Aroldis Chapman, Gary Sanchez participate in drills with Yankees pitchers and catchers in Tampa
Two of the club's most exciting players entering the new year are homegrown sensation Gary Sanchez, as well as flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, who re-signed with New York back in December during the MLB Winter Meetings.
Both Sanchez and Chapman -- two crucial components in the Yankees equation for 2017 -- were in full swing for the start of spring training drills this week, as pitchers and catchers began to shake off the offseason rust and prepare for the new year.
Expectations are high for the 24-year-old catcher Sanchez, whose 53-game stint in 2016 delivered more punch than most rookies can cram into an entire season. 'El Kraken' also proved that he's more than just a one-dimensional slugger, as he successfully thwarted 41% of base runners (13-32) who attempted to run on him last season, not including his two pick-offs.
One skill that could help Sanchez elevate his game to an even higher level on defense is the ability to pitch-frame. Former Yankees catcher Brian McCann is one of the best in the game at getting his glove in the right place to sell a strike to the umpire, and it's likely he passed down some of this wisdom while both he and Sanchez shared a locker room last season.
YES Network's Jack Curry caught a glimpse of Sanchez working on this very skill already in 2017, during the Yankees' opening week of pitcher and catcher drills. Check out the video below to see Sanchez's progress.
Do you love pitch framing? Here's 11 seconds of Gary Sanchez practicing the art. pic.twitter.com/mnytF3ilON- Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) February 15, 2017
On the other side of the things, lefty reliever (and World Series champion) Aroldis Chapman has also kept busy staying in superior condition this offseason in preparation for his second stint in the Bronx.
The soon-to-be-29-year-old Cuba native has established himself as not only one of the hardest throwers in today's era, but one of the hardest in baseball history, with a blazing fastball that has exceeded 105 miles per hour. No matter how talented hitters who face him might be, Chapman's velocity remains one of the most overpowering tools in any current pitcher's arsenal.
After serving his 30-game suspension at the start of the 2016 season, Chapman tossed 31 1/3 innings over 31 appearances out of the bullpen for the Yankees, posting a 2.01 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 8 walks. Chapman's strikeout ratio with New York (12.6 K/9) was lower than his usual career average (15.2 K/9), however his command was the best it had ever been, as he averaged a career-low 2.3 BB/9 during those 31 outings.
Following his deadline move to the Cubs and subsequent World Series victory, Chapman will now get ready to hold things down in the ninth inning for the Yankees in 2017. The team will be expecting the same kind of dominance that the four-time All-Star has shown since his rookie year in 2010, and his unrivaled fastball will no doubt continue to result in gaudy strikeout numbers.
Check out what a triple-digit Chapman fastball looks like up close:
20 seconds of Chapman's fastball coming at you. Forget hitting it. Let me know if you can see it. pic.twitter.com/411GWuSjj6- Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) February 15, 2017