Sorry Dodger Nation Lasorda’ Lair took a much needed personal day yesterday, our first in over 3 weeks to attend to some personal matters. Not like there was much to discuss about the Dodgers 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. It’s ironic in that the Dodgers managed a measly 2 hits vs the vaunted (insert sarcasm) Indians pitching staff. For, it was the ledgendary Bob Uecker, in the classic baseball film Major League, as the play by play man for the Indians who uttered the famous phrase “2 beep beep hits, that’s all they managed was 2 beep beep hits…Don’t worry nobody’s listening anyway.”
About the only bright spot, aside from Chad Billingsley’s 3 solid innings pitched, was the long Home Run hit by top Dodgers hitting prospect Jerry Sands. Sands the 6’4 225 pound country strong 1B/OF was the 757th player selected in the 2008 draft. To say he’s made a rapid rise through the system would be an understatement.
His 2008 numbers did little to impress, batting a mere .205, yet he hit 10 HR’s in only 46 games. 2009 was when he really began to show his true potential. After tearing apart Rookie Ball pitching as a member of the Ogden Raptors, who by the way reside a mere 45 miles North of my abode, Sands was sent to Low A where he hit .260 with 5 HR and 19 RBI in 32 games, finishing the year with 19 homers in only 73 games.
He began 2010 back at Great Lakes and got off to a torrid start, hitting .333 with 18 HR’s and 46 RBI in only 69 games, yet scouts claimed he was too advanced age wise for Low A ball, he was after all 22 years old. This after he was named MVP of the Midwest League All-Star game, a game in which he homered, and won the HR Derby the night prior.
Well the Dodgers knew they had something special so after his All-Star game heroics they had him skip High A Rancho Cucamonga and promoted him to AA Chattanooga. The jump in competition certainly didn’t slow down the man dubbed The Sandman, by his team mates, at all. He more than held his own, homering 3 times in his first 4 games to begin his AA career and never looked back. He would finish the season with 35 HR, 2nd most in all of the minor leagues, and earn an invite to the prospect rich competitive Arizona Fall League. He again performed admirably, this time under the watchful eye of new Dodger Manager Don Mattingly.
Sands projects as an everyday Left Fielder with a decent arm and decent range, his bat however is what will get him to, and keep him in, the big leagues sooner than later. He’s also a good enough athlete that the Dodgers tried him out at 1st base and he picked it right up. This versatility and his propensity to hit the long ball are traits that have Dodger Fans, this one included, drooling.
Dodger GM Ned Colletti has been asked about Sands in numerous trade proposals, and fortunately he has held on to him. Colletti admitted to ESPN in an article last month that the JayMarcony ThameGwibbons experiment in LF is a 1 year deal. That he realizes Sands is close to big league ready and he did not go after a long term solution in LF so he wouldn’t block Sands from manning LF full-time in 2012. Considering Sands has already out homered the LF3 (Gwynn, Thames, Gibbons) so far this spring, here’s a novel idea. Give the 23 year old, who carries himself like a 10 year vet the job NOW.
Suppose Sands keeps producing all spring and out plays the 3 1 yr journeymen aka the LF3. Sands walked twice and scored in 2 plate appearances today Ned is on record saying he doesn’t want to block Sands or Trayvon Robinson from being full-time starters next year. However he’s essentially blocking them this year by signing the LF3. And does anyone expect anything but mediocrity from the LF3,aside from some miracle happening. Isn’t Dodger Nation better served by seeing Sands develop on the job now vs wasting a year of him dominating the High Altitude Pacific Coast League? Sure I’d like to see Sands hit 40 HR in a league in which balls fly out of parks like rockets, but I’d rather see the teams future now than the LF3 who are all so average in their own special way. You think I’m pessimistic check out TJ Simers over at the LA Times and see how he feels about the state of the Dodgers. Someone get that man some anti-depressants.
Still not convinced, then check out this great video courtesy of Tony Jackson at ESPN Los Angeles To me it’s a no brainer start the chant like in the 2nd Bad News Bears movie “Let them (Sands or Robinson) Play…Let them Play! Easy for me to say I’m not the guy who signed 3 career journeymen to guaranteed Major League Contracts worth potentially 3 million dollars. That right there, money, is why Dodger Nation will have to wait until September or a series of inuries to see their LF of the future, but just maybe the 25th round pick no one believed in hits 7 or 8 more HR’s this spring and forces the Dodgers to keep him. If you listen to Sands in the video he plans on making his Major League debut in 2011, I for one hope its in March and not September.
For more info on Sands check out this great article by our friends at True Blue LA.
In the words of the immortal Heavy Metal band Metallica “The Sandman he comes” and hopefully for Dodger fans “It’s off to never never land“