Name: Sandber Pimentel
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 225
How Acquired: Signed as international amateur free agent before the 2012 season
Just a few weeks shy of his 17th birthday, Sandber Pimentel joined the Oakland A’s organization as an amateur international free agent in 2011. His bonus was reportedly in the $160,000 range. Since that time, Pimentel has maintained a relatively low profile as he honed his craft at the A’s Dominican Academy. However, after an outstanding debut in the US last fall, Pimentel’s status within the organization is on the rise.
Although only 20, Pimentel has the look of a grizzled major league veteran. He is listed at 6’3’’, 225, but that might be slighting him. He has the type of build that screams clean-up hitter – and the swing to go along with it. With a crouch in his stance, a quick, powerful swing and an above-average eye at the plate, Pimentel looks like a young David Ortiz at the plate.
Pimentel’s development thus far has been gradual. He made his debut in the DSL in 2012 and has spent the last three years in that league. The DSL is notoriously difficult on hitters, and is especially tough on power hitters because of the heavy humidity in the air. Despite those obstacles, Pimentel posted decent numbers his first two years in the DSL. In 2012, he showed a good eye at the plate, although his power wasn’t quite there, posting a .261/.430/.322 line. In 2013, Pimentel started to find that power stroke and hit .255/.353/.422. However, it was this past season that Pimentel came into his own.
"He’s a guy who could be a big homerun guy." - A's scout and instructor Rich Sparks
Playing everyday for the first time in his career, Pimentel hit .311/.432/.458 in 190 official at-bats. He finished 12th in the league in OPS and OBP. He had 18 extra-base hits and a 32:31 K:BB.
That performance earned Pimentel a trip to the US for the A’s fall Instructional League. He continued to open eyes during that camp, earning the award for top rookie at A’s Instructs. During the camp, he wowed coaches with his tape-measure blasts, as well as his advanced approach at the plate. A’s super scout and Special Assistant to the General Manager Grady Fuson told our Arizona Correspondent Kimberly Contreras that “Pimentel is the best, most complete player” he has seen in a very long time.
Longtime A’s scout and instructor Rich Sparks also worked with Pimentel during Instructs and came away impressed.
“While I was here, he had probably the top two or three camps of anybody in camp,” Sparks said. “Showed a lot of power, squared the ball up several times. He can pull the ball and he can go the other way. He hit a two iron out there the other day, over that fence. It got 12 feet off the ground and it went over the fence like it was nothing. He hit the ball solid today a couple of times. He’s a guy who could be a big homerun guy. He’s 20 years old and he’ll need to get acclimated. I don’t know where he will be playing next year, but he’s got some upside to him.”
Pimentel began his career as an outfielder, but he wasn’t developing defensively at that position, so the A’s moved him to first base. He has shown some promise defensively at first, although he has a way to go still with the glove. But it is his bat that will carry Pimentel regardless. Pimentel profiles as a classic A’s slugger. He is an intelligent hitter who reads the strike-zone well. Pimentel also has the ability to use the whole field and the power to reach the seats to the pull-side and the opposite field. He also carries himself like a player who knows he has a big future. In some ways, he is reminiscent to a young Jason Giambi in attitude and skillset, although Giambi was more polished at 20-years-old.
Pimentel will be 20 throughout the 2015 regular season. He will make his US regular season debut this year, but it remains to be seen whether that debut will be in short-season ball or with Low-A Beloit. He will be a closely watched prospect throughout the season.