Name: Luis Sardinas
DOB: May 16, 1993
Acquired: 2009 International Free Agent
The Texas Rangers made a big splash in the international market during the summer of 2009, signing a pair of 16-year-old shortstops to seven-figure bonuses.
Two years later, one shortstop––Jurickson Profar, who received a $1.55 million bonus––has become one of the game's top prospects. The other––Luis Sardinas, who got a $1.5 million bonus––has appeared in just 30 career games––all of which have come in the rookie-level Arizona League.
Sardinas' seemingly low ranking on this list––and the fact that he's yet to play a game outside of the Rangers' minor league complex in Arizona––has very little to do with his play on the field.
In fact, when healthy, Sardinas has proven to be one of the organization's most promising infield prospects. The Venezuela native has outstanding defensive tools with elite speed and some hitting skills.
In 26 games with the Surprise Rangers in 2010, Sardinas showed a feel for hitting by going 32-for-103 (.311) with four doubles, seven walks and 15 strikeouts. He appeared in 14 games last year, getting 16 hits in 52 at-bats (.308) with four walks and 10 strikeouts.
The issue certainly isn't performance or tools––it's injuries. The slightly built prospect suffered a shoulder injury while swinging and missing on a pitch during the summer of 2010. The issue ultimately required surgery, and it kept him out of game action until last June.
When Sardinas returned last season, the Rangers took precaution with their switch-hitting prospect and limited him to only the right side of the plate. But after 14 games, Sardinas suffered the same injury on his other shoulder while swinging through a pitch.
Just a few days prior to Sardinas' second shoulder issue in as many seasons, Rangers' roving hitting coach Luis Ortiz talked about the initial injury.
"He got hurt by letting go of the top hand while hitting left-handed," he said. "So that's what hurt the shoulder, and that is why he ended up having the problems that he had."
Since signing with the Rangers in '09, Sardinas had shown a more natural feel for hitting from the left side. He sprayed the ball to all fields and kept it on the ground, where he could use his excellent speed to get on base. But as a righty, he often got pull happy and tried to drive the ball a bit too often.
Before the second injury, Ortiz liked the improvement he was seeing in Sardinas' right-handed stroke.
"He is starting to understand his right-handed swing," he said. "He used to be a high leg-kick guy, the head would fly off, and all that. He thought he was a power hitter, and he weighs about 152 pounds.
"So now he's starting to understand his idea as a hitter. I think it is helping him understand that if he stays within himself, he can be a pretty good player."
Sardinas went down in an Arizona League game against the Peoria Padres on July 19 last season. He underwent yet another surgical procedure and sat out the remainder of the year, including fall instructional league.
Also See: Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Luis Ortiz (July 17, 2011)
Rangers Top Prospects, Top Tools (October 27, 2011)
Rangers All-Prospect Teams (November 8, 2011)
Rangers Injury Wildcards (December 12, 2011)
Batting and Power: The switch-hitting prospect has a solid feel for hitting from both sides of the plate, though he's currently more advanced as a left-handed hitter. Sardinas has a potential plus hit tool due to his quick bat, relatively short path to the ball and ability to use the entire field. He also tracks pitches well for a youngster, showing an advanced eye for the strike zone. He should ultimately become a high-contact hitter who draws his share of walks. Power will never be a big aspect of Sardinas' game, but despite his thin body, he shows some gap-to-gap pop in batting practice and should be able to create some extra-base hits with his speed.
Base Running and Speed: Sardinas is an elite runner, rating at least a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Even if his slight frame fills out a bit, he should retain most of his speed and will always be an excellent runner. It's difficult to accurately judge Sardinas' base running and base stealing skills at present because he has been on the field so little. But he should be a guy who can consistently rack up high stolen base numbers regardless of the level he's playing at. He has 10 steals in 13 attempts through 30 career games.
Defense: Sardinas' mixture of borderline plus-plus defensive tools and mature feel for the position makes him a potential elite defender at shortstop. A fast-twitch athlete with quick reflexes, the Venezuela native covers lots of ground to both sides with seemingly little effort. He also has smooth, natural actions and sure hands. Sardinas' arm strength is also plus, though his arm is worth monitoring in the coming years as he fully recovers from the shoulder injury.
Projection: When Sardinas has been on the field the last two seasons, there has been nothing wrong with his performance. But after two separate shoulder injuries, the 6-foot-0, 156-pound shortstop will have to prove that he's capable of adding muscle to his frame in order to avoid the constant ailments. He's still only 18-years-old and has plenty of time to develop. If he stays healthy, Sardinas has the tools to become a definite first-division big league shortstop who hits for average with plus speed and a plus glove. But until he plays a full season, his health will be the primary question.
2012 Outlook: Sardinas should be ready for game action at some point in the 2012 season, and there's a chance that the Rangers could push him forward to Single-A Hickory if he's ready before June. There's also a chance that he plays at short-season Spokane next summer. In parts of two years at the rookie level, Sardinas has shown that he's plenty good for the league and shouldn't need to return there––he just needs to stay healthy.
|2010||AZL Rangers (RK)||.311||103||4||0||8||22||8/10||7||15||.363||.350|
|2011||AZL Rangers (RK)||.308||52||2||0||7||11||2/3||4||10||.367||.385|
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