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  • Let it Sano, Let it Sano, Let it Sano!

    This is a little bit risky. But I have to draw attention to this comparison I am about to make. When the Twins signed Miguel Sano as a 16-ish shortstop from the Dominican Republic back in 2009, he was regarded as the "jewel" of the International Signing Period that year.........



    Just one short year later, the Nationals drafted and signed a 17-year-old Bryce Harper. Sano is just a tick younger (about 7 months) than Harper. But both were highly-touted-blue-chipper types. Harper started his pro career in class A ball where he tore it up.
    They skipped him up to AA ball, bypassing A+ to finish his first season as a pro. The next season, in 2012 the organization started him in AAA without much statistic success, but quickly promoted him to the bigs where he held his own despite his underwhelming performance at AAA.

    Miguel Sano started his pro career one year before Harper in 2010 at the lowest level the Twins have stateside (GCL), despite his reputation as a true baller. He tore up the GCL as a 17-year old, then went bonkers at Elizabethton in 2011 with a .637 SLG%. So, while Harper was struggling through his promotion to AA, Sano was destroying short-season Rookie league.

    In 2012 Sano played an entire year in low-A ball and absolutely destroyed pitchers' ERA's often. He drove in 100 runs and squared-up 28 homers. His batting average does not matter after hearing the HR and RBI numbers. He was again unimpressive on defense, but showed the tools to be effective eventually. While Sano was bashing around in the Midwest League, Harper was playing for the NL All-Star squad.

    While Harper was hitting .243 in AAA in 2012, I would imagine that Harper's AAA coaches were saying things like, "I don't care what his stats are, this guy is a PLAYER!" "This guy is on another level." "This guy is ready to produce." Harper was most likely lining balls all over the place, diving and catching, throwing out sleepers, and hustling his tail off.

    Now I am not saying that Sano is as good as Bryce Harper, or that he plays as hard as Harper, etc. But I am categorizing Sano as an elite-blue-chipper that is expected to produce at an accelerated rate immediately. Not play his 3rd pro season in its entirety at low-A ball......!

    Can we please allow someone that produces at the rate of Sano or Rosario the opportunity to start their Major League professional career at an extremely young age? After all, this is a young man's game, and its not too late to let Sano move quickly in 2013 (meaning multiple level advancement!). Harper was able to contribute to his team winning the NL East, while Sano could only muster a Midwest League play-off run.

    To me, MLB experience at a very young age will only help the player develop in the long run. Certain players are special and should be started at a level that reflects their advanced skills. Not coddled at the lower levels for years while they put up dominating, productive numbers that could be helping a higher level succeed. And ultimately, special players should be rushed to Minnesota in a hurried fashion, if you wanna follow the Nationals way of dealing with Harper.

    Just to be clear: the Nationals allowed Bryce to use his talents for about 1.2 seasons in the minor leagues before succumbing to the fan base and bringing him up to the Show. Miguel Sano appears to be on the 6-year-plan. Well hey, at least he will hit a ton of minor league homers! And make people happy if he's the beer batter!
    This article was originally published in blog: Let it Sano, Let it Sano, Let it Sano! started by mnfanforlife
    Comments 79 Comments
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      So, is this just a community filled with teachers?

      The risk with pushing gifted "students" like Sano is that you can burn them out. You want to keep them challenged, but you still need to nurture their developmental and social needs. Sano likely does need more of a cultural adjustment than Harper, and that plays a role in his development.

      We can't create gaps in his learning
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mnfanforlife View Post
      We will never know what type of impact Sano could have created in the Majors as a 19 yr-old like Harper or other uber-prospects. But, it definitely generates some conversation. And I would rather side with those that think pushing a top-prospect up quickly is in everyone's best interest, than side with those that want to save on MLB service time and all that yuck yuck. As a teacher, you push kids into their "zone of proximal development." And Sano has not been challenged or in his "zone" by any means. He has been a jewel in a league full of rocks the last two years.
      Nice zone of proximal development self. I agree 100 % with the argument. No reason to rush him when his defense needs so much work and he still strikes out at a very high rate.

      Just to throw some more teaching jargon out there for you...bringing Sano up at a slow pace may be the "least restrictive environment," but also may trigger a "looking glass self" as he performs to level he is at. If he were to be put into a situation where he is facing better compition, who is to say he doesn't step up the the plate (baseball cliche)?
      Exactly! i just wish we could have seen him struggle at a higher level last year (and the year before for that matter). He is known as a stud back home (#1 overall pick in the Dominican Winter League draft), so maybe he does figure things out quicker if he gets challenged early as a 18-19-yr-old
    1. peterukavina's Avatar
      peterukavina -
      I think you need to look at the years of control and his contribution during those years. If he's not going to help the club that much, why start his eligibility?
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by peterukavina View Post
      I think you need to look at the years of control and his contribution during those years. If he's not going to help the club that much, why start his eligibility?
      This is a huge factor for me too. I don't like the Twins being cheap, but if you bring Sano up for a couple years and he is brutal, you waste two years of his service time and two years of his development.

      I would feel a lot differently if Sano was 21, played third well and the Twins were a borderline playoff team.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by peterukavina View Post
      I think you need to look at the years of control and his contribution during those years. If he's not going to help the club that much, why start his eligibility?
      This is a huge factor for me too. I don't like the Twins being cheap, but if you bring Sano up for a couple years and he is brutal, you waste two years of his service time and two years of his development.

      I would feel a lot differently if Sano was 21, played third well and the Twins were a borderline playoff team.
      I complete agree he isnt going to fly through the minors like Harper did. But I was hopin to see him move multiple low-levels per year to speed things up a bit. The Twins haven't seemed to let anyone skip AAA lately. Which means Sano could be looking at 3 more years in the minors before he gets a full season in the majors.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      [/QUOTE]The Twins haven't seemed to let anyone skip AAA lately. Which means Sano could be looking at 3 more years in the minors before he gets a full season in the majors.[/QUOTE]

      Both Benson and Parmelee skipped AAA in Sept of 2011. It was a good call up for both, however both went different directions in 2012.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Most of my points have already been made. 1) He's defensively pretty bad and needs seasoning. 2) He strikes out too much and needs to work on hitting certain pitches. 3) If we start his service clock when both he and the Twins are going to do nothing but suck, we're wasting time that's under team control.

      One thing that bugs me is this constantly repeated idea that the Twins don't promote their minor league players fast enough. Usually the evidence is one of two things: a comparison to a non-comparable player (as here), or treating unrepresentative players as typical of the system. Every player is different. I think many people here would be surprised at how alike minor league systems and promotions are.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      I agree with 70charger on his last comment.

      People often express a degree of suspicion, conspiracy, and intrigue toward the Twins management.

      I ask, what management group in their right mind would fail to move players up when they are ready? Or, if the team has a need fir their talents? The careers of decision makers jobs depend upon making correct decisions.

      Teams would be cutting their own throats if they made decisions other than when they think players are truly ready. After all, they play in a highly competitive environment where they can ill afford to make decisions based on factors other than performance.
    1. SpantheMan's Avatar
      SpantheMan -
      If you promote prospects up to the upper minors, you increase the chance of them stalling out in AA. Sano is doing very well but he also has many things to work on. He's unrefined. He still strikes out a ton and plays raw defense
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Consider this - according to BA, Sano was the 6th youngest guy in the Midwest league: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/...season-league/

      Hard to say he's being held back.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by jboshe4 View Post
      For what its worth I saw Sano in June for a couple games, and if I remember right it was before he had hit any of his big slumps. Anyway, he didn't look at all like a guy that would've been able to handle any sort of advanced pitching at that point. He was very Pedro Cerrano-esque, straight ball hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I don't think he even made contact with and breaking pitch, and took several for strikes.

      I think his numbers were probably more a product of a guy who can absolutely punish mistakes, which are plentiful in Low-A. That said he seemed to have decent approach in that he knew he could wait to try and get in a good count and then hit straight ball. However, that approach will not play so well at higher levels.

      Not to be entirely negative, I still think he has tons of potential and love that he's in our system and am very excited about him. But from my view, he didn't really look like a guy that should be on an highly accelerated timeline, especially with the lack of defensive value.
      I love this post.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      I have been arguing this point for two years now. THe Twins approach to their minor league system is too conservative. A few years ago, when the team was at least a contender for the playoffs it was probably the best approach. But now, as a rebuilding team, it isn't.

      Aaron Hicks NEEDS to be the starting OF for the Twins next year. No partial season in AAA. Major league. Same with Gibson in the rotation. Sano and Rosario need to be looked at too during the course of the season. I think the Twins need to keep Joe Benson as a backup OF and see if he can do anything. If the management cannot tell if they are keepers and can be developed they are not doing their jobs and need to be fired. This is our reality going forward.

      So, why the hell not? After consecutive 95+ loss seasons they have nothing really to lose. To not do this means that they simply cannot or will not develop young players at the major league level. Listen, this worked in 1982. After a couple of rough years, it paid off. Hrbek(21 years old), Gaetti (22 years old), Puckett(23 years old), Viola(22 years old), Bush, Gagne, and Launder were all players "rushed" from the minors.

      Puckett played a short season rookie year, a full season of A+, 21 games at AAA and then to the majors. Viola started in AA, pitched 8 games in AAA the next year before he was called up to the majors. Hrbek played a short rookie year, A-, and A+ when he was called up to the majors. Gaetti short rookie, full A, almost a full year in AA and then late season call up. But, they got to the majors really young, worked out their problems at the major league level, LOST lots of games and but in the end, it all turned out alright.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      I left off Brunansky too, mainly because he was a minor league product of the Angels system. His career path was a 17 year old Rookie ball player, A+ as an 18 year old, AA as a 19 with a late season 9 game stint in AAA. AAA as a 20 year old with call up to major leagues. Traded to Minnesota as a 21 year old, 25 games in AAA and 127 games as a major leaguer.

      Or Tim Tuefel. He was a college 2nd round draft pick and started his short season in AA. At age of 22 full AA season, followed by a split AA/AAA year. As 24 year old he did AAA and was late call up to the Twins.

      Think about what their career projections would be following the Twins standard?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by peterukavina View Post
      I think you need to look at the years of control and his contribution during those years. If he's not going to help the club that much, why start his eligibility?
      This is a huge factor for me too. I don't like the Twins being cheap, but if you bring Sano up for a couple years and he is brutal, you waste two years of his service time and two years of his development.

      I would feel a lot differently if Sano was 21, played third well and the Twins were a borderline playoff team.
      This isn't about being cheap, it's about being smart. 95 loss teams are not being wise in promoting their top prospects well before they are ready so that they can burn service time struggling in ML. It's going to be a tough jump as it is, and bringing them on before the skillset is there is a good way to destroy a kid's confidence or burn valuable service time. Even the Yankees understand that concept. If you bring Sano up too soon, you have two possible results: 1) He struggles and never reaches that potential (example: Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez). 2) He gets good right when he gets expensive. The Twins are in a position where the second option isn't always a bad thing, but regardless, it's poor management from a long term organizational standpoint, and it's risky from a player development standpoint.

      Likewise, I fail to see how the Twins are being conservative. Sano is very young for his league. He didn't exactly dominate either, which makes me think they put him in the proper zone of proximal development, or whatever you want to call it. His defense is clearly lagging and other than power, his offense wasn't exactly top tier either. I'm not saying he's a bad prospect, but he was challenged quite well based on where his skills are now. Putting him in Fort Myers or New Brittian for 2012 makes that challenge even tougher. People who say push push push seem to forget that the skill level between the minor league levels is much more difficult. Not much is going to be accomplished when you put a guy who needs to hone his contact tools against people who are much better at avoiding contact, and we can find story after story about guys who got pushed too fast and never made it. It isn't about being conservative or liberal with your prospects. It's about being smart. Sano has shown nothing to indicate that the Twins are being too conservative with him.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      I left off Brunansky too, mainly because he was a minor league product of the Angels system. His career path was a 17 year old Rookie ball player, A+ as an 18 year old, AA as a 19 with a late season 9 game stint in AAA. AAA as a 20 year old with call up to major leagues. Traded to Minnesota as a 21 year old, 25 games in AAA and 127 games as a major leaguer.

      Or Tim Tuefel. He was a college 2nd round draft pick and started his short season in AA. At age of 22 full AA season, followed by a split AA/AAA year. As 24 year old he did AAA and was late call up to the Twins.

      Think about what their career projections would be following the Twins standard?

      I absolutely agree that the Twins have been too conservative lately with their top prospects. As I stated in the comments above, i would have loved to see Sano/Rosario skip ELZ altogether and have a shot to play AA by 20/21 yrs old. But its looking like a full season at A+ next summer for both. Also stated earlier was that if top prospects are pushed to AA or AAA they will get a whole lot better faster than if they light up Rookie ball twice, then spend an entire summer at low-A, then another at A+, and so on....But we wont know if Sano/Rosario would have been capable of that advanced schedule, because they were coddled as teenagers, in my opinion.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpantheMan View Post
      If you promote prospects up to the upper minors, you increase the chance of them stalling out in AA. Sano is doing very well but he also has many things to work on. He's unrefined. He still strikes out a ton and plays raw defense
      I agree he is not yet ready for big-time production at AA or AAA or MLB. But I would have liked to see him struggle at an advanced level rather than spend his first 3 years kicking the crap out of leagues where he is probably the best overall player (in the league). Who knows, he may have hit .238 in A+ last year with 21 HR's and 80 RBI....I would push those offensive numbers up to AA in 2013 regardless of strikeouts and inconsistent defense (which is said to be improving fast (could it have improved faster if he were pushed to higher levels earlier?)). We just will never know with Sano, since he wasn't given the opportunity​ to struggle (yet).
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by peterukavina View Post
      I think you need to look at the years of control and his contribution during those years. If he's not going to help the club that much, why start his eligibility?
      This is a huge factor for me too. I don't like the Twins being cheap, but if you bring Sano up for a couple years and he is brutal, you waste two years of his service time and two years of his development.

      I would feel a lot differently if Sano was 21, played third well and the Twins were a borderline playoff team.
      This isn't about being cheap, it's about being smart. 95 loss teams are not being wise in promoting their top prospects well before they are ready so that they can burn service time struggling in ML. It's going to be a tough jump as it is, and bringing them on before the skillset is there is a good way to destroy a kid's confidence or burn valuable service time. Even the Yankees understand that concept. If you bring Sano up too soon, you have two possible results: 1) He struggles and never reaches that potential (example: Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez). 2) He gets good right when he gets expensive. The Twins are in a position where the second option isn't always a bad thing, but regardless, it's poor management from a long term organizational standpoint, and it's risky from a player development standpoint.

      Likewise, I fail to see how the Twins are being conservative. Sano is very young for his league. He didn't exactly dominate either, which makes me think they put him in the proper zone of proximal development, or whatever you want to call it. His defense is clearly lagging and other than power, his offense wasn't exactly top tier either. I'm not saying he's a bad prospect, but he was challenged quite well based on where his skills are now. Putting him in Fort Myers or New Brittian for 2012 makes that challenge even tougher. People who say push push push seem to forget that the skill level between the minor league levels is much more difficult. Not much is going to be accomplished when you put a guy who needs to hone his contact tools against people who are much better at avoiding contact, and we can find story after story about guys who got pushed too fast and never made it. It isn't about being conservative or liberal with your prospects. It's about being smart. Sano has shown nothing to indicate that the Twins are being too conservative with him.

      I completely agree that Sano is not ready for MLB playing time now or was last year in 2012. Not even close. But I would have loved to see him get a shot at moving from Beloit to Ft. Myers to end last season, at the very minimum. His batting average was not dominant, but his total offensive production was. He won the HR & RBI crowns with ease, even though he was 19 playing in a 22-yr-olds league. And like I mentioned earlier, who's to say that Sano could not have handled Beloit in 2011 rather than a second year of short-season Rookie ball. Its all conjecture, but we could have had a more polished/valuable product sooner if he were challenged even more than he already has been.
    1. markominne's Avatar
      markominne -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      I have been arguing this point for two years now. THe Twins approach to their minor league system is too conservative. A few years ago, when the team was at least a contender for the playoffs it was probably the best approach. But now, as a rebuilding team, it isn't.

      Aaron Hicks NEEDS to be the starting OF for the Twins next year. No partial season in AAA. Major league. Same with Gibson in the rotation. Sano and Rosario need to be looked at too during the course of the season. I think the Twins need to keep Joe Benson as a backup OF and see if he can do anything. If the management cannot tell if they are keepers and can be developed they are not doing their jobs and need to be fired. This is our reality going forward.

      So, why the hell not? After consecutive 95+ loss seasons they have nothing really to lose. To not do this means that they simply cannot or will not develop young players at the major league level. Listen, this worked in 1982. After a couple of rough years, it paid off. Hrbek(21 years old), Gaetti (22 years old), Puckett(23 years old), Viola(22 years old), Bush, Gagne, and Launder were all players "rushed" from the minors.

      Puckett played a short season rookie year, a full season of A+, 21 games at AAA and then to the majors. Viola started in AA, pitched 8 games in AAA the next year before he was called up to the majors. Hrbek played a short rookie year, A-, and A+ when he was called up to the majors. Gaetti short rookie, full A, almost a full year in AA and then late season call up. But, they got to the majors really young, worked out their problems at the major league level, LOST lots of games and but in the end, it all turned out alright.
      For those of us pushing for moving prospects into the major leagues faster, I will point out that the 1982 Twins lost 102 games. Plus, when they are losing with these guys, I already can hear the complaining about the "cheap Pohlads" for playing minimum-salary player who should be in the minor leagues. One other thought: While the '82 team was the foundation of tehe '87 world champions, let's not glamorize the 1987 Twins, or lose sight of the fact that they were a severely flawed team with only 2 effective starting pitchers. They caught lightening in a bottle by being in the right division (they won the division with 85 wins), and getting hot at the right time. They took a chance with that core group, and got lucky in '87.

      I agree that players who are ready can and should move through the minors quickly. But that is clearly not the case with Sano; 90 errors in the 3 years would make him a 20-year-old DH who struggles to hit breaking pitches.Similarly, someone suggested putting Joe Benson on the 25-man in 2013 "to see what he can do": In 2012 he was demoted early for terrible production, then was injured for most of the remainder of the season. If you recall, he and Parmalee were recalled in 2011, and while Parmalee excelled, Benson looked like a guy snatched out of AA-ball without the tools to play in the major leagues.

      Personally, I'll side with Ryan and see if he can pull together a competitive club in 2013 by adding pitching, and give most of these guys at least another year in the minors. Sano is NOT Bryce Harper, and rushing him, Rosaria, Arcia, Benson, et al, onto the major leagues is going to hurt the team in the near term, with no evidence it would help them longer-term.
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      I have so many things swimming in my head regarding all of the comments; many well thought out arguments. I was actually arguing with a colleague about Sano yesterday.

      I don't see the Twins accelerating his promotion for two reasons:
      1) I agree that he probably needs to work on pitch recognition/hitting breaking pitches as evidenced from his K levels.
      2) Primarily because the Twins are holding out that he can play 3B. He clearly is not ready to play 3B anywhere near the level needed in the majors.

      Harper flew through the minors because the decision was made to not keep him at a tougher defensive position. Remember he was originally a catcher. Boras wanted his path to the majors as short as possible.

      The Twins, in my opinion, are doing the right thing. Sano is much more valuable at 3B than he is at 1B, RF or especially DH. It's the same reason you keep Mauer at catcher as long as possible. As a 1B, Mauer's comparable is something akin to Mark Grace. As a C he's a future HOF. Keeping Sano at 3B will require extra time in the minors, but I think they need to decide this year if he indeed can stay at 3B.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      I'm pretty sure a ton of Sano's strikeouts came during his awful month plus long slump. When he finally recovered in the last third of the season he struck out a lot less. I'm hoping he can develop more consistency throughout the season, everyone has slumps, but month long slumps are brutal and as Sano develops, I have confidence he will limit his strike outs. He's never going to be Joe Mauer, but I don't think he's Adam Dunn yet. All the scouts I've heard who have seen him, Kevin Goldstein, Keith Law, etc. were all surprised that his approach at the plate was surprisingly patient. They said he occasionally still swung at outside pitches, but he had vastly improved from the last time they had seen him. I'm really interested to see how he plays next year because the Florida State League is where hitters really start to face good breaking balls from usually more developed pitchers. I could easily see Sano starting out slow before figuring it out. I think next season will be where we really see what we've got with Sano.
      He's still 19, he may never be a good 3rd basemen but he has plenty of time to learn the position before we have to really worry about moving him to the outfield.
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