Today we’ll take a look at one half of Frisco’s likely double-play combination, 20-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Luis Sardinas. Sardinas was promoted to Frisco in October of last year from high-A Myrtle Beach as part of a transaction that saw the middle infields of the two teams swapped.
The Rangers signed Sardinas for 1.2 million dollars as a part of the 2009 J2 class, and he spend his first two years in the organization as a member of the rookie-level team in Arizona. He only played 26 games in 2010 and 14 games in 2011, spending much of those two years on the sideline with shoulder injury issues. In 2012, Sardinas hit .291/.346/.356 in 96 games with low-A Hickory, a breakout performance of the kind expected when he signed. He was assigned then to the Arizona Fall League to gain more experience before 2013, where he hit a short-sample size .318/.375/.455.
Sardinas is more well known for his defensive ability and his speed than his hitting, though his talent with the bat comes close. He may never hit for much power, but his ability to make contact with the ball from both sides of the plate makes him a dangerous bat, the proverbial quick table-setter for the guys with more power. As he matures, his instincts on the bases may make him even more of a threat to steal than he already is, as between high-A and double-A last year he took 36 bags.
His glove, talent-wise, is on par with other Rangers’ shortstops of late. He routinely makes plays all over the left side of the infield look easy, and has the arm to make quick, accurate throws to first. As a defender, he’s been favorably compared to Jurickson Profar, and like Profar, he could easily shift over to second if a need arose, though it shouldn’t be his end destination.
Concerns about Sardinas include a tendency shown in the past to either not put effort into his fielding (leading to silly errors and sloppy mistakes) or his baserunning (allowing infield hits to become outs by not running at full steam), “resting on his talent” as it were. This could be a problem in the future if he continues to show a lack of what Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus has termed “#want,” as his natural talent can only take him so far. He also has had injuries in both his shoulders, though he played nearly a full season in 2013.
Frisco area baseball fans will get to see Sardinas for most of the season, most likely. With Elvis Andrus’ extension and Jurickson Profar’s promotion, the major league middle infield is in no trouble, allowing for Sardinas and fellow ‘Rider Rougned Odor to enjoy a relaxed developmental pace. Sardinas could also be a very valuable trade piece, as good-hitting, good-defense shortstops are not available frequently. Even with Profar’s recent shoulder troubles, Sardinas should spend all of 2014 in the minors, and could spend a part of 2015 there as well, putting his major league ETA in the fall of 2015.
Kate Morrison is a recent Baylor graduate currently working as a freelance writer. She likes minor league ballparks, music and the nickname 'Roogie.' That last one will be explained in due time. You can follow her on Twitter at @unlikelyfanatic.