Yanks' No. 5 prospect expected to get playing time over season's final two months
By Nick Suss
NEW YORK -- Less than a week after the Yankees made a series of trades to bolster the future, a man long thought to be a key component of that future has arrived at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees called up catcher Gary Sanchez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in advance of Wednesday's matchup vs. the Mets. To counter the move, the Yankees optioned outfielder Ben Gamel to Scranton. Sanchez, the Yankees' No. 5 prospect, hit eighth and was the designated hitter for the Yankees.
Sanchez's Wednesday wasn't perfect, but it was one to remember. After striking out and popping out in his first two at-bats, Sanchez notched his first career MLB hit in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 9-5 win, leading off the frame with a single. He advanced to third when Aaron Hicks doubled into right field and later came around to score on a Rob Refsnyder sacrifice fly.
Sanchez came up to the plate one more time and struck out again, making his final line 1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts. And even though he didn't play the field, he did come away with a ball, too. After his hit, the ball was flipped into the dugout for Sanchez to keep.
"Expectations are he just goes out and plays the way that we feel he's capable of playing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's going to catch some and he's going to DH some. We're going to try to get him some experience in a lot of different ways."
To illustrate what Girardi thinks Sanchez is capable of, the youngster hit .282 with an .807 OPS and 10 home runs in 71 games in Triple-A this season. This is the third time Sanchez has been called up to the Major League club and the second time in 2016. He appeared in three games over his previous two stints and was 0-for-6 with two strikeouts. Girardi said that he feels Sanchez has pressed a little too much in those stints, just as he did in Spring Training this season.
Sanchez doesn't necessarily agree.
"It's not that I put a lot of pressure on myself. It's that I couldn't get the results that I wanted," Sanchez said. "I just kept working hard and now I'm here again."
The 23-year-old has been in the organization since 2009, when the Yankees signed him as an amateur free agent when he was just 16 years old. Prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisitions of Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, Sanchez ranked as high as No. 3 among Yankees prospects.
With this recent influx of young players, the perception is that the Yankees are going to continue building for the future, and Girardi confirmed that might include calling up more and more rookies throughout 2016, even before rosters expand in September. But to Girardi, bringing in fresh talent isn't a concession by any means. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
"Part of that is we believe these guys can help us," Girardi said. "We believe that Gary Sanchez can help us in a sense. The reason we called up [Rob Refsnyder] is that we believe he can help us offensively and he has. In saying that, we're still trying to win and we figure that these guys are going to give us an opportunity."
The Yankees announced prior to Wednesday's game that pitcher Jacob Lindgren will be undergoing Tommy John surgery Friday. The 23-year-old left-hander was the Yankees' second-round Draft pick in 2014 and has pitched with Class A Advanced Tampa this season. Said Girardi: "He was having problems before and it just didn't work out."
Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.