Yankees Send Sanchez For More Polish
TAMPA—Brian Cashman never said the backup catcher’s job was Gary Sanchez’s to lose before spring training opened.
However, the general manager spoke glowingly of Sanchez, saying he had a chance to win the job and that the Yankees were high on the 23-year-old.
Yet, New York optioned Sanchez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on March 24, more than a week before Opening Day. The move all but cleared the way for Austin Romine, who is out of minor league options, to back up Brian McCann.
As they packed Sanchez off to the International League, where he played in 35 games last season after a promotion from Double-A Trenton, the Yankees reiterated their belief that the young catcher’s future remains bright despite being sent out.
"I think there are little things he can work on defensively and offensively,” big league manager Joe Girardi said, "but I think he is going to be a really good player.”
Signed for $3.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Sanchez instantly flew on the radar because of the money and also for a bat many projected would be a productive one in the big leagues.
Immaturity issues surfaced early in Sanchez’s minor league career, but they subsided last year when he played well in the high minors—he hit .274/.330/.485 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 93 games—and then in the Arizona Fall League.
In 13 spring games, Sanchez went 1-for-21 (.048) and experienced problems behind the plate as the exhibition season progressed. The pressure of having to seize a big league job may have contributed to the struggles.
"When you look at Sanchy, he has the upside to be an everyday player,’’ Girardi said.
"(Romine and Carlos Corporan) played better in spring training, but for (Sanchez’s) development, it’s probably important to go finish him off, and at some point see what you have (in the majors). But I think you are going to have a really good player.’’
• The Yankees demoted Sanchez minutes after naming him the organization’s minor league player of year for 2015. Righthander Luis Severino won the pitcher version.
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• Righthander James Kaprielian, the 2015 first-round pick from UCLA, appeared in two big league spring training games, but he left a strong impression. He recorded 21 innings at short-season Staten Island (counting the playoffs) after signing and will begin 2016 at high Class A Tampa with a chance to crack Double-A before the end of the season.