The New York Yankees took advantage of the 23rd, and 61st picks in the June 2018 Amateur Draft by selecting, not pitchers, but two position players who just might cast a long shadow over the future composition of the team.
Did the Yankees blink in the last moments of this year’s college draft when they selected not one, but two catchers with their top picks, or was it in their plans to do so all along while putting aside the possible need to restock pitchers?
Answers can only provide conjecture as the team keeps these things in-house, but it sure would have been fun to be a fly on the wall in the Yankees War Room to listen in on the conversations between Brian Cashman, his staff, and scouting department.
The would-be elephant in the room wasn’t even there, and it was likely he was taking batting practice or playing in a major league game for the Yankees at the time. But what emerges from the Yankees top picks is the team taking out an insurance policy on Gary Sanchez, which negates the dream of the Yankees for Sanchez to be their catcher for the next 8-10 years.
It just ain’t gonna happen, folks. And most of the reason is Sanchez has a body that defies the ability to be agile behind the plate, especially when it comes to darting out to block a pitch off the plate. There may be other reasons too why the Yankees may be hedging their bets on Sanchez. And that has to do with what sometimes seems like Sanchez’s “low energy” behind the plate at times.
Size does matter when it comes to professional ballplayers, and that is even truer when it comes to the catching position. Try putting Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton behind the plate for a few games. And when you see players like Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and others up close at a game, you are quick to realize they are far different athletes than those who come from other sports.
Gary Sanchez, according to Baseball Reference is six feet two inches and weighs 230 pounds. Matt Wieters, as another example, has played ten seasons in the catching position and is listed at 6’5″ and 235 lbs. The difference between the two, though, is Wieters can best be described as lithe, while Sanchez is all bulk and muscle.
Sanchez has now been in the Yankees organization since 2010, which includes four seasons with the parent club. Logic would suggest that after all that time, he pretty much is what he’s going to be as a catcher. His development has been slow, and as he ages, it’s bound to get even slower. Matters are not helped either by the unexplainable funk he’s finding himself in at the plate of late, which could be having a spillover effect on his fielding, or vice-versa.
In fact, you could say the only thing keeping Sanchez in the lineup at the moment is, the 12 home runs and 35 RBI he’s managed to amass, together with the threat he represents (a la Alex Rodriguez when he was hitting .201) every time he strides to the plate.
Another blink from the Yankees came when Gary Sanchez has recently been taking ground balls at third base during pre-game warm-ups. The Yankees are struggling with what to do with Sanchez. Trading him is out of the question. But other than as a full-time DH, which is impossible on this team, given the need to rotate different players there for purposes of giving them a breather once in a while.
The Yankees will figure out all of this, including what to do with the emerging talents of Austin Romine and his status with the team. But let’s take a look at the new members of the Yankees organization.
The Yankees used their first pick in the 2018 MLB Draft to take Anthony Seigler at 23rd overall. He is a five-foot-eleven, 200-pound catcher from Cartersville High School in Georgia. Seigler is ambidextrous and has the distinction of being both a switch-hitter and switch-pitcher. (Pinstripe Alley)
At 5’11”, Siegler falls more into the definition of the catching position, and Pinstripe Alley goes on to add: “Seigler relies on hard contact from both sides of the plate with an approach to hitting the ball to all fields. The only question is how much power he will ultimately develop, but his bat speed should provide him with double-digit home run production”.
The Yankees second pick is Josh Breaux out of McLennan Community College in Texas. According to Pinstripe Alley, Scouting reports indicate that Breaux possesses “well above-average raw power to all fields and an aggressive right-handed swing that generates uncommon bat speed.” That’s evident in his 2018 line with McLennan CC, where he hit 404/.532/.831 with 18 home runs. Breaux also has experience as a pitcher and flirted with a triple-digit fastball. The Yankees, however, selected him as a catcher.
We know that more draftees fall by the wayside than those who make it to “The Show.” And more than likely, it’s going to be two to three years before the Yankees can accurately weigh each of these players as they (hopefully) make their way through the Yankees farm system.
The Yankees have yet to make an announcement, but it is likely either Breaux or Siegler will begin their pro career at Single-A Staten Island, where the long and arduous journey to Yankee Stadium will begin.
For Gary Sanchez, he may or may not be apt to begin looking over his shoulder a bit. He’s a New York Yankee, and these other guys are not. Which means his destiny with the team is in his hands for at least as long as Sanchez can provide the offensive power that makes this Yankees team.