Sanchez focuses on improving overall game

Sanchez focuses on improving overall game

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Gary Sanchez, the Yankees' top prospect, was at his home in the Dominican Republic when he saw on TV that Brian McCann had agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract, immediately answering a need behind the plate for the big league squad.

Just a few weeks away from celebrating his 21st birthday, Sanchez said that he did not panic. That decision was out of his control, and Sanchez said that his response would be to stay focused on his own game.

"I never thought of it as any sort of danger or anything to my own future with the team," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I never saw that."

Rated as the Yankees' No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com, Sanchez launched a solo home run in New York's 7-4 win over the Tigers on Friday, offering a reminder of the raw power that prompted the Yankees to give him a $3 million signing bonus in 2009.

"It was my very first Spring Training home run," said Sanchez, who hit the line-drive shot to left off Detroit's Jose Ortega. "It was very good."

Sanchez hit 15 home runs last season, playing 94 games at Class A Tampa and 23 more at Double-A Trenton, where he is likely to begin the 2014 campaign. Overall, Sanchez batted .253 with a .324 on-base percentage and a .412 slugging percentage, and said that he has been trying to polish himself behind the plate.

"I've been working a lot on blocking and throwing and catching balls," Sanchez said. "Every aspect of my defense, I think, could be improved."

Having McCann in the starting role, plus Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy -- all of whom spent time in the big leagues last year -- raises the possibility that Sanchez could be dangled as trade bait to fill other needs.

"I can't think about that," Sanchez said. "I can only focus on my own game."

Sanchez's home run on Friday landed on a grassy berm beyond the left-field wall, where it was quickly snatched up by a sunbathing fan. Sanchez said that he did not ask anyone to try and secure the ball as a souvenir.

"No, I'm going to get the one I hit at Yankee Stadium," Sanchez said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.