Jerry Sands got off to a rough start after the Dodgers called him up from Triple-A in mid-April, going 8-for-47 (.190) with 13 strikeouts through 11 games.
They stuck with the 23-year-old top prospect, trusting that he’d eventually get on track and live up to the promise he showed while destroying minor-league pitching, and Sands has responded by going 14-for-50 (.280) with seven extra-base hits and more walks (11) than strikeouts (9) in 19 games so far this month.
That includes his first career grand slam last night, which came just a couple days after his first career homer Sunday, and suddenly his .756 OPS ranks fourth on the team behind Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Casey Blake. James Loney, who Sands figures to eventually replace at first base, has a measly .579 OPS after posting a .723 mark last season.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.