Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rising Star: Pablo Sandoval

You're looking at a side-by-side of Pablo Sandoval and Prince Fielder, the two combined, could probably eat a restaurant out of food. They are BIG boys, Fielder a bonafide star (his his first grand-slam last night) and one a quickly rising star.

Pablo Sandoval (22 yrs. old, 5'11", 245lbs.) broke into the majors with the Giants late in the 2008 campaign playing 41 games for the Giants and hitting a robust .345 in 145 ABs. So far in his young career the Giants have had him splitting time between 3rd base, catcher and 1st base. What is surprising about Sandoval, especially given his obvious talent for hitting, is how many years he spent in the minors. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and spent the next 6 years advancing as far as AA ball. He had a staggering 1,899 minor league at-bats compiling a .303/.342/.445 line. With this type of hitting consistency it's not surprising that Sandoval made the jump from AA to the Majors but it is surprising how long it took.

Three things stand out to me about this guy:
a) the dude can absolutely hit the ball. Through 58 games so far this year he's hitting .332 with 8 HRs and 17 2B. He has been a consistent .300+ hitter throughout his minor and major league career and his .886 OPS through 99 major league games shows that he's got some pop to go with that 245 lb. frame.
b) He's surprisingly agile for his size. So far in his major league career he has played 48 games at 3rd base, 34 games at 1st base and 14 games at Catcher,...he's only committed two errors during all that time in 447 chances. He's also hit 2 triples this year and one last year. He's no 'speedy gonzalez' but looks decieve. Oh yeah, another cool thing, he's a switch hitter and a switch thrower.
c) HE IS YOUNG. He's 22, and looks to have a long career ahead of him.

So keep your eye out for this young rising star, he hit 2 HRs in last night's game against the Anaheim Angels with 4RBI. He's about as close to a solid threat that the Giants have in their lineup and looks to be fixture in the Majors for years to come.

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