Stars of the AFL: Bronson Sardinha

Bronson Sardinha is a classic case of 'in between' numbers. He hits for a good average, but not incredible, he's got some power, but is more of a gap hitter, and he'll steal a base for you, but not 20 or 30. He's played everywhere from shortstop to left field but his range and arm are rarely rated as 'above average.' Those guys help win championships in the big leagues, if they can find their way there.

"I guess my whole career my numbers have been pretty much the same at every level," Bronson Sardinha says when asked about his, 'little bit of everything' stats, "I'd like to hit for a higher average and improve my on base percentage, but the power I'm not really worried about. I usually have a lot of doubles, and I think as I get older and stronger those are going to turn into home runs."

One of the reasons there's so many stats for us to look at is that despite being only 22 Sardinha is just finishing up his fifth season in the Yankees system. While it's possible that some of the things the Yankees have tried to iron out with Sardinha, namely trying to find a position for him, could have been taken care of with a few years of college ball, he's confident that he made the right choice.

"I don't think there was a way I could turn down the chance to turn pro," he says, "It was the right thing to do, you just can't say no to playing for the Yankees."

Sardinha certainly had every reason to turn pro, as he was taken in the first round (34th overall) of the 2001 draft by the Yankees, but he also thinks it was the best thing for his development as a player.

"The bottom line is that you face better competition when you turn pro. You get better coaches, better instruction and you learn the pro game right away. I can understand why some guys go to college, but when you're a first round pick, and you've got the opportunity to go learn from the best, you have to take it."

Sardinha also had one less obstacle to overcome when he turned pro, because wood bats were not foreign to him.

"I'd started using wood bats all the back in eighth grade. I'd use them in batting practice, and use them in the preseason and when I'd play in summer leagues. I wanted to use them during the season," he smiles, "but my coach wouldn't let me. He wanted every advantage I could get."

Now that's he's a veteran of the minor leagues, Sardinha is looking for the 'in' that will get him to the Majors.

"I've been playing mostly in right field down here," Sardinha says after a session in the batting cage where he sprays line drives from foul line to foul line, "in fact it's actually the only place they've had me working, but I like the fact that I can play all over. They can keep me in the outfield, but I think they know I can move around. Defense is definitely the focus for me down here, just getting used to reading the ball. It's a full year now that I've been in right field, and I'm really comfortable there now. You just always want to improve."

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