The Texas Rangers promoted infielder Luis Sardinas to the major league roster this week. Although Jurickson Profar and Rounged Odor receive more attention when Rangers infield prospects are discussed, Sardinas is an intriguing player in his own right and is our subject for today's Prospect of the Day.
Sardinas was a big-dollar signing, earning $1,200,000 out of Venezuela in 2009 (Profar got $1,550,000 at the same time). He was considered a very advanced defensive player for his age with a chance to hit once he matured physically. Injuries struck almost immediately: a broken finger limited him to just 26 games in the Arizona Rookie League in 2010, and a more severe shoulder dislocation kept him to just 14 more contests in '11. He hit well both years (.311/.363/.350 and .308/.367/.385), showing contact hitting skills and good speed with 10 steals combined, but obviously needing to prove his durability.
Shoulder problems continued to nag him in '12 but he played 96 games for Low-A Hickory, hitting .291/.346/.356 with 32 steals, 29 walks, and 52 strikeouts in 374 at-bats. He finally played a full season in '13, seeing 128 games between High-A Myrtle Beach (.298/.358/.360 in 383 at-bats) and Double-A Frisco (.258/.286/.311 in 135 at-bats). He stole 32 bases on the year.
Sardinas opened '14 back with Frisco, hitting .226/.255/.264 in 13 games before his promotion. Odor is outhitting him slightly (.243/.286/.386) but Sardinas was already on the 40-man roster and Odor isn't, so when the Rangers needed an infielder he was the more logical one to promote.
Listed at 6-1, 170, Sardinas is a switch-hitter born May 16, 1993. As you likely assume from his Double-A performance, he isn't a refined hitter at this point and is not going to provide a big hitting boost for your fantasy team. His best offensive tool is speed: he could steal 20 or more bases per season if he gets on base enough. Alas, that could be a problem, at least in the short run. Although he was an effective contact hitter at lower levels, his complete lack of power has been a serious issue in Double-A and his production at that level has been inadequate. He is young enough to gain some strength and improve a great deal, but it hasn't happened yet.
His defense is well ahead of his offense at this point. His arm is very strong, his range is above average, and he has quick hands. He'll botch routine plays occasionally but he also reaches balls most infielders can't touch. With more experience he should be an excellent defender.
It is likely that Sardinas will have a long major league career, but the shape of that career is uncertain. If he maxes out his hitting skills, he could be an All-Star. If his hitting improves somewhat but not to the maximal projection, he could still be a long-term regular due to his glovework and speed contributions. If the bat remains inadequate, he could still be a useful utility player.
In all cases, Sardinas needs more time in the high minors and a short-term fantasy impact should not be anticipated. He is a long-term investment with an unclear (though potentially special) payoff.