Player of the Day: Pablo Sandoval
I can't say I knew much about this kid as he came up to the majors. I knew he was on a hot streak with the Giants late last year, but figured it was just a few lucky singles. He hit .345 in 41 games, but not much power (3 HR), few walks (only 4) and as much speed as you'd expect from a 5'11, 245 pound part time catcher.
What I didn't realize is that he's only 21 years old, and with 10 AB per strikeout, he might just be the kind of hitter who can sustain a high batting average simply because he's better than almost everyone at putting the bat on the ball.
Pablo was not among Baseball America's top 30 prospects last year, and for a system not known to be overflowing with talent, that's not encouraging. Perhaps he should have been, as a 20 year old catcher he hit .287 with a .476 slugging percentage for San Jose. That's not great hitting for the California League, but good enough considering age, position if his defense was acceptable.
This year he started back in A+ and hit 359/412/597. In AA he hit 337/364/549. In the minors as a whole he threw out 30 of 68 baserunners. For the whole year, two levels of the minors and the majors, he hit close to .350 with 23 homers and 120 RBI.
On his Fangraphs page you can see the Bill James projection showing a .320 average and over 100 RBI.
As to my more conservative CHONE projections he projects as a similar hitter right now to teammate Bengie Molina, and due to his age he's likely to get much better. He's got about a 20% chance of hitting the Bill James projection, which would make him a 2009 rookie of the year candidate except for the fact he's used up his eligibility.
As a catcher, he's a solid league average regular right now, and as a 3rd baseman has a shot at turning into a solid player. Not bad for a 22 year old who was at best the Giant's #31 prospect heading into the season.