The San Francisco Giant's corner infielder/catcher Pablo Sandoval was born August 11, 1986 in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo, Venezuela. He was signed by the San Francisco Giants as an amateur free agent back in 2003. His minor league career started off slow. At age 17, he only hit .266 in the Arizona Rookie League. The following season, at age 18, he was considered more of a prospect rather than just an organizational piece. He hit .330 that year. Still, he showed very little power. The next year was his worst. Sandoval only hit 1 home run and only a .265 batting average. Scouts didn't think he could make the big leagues, simply because he was only a .265 hitter in single A baseball.
In 2007, he had a semi breakout season, really only with the power. With the San Jose Giants, he 11 HR in only 401 at bats. More fans knew his name then at any other point in his previous years.
In 2008, he really made a name for himself, getting into top Giants prospects discussions. He ripped a clean .350 batting average while also setting is career high in HR with 20. Sandoval was rewarded in September 2008 with a call-up to the Major League club at the catcher position. He hit very, very well in limited MLB play in 2008, with a .345 batting average. It looked as if Sandoval didn't have a weak spot in the strike zone, because he hit everything, whether the pitch was high, low, outside, or inside.
In 2009, he had his best season. Playing in 153 games, rarely at catcher, Sandoval hit .330 with 25 home runs, both of which easily led the Giants team. He got his famous nickname that year, the Kung Fu Panda, or Panda for short. (Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito came up with the nickname, and it stuck. Fans started bringing panda hats and masks to the ballpark, to the point where they were so popular that the Giants team had decided to sell and market off panda masks directly at the park. They quickly became a big hit.
The story got from great to worse in 2010. With the 2010 season winding down, it is clear that Pablo Sandoval is currently having a bad year, at least for him, with the bat. He is only hitting .267 as of September 14th. He also only has 12 home runs. Remarkably, the panda masks are still selling, as hot as ever. However, the bad outweighs the good. Sandoval's stardom, at least for now, is gone. At age 23, he's still really young, with a lot of time to regain his old form back. However, signs point in the other direction, because Sandoval is gaining weight, getting fat, and it has already really hurt his statistics. He has also lost range at 3rd base. At the current rate, Sandoval will be 300 pounds by late 2011. Another decline in production would not be surprising.