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Sands continues blasting opposition04/12/2011 1:24 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
One stop away from the Majors, Jerry Sands has wasted no time in showing he's ready.
Sands homered for the third straight game and plated three runs as the Isotopes defeated the I-Cubs, 6-5, in 10 innings on Monday.
Sands, who finished 2-for-3, proved to be a timely contributor to the offense, giving Albuquerque a 2-1 lead with a two-run blast in the sixth inning. With the score in the seventh, 3-3, the New York native lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, breaking the tie for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate.
Making the jump to the Pacific Coast League, Sands has gotten off to a fast start, batting .421 with nine RBIs in five games. He thinks the key has been not letting other factors affect his time in the batter's box.
"I'm just trying to grasp what these Triple-A pitchers are doing and staying with my approach, Sands said. "It's a nice park to hit in, but you have to stay with your approach, staying the other way and staying on balls."
The 23-year-old outfielder has been a source of offense since being selected in the 25th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Sands was the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year after batting .301 with 35 homers and 93 RBIs in 137 games between Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga. In 2009, the Catawba College product went deep 19 times in 73 games between the short-season Pioneer League and the Midwest League. Sands went into 2010 looking to prove himself as a top prospect.
"I knew what I could do and I knew I had taken a lot away from the 2008 and 2009 season," Sands said. "I knew I had a lot to prove, but I wasn't going to do too much. I was just going to play my game. It all worked out, it just came together."
Sands caught the attention of new Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly, who managed Sands during the Arizona Fall League. The 6-foot-4 right-hander, who leads the team with nine RBIs, said getting a chance to play with some of the Dodgers veterans was a great experience for him.
"Being able to see how big leaguers approach the plate and being able to talk to guys about their approach at the plate was beneficial, I learned a lot," Sands said. "Gabe Kapler was one of the nicer guys, he would give tips here and there. You have Jamey Carroll, you can't really find a better person in the locker room. Even talking to guys who are my style of player, like Matt Kemp, was big for me."
Sands said while the Majors are on his mind, he is concentrating on his time in Triple-A.
"Right now I'm an Isotope and I'm trying to win games and win a championship for as long as I'm here."
Dee Gordon, MLB.com's No. 44 prospect, nabbed his fourth stolen base of the season. Veteran Jay Gibbons had three hits and delivered a walk-off single for the Isotopes.