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Yanks' Sanchez plates career-high six
Top prospect homers, busts out of slump in RiverDogs' win
05/16/2012 3:35 PM ET
Gary Sanchez is in his third pro season and second with Charleston.
Gary Sanchez is in his third pro season and second with Charleston. (Brian Bissell/Future Star Photos)
Gary Sanchez does not wait around for a slump to end.

In his first three at-bats Wednesday afternoon, the Yankees' No. 3 prospect turned five pitches into a home run, a double and a career-best six RBIs as his Class A Charleston RiverDogs ran away from the visiting Savannah Sand Gnats, 14-5.

Sanchez was 0-for-his-last-11 at the plate when he pulled the first pitch he saw from starter Alex Panteliodis over the left-field fence, plating two teammates in the RiverDogs' four-run third inning.

Facing reliever Carlos Vazquez in the fourth, Sanchez again saw just one pitch and, this time, brought in three runners with a double toward left field.

"Over the last couple of days, I have been struggling," Sanchez said through a translator. "They tried to sneak a couple of first-pitch fastballs by me, and I was ready."

Slotted at designated hitter, the right-handed-hitting catcher also flew out in the first and grounded out on in the sixth on a combined five pitches. Sanchez then lost an eight-pitch battle by striking out in the eighth to complete his 2-for-5 day.

Sanchez said he's not necessarily aggressive or even impatient -- he's drawn nine walks in 30 games -- but that opposing pitching determines his approach in the batter's box.

The 19-year-old native of the Dominican Republic -- he received a $3 million bonus upon signing in July 2009 -- tripled his previous single-game season high in RBIs and narrowly broke his old career high: Sanchez homered, doubled and drove in five runs as a member of the Gulf Coast League Yankees on July 9, 2010.

Sanchez spent 2011 in Charleston, where he batted .256 with 17 home runs in 82 games. In the same spot in 2012, his batting average (.333) has risen while his power has diminished; his third-inning homer was his second through 30 games.

He said his experience last year -- playing night games for the first time, for example -- has helped him feel more comfortable with the club this year. A more closed batting stance, which he incorporated before batting .433 in nine games last August, has also helped him increase his contact rate.

Going deep has not been an issue for the Yanks' No. 15 prospect, outfielder Tyler Austin, who batted a slot ahead of Sanchez in the cleanup spot. He belted his 12th homer, a two-run shot in the first inning.

"We make a good combo," Sanchez said. "I feel like if he's in front of me, he drives all the runs in, but if he doesn't, I am ready to."

Austin has at least four more longballs than any other South Atlantic League slugger.

All nine RiverDogs scored at least one run, and six recorded multi-hit games. Top prospects Dante Bichette (2-for-3, three runs and two RBIs) and Mason Williams (3-for-4, one run and two RBIs) helped lead the way.

Panteliodis (3-2) allowed eight runs on seven hits. He exited with one down in the fourth.

Counterpart Caleb Cotham (3-1) gave up two runs on three hits over six frames. He threw 51 of his 65 pitches in the zone.

"He's a guy that has three good pitches -- fastball, slider and changeup -- and he can throw them all for strikes," Sanchez said from his vantage point in the dugout. "It's a joy to catch him."

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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