LUIS SARDINAS (SS)
Profile: With Milwaukee’s starting shortstop Jean Segura headed to the disabled list, the Brewers announced on Thursday that they would be calling up the soon-to-be 22-year-old Sardinas prior to Friday’s game in New York. Originally signed by the Texas Rangers out of Venezuela as an international free agent in 2009, Sardinas made his pro debut with the Rangers AZL affiliate in 2010, batting .311 in 26 games, before a broken finger cut his debut season short.
He returned to the AZL in 2011, where he hit .308, but saw action in just 14 games before dislocating his shoulder. The shoulder injury would once again cost him playing time, ending his year early. Sardinas advanced to Class-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League to begin the 2012 season, but shoulder injury he suffered the previous year continued to plague him. He got off to a slow start in his first taste of full-season baseball, hitting only .258 in April, but once healthy again, turned things around in the second half to finish the season with a .291 average.
After having missed time with injuries in each of his first three seasons, the Rangers wanted to get Sardinas more work, and so they sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the 2012 campaign. In 11 Fall League games for the Surprise Saguaros,, Sardinas hit .318 with a home run while playing fantastic defense.
He advanced to High-A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League in 2013 and continued to hit for a good average, batting .298 in 97 games and earning an August promotion to Double-A Frisco. Sardinas finished out the season with Frisco, appearing in 29 games and hitting .259. He returned to his native Venezuela following the season and played in 3 winter league games there while continuing to attempt to make up for time lost to injuries early in his career.
The Rangers sent Sardinas back to Double-A to start the 2014 season, but early in the year, the need arose for an infielder in the big leagues and Texas opted to take and promote the young Sardinas due to his defensive prowess and ability to play multiple positions on the infield.
On April 20th, in a game against the Chicago White Sox, Sardinas made his Major League debut at just 20 years old. He wound up playing in only three games for the Rangers before being sent back to Double-A. His return to Frisco was brief however, as Texas came calling again in early May. His second stint with the Rangers would last a little longer as he played in 23 games from May 10th-June 28th. Though he was holding his own at the major league level, he wasn’t receiving consistent playing time and wanting to give him a chance to play every day and continue to develop, Texas sent Sardinas back to the minors in late June, but this time with a promotion to Triple-A.
Sardinas finished up the Triple-A season at Round Rock, hitting .290 over 60 games. He added 15 doubles and scored 39 runs while knocking in 28 and stealing nine bases. Following the conclusion of the minor league season, Sardinas was among the Rangers September call-ups, returning to Texas for a third time.
Loaded with depth in he middle infield and short on starting pitching, the Rangers dealt Sardinas to Milwaukee this past offseason along with Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan in a trade that sent Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers. He impressed during his time with the Brewers this spring but was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs to play every day as the Sky Sox shortstop. Through his first 32 games this season Sardinas was batting .288 with 14 runs scored.
Strengths: Sardinas biggest asset is his defense. His glove is major league ready at this point and he has the ability to play multiple positions, already logging big league innings at second base, shortstop and third base in his young career. He has terrific range at shortstop and a strong arm to go along with a quick release. Sardinas has hit for a solid average throughout his minor league career, posting a .289 average through his first six seasons. He puts the ball in play and doesn’t strike out all that often, while showing decent speed and good instincts on the bases as well.
Weaknesses: While Sardinas doesn’t strike out much, he doesn’t walk much either. In 141 plate appearances with the Sky Sox, he drew just seven free passes. He also doesn’t have much power at the present time, managing just five total home runs in over 1500 at bats throughout his minor league career.
Future: Sardinas should have a nice major league career based off his defense alone and should be a capable replacement in the short term for Segura. The big question is if he will hit enough to eventually become an every day major league player. The average has always been there, but the secondary numbers will need to improve for him to find his way in to a regular lineup. Worst case scenario should be a defensively sound utility infielder, but he’ll celebrate only his 22nd birthday on Friday and at such a young age could still develop in to so much more, giving the Brewers another potential shortstop option for the future.