Top Prospect #40: Danny Sandoval

Danny Sandoval has bounced around the minor leagues, climbing only to fall again and seemingly always coming up short. After getting his first major league at bat this past September, the 26 year old is still looking for a place to fit in.

Danny Sandoval is one of those guys who deserves at least a little time in the majors. He's played in nine minor league seasons for four different organizations. Finally, last September, he got his first at bat as a major leaguer. Although it appears that the Phillies roster is filled and there won't be room for Sandoval, that doesn't mean that the infield prospect shouldn't get at least some consideration.

Nobody is saying that Sandoval is the next superstar. Nobody is really even saying that he can definitely be an everyday player at the major league level. Most do believe though that he could serve as a pretty good utility player and could help a team coming off the bench and possibly play on an everyday basis. It's all a matter of when and where he'll finally get his shot at spending some quality time with a big league club. While he's a long shot to make the Phillies out of spring training, you never know what trades or injuries could open up a spot for a guy like Sandoval, who will be a quick trip away in Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

'98 Hickory (A) 0 30 .230 126 430 43 99 12 2 13 29 88 .285
'99 Burlington (A) 3 37 .227 76 255 34 58 5 1 8 17 39 .281
'00 Winston-Salem (A) 2 17 .266 52 199 29 53 11 2 11 18 21 .330
'00 Burlington (A) 0 34 .323 75 269 34 87 9 3 37 18 22 .369
'00 Charlotte (AAA) 0 1 .125 2 8 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 .222
'01 Winston-Salem (A) 3 14 .273 48 176 25 48 11 0 11 11 31 .323
'02 Birmingham (AA) 5 45 .264 135 504 86 133 30 2 39 45 56 .329
'03 Birmingham (AA) 3 49 .287 130 478 62 137 30 2 21 43 67 .343
'04 Tulsa (AA) 8 66 .319 133 530 73 169 37 4 22 37 64 .365
'05 Scranton (AAA) 7 48 .331 104 390 53 129 20 0 11 31 49 .379
'05 Philadelphia 0 0 .000 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Minor League Totals 31 379 .283 970 3524 479 999 172 18 198 278 471 .337

Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent in October of 2004. Was originally signed by the White Sox as an undrafted amateur free agent in December of 1996. Also played for the Tigers and Rockies organizations.

Batting and Power: Danny Sandoval has never shown much power, but can occasionally turn on a ball and take it deep. He's more of a line drive hitter who will work the count and look for a pitch to hit through a hole somewhere. He has enough power to fling the ball into the gaps and use his speed to turn it into extra bases. He's coming up on a couple of dubious distinctions in 2006, being just one hit away from 1,000 minor league hits and just 30 games away from having played in 1,000 minor league games. Those are both impressive numbers, but not numbers that any player necessarily wants to reach.

Baserunning and Speed: Sandoval has stolen as many as 39 bases in a season and has averaged just under 25 stolen bases per year. He's got impressive speed and knows how to read pitchers well to get a good jump and swipe bases. His speed and instinct also allow him to be aggressive on the bases and grab an extra base here and there. Outfielders have to be aware that he will look for any chance to turn a base hit into a double if they're not careful.

Defense: During his career, Sandoval has played primarily second, third and short, but has played 31 games in the outfield and six games at first base. He's definitely better defensively and more comfortable defensively playing up the middle in the infield. He shows good range and will dive to make any possible play. He's got an accurate arm and a quick release.

Projection: This is one of those guys that you just have to look at and wonder why he hasn't gotten a chance at the major league level. He's a career .283 hitter in the minors and has a career .337 on-base percentage in the minors. Those are pretty impressive stats, but somehow, 2005 was his first full season at the AAA level. He also had his best overall season in 2005 and the Phillies were lucky to have him in the organization. Sandoval would have to pull off a bit of an upset to win a job out of spring training, but stranger things have happened. More likely, he'll be sent out to AAA and give the Phillies insurance against an injury to an infielder or to take over a utility role if they make a trade during the season.

ETA: He's ready now and will be a September call-up if nothing else.

Comparison: There are some who believe that Sandoval could be somewhat of a Placido Polanco clone. He's got more speed than Polanco and also shows the ability to get on base like Polanco has shown in the majors. The Phillies would be very happy if Sandoval turned out to be that type of player for them at some point.


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