Sands Getting Accustomed Pretty Fast

Donny Sands, this year's eighth round pick out of Salpointe Catholic High School in Arizona, had a heck of a professional debut season. Not only did he hit over .300 but he made his way into the long-season leagues too, a feat not accomplished very often by first-year players out of the high school ranks. He says he feels like he's getting accustomed to the professional level pretty quickly.

He hit a combined .309 with more walks [25] than strikeouts [20] between his time in the Gulf Coast League and South Atlantic League and the looked the part of a very polished hitter every step of the way.

"I think it went really well," he said. "It was a lot of learning, new experiences, and there were a lot of things I learned. I think it went really well and it was a fun first year."

Like all first-year players, especially those that are still teenagers, he experienced a lot of firsts; the biggest being playing everyday for the first time in his life.

"How to be a professional in every way," he said of what he learned the most. "It's your job now, just showing everyday ready to go so it's not like high school anymore. You've got to be ready to go. It's an everyday thing now and it's your job so I've been getting used to being a professional."

He sure looked like a professional right out of the gate too, starting his career with an immediate four-game hit streak and collecting seven multi-hit games in his first 15 games played in the Gulf Coast League.

"The pitching, they have a lot better stuff," he said of the Gulf Coast League. "Everything is a lot harder so that took some getting used to but it's a grind down there. It's hot and it's a faster game, and it's a long, long season. I was just trying to slow the game down and adjust to whatever they put in front of you."

Adjust he did and quite frankly he looked a little too polished for the lowest rookie level. While a promotion wasn't too surprising, getting sent up to low-A Charleston right from the Gulf Coast League did take a few by surprise as not many first-year high school players make such a jump.

"I knew I had a good year and I thought I was going to get called up somewhere but I didn't think it was going to be Charleston," he admitted. "I thought it might have been Staten Island or [Pulaski] but it was great getting called up there. It was a lot of fun.

"I felt like I did really well. I feel like I got accustomed to it pretty fast. It's still baseball. I actually felt like in some areas it was easier [than the Gulf Coast League] to play up there; night games, a lot of fans, and the pitching in the GCL is a little wild. It was a little all over the place but there they throw a lot more strikes and have a lot more command. It was a lot of fun."

Though it was just a handful of games -- seven to be exact -- he once again proved he belonged, hitting .310 on the strength of three multi-hit games, including his second career three-hit game.

While it was his bat that proved to be very consistent and it was a main reason for his rather surprising promotion to the long-season leagues, it was his steady defensive play that helped too. He committed just seven errors in his 55 games this season.

"I feel like I did well. There's still a lot of room to improve, a lot of stuff to get better at and that's what I'm doing down here at Instructs. I feel like I adjusted well though. The ball comes pretty quick to third base. I thought I had a good year at third base but there's always room to get better every year."

Currently down at Instructs to work on "everything", as good a debut season as he had how much better can he be going forward?

"However much work I put into it," he said confidently. "I feel like I can be as good as I want to be with hard work. Down here at Instructs it's awesome. You can get like ten times better than you were during the season just because it's a lot of one on one instruction and for how many days we're down here it's awesome."

Getting accustomed to the professional level as quickly as he has, he certainly has proven in rather short order that he belongs at the professional level and he's shown glimpses that he could be one of the real standout prospects in time too.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I never felt like I didn't belong or that the stage was too big, or that I didn't deserve to be [where I was]. I was always confident with all of the work I put in before this and I'm confident I can play with these guys.

"It is exciting but I take it day by day. I just learn as much as I can each day. There's room to grow though and you not you're not going to stop getting better and better.

"I'm looking forward to next year being in my first full professional season. I've just got to work hard here [at Instructs] and in the offseason. I'm looking forward to it," he concluded.

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