Beer Leaguer: Chad, you did an outstanding job giving the scoop on a couple Red Barons this season, including catcher Carlos Ruiz and left-hander Eude Brito. So to pass the time here in the offseason, I was hoping to get your thoughts on 26-year-old IF Danny Sandoval, who was recently added to the 40-man roster.
In the past few seasons, I’ve seen a stat line that seems to indicate he knows how to hit, finishing this season .331/.379/.436, a very good line for a Triple-A middle infielder. Every time I check he’s hitting about .320 somewhere, and this fall, he’s hitting .323 for Pastora of the Venezuelan winter league. Aside from three at-bats in a cup of coffee with the Phils, I've never seen him play. So the question on my mind is can he field, and what role does he project to have with the Phils?
Chad Jennings: I believe it
was in June when Sandoval got red hot. I don't have the stats in front of me,
but it was literally something like 15 hits and 10 RBIs in six games. For that
week or so, it was like watching Chase Utley all over again.
That said, Sandoval's not Chase Utley. He's not going to be a cornerstone of the organization, but I don't see why he couldn't be a role player in the big leagues. His defense is more than acceptable, though he's not as good as Nick Punto was when he was down here. He's also a nice for-average hitter and a good enough baserunner to give a spark offensively off the bench. I think he could play shortstop at the big league level, but probably not every day, and with just a little bit of work at second and third he could be a utility infielder.
Even after that torrid week, Sandoval kept hitting well enough to bat third for the Red Barons in a lot of games. The Phillies have had their eye on him for a long time -- they actually signed him a few years back only to lose him in the Rule 5 draft before he ever played a game for them -- so they'll certainly keep paying attention. Also, there's no other middle infielder in the system who's nearly as close to the big leagues as Sandoval.
Bottom line, I think you'll see him play for the Phillies at some point and he might even earn a regular role there off the bench, but I don't see him taking over for Rollins and I don't see him threatening Utley's playing time and I don't see him hitting for enough power to be an everyday third baseman. He'll get a shot, and he could do enough to stick.
Contact Chad Jennings at email@example.com.