 27 trailing only DiMaggio (37) and Oscar Azocar (28)
August 27, 2016: Sanchez became the fastest player in Major League history to reach 11 home runs.
- September 27, 2016: Sanchez's remarkable march through the history book continued as the Yankees' rookie hit his 20th home run in his 51st career game, equaling an 86-year-old Major League record.The blast matched Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves for the fastest to 20 homers; Berger also reached the mark in 51 games.
- As of the start of the 2017 season, Gary's career Major League stats were: .296 batting average, 20 homeruns and 60 hits with 42 RBI in 203 at-bats.
Gary has soft hands, agility, good footwork and solid athleticism. His defense grades out at a 50 on the 20-80 scale.
He is flexible in his lower body so that he blocks most balls and has the tools to receive the ball well. But, he lacks speed and athleticism. He used to get a lot of passed balls because he stabs at pitches instead of shifting his body. And in 2015, he cut his passed balls to only two, from 10 in 2014. (Spring 2016)
Sanchez posts glove-to-glove pop times of 1.85 to 1.95 seconds, showing off his powerful arm and quick release. He throws sidearm and really wings the ball to 2nd base.
Scouts rate his arm at a 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale in which 50 is average.
THROWING OUT BASESTEALERS
In 2010, Gary threw out 26 percent of basestealers.
In 2011: Sanchez threw out 31 percent of basestealers.
In 2012, Gary again threw out 31 percent of South Atlantic League basestealers and 29 percent who tried to run on him in the Florida State League.
In 2013, Sanchez threw out a Florida State League-high 46 percent of basestealers.
In 2014, Gary finished second in the Eastern League by throwing out 39 pertcent of attempting base thieves.
In 2015, Sanchez nailed 36 percent of opposing basestealers.
In 2016, Gary split the season between Triple-A and the Major Leagues, and he threw out 40 percent of basestealers at each stop and looks like a perennial all-star catcher. Sanchez needs to shore up his blocking ability, but he frames pitches well and even Yankees veterans respect his game-calling ability.
Gary can get lazy back there when it comes to receiving, blocking and working with pitchers. Some scouts noticed in particular a disconnect when it came to working with older members of the staff. (2014)
You didn't see that much by 2015, due to maturity. He still needs to improve at blocking balls in the dirt and framing pitches. But he's doing a good job of running a pitching staff.
August 5, 2016: Major League debuts move fast. Luckily for Gary, so do his throws.
Sanchez got his first taste of playing the field in his Major League career, catching all nine innings of a Yankees' 13-7 victory over the Indians. Gary didn't wait long to make a mark. Twice in the first two innings, he showed off his electric arm, catching runners stealing for two of the first five Indians' outs.
Based on scouting reports, Sanchez's night behind the plate should come as no surprise. MLBPipeline.com grades his arm out at a 70 out of 80, tied for the best among baseball's top 10 catching prospects. But raw arm strength isn't everything. As Yankees manager Joe Girardi explained, Sanchez's growth behind the plate, especially over the past year, is more about technical nuance.
"He probably could've made that [throw] when he was 18," Girardi said. "He's got a great arm. But what was better is his exchange was quicker. That exchange was really quick. He has the ability to throw a lot of runners out."
By Sanchez's explanation, those caught stealings were more vital than just the average out. He said that being able to show off his strength helped him settle in and get comfortable behind the plate. (Suss - MLB.com)
August 29, 2016: We knew when Gary was coming up that he had a strong throwing arm; after all, just about every scouting report mentioned it. MLBPipeline.com, for example, noted that he had "two standout tools: huge raw power and an exceptionally strong arm." Now that we've had a few weeks of Sanchez in the big leagues and in front of the Statcast™ tracking cameras, we can confirm that, and then some.
Consider this: Through August 28, 2016, we've tracked 1,128 individual catcher throws to second base on steal attempts. Despite starting only 15 games at catcher (he's been the designated hitter a few times so far), Sanchez is tied for the third-strongest throw by anyone this year -- as well as owning three of the top seven, and five of the top 10.
Hardest throws to second base on steal attempt, catchers, 2016 #1. 89.3 mph -- Christian Bethancourt, Aug. 22 #2. 88.3 mph -- Bethancourt, July 20 3. (tie) 87.8 mph -- Sanchez, Aug. 5 / Sanchez, Aug. 27 / Cameron Rupp, June 2 #6. (tie) 87.4 mph -- Sanchez, Aug. 24 / Martin Maldonado, Apr. 14 #8. (tie) 87.2 mph -- Sanchez, Aug. 11 / Bethancourt, July 23 #10. 87.0 mph -- Sanchez, Aug. 22.
The MLB average for the season, as of August 30, 2016: 79.1 mph
That's impressive company, or at least it ought to be. Remember, Bethancourt's arm is so well-respected that in addition to his catching duties, the Padres have used him both as a pitcher and a corner outfielder this year. Put another way, the 10 throws listed there make up less than the top one percent of the best throws by all catchers this year, and Sanchez alone has half of them in just a few weeks of play. Unsurprisingly, of the 70 catchers with at least five attempts to stop stolen bases at second, Sanchez's average arm strength of 87.4 mph is the best, topping Bethancourt's 86.5 mph and Drew Butera's 84.9 mph.
So far, Sanchez has thrown out six of the nine baserunners who have attempted to steal against him; for comparison, Colorado's Nick Hundley has also thrown out six, but of 53. In an obviously small sample size, that 67 percent success rate is the best of the 82 catchers with at least five total stolen-base attempts against, at all bases.
Interestingly enough, that strong arm helps to mask a roughly average or ever-so-slightly below exchange time, which is to say that part of what makes a catcher successful is how quickly he can get the throw out of his hands after he receives the pitch. Going back to that same list of 70 catchers with five attempts at second base,
Sanchez's exchange time of .78 seconds is tied for 54th, slightly below the Major League average this year of .74 seconds. (The best is David Ross, at .64 seconds, and it progresses up in fractions until you get to Devin Mesoraco, who was rarely healthy this year and had a mark of .86 seconds.)
Small samples or not, you can't fake arm strength like this. For all the talk of his hitting feats, clearly he's not going to be hitting .405 for the foreseeable future. The arm, though, that's very real. We expected that coming up. Now, we know it for certain. You can be pretty sure that opposing runners have figured that out, too. (Petriello - MLB.com)
Gary has below-average speed, which is pretty normal for catchers.
Then in 2012, Sanchez stole 15 bases in 19 attempts.
Sanchez has become pretty nimble on the base paths for a slugging catcher, and can catch pitchers napping with him at first base. Most catchers are non-factors in the running game, but Sanchez is a little different than most. He'll steal a handful of bases and won't clog up the base paths, and that's a bonus, all things considered.
He gets a 35 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Mid-July 2010: Sanchez injured his right wrist.
- April 12-19, 2011: Gary was on the D.L.
August 12 to late September 2011: Sanchez was on the D.L. with a broken pinky finger and strained left thumb on his glove hand that he sustained while blocking a ball at Charleston.
- June 29, 2015: Gary was on the D.L.
August 27-Sept. 9, 2015: Sanchez was on the D.L.
May 25-June 12, 2016: Gary had a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb and was placed on the disabled list.
- April 9-May 5, 2017: Sanchez was on the DL with a right biceps strain. April 10, 2017: An MRI revealed that Sanchez sustained a Grade 1 strain of the right brachialis muscle behind the biceps and will be out for 4 weeks.