New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has been a revelation. That statement is supported by a heap of numbers, but let’s start with a single figure: two.

That’s how many times Sancheza 23-year-old rookie with fewer than 100 big league plate appearances to his name—was intentionally walked Wednesday.

He also rapped two hits, including a double and a home run, in the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners. He’s now hitting .389 for the year with a 1.297 OPS.

Here’s the no-doubt homer, courtesy of the YES Network:

We’re in small-sample land, obviously. The list of call-ups who lit the league on fire for a few weeks before careening back to Earth is longer than a large-print copy of War and Peace stapled to the Shanghai phone book. 

But if you’re a Yankees fan and you’re not giddy about Sanchez, you may want to call the coroner.

Manager Joe Girardi described the tools Sanchez possesses that will lead to long-term success, per Billy Witz of the New York Times:

He’s able to slow the game down. You don’t ever see a panic in him. You can see him take one bad swing and see him adjust, and that makes me believe that he’s going to be fine.

I’m sure he’s going to have some bumps in the road. But you watch him behind the plate, his athleticism back there—that’s not going to change. His arm strength isn’t going to change. His ability to call games isn’t going to change. His ability to frame pitches isn’t going to change. So it leads you to believe that he’s going to be O.K.

We’ll get into Sanchez’s catching skills in a moment, but let’s not leave his bat behind just yet.

Sanchez has hit nine homers in 19 games. That’s as many as Alex Rodriguez hit in 65 games before his in-season retirement. It’s three more than Jacoby Ellsbury has hit in 115 games. This season, New York is paying Rodriguez and Ellsbury a combined $42 million and change.

That’s a cheap shot, granted. But it also highlights the Yankees’ new game plan: Shed expensive veterans and supplant them with cost-controlled young studs.

It began with the trade deadline sell-off that jettisoned relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and outfielder Carlos Beltran, among others, and netted New York the best farm system in baseball, per Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter.

Then came the promotions of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. On Aug. 14, Austin and Judge became the first MLB rookies to hit back-to-back homers in their first big league at-bats. They’ve sputtered since; nothing unusual there. Patience is always the buzzword with young players.

Sanchez, meanwhile, simply keeps raking.

OK, back to his catching skills. According to StatCorner, he’s been among the American League‘s top 10 pitch-framers (again, small sample, but still). More impressively, he’s cut down five of eight would-be base-stealers.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen an arm on a catcher like that in a while,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “Pudge Rodriguez, I was a rookie and my first spring training, he was still in Texas throwing BBs. He’s one of the best catchers to ever play the game. That arm is right up there with Pudge’s when he was in his prime. That’s something to say.”

Sanchez has already shoved aside veteran Yankees backstop Brian McCann, who is owed a combined $34 million in 2017 and 2018. Soon, Sanchez could be pushing the game’s elite receivers for MLB supremacy. 

At the very least, he looks like a cornerstone of the Yankees’ burgeoning golden era.

There are plenty more glitzy prospects in the pipeline, including outfielder Clint Frazier, shortstop Gleyber Torres and left-hander Justus Sheffield, just to name three of the club’s blue-chip deadline acquisitions. 

New York could also flip its young assets and swing a blockbuster trade or two. Plus, with multiple contracts coming off the books this year and next, general manager Brian Cashman will have money to burn on the ludicrously loaded 2018-19 free-agent class. 

We’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s far too early to anoint Sanchez the next Pudge or start engraving the Yankees’ next Commissioner’s Trophy.

The stars appear to be aligning over the Bronx, however. And right now, Sanchez is blazing across the MLB firmament.

Sure, you can poke holes in his game. He’s been a pull-happy hitter this season between the majors and minors, a tendency that opposing pitchers could exploit, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan outlined:

Sanchez, I’m sure, is going to run into some adjustment problems, unless he discovers right field. The way he shifts his momentum forward causes him to commit pretty early, and that can have an effect on his discipline. Sanchez probably won’t walk a ton, at least for a while. He’ll have some ugly strikeouts and rolled-over grounders. Peak Sanchez should look more polished, and that’ll take some progression. The current swing has vulnerabilities.

That’s to be expected, though. It’s the rare 23-year-old who comes up without vulnerabilities. Everything we’ve seen from Sanchez so far indicates a player with the tools to be special at a premium position.

He’s been a revelation. And he’s almost certainly just getting started.


All statistics current as of Aug. 24 and courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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