Yankees’ future catcher Antonio Gomez’s cannon earns him award win

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 6: A baseball hat and gloves are seen in the New York Yankees dugout (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 6: A baseball hat and gloves are seen in the New York Yankees dugout (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

Though we can’t believe we have to say this after what we saw in 2016 and 2017 (sigh), the New York Yankees very much need a catcher.

Are they going to move on from Gary Sánchez prior to the 2022 season, his final year under team control? Uh … have you seen the alternatives?

Yan Gomes tickle your fancy as a starter? Manny Piña? A Willson Contreras trade, replacing Gary with a similar bat-first catcher who hasn’t been better than marginally above-average since 2019? Pending some sort of bizarre circumstance like Mike Zunino getting cut loose by the Rays, Sánchez will likely be the best available option.

But not forever, though. With so much money stuck on the books long-term, a Sánchez extension of longer than … one year feels highly unlikely. And he won’t go for that.

There’s no sure thing in the pecking order internally, but there’s finally a glimmer of hope in the form of 19-year-old Antonio Gomez.

Over the past few seasons, the team has drafted Josh Breaux, Anthony Seigler and Austin Wells in the first few rounds. They’ve seen Donny Sands grow and develop. But nobody’s given them quite what Gomez produced in 2021 (again, at the age of 19), and he’s taken home a major defensive accolade as a result.

Yankees catcher Antonio Gomez gets props for his pop time.

Side note: Who knew the Yankees’ player development team put out a cheeky little end-of-season awards show like this? Maybe nothing’s rotten in the building after all! No notes!

Additional side note: Though Gomez is mostly renowned for his glove and impressive instincts behind the dish, he also more than held his own on offense. Checking in with Low-A Tampa for 156 at-bats over 46 games, Gomez OPS’d .792 and knocked in 23 runs. He hit “just” four homers, but they were, uh, of the prodigious variety.

In other words, his pop times aren’t the only place you can find pop in his game.

Let’s not ignore the defense in favor of power potential, though. After all, that’s what Gomez is being rewarded for. That pop time wasn’t just the best in the organization. It would’ve also been the best number in MLB.

Three cheers to Antonio Gomez, who’s certainly earned the accolades. We might not be seeing him in 2021 (we won’t be), but finally, there’s a name in the system who seems likely to both drill the ball and stay at catcher.

Our fingers are still crossed on Wells’ bat, Breaux’s total package, and Sands’ attitude, but Gomez certainly seems like our best hope, and this postseason prize reflects that.

He’s only 19!