Name: Carson Sands
Age: 20 (3/28/1995)
How Acquired: Drafted in 4th round 2014, # 195 overall, out of North Florida Christian High School. Scouted by Tom Clark
Status: Rule 5 eligible after the 2018 season
The last four drafts, the Cubs have stockpiled pitchers, and despite not drafting an arm with their first pick, have handed out $1 million plus bonuses to eight different pitchers, including Carson Sands.
Instead of heading to Florida State, Sands took the Cubs $1.1 million offer after a stellar amateur career that included three summers with Team USA. A gold medal winner for the USA with the 18-and-under team in 2012, Sands prepped at North Florida Christian High School in Tallahassee. After going 7-2 with a 1.28 ERA as a junior, he capped off his high school career with an 11-1 mark and a 0.58 ERA in 60.2 innings. He recorded 100 punchouts with 24 walks, and helped lead the Eagles to the 3A state title.
Sands made his pro debut July 11 in the Arizona Rookie League in a start against the Mariners, striking out a pair in a scoreless inning. The Florida native earned his first pro win his next outing in relief, another 1-2-3 inning with two punchouts against the Giants. On a strict inning limit, Sands made nine appearances in his first pro season, recording 20 punchouts in 19 frames while sporting a 1.89 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. He capped off the year with a trip to fall instructs.
No surprise that Sands stayed behind when the full-season affiliates broke camp as the Cubs have yet to cut a high school arm loose in A ball in his first full-season. The opening night starter for Eugene, Sands had a typical year for a high school draftee filled with ups and downs as the youngster was baptized into pro ball. He got good results his first three outings, going at least five innings in all three, with 12 K and 0 BB in 16 innings. His next three games (7 IP) were a different story, allowing 17 runs (11 earned) including an outing where he only got one out and got tagged with nine runs. Over his final eight games, Sands went 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 34.1 innings, striking out 27 but issued 17 free passes. He finished the year logging 57.1 innings with a 1.45 WHIP and brought his ERA down to 3.92. He walked 3.3 per nine and had a K rate of 6.4. Sands hasn’t allowed a homer in 76.1 pro innings but he did hit six batters and uncork seven wild pitches in Eugene.
Tools and 2016 Outlook
Sands works off the first base side of the rubber and includes a big leg kick in his windup but shows good balance and control, with a smooth and effortless delivery. His fastball sits in the 91-94 range, and continues to develop his curve and change-up. A healthy spring should land Sands in South Bend’s rotation as he embarks on his first tour with a full-season affiliate. Its likely Sands spends the entire season in the Midwest League, learning how to prepare himself for a season of starts. I’m looking forward to seeing the 6-foot-3 lefty as he challenges MWL hitters and continues his development, hopefully surpassing the 100-inning mark. He’s at least three years away from being major league ready and the Cubs have plenty of time.