Name: Mike Sansoe
DOB: November 6, 1982
An 18th-round pick out of St. Mary's in 2005, Sansoe began his professional career with the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League, hitting .290 over 49 games.
In 2006, he was tabbed for full season ball with the Fort Wayne Wizards.
With the season on the brink of collapse, Mike Sansoe simply worked harder at his craft. Staring at a .218 average on July 6, the outfielder knew the time to salvage the season had come.
With sporadic playing time over the first half of the season, Sansoe could not get his timing down right. He hit his groove, however, and managed to put together a solid campaign. Over his final 36 games, Sansoe hit .373 and was instrumental in the Wizards drive to the playoffs. He ended the year with a .293 average over 74 games.
"Sansoe was a guy that with everyone in the outfield mix was just getting part-time play, mostly against left-handers and we tried to plug him in to a position to have success," 2006 Fort Wayne Wizards Randy Ready said.
"We preached that we would go through those ups and downs but we have to get out of them," 2006 Fort Wayne hitting coach Max Venable said. "Mike worked extremely hard. He never gave up. We always preach that you have to continue to keep swinging. If you are going bad you keep swinging to find that comfort zone. That is exactly what he did. Every day he was hitting and with the hard work – and extremely hard work – he got back on track."
Sansoe split his time batting leadoff and in the two-hole, showing the ability to bat to ball and working particularly well in shooting balls to the opposite field from the second spot in the lineup.
A line drive hitter, Sansoe used all parts of the field and found a groove late in the year by taking the majority of his balls up the middle or to right-center.
Bad habits early on hindered his progress. He would chase on balls down and away – and while he went with the pitch it would often result in lazy fly balls to right field.
When he was pulling balls on the inside corner, instead of using an inside-out approach, the ball would end up in a shortstop's glove.
"Every time he faced a right-hander he chased outside of the zone and really wasn't making adjustments," Ready explained. "Then, all of a sudden this kid gets an opportunity with Alley going down and Diaz going down and he stepped up his game and turned it on down the stretch to put himself back on the map again."
But he put in extra time with the coaching staff and worked hard on pitch selection as the year progressed. He would lay off the tough to handle pitches and only go after those balls in his comfort zone. He would get deeper into counts, accounting for an increased walk total, but would also press on occasion, leading to more strikeouts. Finding that delicate balance wasn't easy and it will take some time for him not to be anxious with two strikes.
Sansoe also had a seven game stint with the Lake Elsinore Storm in May, hitting .280.
As a baserunner, Sansoe has a quick first step that adds to his ability to steal bases. While he lacks top speed, he was very successful at thieving because of his good instincts to read the pitcher and that quick burst to the bag, resulting in 21 steals in 28 attempts.
"He can run a little bit," Padres' minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said. "He goes with the pitch well, not much power but he can play all three outfield positions and is a tick above average runner."
Sansoe is also an aggressive runner on the paths, taking an extra base when he sees a lollygagger and it amounted in four triples as well.
One of the better centerfielders in the system, Sansoe has great range and superb positioning. He reads the ball off the bat with the best of them and his instincts are nearly unmatched.
Sansoe has great range and always seems to be coming forward to catch the ball, putting him in position to make accurate throws. While he does not have the strongest arm, he did nail down five outfield assists, thanks to positioning and accurate throws to his cutoff man or the base.
Noted as a high-character player and leader in the clubhouse, Sansoe's makeup is impeccable. He comes to work early and will stay late, earning him praise from the coaching staff and respect from his peers.
ETA: With his great defensive work and the ability to play all three outfield positions well, Sansoe's success comes down to his bat and being smart on the bases. He hit well late in the year but success over a full season is paramount as he settles into the role as a tablesetter. He profiles better as a number two hitter and needs to cut down on his strikeouts a tad while continually going deeper into counts. He should be in Lake Elsinore in 2007.