Everything has basically gone wrong for Gary Sanchez in Low-A this season. He has hit .202/.238/.298 with a 34% K rate and 5% BB rate, and just 1 home run. On defense, he has been just as bad. He’s been decent throwing out runners – 7 CS against 19 stolen bases, or 27% success – but he’s allowed 11 passed balls in 15 games behind the plate.
At this point, the Yankees have two choices: they can wait to evaluate Sanchez until the short-season leagues start up in about a month, or they can push Sanchez to extended spring training, work on correcting his flaws, and then send him to Staten Island or the Gulf Coast League.
The first option gives Sanchez some time to work out his problems. He’s only 18 years old, and probably can be expected to struggle in a full professional season. He was pushed faster than the Yankees have pushed most of their young Latin American prospects, and we can’t expect every pushed prospect to respond like Jesus Montero. The best way for Sanchez to work out his issues may not be to take a break and work in EST, but instead tough it out in Low-A and learn over time. His prospects for fast-track (Low-A at 19) would probably get slimmer, but that may be the correct development path.
I prefer the second option. Sanchez isn’t merely struggling: he’s getting overwhelmed. Whatever was working so fantastically well last season is not working this season. He held his own in Staten Island last year, with a level of competition not that different from the South Atlantic League, and completely destroyed the Gulf Coast League. Its not like he jumped right to Trenton: something is wrong compared to last year. The Yankees could figure out what is wrong, spend some time coaching their young investment, and send him back to State Island once that league starts. Right about now is the right time to start the process – the New York-Penn League starts in about a month – and the Yankees would need some time to work with him. And if the problem is due to some sort of nagging injury, a month off could allow him to recover.
The move would also be good for the Charleston Riverdogs, who are stuck with a bit of a roster crunch. J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez are currently sharing catcher duties, pushing the other to the DH spot. Charleston needs that DH spot, because they have 6 players sharing the three outfield spots, 1b, and 3b. While Murphy (who has played the majority of his games at DH) will benefit from not having to deal with what Austin Romine did after years of only catching 3 days a week, other players will benefit too. The Yankees can play Eduardo Sosa, the current odd man out, every day while one outfielder DHs. Ramon Flores can stop playing out of position at 1b, and Kyle Roller (who is hitting surprisingly well – .329/.395/.539 – the best Yankee late-round college hitting in years) can play every day again.
Obviously, I’m looking at this from a birds eye view and the Yankees have much more detailed reports on Sanchez, but they’ve got to at least be having these conversations right now, and I think its an interesting issue to discuss. I’m for the second option, but how about everyone else?