Halo Hangout stopped by the home of the Inland Empire 66ers, Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, to watch the young talent developing within the Angels system. Within this Angels system is a plethora of young athletes ready to make their way to the big leagues, and Halo Hangout had the chance to talk with one of these promising young athletes; 66ers outfielder Brandon Sandoval, the ever-present dual threat in both the box and on the basepaths.
Brandon Sandoval, Right Fielder for the Inland Empire 66ers, is currently batting .352 for the Angels Class A Advanced affiliate. He’s second in batting average throughout the entire Cal League thanks to his 44 hits in only 125 at-bats. In the month of May, Brandon Sandoval has found himself in only three games with no hits this month; in fact he’s has more multi-hit games in the month of May than he has hitless games over the young season with nine multi-hit games in May.
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Brandon Sandoval is currently in the middle of a seven game hit streak with 6 RBI’s throughout the streak. He’s previously owned a six game hit streak with only one hitless game separating the two streaks. Even with all this talk of streaks Sandoval remains one of the most consistent hitters on the 66ers, and that hitting talent still has plenty of room to grow.
RF Brandon Sandoval, #44
[interview dated 5/13]
H.H: You’ve had 12 hits in your last 7 games [from May 6th-May 12th] with 5 of those being multi-hit games. How do you maintain such a high output with the bat?
Sandoval: It’s all about my approach at the plate, if I’m seeing the ball well that’s the start of everything. I’ve been seeing the ball really good in the last [7 games]. I just stick to my approach and put the bat on the ball. And a little luck will get you a long way in this game.
H.H: You’re getting on base at a very high clip this season [.403 OBP]. With a consistent presence on base do you put extra emphasis on your base running?
Sandoval: In college and high school I was a speed guy, so I’ve always considered myself a pretty good baserunner. This year especially I’ve tried to make an emphasis more at being a plus base runner, getting more stolen bases, being a threat and having pitchers think about me. It works out for me and it’s good for my teammates because they get more fastballs at the plate. I definitely have more of an emphasis on base running.
H.H: You’ve already matched your 2017 steal total in just a third of the attempts. How are you feeling with your improving steal rate?
Sandoval: It was an emphasis coming into Spring Training because all the coordinators and everybody knew I was pretty quick. We’ve been working on my leads and getting cuts around the base paths and getting as close to the first step like it was back in college. It’s been good, I feel really confident on the base paths as well as the plate. Everything’s good.
Career On Base Percentage (Two Seasons): .393
When you surround yourself with baseball, whether a player or not, everything is bound to be good. With Brandon Sandoval’s improving play at the plate everything is going to get a lot better for the young Angels prospect. His already top-notch ability to put wood on the ball makes it’s easy to see the ability to drive the ball beginning it’s development in his game. A ball in the gap is dangerous for any hitter, but with Sandoval it can be a knife in the heart for the opposing team.
Speed+Contact is an important formula for success in the majors, but add in an ability to threaten with power in the gaps and you’ve created a near-definite formula for success.
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Career Stolen Bases (Two Seasons): 19
H.H: You have a strong contact & speed game. Do you feel like there are other dynamics to your hitting you haven’t unlocked yet?
Sandoval: Yeah actually that’s part of what I’m trying to unlock with this new swing. I got a little leg kick now and that’s kinda new for me. In the past I’ve been just getting my foot down, really short and simple. Now I’ve got a little leg kick, I’m trying to get a little more power in there. We’re working with it; hopefully in the next couple weeks we’ll start seeing more balls go out of the park, more doubles and stuff like that.
H.H: With this new approach are you feeling a progression in your ability to drive the ball?
Sandoval: Definitely, yeah. My exit velocity has gone up in the past couple of weeks, I would say that definitely correlates with this new swing that I’m trying to work on.
H.H: Is there a particular spot in the order you like hitting most?
Sandoval: Anywhere is good for me, I’ve been all over the place here [66ers]. I’ve been in the four-hole a couple of times, been in the nine-hole, the seven-hole, two-hole. As long as I stick to my approach anywhere I am is good for me.
2018 Multi-Hit Games: Fifteen
Even with Sandoval tearing through opposing hitters he still looks for any way in which he can improve his game. Sandoval’s maintenance and improvements of his top-notch contact skill set has built a fantastic foundation to continue the improvement of his game. Not many players, especially developing athletes, have the luxury of having an ultra-reliable bat to build from. With a lock on his bat-to-ball skills Sandoval has the mental luxury to afford emphasized focused on alternate dynamics within his game, such as his work on the base paths.
His nine stolen bases on the season are second on the 66ers behind shortstop Luis Rengifos 22 SB, the current Cal League leader in stolen bases, and his numbers will only improve. Sandoval already ranks in the Cal League top ten for stolen base leaders, and with a Top Six ranking in OBP the danger presented by Sandoval is ever-present. When he’s in the batters box he can make a pitcher over-throw and miss his spots with the threat of easy contact being a staple of his game.
Then you add in his general ability to get on base in addition to his sharp speed running and ultra-reliability and you have yourself the formula for a future Major Leaguer.
Career Batting Average (Two Seasons): .339
H.H: How are you feeling with your progression through the Angels system?
Sandoval: I think it’s been pretty good so far, I’m here in my second year. I didn’t really break camp with these guys cause I was hurt in Spring Training but I was here a week after everyone broke. I feel like I’m where I need to be right now and I’m performing how I need to perform, as long as that keeps going how it is and I keep moving up it’ll speak for itself.
H.H: You were drafted by the Angels out of Costa Mesa in 2017, how does it feel getting drafted by the hometown team?
Sandoval: It was pretty cool, we actually had two teammates the year before get drafted too, Jose Rojas and Sean Issac. It’s pretty funny that we all got drafted by the Angels. It was surreal, it’s been a lifelong dream getting drafted and getting the chance to play professional baseball. I was just grateful for the opportunity.
RF Brandon Sandoval #44
The opportunity to play baseball on this serious a level is rarely afforded, and to see the young Brandon Sandoval dedicate himself to the practice of improvement and excellence inspires worlds of confidence in the young athlete. His physical tools will keep him in the game, but his mental dedication will bring him excellence.
As simple as it is, only a few things in baseball that are more excellent than a guy whose standing on base a fourth of that time.