Jake Sanford Begins Tapping Into More Power
Quietly, Jake Sanford’s loud bat has become one to watch closely in the Yankees’ farm system.
The 23-year-old High-A Hudson Valley right fielder was among the organization's most impressive lower-level hitters. Through 88 games Low-A Tampa and Hudson Valley he had hit .284/.357/.455 with 13 home runs.
“He’s easy to love,” Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson said.
Of course, Lawson was talking about Sanford’s easygoing, funny and coachable nature. But there’s a lot to like about what the 2019 third-round pick out of Western Kentucky brings to the diamond, too.
The Yankees signed Sanford for $600,000 and were banking on refining the lefthanded hitter's best tool.
“Jake has always had big power,” Lawson said. “He needed to improve his swing decisions and contact rate, though. One adjustment that helped both was cutting down some of the big moves in his swing that caused his head to move too much and his path to be too long.”
Sanford struck out nearly 33% of the time for short-season Staten Island in 2019. This season that rate had fallen to 26%.
To Lawson, it’s just been a matter of Sanford getting reps. Like most minor leaguers, Sanford lost the 2020 season to the coronavirus shutdown. And like many baseball players out of Canada, he played multiple sports, taking away precious development time.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Sanford has always looked the part of someone who could punish at the plate in the majors. He just needed at-bats.
All that considered, “it makes his performance this year that much more impressive,” Lawson said.
He added that he’s always enjoyed working with Sanford, who worked closely with minor league hitting coach Rachel Balkovec during the shutdown.
“He’s fun to be around,” Lawson said. “He’s a big, physical guy. Super easy to get along with, talk with and coach.”