Luis Sardinas can do it all. Not only can he switch hit and be a speed option off the bench, but he is also an above average defender at three infield positions. As the ultra-utility man of the Milwaukee Brewers, Sardinas will use this season as a springboard to start in 2016.
This season Sardinas will be useful all over the diamond. He is a right handed option that can see time at second base for Scooter Gennett. He is a certified option at shortstop, who will provide competition and be an intriguing option should Jean Segura struggle again. Finally, he will be a fresh set of legs that can give Aramis Ramirez a breather whenever necessary. Though he will not have his name penciled into the everyday lineup, the versatility to fill in at any of these spots will allow him to get plenty of at-bats all year long.
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The biggest knock on Sardinas as a prospect has been his bat, but throughout much of his minor league career he has proven doubters wrong. In five minor league seasons, he has a lifetime .295 average with a .344 OBP and a .709 OPS. He has only slugged six minor league home runs, but he has speed that he can use to his advantage should he find a gap.
There have also been whispers that he has been unable to hit against higher level pitching, citing that he has struggled to hit pitchers in AA, but last season in AAA Sardinas batted .290 in 60 games. Debuting in Texas as a 21-year-old last season, Sardinas held his own. In 43 games, he batted a respectable .261 with a .303 OBP and five steals. Considering that he was playing on an injury bitten Texas Rangers squad well before he was ready with almost zero experienced lineup protection, these numbers were solid.
The most alarming part of his numbers however was his walk rate. He had just five walks in 125 plate appearances, which averages out to one walk for every 25 at-bats. His minor league walk rates were not much better as he averaged one walk for every 16.5 at-bats. If he is going to be a steady major leaguer, his patience must improve.
There is a golden opportunity in front of Sardinas and the Brewers need him to deliver this year. Ramirez will not be back after this season and the free agent class at third is weaker than ever, meaning that with lack of organizational depth the third base job is there for the taking for Sardinas.
He is never going to have a lot of power of a traditional third baseman, but he could still have value as a speedy slap hitter at the top or bottom of the order. There will be a lot riding on his season as a utility man, but he will exceed all expectations. Not only will he be valuable of the bench in 2015, but his strong season will cement himself into the everyday 2016 lineup.