Outfielder Jake Sanford was drafted by the Yankees in the third round in 2019 out of Western Kentucky. He had promising power, as he hit 22 homers in 56 games in his last year of college. Last year, between Class A and High-A, he hit .285/.356/.467 with 13 doubles, five triples and 16 home runs in 435 plate appearances.
He has now signed with the Ottawa Titans of the Frontier League, according to the Associated Press. This is an independent league with no affiliation to Major League Baseball. What happened in between was what makes the story interesting.
Sanford, 24, was released by the Yankees last week, reports nj.com. At least part of the reason was that he was stealing equipment from teammates and selling it, per multiple allegations. The story started to spread rather quickly on social media in the last few weeks, as some fans started to post messages saying they were scammed out of money in alleged memorabilia sales by Sanford.
The Yankees cut Sanford over allegations that he repeatedly hounded teammates for their equipment to sell online, while also occasionally swiping it from their lockers, a person with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
"He was scamming other players," the person said.
According to allegations on social media, Sanford victimized fans, too. While he allegedly sold equipment he could get his hands on — legally and illegally — fans accused him of defrauding them by taking money in advance for autographed equipment he never delivered.
Sanford's signing bonus with the Yankees after being selected in the 2019 draft? A cool $597,500.