Friday, July 28, 2017

Getting to Know Quad Cities LHP Patrick Sandoval

I first met Patrick Sandoval during a trip to Greeneville in August 2016 and came away impressed by the then 19-year old lefty's poise and confidence. After speaking with him again in Quad Cities last weekend, I was doubly impressed with what I saw both on the mound and off it.

Patrick Sandoval - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Quad Cities Manager Russ Steinhorn first coached Sandoval in Instructional League in 2015 shortly after he was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round out of Mission Viejo High School (CA). According to Steinhorn, "I see a different guy now stuff-wise. He's got a lot more velocity behind his pitches. It looks like he's put in a whole lot of work in his two years in Extended (extended Spring Training) that he's spent there." Steinhorn credits the coaches in Extended for helping Sandoval start to realize his potential.

Sandoval sees it the same way. He is a big fan of the Astros system and has no regrets about forgoing college to start his baseball career straight out of high school, "No, (no regrets) at all. Especially with the Astros and the Player Development system that they've got going on. I've learned tons more than I could ever learn going to college. Plus there's no class to go to."

Asked for advice to players drafted out of high school, Sandoval said, "I'd say listen and retain all the information you can. That's probably the biggest thing. And not to try to do too much on the mound, just do what you've been doing all through high school. Listen to your coaches. Be respectful. For the most part, retain all the information that they give you because it's going to help you."

Things have not always gone smoothly for Sandoval. "I definitely had a slow start to my career. I think the mental side of my game has gone a lot better. We've got Jesse [Jesse Michael, Mental Skills Coordinator] back in Florida who helped us a lot in Extended Spring Training. And, obviously the Strength and Conditioning coordination is great. And the pitching development is awesome. So I'm just picking up everything and it's starting to click now. I'm really excited to see where this is going."

Sandoval throws a 88 to 91 mph 4-seam fastball, a changeup with "a bit of tail and sink," a 12-6 curveball that's a work in progress and a recently added slider that has shown early signs of success. He sees greater consistency as the key to his continued development. "I feel like I'm staying more consistent on the mound as to throwing strikes a lot more than I usually have been in the past and just staying in myself and not trying to do too much with my pitches. Just keep improving. I've got a lot more way to go. I'd say throwing even more strikes than I'm throwing now, staying more consistent with my delivery, not having those flares of 4-pitch walks ... making the adjustments right away and going after people," said Sandoval.

When asked which fellow Quad Cities pitcher has a pitch he'd like to add to his arsenal, Sandoval told me, "[Robert] Corniel's fastball. If I could throw a pitch that hard, I don't think I'd be hittable. That dude's impressive. That's Bobby C right there. Big dude, throws hard. Usually throws strikes too." And the one Astro minor-leaguer he'd just as soon not face in the batter's box would be a familiar one, "Definitely [Kyle] Tucker. That dude just does not get out. He's pretty good [laughs], pretty good player."

I tried to find out more about Sandoval off the field with limited success. During the season, he told me that he spends most of his down time catching up on his sleep. In the off-season, it's mostly workouts and helping out at his old high school. Sandoval said, "I have no talents other than throwing a baseball. I can't sing. I can't dance. I can't play an instrument. I can play the recorder. I can play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder pretty well. I do dabble in a little bit of Spanish. I picked up some Spanish while being here."

But I saw Sandoval display one particular talent that should serve him well. He relates well to others. He finds common ground, whether it's kidding around with C Gabriel Bracamonte in his limited Spanish or, as I saw last year in Greeneville, coaxing a smile out of a sullen teammate who was having a bad day. He has a calm, steady, confident, good-natured presence. Combined with his desire to learn and grow as a player, that will make him a great teammate and a coach's dream.

Thank you for the time, Patrick, and best of luck as the season continues.

Recent Interviews:
Marcos Almonte and Abdiel Saldana

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