When is it too early to schedule Gary Sanchez’s number retirement ceremony in monument park at Yankee Stadium? Is now too early? The Yankees catcher has been on fire to start his major league career. Not just any on fire, a full on five alarm scorcher. Just yesterday he was named American League Player of the Week. In his first month in the bigs, he’s batting .377 with 8 HR, 15 RBI and has accumulated 25 hits. In 19 games, he almost has as many home runs as Mark Teixeira (10) in 88 games.
Sanchez is giving Yankee fans, like myself, hope to believe in the future. The Alex Rodriguez retirement and pending Mark Teixeira retirement is signaling an end of an era. The 2009 Yankees (aside from CC Sabathia) are going to be another page in the history book and not part of the current lineup and that’s fine by me. The time has come to infuse youth into this team and join the modern era of baseball. The days of paying for aging sluggers with low OPS and high frequency of injury are hopefully behind us. Once we relieve ourselves of the Brian McCann types the better we will be. No knock on McCann I like him as a player but in this day and age can you really afford to be paying players $17 million while they are hitting .230?
The bar has been set high by Sanchez as we look towards the other prospects the Yankees have. I do believe Aaron Judge is the real deal based on the limited sample size I’ve seen from him. In his first eight professional games he has 8 hits while batting .267 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Judge is a monster, literally, he’s 6 foot 7 inches tall. There have only been 10 position players of that height ever to play Major League Baseball; names like Tony Clark, Richie Sexson and Frank Howard come to mind. The power numbers will surely be there for Judge, the question will be how good of a hitter will he become at that size? At 6’7 the strike zone is large and a power swing can have many holes in it. If he can hover around .285 or so I think he’s going to have a great career.
Aaron Hicks doesn’t appear to be anything special and night in and night out he’s showing he’s not ready for a steady role on a major league team. For some reason Joe Girardi continually marches Hicks out there (104 games) and he’s yet to respond. Hicks is batting .209 in 268 at-bats with 6 HR and 25 RBI with an .264 OBP. There’s no question he has the athleticism and arm strength in right field but the overall game isn’t there. Remember Hicks was the 19th best prospect after the 2009 season, some Yankees fans are hoping he’ll be the next Jackie Bradley Jr. but I can’t see it. Hicks is 26 years old and not getting younger and will be arbitration eligible at the end of this season.
The other Yankee prospects whom they just acquired in the Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran trades are even more reason to be optimistic about the future. But let’s not start flying just yet, let’s stay grounded and remember they’re called prospects for a reason. Many of them don’t pan out, just ask the Cleveland Indians how that worked for them when they traded away CC Sabathia for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson. LaPorta famously never panned out, a bust, the other two we never heard from again. The best player in that deal was some throw in to complete the trade, his name was Michael Brantley. So before we go hailing the next <insert Hall of Fame player here> about Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo let’s wait to see what happens or see if the Yankees flip those prospects for MLB ready stars like Chris Sale or Mike Trout.