#MLBPlayers411 | Gary Sánchez
Before becoming a key part of the youth movement in the Bronx last year, Gary Sánchez already had his nickname.
"I'd like to unleash The Kraken, which is Gary Sanchez, on our roster in 2016 if I can,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told a group of beat writers at the 2015 Winter Meetings.
Sánchez, a catcher, just needed a chance to live up to the name Cashman had given him. In early August last year, Cashman got his wish, and The Kraken – the nickname he will wear on his jersey for the upcoming Players Weekend -- took New York by storm.
In his first month with the big-league club, Sánchez clubbed 11 home runs and drove in 21 runs in 24 games, while batting .389. The Kraken was simultaneously named the American League's Rookie of the Month and Player of the Month for August, becoming the first player to win both since Jose Abreu of the White Sox in July 2014.
“Pretty impressive considering what he's done,” Joe Girardi said to the New York Daily News at the time. “Coming up at an important time and facing good teams, it's really impressive.”
Kraken not only earned his nickname but he was also runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year balloting even though he didn't reach the majors until Aug. 4. This year, Sánchez has picked up where he left off. Despite missing time in the spring with a biceps injury, he was selected as an AL All-Star, and was a key reason the Yankees reclaimed New York in the Subway Series this week.
In the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Mets, Sánchez was 6-for-13 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
“Oh man, it's unbelievable,” Todd Frazier, who the Yankees recently acquired from the White Sox, told Sports Illustrated about his new teammate. “It's fun to watch, he's smooth as silk and he's just nice and relaxed, man. You know, he's not worried about defense, he's not worried about anything else, he's going out there hitting.”
When the weather heats up in New York in August, so does Sánchez. Through 39 games in two seasons, the 24-year-old is batting .370 (54-for-146) with 31 runs scored, 17 home runs and 34 RBI during the month. This year, he has six homers, 13 RBIs and a .333 batting average through the first 15 games of the month.
And while the lion's share of the attention has gone to rookie teammate Aaron Judge's prolific power, Sánchez has been his equal when it comes to hitting home runs. Sánchez has 42 homers in 600 plate appearances, Judge has 41 in 602 at-bats.
In 2009, Sánchez was signed as an undrafted free agent at age 16 from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He quickly became one of the Yankees' most heralded young prospects and one of the top prospects in baseball.
Now, when Sánchez steps to the plate at Yankee Stadium, video monitors flash “Release the Kraken.”
Opposing pitchers would be well-served to heed the warning.
To see more photos of The Kraken, click here.
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