Name: Gary Sanchez
Notable 2011 Stats: .256/.335/.485 with 16 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 93/36 K/BB, and 2-for-3 SB in 82 games with Charleston (A)
Why He’s This High: Much like #18 prospect Xander Bogaerts, Sanchez played the entire season in Low-A as an 18-year-old and put up some ridiculous power numbers. His .229 ISO was 20 points below Bogaerts’ and seven below Bryce Harper‘s, and Sanchez probably has the best chance at staying at a key defensive position out of those three players.
His offensive outburst is nothing new for the precocious young catcher, who is a career .283/.356/.506 hitter. He also threw out 31% of basestealers last year. His approach at the plate is nowhere near on par with Harper’s, but he takes his share of walks and makes hard contact when he connects.
Why He’s This Low: Like Jesus Montero before him, there’s growing concern that Sanchez won’t be able to stay behind the plate. He doesn’t have Montero’s huge frame, but he’s pretty big already, and he allowed 26 passed balls in just 60 games last year. That’s not particularly uncommon for such a young catcher, but Sanchez has a ton of work to do defensively.
The 27.1% strikeout rate also needs to come down quite a bit if he’s going to hit for much of an average.
Conclusions: Sanchez has a number of skills that are well-developed at age 18, which is fantastic. However, he does have big flaws with his defense and strikeouts; while it’s easy enough to brush those off with “he’s just 18, what did you expect?!” right now, that excuse will only fly for so long. If he’s going to retain his top prospect status, he needs to make at least some progress at rounding out those parts of his game in 2012. Like Montero, he should be the rare catcher who will hit enough to play elsewhere, but that’s still far from an optimal outcome.
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