From BR Bullpen
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 220 lb.
- School Jackson State University
Earl Sanders was a first-round pick who peaked at AA.
Sanders hit .432 with 17 homers and 60 RBI in college in 1986. He was chosen 26th overall in the 1986 amateur draft, taken by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was 6-2 with a 2.08 ERA that summer for the St. Catharines Blue Jays, striking out 55 in 56 1/3 IP. Had he qualified, he would have been 8th in the New York-Penn League in ERA. He also hit .296/~.345/.361, seeing regularly action at DH. After that, he was used as pitcher during his career. Baseball America rated him as the NYPL's #8 prospect.
Earl fell to 7-11, 4.50 for the 1987 Dunedin Blue Jays, walking 86 in 146 innings on a team that had a 69-53 record when other hurlers got the decision. In 1988, Sanders was better for Dunedin (6-7, 3.34) and allowed two runs in five innings for the Knoxville Blue Jays. Moving to the bullpen, the tall right-hander split '89 between Dunedin (2-2, 3 Sv, 3.52, 12 H, 14 BB in 23 IP) and Knoxville (1-7, 5 Sv, 4.53, 35 BB in 49 2/3 IP). His control was even worse with Knoxville in 1990 (57 walks in 60 2/3 IP) while he went 4-4 with two saves and a 4.75 ERA.
Moving to the Atlanta Braves chain, Sanders had a 4-7, 3.65 record for the 1991 Greenville Braves, fanning 85 but walking 51 in 79 innings. That off-season, Sanders was dealt as the player to be named later in a trade that had sent Matt Turner to the Houston Astros for Jim Clancy. He pitched just four games for the 1992 Jackson Generals, walking 10 and fanning 10 in 10 innings, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
Overall, Sanders was 30-41 with a 3.83 ERA in 199 minor league games, walking 350 in 556 1/3 IP. The former batter hit .289, raising a question of whether he should have been moved to the hill.