April 01, 2010
At first glance, Florida's Gaby Sanchez(notes) is just another mediocre Helton in an arena filled with heavy hitting statistical rock stars. Essentially, he's fantasy's version of a xylophonist - unadored by groupies, only appreciated by the Violent Femmes.
But behind the sophomoric jokes and assumed marginality lies a player with quality upside, even for novices who believe the free-swinging LaRoches (Really more Adam than Andy) are a flying trapeze act.
Sanchez is your prototype homegrown talent. Born and raised in Miami, he played infield for the much ballyhooed 'U.' Believe it or not, he was also one of the few dozen fans who grew up idolizing Marlins. Images of Bobby Bonilla and Jeff Conine(notes) surely adorned his bedroom wall.
Now an elder prospect at 26, the former Hurricane could yield instant value. Staving off future heartthrob Logan Morrison(notes) in spring training, Sanchez won the starting first base job by maintaining a light mindset. Instead of applying unneeded pressure onto himself, an approach he failed to follow last year, he entered camp more relaxed and open-minded. His forceless demeanor led to gaudy exhibition numbers. Over 54 at-bats, he's stroked a .352 BA with two homers, five RBI, 13 runs and a stolen base. His 15:4 K:BB disparity is slightly alarming, but Fredi Gonzalez is optimistic the youngster has the eye to succeed. Though Sanchez is a self-described "gap-to-gap kind of guy," Gonzalez believes his pop is better than advertised. From the Palm Beach Post:
"Gaby, given a lot of at-bats, may be a 15- to 20-home run guy. For a first year in the major leagues, I'll take that."
Baseball America projects 25-plus homers for the junior Marlin in the near future. Based on his plus patience, high contact numbers and respectable power totals accumulated in the minors ('09 Triple-A: 314 at-bats, .290-16-55, 0.95 BB/K), their foresights are reasonable. It's also important to note, he possesses double-digit speed. Two seasons ago at Double-A, he swiped 17 bags.
Most unchallenged owners would skewer the Cadbury bunny if it left Sanchez in their Easter basket. After all, as Grizzly Behrens pointed out back in February, the average line among top 30 first basemen a season ago was .285-30-99-85-4. But for fanatics in 12-team and deeper leagues which require a corner infield or utility spot, the four percent-owned (330.12 ADP) commodity is rosterable. He could be the East Coast version of James Loney(notes) - not spectacular, but servicable.
If Sanchez roars out of the gate, you can surely bet he'll be "Gone Daddy Gone" off waivers.
Fearless Forecast: 467 at-bats, .278 BA, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 61 R, 8 SB
Image courtesy of Getty