The LA Angels traded for 21 year old starting pitcher prospect Patrick Sandoval midway through the 2018 season, much to the chagrin of Angel fans as they had to see fan favorite catcher Martin Maldonado join the division rival Astros That move has heavily benefited the Angels given Sandovals projections as a lefty-starting pitcher and their focus on building the future.
Patrick Sandoval is a bit of a dark horse prospect for the LA Angels. When coming into the Halos system some wondered the trueness of his potential given his slow going to kick off his professional baseball career. Before 2018 the lowest ERA he posted in the Minors was 3.79 in Low A during 2017 while also showing off his prime-time strikeout skill by K’ing 28 hitters in 19 innings of work. Overall he posted a 4.09 ERA in 61.2 innings of work while striking out 78 and walking 23. Though this all looks ru of the mill it seems that after three seasons of marinating he finally unlocked his true form and began developing into the pitcher he should during his 2018 season.
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The 2018 season was nothing short of incredible, wondrous, and hopeful for the young Sandoval. He doubled his IP total by pitching 122.1 innings of incredible baseball throughout the 2018 season. While starting the season with the Astros A Ball organization, Sandoval pitched to a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings of work and in High A he pitched 23 innings of 2.73 ERA baseball.
Once he came to the Angels it seemed something sparked deeper within the starting pitcher. All of his tools seemed to jump overnight with the Angels. His strikeout/control flourished with the Angels High A organization, logging 21 K’s in 14 IP and only 6 walks, while giving up zero runs and 6 hits in that time. His call up to Double A produced much of the same with a whopping 27 K’s in 19.2 innings while walking only 8. Many scouts grade him as a back-end starter, yet with his level of control regarding his K/BB ratio (a whopping 5 K/BB rate) he can break through those notions.
Sandoval is an incredibly smart pitcher who knows when and where to place his pitches in exactly what counts. He isn’t K’ing people relentlessly on the pure quality of his stuff, but mostly his ability to dissect hitters and throw tons of competitive strikes. He throws a fastball in the low 90’s, though it has strong enough zip to still beat hitters, and with a plus curveball that fools hitters with it’s incredible depth he’s able to work hitters all around the zone. Even then he also has his solid change-up with works as both a set-up and knockout pitch. His slider has good break to it, though it’s mostly thrown as a mix-up pitch. With a more developed slider Sandoval can easily become a more lethal strike-out pitcher than he already is.
One of his biggest keys for success is his mental fortitude. From a handful of conversations with the prospective lefty starter it’s clear he has the mindset of a brutal competitor. One thing you notice is his incredible focus on defeating each and every hitter and his game-plan for such. He’s very much a “killer” on the mound, looking to carve up and finish off each hitter with his own power. Of course he’s gotten into plenty of situations where he needs his defense to get him out of innings and when that occurs Sandoval has no trouble changing gears into contact-out mode. For the most part he has a hitman mentality regarding his personal need to end every hitters at-bat.
Sandoval has a bulldog mindset elevated to the next level. That’s the key that will take his game from being a projected back-end starter to even the top of starting pack. His mental process is reminiscent of Angels great Jered Weaver. That’s not a prospect type comparison as much as it is an example of the cloth his mental wool is borne from. He can enjoy great success should his mentalities develop as strongly as they are alongside his physical tools. His pitch-by-pitch, hitter-by-hitter mentality allows him to manage the games pacing with great control.
Sandoval is mostly regarded as a back-end starter but can settle in as high as a top-of-the-rotation starter should he elevate what’s left of his development with his plus-plus mental approach.
Developmental Needs: Stamina, Fastball Velocity
Best Tools: Strike-out Ability, Limits Walks, Mental Bulldog, Strike-Zone Control, Adaptability, Leadership by Example
MLB Estimation: 2019-2020