Ten days after being designated for assignment by the Pirates, left fielder Jerry Sands is headed to Tampa Bay, having been claimed by the Rays.
Its quite the fall from grace for the 26 year old outfielder. Just three years ago, he had been coming off a 35 homer season in the minors and was ranked as the number sixth overall prospect in the Dodgers organization (then a much deeper farm system). Despite an unsuccessful major league stint in 2011, Sands still hit 29 home runs in the minors that year and 26 the year after. Although his swing was viewed as somewhat long, hurting his long term projection and preventing him from truly being an elite prospect, his minor league numbers spoke for themselves, and Sands was deemed worthy of being included in trades for several stars.
First, he was sent to the Red Sox as one of the players to be named later in the 2012 blockbuster that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers. Just two months later, after never playing a single game for Boston, he was shipped off, along with three other players, to Pittsburgh for two-time all star closer Joel Hanrahan.
Things quickly went south for Sands after that, though, as he stopped hitting for any sort of average and his power completely vanished once he joined the Bucs. He hit just seven home runs in nearly 350 at bats for Triple-A this past season, while barely keeping his average above the Mendoza line. The only thing he did well was walk, as his .126 BB% was the highest he had ever posted in a full professional season. Suddenly, a player who the Pirates once insisted be included in the trade for their top-tier closer was not worthy of a 40 man roster spot.
Tampa Bay is hoping that Sand’s 2013 was just an aberration. If their right, they’ve just netted themselves a young outfielder with power and slightly above average defense, and given up nothing. But Sands has never experienced any major league success and his numbers from last season are just scary, symptomatic of an aging youngster who’s lost his touch. This could very well be one of the last times we hear of the former Dodgers prospect.