During the past Arizona Fall League, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of outfield/first base prospect Jerry Sands: "In a perfect world, he gets another year of [minor league] development, and then we see where we're at." However, it hasn't been a perfect world for the Dodgers thus far, as they ranked last in the National League in runs per game entering Monday's contest.
With the Dodgers needing offense, Sands got the call, and he'll step in as the team's primary left fielder. He showed excellent power at Division II Catawba College in North Carolina but was just a 25th-round pick in the 2008 draft. To their credit, the Dodgers realized right away they had a player who could outperform his draft slot, pushing him aggressively. Sands had his big breakout season in 2010, hitting .301 with 35 homers overall, spending half of the season at low Class A then skipping high Class A to move to the Double-A level for the second half of the year. After impressing Mattingly during the AFL, Sands posted a 1.235 OPS in 22 at-bats in big league camp this spring before hitting five homers in his first 10 Triple-A games. He struck out three times en route to making his big league debut on Monday in his third professional season. He doubled in his first at-bat and had a sacrifice fly in his second plate appearance, to go along with two strikeouts.
"For me, it's all about learning the strike zone and getting a better handle on it," Sands said. "My hitting is a lot about rhythm, being consistent, having the same game plan each day and not missing your pitch."
I freely admit that the first few times I saw Sands I was a little skeptical and was on the fence about his future big league potential, but he won me over by the end of the Arizona Fall League. The more I saw him, the more I liked him. The bat speed is solid, and he can still hit for authority to all fields, even after shortening up his stroke last season. The organization feels he has the ability to make in-game adjustments, which will be key in adapting to major league pitching.