Happy Monday, Brewers fans! Welcome to week two of our countdown of the Brewers’ top 10 prospects as voted on by the Brew Crew Ball community. Today we're on to #5, INF Luis Sardinas.
Sardinas was acquired in January in a somewhat surprising trade with the Texas Rangers, coming to Milwaukee along with RHPs Marcos Diplan and Corey Knebel (remember folks, that's kuh-NAY-bull) in exchange for erstwhile Brewers' ace Yovani Gallardo. Diplan and Knebel both found themselves in the MLB.com organizational top 30 prospects list for Milwaukee. Sardinas did not, because he exceeded rookie limits with the Rangers in 2014 and including him would have violated their laws. But this is Brew Crew Ball, and there’s only one law here, the law of the jungle: Soup Pitched Great.
Thought to have an outside chance to find his way onto the Brewers' opening day roster as a utility infielder following the trade, Sardinas did not break camp with the big league club to open 2015. Instead he ceded that bench role to Hector Gomez. This was as much a function of roster-making realities (Gomez was out of minor-league options, while Sardinas was not) as it was of performance, though nothing about Sardinas' .226/.250/.226 spring training slash line shouted "THIS MAN IS A MAJOR LEAGUER AND WE MUST FIND A SPOT FOR HIM!" like the 2013 Khris Davises of yore.
The 22-year-old did find his way onto the big league roster to replace the injured Jean Segura in May, then again in September as part of the first wave of call-ups. Some positives from Sardinas’ time with the Brewers include:
- Successfully put on pants for every single game
- Was not responsible for the deaths of any of his teammates, opponents or fans
- Identified the correct end of the bat to hold nearly every time he made a plate appearance
Sardinas was brutal at the plate in 2015 during his brief time with Milwaukee. He slashed .196/.240/.216 with a single XBH in 36 games (105 PA), good for a wRC+ of 17 – that’s 83% fewer runs created than the league average. He fanned 25 times with six walks, and his .457 OPS was the sixth worst in all of baseball (min. 100 PA).
Sardinas was better at AAA-Colorado Springs, where he hit .282/.319/.359. He has very limited power (six career home runs in the minor leagues, including one in 2015), and most of his hits that go for extra bases are speed-based. He did swipe 16 bags with the Sky Sox on 20 attempts, and he has a career 76% success rate as a minor-league base pilferer (he did not attempt a steal with Milwaukee, but was 5 for 6 with Texas in 2014).
The value of Sardinas lies in his versatility. He spent time with both Milwaukee and Colorado Springs as a second baseman and a shortstop, making a few cameos at third base in Milwaukee as well. His fielding numbers are neutral-to-negative at all three positions, though there's certainly work left to be done on the way we quantify fielding ability. Sardinas' path to the 2016 opening day roster may run through the hot corner; though his bat certainly won't play there long-term, the Brewers best third baseman is currently 17-years-old. However last week, Kyle explained that we may see a heavy dose of Elian Herrera at third in 2016.
Should that be the case Sardinas, barring a trade, would likely be in competition for the Brewers’ utility infielder bench spot with fellow light-hitting middle infielder Yadiel Rivera, who will cede the shortstop job at Colorado Springs to Orlando Arcia next season. Rivera is currently treating the Arizona Fall League's pitchers like he caught them sleeping with his wife, bashing them to the tune of a 1.360 OPS in a small but fun 22 at-bat sample size, good for fourth in what is generally a batter-heavy league. Rivera is a superior defensive talent, but other than a hot week with Surprise, he’s never shown any flashes of possessing a major league-caliber stick. Either could also find a job as the right side of a second base platoon with Scooter Gennett, whose ability to hit left-handed pitching can be generously described as "laughably inept".
The good news here is that Milwaukee has a lot of options as they prepare to organize their infield around the impending full-time arrival of Arcia with the big league club, most likely in 2017. In Segura, Rivera, and Sardinas, the Brewers have the personnel to hold the shortstop position over until he arrives with bodies to spare, making a trade very possible. Wherever he lands, Brewers fans will be expecting more from the centerpiece of the Gallardo trade in 2016.