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1993 Fleer Ultra #476 Scott Sanders

Scott Gerald Sanders

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[edit] Biographical Information

For a few years, it looked like Scott Sanders was going to be a star. A first-round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 1990 June draft, the former Nicholls State pitcher signed almost immediately and headed off to the Spokane Indians to begin his professional career.

After dominating the Northwest League in three starts, Sanders was promoted to the Waterloo Diamonds for the rest of the 1990 season. Scott opened 1991 back in Iowa and showed he had mastered the Midwest League, allowing just two runs in 26 1/3 spectacular innings and earning his second promotion in less than a year.

The fast track to the major leagues took Sanders through Wichita and Las Vegas before he made his major league debut for the Padres in August of 1993. Scott pitched well in nine starts, which earned him a job in San Diego's rotation to begin the 1994 season. Apart from a run-in with New York police before an April game against the New York Mets, Sanders had an unremarkable season. He won only four of his 20 starts and had been banished to the bullpen before a strike prematurely ended the season.

Sanders reported to camp in much better shape in 1995, and it paid off. Scott shaved a half-run off his ERA, struck out nearly a batter an inning, and held opposing hitters to a .228 batting average and .294 on-base percentage. Unfortunately for Sanders and the Padres, he injured his elbow and pitched just four innings after the All-Star break.

Scott narrowly avoided elbow reconstruction surgery over the following winter and opened his third full major league season as a key set-up man in the San Diego bullpen in 1996. Sanders was spectacular as a relief pitcher, striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings, posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 3-to-1, stranding 10 of 12 inherited runners, and posting an ERA of 3.27. That performance earned Scott a regular turn in the starting rotation, where he was even better, holding opponents to a .225/.280/.320 line and allowing just five home runs in 16 starts.

As quickly as Sanders became a dominating starting pitcher, his career fell apart even more quickly. Two months after the best season of his career, Sanders was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He opened the 1997 season as the Mariners' number two starter but got completely destroyed, coughing up 8 home runs in less than 20 innings before mercifully being sent to the bullpen to work out his problems. Scott pitched fairly well out of the pen, earning himself two more unsuccessful starts. The Mariners finally gave up on Sanders in July, dumping him on the Detroit Tigers. Scott was no better in the Motor City, losing six of his first seven decisions and ending the season with 14 losses and a 5.86 ERA.

Sanders opened 1998 as the Tigers' number four starter, but things didn't go any better than they had the previous year. After two starts, Scott's ERA was 19.73 and he had allowed 23 hits and 19 runs in 8.2 innings. On April 14th, Detroit manager Buddy Bell left Sanders on the mound to give up 16 hits and 11 runs, saying after the game that it wasn't about effort, but that the shell-shocked pitcher just couldn't get the ball where he wanted it to go. That spelled the end of Sanders as a Tiger. Detroit shipped Scott back to the Padres, where he spent the rest of the season pitching reasonably well in relief.

San Diego released Sanders after the 1998 season, and he latched onto the Chicago Cubs roster for 1999. Scott struggled yet again, posting an ERA north of 5.50 and coughing up 19 home runs in 104 innings.

The Cleveland Indians then offered Sanders a minor-league deal and a spring training invitation in 2000, and he opened the year with the Buffalo Bisons. Scott pitched fairly well in seven early-season starts and earned a call-up when the Indians needed a starter for the May 18th game against Detroit. Sanders got crushed by the Tigers, however, allowing back-to-back home runs to Luis Polonia and Gregg Jefferies to lead off the game. He gave up six hits, four runs, and those two dingers in an inning and two-thirds before Charlie Manuel finally gave Sanders the hook. The game was rained out, the stats were wiped out, and by the end of the day Sanders had been designated for assignment. He never appeared in another major league game, and is not listed in reference books as having played for the Cleveland Indians as a result of the game's cancellation.

Scott spent a season in Japan and several more years in the minor leagues. He retired after going 3-10 with a 7.90 ERA for the 2004 Albuquerque Dukes. He is not to be confused with near-namesake Scott Sanderson, a pitcher whose major league career was winding down just as Sanders' was starting.

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