As with any normal thunder clap, the boom was a little delayed. But it came in a big way Sunday afternoon for Gary Sanchez and Double-A Trenton.
The top Yankees prospect capped an 11-run fourth inning with a grand slam -- his first homer of the young season -- to lead the Thunder to an 11-5 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Ben Gamel got the frame going with a one-out single off Scott Copeland (0-1). On the very next pitch, Rob Segedin took the right-hander deep to left for his first round-tripper of the year. Sanchez then walked and later came around to score on Yeral Sanchez's double. Francisco Arcia plated two more runs with a triple -- and then scored on an error by shortstop Peter Mooney -- and Ali Castillo drove in the seventh run to chase Copeland.
After lefty John Anderson walked Mason Williams and Rob Segedin to load the bases, Sanchez, who was receiving his first start of the year as a designated hitter after playing three games at catcher, came to the plate again. The 21-year-old slugger crushed Anderson's 2-0 offering over the wall in left-center field.
"That was a heck of an inning," Thunder manager Tony Franklin told The Trentonian. "I would have taken four or five (runs), but not too many times you can see 11 runs in an inning. That was an outburst. I'd like to see a lot more of it."
The 11 tallies were the Thunder's most in a single frame since Aug. 19, 2004, when they put a 12-spot on the board against Portland. Segedin and Sanchez were the first Trenton players to go yard in the same inning since Aug. 28, 2012 against New Britain.
"When I hit it, I knew I hit it solid," Sanchez told the newspaper via a translator.
The homer came at a good time for the Dominican Republic native. Sanchez went 2-for-12 with three strikeouts, two doubles and just one walk in his first three games for Trenton. With the move to DH, he finished 1-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. The RBI total was a Double-A high for the slugger, who slashed .250/.364/.380 with two homers and 10 RBIs in a 23-game stint with Trenton last season.
"I'm happy the confidence is there," Sanchez said. "It was only a matter of time until [we would] start swinging the bat."
Sanchez's power is by far his best tool. MLB.com, which ranks him as its No. 47 overall prospect, gives that particular tool a 65 grade on the 20-80 scale with his hitting checking in at 55.
The Yankees catching situation is a bit crowded with free-agent signing Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy ahead of Sanchez on the depth chart right now.
"We're real happy with the way he's made progress," Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president and director of amateur scouting, told MiLB.com this spring. "He did a good job getting in shape and did a much better job defensively, his concentration level is good, and he's continued to hit. We should feel good moving forward with Gary."