Luis Sardinas: Best SS You’ve Never Heard Of

In heading to Greenville, South Carolina for an early September pair to see the Hickory Crawdads (Rangers), no prospect interested me more than shortstop Luis Sardinas. A few days earlier, a contact had filled me in that Sardinas was “special” and “had tools like Jurickson Profar“. Having traveled to “The Palmetto State” just fourteen months earlier to watch the aforementioned Profar, my expectations for Sardinas were extremely high considering the Rangers organization is known for being a shortstop factory.

Video after the jump

After signing for a 1.2 million signing bonus out of Venezuela, the teenage shortstop combined for only 40 games and 179 plate appearances in 2010-2011 due to injury. In terms of health, Sardinas’ 2012 was a resounding success even though he logged less than 100 games total over the entire minor league season. His success in full season baseball has led to an aggressive assignment to the Arizona Fall League where he’ll have an opportunity to make up for a bit of lost development time. At 19 and without significant minor league experience under his belt, many were surprised Sardinas was tabbed for the Surprise Saguaros. But if my late season looks were any indication, Sardinas is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the level of competition.

On the playing field, Sardinas was the best defensive shortstop I’ve seen this season. In making a couple of extremely difficult plays to his back hand side, Sardinas displayed the combination of elite range and graceful body control rarely seen in teenage shortstops. On one such play, Sardinas was cheating up the middle on contact, reversed course, ranged into the six hole and fired a strike to second base for a force out. On another batted ball, Sardinas made the play deep in the 5/6 hole, slipped on a soft infield, but still almost pulled off a tremendous play. For me, making plays deep in the hole is the mark of a future big league shortstop. Not only did Sardinas show the ability to make those plays, he made them look routine.

At the plate, Sardinas displayed quick hands and surprising pop for his frame. And while many young switch hitters are significantly better from one side or another, the Rangers prospect showed equal strength from both sides which is reflected in his splits. What eluded Sardinas at the plate consistent balance which led to his lunging at pitches quite a bit. When he was able to stay back, he drove a long home run to left-centerfield flashing power which could blossom into double-digit home run totals with better balance at the point of contact. If his splits by half are any indication (.608 OPS vs. .802 OPS), Sardinas is a quick study and may already be starting to figure it out.

With a 78% stolen base rate, Sardinas is still growing into his in game speed. With multiple 4.05 home-to-first times pulled from video from the left side, he’s a 65 runner on the 20/80 scale. With a lean frame, Sardinas is unlikely to lose his present speed and may even become more explosive as he matures physically and adds strength.

In about a month, I’ll be posting a piece on the best prospects I saw in person this season. Without question, Sardinas will occupy a prominent ranking on that list among Jean Segura, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa. It will never happen due to name recognition, but Sardinas should be considered for the back end of top-100 rankings this off-season. By the end of 2013, he may be in Double-A with a shot at Texas sometime in 2014. Of course this hinges upon his being healthy which is obviously a question mark, but Sardinas has the combination of tools and skills to move quickly through the system.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


39 Responses to “Luis Sardinas: Best SS You’ve Never Heard Of”

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  1. Dees says:

    “Surprising pop” = sub 80 ISO.

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  2. Robert D says:

    Saguaros*

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  3. Dan says:

    When I saw the teaser for this in chat I was hoping this would be about Hanser Alberto. Have you seen/have any thoughts on him?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Haven’t seen Alberto. Maybe next spring in Arizona.

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    • wily mo says:

      i was hoping for leury garcia

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      • Mike Newman says:

        I have seen Leury Garcia though.. Explosive tools when I saw him a couple of years back. Played out of control back then, but I’m hearing he’s calmed things down. I don’t think he’s better than Sardinas though. However, he definitely would be the best SS prospect in a number of other orgs.

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      • wily mo says:

        no, sure, wasn’t taking any position on leury vs. sardinas – just going off the information you gave out at the end of the chat yesterday, that you were going to write up “a rangers SS not profar” today, i was hoping for leury just ‘cuz i own him in my fake league thing – knowing it probably wouldn’t really be him of course. so i’m just talkin’, basically

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      • Mike Newman says:

        No worries. You could do worse than owning Garcia — Especially in very deep formats.

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  4. Radivel says:

    Man, the Rangers sure know how to get a SS. Sardinas is quite a catch! Let’s hope there’s nothing fishy about him.

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    • reillocity says:

      So considering that I have heard of Sardinas, who would be your next guess as to the best shortstop I haven’t heard of?

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      • This guy says:

        When making a snarky comment, it’s important to first make sure you know how the “reply” function works.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Very sloooooooooooooooooooooow clap for Mr. reilocity. The title was more for the average reader, not seasoned prospect follower.

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      • reillocity says:

        So it seems I snarkily worded a comment that wasn’t intended to be a snarky comment. Who is another under-the-radar shortstop that you’ve seen but don’t see talked about much if any, Mike?

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      • Mike Newman says:

        How about Humberto Arteaga of the Royals? He’s probably the most obscure of the bunch this season.

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      • reillocity says:

        Thanks, Mike. Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of guy who I was expecting in a reply. He’s new to me at least. Fielding percentages have known limitations, but that’s one heck of a high fielding percentage for high Rookie ball.

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  5. A says:

    I remember Profar, Sardinas, and Leury Garcia as the great SS trio a few years back. Have you ever seen Leury Garcia? He was supposed to have explosive tools as well.

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  6. This guy says:

    Thanks, Mike. It’s great to get a little more first-hand information on Sardinas.

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  7. Ed Looney says:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110707&content_id=21530138&vkey=news_tex&c_id=tex

    Jamey Newberg reports Sardinas and Profar both signed with the Rangers at the same time (July 2, 2009) for about the same money ($1.5 m). Sardinas is from Venezuela and Profar is from Curacao.

    Apparently, both are switch hitters and both have some “pop”; although, Sardinas’ bat, to me, didn’t appear to be really quick through the zone compared to Profar’s. But, hopefully, as he gains strength and coaching, that’ll change.

    Nice article. Leads me to curiosity of his origins. Fortunately, Google/Bing are on hand to provide the info.

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  8. Killa Mike says:

    Comparable to Andrelton Simmons?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I avoid comps I can’t justify by numbers at all. Simmons’ first full season was at 21 in the Carolina League, Sardinas is 19 and a level below. Personally, I like seeing age equivalent numbers in the same league if possible when working an actual comp.

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  9. Kevin says:

    “This is really the best we can do on a Friday?”

    Uh, he has a point bro.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Yes, a bad point. Sardinas is 19 and listed as 6-foot-1, 150 lbs., so he obviously has some filling out to do. Additionally, his 2nd half OPS jumped 200 points. At 19 and in the South Atlantic League, Hanley Ramirez had an OPS of .730, .029 higher than Sardinas. Jeter’s OPS at 19 in the SAL was .770. Andrus was 17 when he passed through the league, but his OPS was .685. The statement was made with absolutely no context.

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      • Colin says:

        Not a great point by the OP but still enough reasons there not to go gaga over a guy who is about as raw as humanly possible.

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      • E-Dub says:

        “as raw as humanly possible.”

        Really? The guy with the major league SS ability who shows contact ability and patience and who just got an assignment to the AFL is as raw as humanly possible? I had no idea baseball players had become so advanced as a group.

        Not only that, the OP is citing IsoP when Mike clearly indicated that Sardinas was “flashing” power and that there may have been improvement over time when he referred to first and second half OPS. It helps if a complaint demonstrates that the complainant has actually read what they’re complaining about.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Props to E-Dub. No matter how many thumbs ups his comment gets, I want him to know mine was the first.

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  10. Paul says:

    He and Profar look like two different hitters to me, Mike. Sardinas looks like he really flips his hips out early, which we see in plenty of speed and contact hitters, but it’s hard to hit for much power that way. To me, and if I recall it’s hi-lighted in your writeup, Profar’s hands and wrists are thunder in addition to him providing a solid power base with his lower half. Sardinas is still a Top 10 prospect in 90% of orgs based on this, but I’ll be looking for him to make that adjustment before getting too excited about the bat.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Paul,

      I don’t see my role as disputing the information a contact provides. I’m simply going to share those and let readers form their own opinion based on the piece. When discussing Sardinas, I wanted readers to have a little insight into just how much more valuable he is perceived within the industry than amongst prospect writers. It’s an extremely important and under reported part of the prospect equation.

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      • Paul says:

        Yeah, I’m sure the scouting perspective from watching mostly young and raw amateurs is totally different from most everybody else who is watching guys who wouldn’t be in MLB had they not made a lot of adjustments already. It’s a fun perspective to have, and this article is good stuff as usual, Mike. Thanks.

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  11. Dirck says:

    This makes it look even more likely that the Rangers will trade a SS ( maybe Andus) for help elsewhere . How does Andus and maybe Odor to Arizona for Upton and Skaggs sound ?

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  12. CircleChange11 says:

    How do you know what shortstops I’ve heard of?

    How do I compare him to other shortstops I haven’t heard of?

    Just being goofy, I enjoyed the information.

    I agree that being able to make plays deep in the hole is important for a MLB shortstop, but unfortunately there are other significant requirements as well. If a shortstop can;t make those plays, well, he’d better hit very well.

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  13. Wobatus says:

    Well, just like you said, up in AA end of 2013 (promoted today) and will be a top 100 guy next year I bet. Maybe should have been back end already.

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