Gaby Sanchez is a 6’1”, 235 lb. right-handed hitting first baseman, and currently a free agent. Born right here in Miami, Florida on September 2nd, 1983, he joined the Miami Hurricanes after playing his high school ball at Brito Miami Private School.
After four seasons playing catcher and third base for the Canes, the Marlins selected him in the fourth round of the 2005 MLB Entry Draft, with the 126th overall choice. Florida had no intent to keep Sanchez behind the plate, sending him to the low-A Jamestown Jammers in the Short Season New York-Penn League and playing him at either corner infield spot more than they did behind the plate.
Sanchez spent that first season with the Jammers, getting into 62 games in total and slashing .355/.401/.487/.888 with five home runs, 42 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Impressive enough to merit a promotion to the single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League in 2006.
As a Grasshopper, Sanchez played in 55 contests and hit .317/.447/.604/1.050 with 14 homers and 40 RBI, walking 39 times to only 20 strikeouts. He ended the season with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League for 16 games, where he slashed just .182/.324/.327/.651. He then joined the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League to work on his stroke, and hit. 279/.379/.396/.775 in 29 games.
2007 would open and close with Sanchez on Jupiter’s roster, where he led the club with 133 appearances and 70 RBI. He slashed .279/.369/.433/.803 with nine round-trippers as the club posted a 63-76 overall record.
Sanchez took a major step forward in 2008 with the double-A Carolina Mudcats in the Southern League. He led the team with 133 games played, 17 home runs, 92 RBI, and even threw in 17 stolen bases while slashing .314/.404/.513/.917. Sanchez, Cameron Maybin, and future rookie of the year Chris Coghlan formed a potent one-two-three combination to help power the Mudcats to an 80-60 record. He also got into his first Major League game on September 17th, grounding out as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 14-2 victory over the Houston Astros. He collected his first three hits on September 24th, hitting a single and two doubles with an RBI as the Fish set down the Washington Nationals, 9-4.
Sanchez spent the lion’s share of the 2009 campaign with the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he appeared in 85 contests and hit .289/.374/.475/.849 with 16 homers and 56 RBI. He continued to show patience at the plate, striking out 44 times while drawing 41 bases-on-balls. He was called up to the Marlins on three separate occasions, including the time it turned out to be permanent in early September. Sanchez appeared mostly as a pinch hitter, getting one start at first base and going five-for-18 with two homers, three RBI, and two walks in a pinch.
2010 would open with Sanchez firmly ensconced as Florida’s starting first baseman. He started 148 times at the position and came off the bench in three other contests. He had multiple hits in 41 games, including eight games of three or more. He had 19 home runs and a team-second 85 RBI, hitting .273/.341/.448/.788, and also stole five bases without getting picked off. He finished the season ranking fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote.
On June 11th of that season, in a 14-9 win in interleague play against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sanchez singled in the first, singled and scored in the third, smacked a three-run blast in the fourth, added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, then tacked on a two-run homer in the seventh.
On August 4th, Sanchez hit two singles and two doubles with an RBI in a 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. On September 21st, in a 5-2 Marlins victory against the New York Mets, he singled in the second, doubled and scored in the seventh, and hit a three-run eventual game winning round-tripper in the eighth inning.
In 2011, Sanchez led Miami with an NL-fifth 159 games played, and was selected to the all star team for what would be his only invitation to the event. He slashed .266/.352/.427/.779 with 19 round-trippers and a team-second 78 RBI, drawing 74 walks and striking out 97 times over 661 plate appearances. He ranked ninth in the NL with seven sacrifice flies. As a first baseman, he ranked fifth in the league with 1,262 putouts, fourth with 101 assists, and second with a .996 fielding percentage. His career 2.9 WAR figure owes a lot to the 2011 campaign, in which Gaby racked up a rating of 2.7.
Sanchez had 38 multihit games through the season, with 10 instances of three hits or more. From May 2nd through May 9th, he went 16-for-32 with four doubles, three homers, and 13 RBI, earning NL Player of the Week honors. On May 8th, in an 8-0 victory against the Washington Nationals, he doubled and scored in the second, doubled and scored in the fourth, hit a three-run jack in the sixth, singled in the seventh, and drew a walk in the ninth. On May 24th, he went three-for-four with two singles, a double, and three RBI in a 5-1 Marlins victory over the San Francisco Giants. On July 23rd, he doubled in the fourth, hit a two-run homer in the sixth then added another two-run homer in the seventh as the Marlins defeated the Mets by an 8-5 final score.
2012 would see Sanchez play in 55 games for the Marlins, hitting .202/.250/.306/.556 with three home runs and 17 RBI before Miami traded him with Kyle Kaminska to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gorkys Hernandez. In parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh, he appeared in 309 games and slashed .241/.327/.394/.722 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI. He played the 2015 campaign with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, hitting .226/.328/.392/.720 with seven homers and 18 RBI.
Sanchez signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Mariners prior to spring training in 2016, but did not make the cut. He has not appeared professionally since.
Join us next time for a left-handed hitting right fielder who played in parts of five seasons with the Marlins.