Sands Earns Third Midwest PoW Award

If this keeps up, one of two things are bound to happen. Either the Midwest League is going to name the award after him or the Dodgers will moved him up the chain to Inland Empire. For the third time in four weeks, Loons outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands has been named the Midwest League's Player of the Week May 5 through May 9.

Sands went ten-for-twenty-five (.400) at the plate last week, six of his hits were extra-bases and three were home runs. Sands blasted two of his homers on May 8 against eastern division leader Lake County.

For the 2010 season, the 22-year-old leads the league in batting average (.385), slugging percentage (.844), runs scored (26), total bases (92), extra-base hits (24), home runs (12), and RBI (29) and is second in on-base percentage (.456) and hits (42). Inland Empire added 1B Jaime Ortiz and IF Bryant Hernandez added from extended spring training. OF Brian Cavazos-Galvez was placed on seven-day disabled list and IF Johan Garcia was sent to Inland Empire.

In 2009, Sands hit a combined .315 with 19 home runs and 58 runs batted in between Rookie-Advance Ogden and Low-A Great Lakes. He hit .350 with the Raptors with 14 homers and 39 runs batted in over 41 games and batted .260 for Great Lakes with five home runs and 19 RBI.

DeJon Watson, the Dodgers Minor League Coordinator had kind words for him after the season that included  "blue collar kid" and "Brings it every game". Dejon told that he has the foot speed to play the outfield but they are not ruling out 1st base.

John Perrotto of Baseball America said, "He's got outstanding power and he isn't a total hacker. He's not a sure thing by any means but he is definitely an interesting guy."

Sands hit only .205 with the Gulf Coast Dodgers in 2008 after being rafted in the 28th round. However, his 10 home runs, hit in the Major League-sized parks, tied him for second in the league. He was also third in the GCL with 38 runs batted in.

This is a bit more than is expected out of a 25th round selection. His first two seasons have marked him as a player to keep a close eye upon and he has burst into the top echelon of prospects over the first five weeks on 2010.

He played three years for Catawba College in North Carolina and had an He All-America junior season that included 24 homers, 85 RBIs, 56 walks, a .390 batting average and 15 steals.

He lasted until the 25th round of the 2008 draft, but the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to sign him with an offer that included a provision that they'd pay for his final year of school. A year at Catawba is worth at least $30,000.

His debut at Vero Beach as a member of the Coasties saw him homer in his first two games. He drew 29 walks but he also struck out 43 times.

"It was a great experience playing in an historic place like Vero," Sands said. "I've got some power and a decent eye, and I showed that, but I wasn't consistent enough with my swing."

Sands wasn't deemed ready for full-season Class A ball in 2009 and remained in extended spring training. But after pounding the ball there, an injury at Great Lakes gave him an opining and he reported on April 27.

And that is where he ran into his first serious adversity as a pro and after just two singles and seven strikeouts in 17 occasional at-bats and a .118 batting average, he was dropped back to Ogden on May 6.

"It wasn't a great showing," Sands admitted. "I believe I was a little shellshocked and star-struck. I was trying to hit a home run every at-bat, and my swing got too big. I started slow and got in a hole. Then I dug the hole a little deeper every time I went out there.

"My whole life in baseball I've been able to work through slumps until I had success, but 17 at-bats wasn't a lot of chances," he said. "The hitting coach wasn't familiar with me or me with him, and I struggled."

When the Raptors began shortly after the MLB draft, Sands got a chance to play. He went 3-for-4 with a homer opening night and hasn't looked back or let up.

He credits Raptors hitting coach Johnny Washington who fine-tuned the mechanics of his swing. He began hitting to all fields and stopped trying to hit homers on every swing.

Despite his size, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Sands is adept to play center field and his strong arm is suited for right.

"I'm sure I don't have the range of a major league center fielder," Sands said. "But I can hold my own in the outfield."

He is used mostly at first base at Great Lakes because of the large stock of quality outfielders, and he has adapted to that readily.

When the 2010 season started, Sands was itching to get another shot at the Midwest League. He did and is making the best of it, but there is little doubt he will get to make a tour of the California League parks later in the season for Inland Empire.

And probably it won't be all that long before he gets that call.