Mature Hitting Approach Serves Jesus Sanchez
The Rays feel pretty good about the performance of their core position prospects who have advanced to and now won at Triple-A Durham, led by shortstop Willy Adames, first baseman Jake Bauers and third baseman Patrick Leonard.
But the best player in the system this past season, by their own acknowledgement, was Jesus Sanchez, a 19-year-old Dominican outfielder at low Class A Bowling Green.
It was Sanchez, and not any of the advanced prospects, who the Rays chose as their minor league player of the year.
Young in years and experience, Sanchez signed as an international free agent in 2014. Nevertheless, he starred in his first full-season experience, hitting .305/.348/.478 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs in 117 games in the Midwest League.
He led the MWL in RBIs while earning mid- and postseason all-star honors. But maybe the best thing about Sanzhez's performance was his take on his season: "I think I can do much better."
Sanchez did plenty well this past season, especially in showing power and patience at the plate. And with an advanced approach that led to the impressive production.
"I’m not looking for home runs,’’ Sanchez said. "I’m just looking to hit the ball. When I look to hit the ball, the home runs come."
Sanchez feels he can maintain his offense as he advances to the next level, targeting defense and baserunning for improvement.
Overall, Sanchez has already shown progress after earning team MVP honors in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2016 and should benefit further from winter ball experience after being the No. 2 pick in the Dominican League draft.
Sanchez said he had no specific timetable in reaching the majors. He just plans to keep working hard and considers himself in the multi-talented mold like Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco.
"I just want to stay focused and keep working hard and get to the big leagues,’’ Sanchez said.
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So far, that attitude has served him well.