We continue our journey today through Baseball America’s top 30 Mets prospects with #27, catcher Ali Sanchez. His name should sound familiar to you right now as he earned one of the coveted spots the Mets have for Arizona Fall League ball and he was named the Mets sleeper Fall League prospect in the Fall League by MLB.com (the marquee Fall League prospect being Peter Alonso).
The 21 year old Catcher was signed out of Venezuela in 2013 and played his first season for the Mets in the DOSL in 2014 at the age of 17 slashing .303/.406/.394 despite being 1.3 years below the average age in the league. This earned him an immediate promotion next year to the Gulf Coast League where he played 46 games hitting .278/.339/.315 and a short stint in Kingsport where he had 2 hits in 11 AB’s. The next year, at age 19, a full 2.1 years below the average age in the league, he found himself in Brooklyn where he hit .216/.260/.275 and followed that up in Columbia in 2017 with a .231/.288/.264. These last two years of work are probably why he ends up so low on the prospect list going into the 2018 season. But we already know that his 2018 story ends with him Arizona, what happened?
Well first, as Baseball America points out, “hit just .223 outside of the complex Rookie leagues, but his defensive tools are so tantalizing – and catchers develop later than other position players – that he remains a prospect of interest.” Thus earning a grade of 50 with Extreme risk. The Mets in the last decade are not numb to high ticket catching prospects that have struggled either coming up the system or once they get to the major leagues (Fransciso Pena, d’Arnaud, Plawecki and now Nido), so we know for catchers this is a jagged line journey to the top. BA was impressed with his fast release of the ball and accuracy, his ability to call a game at his age and raw power that comes out during Batting Practice.
He split 2018 with Columbia and then St. Lucie. For Columbia, where he was practically the average age, in 205 PAs he slashed .259/.293/.389, a significant improvement over previous years and then in 142 PA’s with St. Lucie, where he was 1.4 years below average age, he slashed a .274, .296, .385 (practically the same OPS due to more hits and less walks).
Now Sanchez has a lot of Mets attention being one of four position players on a Fall League roster and arguably the best catcher in the system after Nido. My gut says he opens 2019 with St Lucie and at some point will move up to Binghamton.