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Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Sandber Pimentel, 1B

Our Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect Sandber Pimentel. Pimentel cracked the 20-homer plateau in 2016. Can he find more consistency in 2017?

Name: Sandber Pimentel
Position: 1B
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 220
Bats/Throws: L/L
Age: 22
How Acquired: Signed with the A’s as an amateur free agent in 2012.

It took awhile for Sandber Pimentel to reach the States after signing with the Oakland A’s in 2012. However, since making his US debut, Pimentel has been on a steady course towards the big leagues. Will he conquer Double-A in 2017? After three years in the Dominican Summer League, Pimentel made his US debut in 2015 as a member of the Low-A Beloit Snappers. The A’s don’t often have prospects make their US debuts with a full-season affiliate, but the A’s felt that Pimentel’s understanding of the strike-zone gave him a chance to succeed in the Midwest League at the age of 20. He had an up-and-down year with the Snappers, but ultimately Pimentel hit .243/.335/.380 with 13 homers in 117 games. 

In 2016, the A’s jumped Pimentel to the High-A California League and he spent the whole year with Stockton. He got off to a slow start with the Ports, posting only a 660 OPS in April. Pimentel got himself going in May, however, posting an 873 OPS. He stumbled a bit in June (740 OPS) before hitting his stride in July (880 OPS) and then fading a bit in August (720 OPS). In total, he finished the year with a .237/.342/.436 line. Pimentel’s 21 homers put him fourth in the organization behind Matt Chapman, Renato Nunez and Chris Iriart. He was sixth in the league in homers, fourth in walks and fourth in strike-outs.

 Sandber Pimentel Stats

2016 Stockton 417 .237 .342 .436 21 18 60 145
Career 1235 .254 .364 .409 40 53 184 333

Pimentel struggled with the length of the season in 2015. He appeared to weather the marathon better in 2016, but he still put together much better first half numbers than he did in the second half. In 208 first-half at-bats, he hit .264/.364/.481 with 11 homers; he hit .211/.321/.392 with 10 homers in 209 second-half at-bats. His walk-rate was actually better in the second half, but his strike-out rate rose, as well, while his homerun rate remained nearly the same. Pimentel was more pull-happy during the second half and his BABIP suffered as defenses began to shift on him regularly.

He needs to improve his all-field approach, but he is strong enough to continue these power numbers going forward,” A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens said. “Hes got to keep on climbing and well see where it goes.”

A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman was impressed with Pimentel’s resiliency even when he was struggling. 

No matter what happens, he bounces back. He’s left a lot of runners on base and then he’ll come back and drive-in a bunch of runs. He’ll make a silly error and then he’ll come back to make a diving play,” Lieppman said. “You’re seeing a guy who his learning himself and how to play and he really hasn’t played that many games in the States. Patience is key with him.”

Pimentel looks exactly like the player he is – a hulking, slugging first baseman. His body type and his swing look very similar to countryman David Ortiz. Pimentel is more nimble on his feet than he would appear to be from first glance, but he has below-average speed on the bases. He is inconsistent at first base, but he has excellent hand-eye coordination and soft hands. If he can improve his play-to-play consistency, he could be an above-average defensive first baseman.

At the plate, he is currently a three-true-outcomes hitter. He sees a lot of pitches and works the count well, but also doesn’t try to shorten up when he gets to two-strikes. That lends itself to a decent number of walks, but a lot of strike-outs and a lower batting average. He hit the majority of his homeruns to right field this year, but he did hit a third of them to center or left field. Pimentel has plenty of strength to get the ball out to the opposite field. More than 60% of the balls he hit into play were on the ground last season, a sign he was rolling over on pitches he could have tried to drive the other way. If Pimentel can adjust his approach to be more up-the-middle, he should be able to raise his batting average without sacrificing too much of his power.

Pimentel is still very much a work-in-progress, but he has the basic tools to be an intriguing first base prospect. He will be 22 throughout the 2017 regular season and could hit his way onto the A’s 40-man roster with a big season. 

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