Ali Sanchez has been a name that has been heard for a long time ever since the New York Mets signed him at 16 years old. Now is the time he gets to prove if that move will hit its maturity date or it needs more time before the Mets can reap the rewards.
For the New York Mets in 2020, their catching situation is one of interest. In 2019 Wilson Ramos stayed healthy all year and caught most of the games, but if that does not carry over to 2020 things could get interesting.
Nido is currently the direct back and offers some potential with his defensive abilities especially his fast pop times. Rivera is the veteran of the group and could serve as a short-term injury replacement.
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The third option is Patrick Mazeika who was drafted and started in the Mets system as a catcher. However, he has been increasing his playing time at first base each year to a point where he is about a 50-50 split between the two positions, so his contributions as a catcher at the major league level may be limited.
That leaves the Mets with one more option, Ali Sanchez, signed out of Venezuela at the age of 16. He has always been known for his defense especially his ability to throw out runners, but he has always lacked in the offensive department.
However, his development over the last few years makes 2020 a very interesting year for Sanchez.
In his six-year minor league career, Sanchez has thrown out 46% of would-be base stealers, which is quite stellar. Just for some perspective, Yadier Molina had a 46% caught stealing percentage in the minors, Buster Posey had a 45% caught stealing percentage in the minors, and his counterpart Tomas Nido had a 34% caught stealing percentage in the minors.
To digest all of this, Ali Sanchez in his minor league career so far has virtually the same caught stealing percentage as two of the best active catchers in the game. Now, this does not mean that Sanchez will have a major league career like Posey or Molina, but it is quite impressive to have similar numbers as the two of them.
As for Nido who has always been touted for his defense over his offense now has some competition.
Could Ali Sanchez get significant playing time in 2020? Absolutely and here is why.
Wilson Ramos is in the last year of his contract, he is injury prone, and he is not that great of a defensive catcher, he threw out 15% of base stealers and the league average is 26%.
With that being said the Mets need to figure out what they have at that position beyond 2020, or at least until Francisco Alvarez is ready, assuming Brodie Van Wagenen does not trade him.
This is not to say that the Mets will bench Ramos in a win-now season just to see what they have in potentially fringe major league catchers, but Ramos will not catch every day and he is unfortunately bound to get injured.
This opens a window for other catchers to catch around 50 or so games, maybe more. It is probably safe to assume the Mets have a pretty good idea what they have in Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera is not the long- or short-term future. That just leaves Ali Sanchez.
If Sanchez has a good Spring Training and starts his minor league season on a good note, I think it is entirely possible that he could get called up to the major league team. If he does at the very least his defense will keep him around for a little bit to allow the Mets to evaluate his potential talent.
Moreover, if Sanchez can hit to a .650ish OPS and with his highly regarded defense, he could leapfrog Nido and stick as the backup for a large part of 2020. Also, it is possible if Sanchez shows signs of being offensively capable and his defense carries over to the major league level then there is a real chance that Sanchez could be put in the catching plans for 2021 and beyond once Ramos is gone and until Francisco Alvarez proves he is truly what the hype says he is.
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The 2020 campaign is a big one for Ali Sanchez and there is a decent chance that he could see significant playing time at the major league level if things break his way.