I try to post excerpts from other sites from time to time, but this piece from Buster Olney's Sunday morning blog deserves more. Here is what Olney wrote about Dodgers outfield prospect Jerry Sands this morning:
Ned Colletti has been in baseball for three decades and this spring, and for the first time, a young player asked him about what it takes to be a leader.
That player was Jerry Sands, the Los Angeles Dodgers' young outfielder who is tearing up Class AAA, hitting .432 with five homers for Albuquerque, which fits everything Colletti had heard about him. A year ago, when the 25th-round draft pick was in Class AA, Colletti asked Bill Mueller and Mark Sweeney, two of his staffers, to report back on Sands's approach at the plate. "I asked them to look at his thought process as a hitter," Colletti said. "They both came back and absolutely raved about him -- how he thought, how he prepared for his at-bats, everything."
Sands played well in spring training, before his strong start in the minors this year. The Dodgers have demonstrated in the past that they will promote players in spite of the service time advantages gleaned from waiting: Andre Ethier made his debut on May 2nd, 2006.
But what Los Angeles could be waiting for is for Sands to deal with his first failure of this season, his first slump; teams typically like to have their prospects work their way through some struggles before promoting them, so that they reach the big leagues with some internal mechanisms in place to cope with the inevitable problems. No matter how much talent a player has, there in no such thing as a seamless life in the majors, as Stephen Strasburg would testify.
The Dodgers may not be able to wait much longer, however. They are drifting deeper into the standings behind the Rockies and Giants -- they're now 5.5 games behind -- and they are starved for run production, especially from left field: L.A.'s left fielders haven't generated a homer this year. The Dodgers' losing streak has reached five games. "If I can't wait," said Colletti, "then I won't wait."
Whenever Sands does establish himself, Colletti expects that he will be a leader -- because of the way he plays and expresses himself. "You don't see that kind of thing very often," Colletti said.
Wow. I've written about Sands to the point where you may be tired about hearing about him, but this piece says alot about Sands as a person as well as a player. What's not to like? He has proven the experts wrong at each level in the minors, and I can't wait to see how he performs in LA this year.