Is this the first merit-based promotion of the season for a prospect? Sands broke out last season, hitting 35 home runs and drawing more walks (73) than he previously had over his first two minor league seasons (66, albeit in fewer plate appearances). The Dodgers elected to place Sands in Triple-A after a half-season of pounding Double-A pitching, and he already had five home runs and a .400 batting average just 10 games into the new campaign.
Sands is a big fellow, at 6’4”, and won’t turn 24 until nearly October, so the Dodgers are erring on the side of aggression by ostensibly making him their everyday left fielder. Sands could potentially dethrone James Loney as the team’s first baseman too, as the Dodgers do have some in-house alternatives to throw in left field, like Tony Gwynn Jr. and Marcus Thames –although, those aren't necessarily good options. At least for tonight, though, Sands is starting in left.
Whenever Sands' name is mentioned around PECOTA, it blushes. The system is absolutely swooning with Sands’ potential, throwing around comparables like Mark Reynolds, Evan Longoria, Eddie Murray, Miguel Cabrera, and Kendrys Morales. There are a few sour comparisons too, like those to Wladimir Balentien, Brandon Wood, and Justin Huber. Despite never playing in a Triple-A game at the time of the projections, PECOTA’s weighted mean still has Sands hitting .246/.321/.466, good for a .277 TAv (the league-average left fielder had a .275 TAv last season).
The biggest cause for concern with Sands is strikeouts, as he fanned in more than 20 percent of his plate appearances. Kevin Goldstein noted concerns about Sands’ ability to handle breaking pitches when he ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in the Dodgers system. Sands is also slow, so expect some clever folks to break out the “QuickSands” nickname sooner than later.
In related news, the Dodgers now have perhaps the most entertaining outfield in the game.