With another Chicago Cubs player graduating off of MLB.com’s top Cubs prospect list – Javier Baez – there’s a new name to include in the fungible group of “top 20 prospects”: pitcher Carson Sands.
We recently noted the updated MLB.com list with various additions and subtractions, so I’ll leave it to you to check that earlier discussion out if you want the full updated list. Instead, I’ll focus here on Sands, a new name to world of top Cubs prospects.
Not that his inclusion should be a surprise. Sands, 19, was the Cubs’ 4th round pick in the 2014 draft, the first of a string of three top high school pitching prospects the Cubs nabbed on the strength of their first and second round savings in the draft. He signed for $1.1 million, well above the slot where he was taken, and was generally regarded as a top 50/100 prospect in the draft.
From there, Sands headed to Mesa to throw in the Arizona Rookie League, where he posted a 1.89 ERA (3.10 FIP) over 19 innings. He struck out 20 and walked 7, generally showing an advanced feel for pitching, and stuff that overwhelmed his fellow rookie-ballers. In those 19 innings, he gave up just 15 hits.
Of Sands, a 6’3″ lefty, MLB.com says he “shows the ability to throw strikes with all three of his pitches. His best offering is a 90-94 mph fastball with good life, and he also has a solid curveball and a promising changeup. Sands has a nice build with the room to add more strength and velocity.”
Where he starts out the 2015 season will be very interesting. Although you’d typically not expect a 2014 high school draftee to start in full-season ball the next year (i.e., Kane County), Sands is a little older than the typical high school draftee (he turned 19 in March, and will thus be 20 for the entire 2015 season). Given his age and polish, it’s conceivable he could start out at Kane County next year, though I’d still probably bet on short-season Low-A Boise.
Fellow high school lefty Justin Steele, taken one round later and signed for $1 million, also pitched well in his professional debut, by the way: 2.89 ERA, 2.80 FIP in 18.2 innings, with 25 strikeouts and 8 walks. Steele, also 19, was probably right there under consideration for the 20th slot.