As you saw yesterday afternoon, Gaby Sanchez has returned to the Miami Marlins after a decently long stint in Triple-A. The Fish initially demoted him to work on his swing, as he started his season hitting .197/.244/.295 (.237 wOBA). Presumably, Sanchez did work a little on his hitting while he was down in Triple-A for three weeks, but he certainly did not reveal much about the specifics.
"I figured out a couple little things, nothing too major," Sanchez said. "Just going down there and playing and getting repetition and playing. That's it."
It actually makes sense that there was not much to add to his game. Sanchez, at 28 years of age, is more or less as complete a product as he is ever going to be. The team really just wanted to see him succeed in the minors to possibly see if he could return to the bigs to help the team. But there are a few things he could do better from his early 2012 start.Plate Approach
Last season, Sanchez got more patient and earned himself more walks, which helped to compensate for a slight decrease in BABIP and power. But this year a few differences showed up in the numbers.
The problem so far this season is that Sanchez's selectivity that he has shown in his career has fallen off a little bit. He has swung at a few more pitches outside the zone and few less inside the zone, which is not a very good trade-off. He also has made less contact in the zone and more out of it, so that his overall contact and swing rates are not changed drastically. Of course, contact in the zone is likely to yield better results, and that may have something to do with why Sanchez is popping up balls so often; in 2012, his infield fly ball rate is up to 17.6 percent of his fly balls as opposed to a career 10 percent rate.
The good news is that Sanchez's Triple-A work at least shows a modicum of the patience we are expecting from a polished hitter. Sanchez hit .310/.494/.483 in 79 Triple-A PA, and the important number there is the .494 OBP. Sanchez drew 16 walks in those 79 trips to the plate, translating into a walk rate of 20.3 percent. He only struck out in 13.9 percent of those PA (11 strikeouts), so he at least was able to handle pitches from Triple-A starters. Obviously the level of competition is much higher in the big leagues, but hopefully Sanchez has worked out some of the kinks in his approach and he can get back to at least being a hitter slightly better than league average in 2012.
How well Sanchez does this season may affect his future with the team, as it seems the Fish are now ready to admit that Logan Morrison is better served at first base. If Sanchez cannot improve on this season, it seems difficult to imagine the team keeping him along as he heads into his first arbitration year. If his struggles continue, the team will have a difficult decision heading into next season regarding finding value for Sanchez to accommodate a move for Morrison.