10/10/2003 6:50 AM ET
Sardinha hot in Fall League
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Dane Sardinha signed a six-year deal with the Reds on Friday, Sept. 1, 2000. (David Kohl/AP)
CINCINNATI -- Though no conclusions can be drawn from the handful of games played so far in the Arizona Fall League, it's clear that Dane Sardinha intends to repeat last year's performance.
Sardinha, one of the Reds' top catching prospects, has hit .364 (4-for-11) with two home runs in his first three games for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Sardinha's fast start mirrored his efforts for the Scorpions in 2002, when he ranked third in RBIs (24), fifth in slugging percentage (.500) and eighth in hitting (.311) while playing 28 games.
Sardinha then suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee this year during Spring Training, preventing him from sustaining his momentum. He recovered enough to hit .256 with three homers and 32 RBIs in 72 games for Double-A Chattanooga. "I think my offense is improving," Sardinha said last month. "It's still not where I want it to be. I still have a lot of things to learn."
With Jason LaRue established as Cincinnati's starting catcher and Corky Miller solidifying the backup spot, Sardinha appears destined for another year in the upper minors unless a trade or an injury clears a path for him. Outfielder Stephen Smitherman also enjoyed a robust start, hitting .429 (3-for-7) in two games with the Scorpions. Outfielder Dernell Stenson hit .125 (1-for-8) in his first two games.
The Reds also have three right-handers refining their pitching with the Scorpions: Joe Valentine, David Gil and Kyle Edens. Valentine, one of three hurlers acquired from Oakland in the Jose Guillen deal, struck out four batters in two scoreless innings. Gil was unscored upon in three relief appearances while Edens was 0-1 after yielding an unearned run in his only outing.