Sanford’s path to professional baseball was certainly unorthodox. An unheralded high school player from Western Canada, he walked on to a community college team in Nebraska before transferring to Western Kentucky University. He won the Conference USA triple crown this past season and went to the Yankees in 2019’s third round, signing to a bonus roughly $40K over-slot. With Short-Season Staten Island, Sanford is slashing .250/.302/.429 with a K/BB ratio of 62/11 across 47 games. I have seen him play many times throughout the summer.
An impressive 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Sanford has a muscular frame that’s close to fully mature. The 21-year-old’s best tool is his raw power, which he produces through strength rather than plus batspeed, which made it difficult for him to tap into this pop during his pro debut. Additionally, Sanford’s lack of bat speed has resulted in the inability to turn on pitches with authority. A downward path cuts into his ability to lift the ball, as evidenced by a grounder-heavy contact profile and he is also susceptible to chasing breaking balls, particularly to his back foot. Despite the young outfielder’s athletic build, there is not much fluidity in his game on either side of the ball. Sanford’s swing and outfield defense are stiff, and despite average straight-line speed, this lack of ease—paired with a below-average throwing arm—likely make him a better fit in left field at higher levels.
The Yankees clearly like Sanford since they gave him an above-slot signing bonus after taking him in the 3rd round. However, watching him throughout the summer, I do not see a future big leaguer, FV 20.