When news of 2019 Yankees third-round pick Jake Sanford’s release hit the transaction wire earlier this week, it was tough to be stunned. Sanford had delivered on his considerable power potential only somewhat, the outfield picture was getting crowded, he was 24, and he hadn’t appeared in a minor-league game in 2022.
Shocking? Not quite. Sudden? Absolutely; typically, players with such pedigree get second, third and fourth chances. Some fans surmised there might be off-field trouble to blame for Sanford’s disappearance.
Those fans were entirely correct, though they might not have guessed how many chances behind the scenes that Sanford actually got before the team took action.
As it turned out, the ex-slugger (who’s already hooked on with an Independent League team to resume his career) spent his Yankees tenure running an autograph and memorabilia racket, constantly badgering his teammates for their bats, gloves and jerseys and stealing them when he had to.
Then, in turn, he’d host online auctions, never deliver the goods, and steal more money from unsuspecting autograph hounds.
In essence, Sanford is gone after stealing gear from his teammates and defrauding fans, which is normal.
Yankees prospect Jake Sanford stole memorabilia from teammates, money from fans
According to internal Yankees folks, though, Sanford’s peak comparison was reportedly ex-Rockie Brad Hawpe, so … not missing much.
Included in NJ.com’s reporting are numerous accounts from fans who encountered the huckster and shelled out anywhere from $75 to $600 on his pot of game-used memorabilia from his more famous teammates (as well as Sanford himself). Naturally, they didn’t receive the goods — possibly because Sanford listed the auctions before he actually had a chance to steal the stuff?
Yankee fans of a certain age may remember former top prospect Ruben Rivera’s career in the Bronx meeting its untimely end because he reportedly stole a bat and glove from Derek Jeter back in 2002. And that was already after he’d established himself as a top prospect, then flamed out, then returned to the organization.
It’s likely Sanford will never get a chance to experience the end portion of that cycle. Sell those autographs now. But not to him.