The Los Angeles Dodgers called up 23-year-old prospect Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday, because apparently they were dissatisfied with the Gwynn-Thames-Paul pileup in left field. Sands has destroyed Pacific Coast League pitching over the opening weeks, hitting .400/.422/.875 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. He benefited from a hitter-friendly environment in Albuquerque, sure, but the right-handed slugger was a monster at lower levels in 2010, too. Sands cleared the fence 35 times last season, delivering an OPS of .981 and stealing 18 bases.
In the first at-bat of Sands' major league career, facing Braves starter Tim Hudson, he lined an opposite-field double. Highlight here. Sands later added a sac fly, but struck out in his final two plate appearances. He hit seventh for the Dodgers on Monday, and inspired this excited chant (or something like it) from the home crowd. Not a bad debut, all things considered.
So is Sands a must-add fantasy asset? Well, he plays a talent-rich position, a spot where few fantasy owners are actually hurting, and you have to expect a protracted adjustment period. He'll strike out a fair amount (123 Ks in 2010), though he's also demonstrated solid on-base skills in the minors (career .390 OBP). He's expected to get some starts at first base for LA, too, whenever a tough lefty sends James Loney to the bench.
Entering this season, John Sickels was perhaps higher on Sands than any other purveyor of prospect porn, ranking him as the No. 2 talent in the Dodgers' system (although we should note that five other LA farmhands earned the same grade). To the extent that two weeks of Triple-A stats can answer questions about a player's true talent level, Sands has demonstrated that his 2010 season wasn't simply a fluke. The power is certainly real, and pretty much everyone gives Sands bonus points for intangibles, including his new manager. This via True Blue LA:
"To me, he's got a different demeanor than I've seen from most guys. He's a guy who doesn't get bothered, he makes adjustments. His approach is solid," Mattingly said of Sands. "He's one of those guys you feel like if he struggles a little bit, it's not going to change his mind."
It's not like Manny Ramirez will be walkin' through that door in LA, so Jerry should get an extended look. Across my mixed league fantasy portfolio, I've made one speculative waiver claim and two modest FAAB bids, in leagues where power could be an issue. (Don't sit on your FAAB, mixed leaguers. The earlier you buy, the more you benefit). Sands is an obvious NL-only and dynasty add. His upside this season might look something like Ike Davis' rookie campaign: 19-71-.264. If that works for you, go get him.
And as always, feel free to fearlessly forecast in comments...
Photo via US Presswire