|Date of Birth: 07/19/1982
Acquired: Drafted in the 11th Round (#340 Overall) in the 2004 Draft
|San Jose - High-A
How well can a pitcher do when his role is not cemented as a starter or a reliever? Ask Darren Sack. 2006 asked a lot of the right-hander: going to extended spring training in April, working with San Jose coaches to retool just about everything from his delivery to his ability to hold runners on, pitching out of the bullpen, and finally cracking the Giants' rotation in June.
Sack went 7-3 with five wins as a starter and was undefeated until August. Despite a 1-2 record in his last four starts of the year with one relief appearance and a playoff loss in the first round of the California League playoffs he finished with a 1.94 earned run average in the regular season.
He supplements his slider and fastball with a changeup that he harnessed during his travails in San Jose. Sack insists upon the importance of offspeed stuff: "At this level and at the higher levels it becomes a more vital pitch."
All this came after two poor seasons for Sack. In 2004 he pitched with the short season rookie team in Salem-Keizer and moved up to low-A Augusta in 2005. Neither year went well for him; he was used as a starter both seasons and his ERA was 6.23 and 5.08 in Salem-Keizer and Augusta respectively.
He made unnecessary adjustments upon entering pro ball which made him leave pitches up in the strike zone, murder for any pitcher. Sack puts it simply, "I didn't make the right pitches when I needed to."
Sack recognizes his missteps in his unsuccessful seasons before San Jose and corrected them while working his way from the Giants' bullpen to the rotation. He abandoned what worked for him pitching three years for Sonoma State University, including an outstanding 2004 season where he was named to the All West Region and All Conference teams and set a school record for strikeouts with 93. The Seawolves made an NCAA tournament appearance that year as well, and Sack was selected in the 11th round of the draft shortly thereafter.
The right-hander should get a spot in the rotation whether it be in San Jose again or moving up to AA Connecticut. While in Augusta he 125.2 innings and collected 114 strikeouts with a record of 8-7. Sack's innings pitched for 2006 are closer to his 2004 short-season numbers as he was delayed in Scottsdale to begin his season with San Jose and with his limited role in the bullpen.
If he has a full season starting in 2007 he has every reason to replicate the high strikeout numbers in Augusta, and to repeat the low earned run average he had in San Jose. His competitive nature will take care of the wins. It will also keep him pushing to be better with every inning pitched.
Have any questions about these prospects, or perhaps some we haven't named? SFDugout.com will be answering your questions throughout this series! Send your questions to email@example.com!
Check out the other prospects at the Top 50 Prospects Index!
Discuss this article in SFDugout.com's new Minor League Discussion Forum!
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.
The San Jose Giants have had some of the best hitters and pitchers in San Francisco's minor league system the past two years. The ball club takes what is good and makes it great. Right-handed pitcher Darren Sack took lessons in San Jose and turned them into a successful 2006 season.