• 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. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I went to Appleton, WI for a couple games last year in June. Obviously Sano was my main point of focus. The 1st thing I noticed was that he was seeing about 70% breaking balls(no joke). The problem was, he wasn't giving pitchers a reason to throw him anything else. He had a couple AB's where he looked foolish hacking away a pitches in the dirt. His defense looked fine when I was there. He did miss a hot shot that short hopped him and it was ruled a hit.

      The 2nd game I saw was pretty good for him. He hit a solid line drive single in his 1st AB. Struck out his 2nd AB. His 3rd AB was with the bases loaded and 2 outs. This was the one AB where he actually looked like a real professional. He quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole. He took a high fastball. The 1-2 pitch was an ankle high breaking ball. Sano flinched at it but laid off. He then fouled off a high fastball. Finally the pitcher made the mistake Sano was looking for, a belt high hanger that was launched about 430 ft for a grand slam.

      I'm actually glad to know that Sano has been seeing so many breaking balls, it can only help him get better at recognizing these pitches and laying off the bad ones. Next year the pitchers will only get better and the FSL is a pitchers league. I still expect Sano to hit for good power though.
    1. jtrinaldi's Avatar
      jtrinaldi -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      I went to Appleton, WI for a couple games last year in June. Obviously Sano was my main point of focus. The 1st thing I noticed was that he was seeing about 70% breaking balls(no joke). The problem was, he wasn't giving pitchers a reason to throw him anything else. He had a couple AB's where he looked foolish hacking away a pitches in the dirt. His defense looked fine when I was there. He did miss a hot shot that short hopped him and it was ruled a hit.

      The 2nd game I saw was pretty good for him. He hit a solid line drive single in his 1st AB. Struck out his 2nd AB. His 3rd AB was with the bases loaded and 2 outs. This was the one AB where he actually looked like a real professional. He quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole. He took a high fastball. The 1-2 pitch was an ankle high breaking ball. Sano flinched at it but laid off. He then fouled off a high fastball. Finally the pitcher made the mistake Sano was looking for, a belt high hanger that was launched about 430 ft for a grand slam.

      I'm actually glad to know that Sano has been seeing so many breaking balls, it can only help him get better at recognizing these pitches and laying off the bad ones. Next year the pitchers will only get better and the FSL is a pitchers league. I still expect Sano to hit for good power though.
      Were you at the game when he hit the Grand Slam?
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      I went to Appleton, WI for a couple games last year in June. Obviously Sano was my main point of focus. The 1st thing I noticed was that he was seeing about 70% breaking balls(no joke). The problem was, he wasn't giving pitchers a reason to throw him anything else. He had a couple AB's where he looked foolish hacking away a pitches in the dirt. His defense looked fine when I was there. He did miss a hot shot that short hopped him and it was ruled a hit.

      The 2nd game I saw was pretty good for him. He hit a solid line drive single in his 1st AB. Struck out his 2nd AB. His 3rd AB was with the bases loaded and 2 outs. This was the one AB where he actually looked like a real professional. He quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole. He took a high fastball. The 1-2 pitch was an ankle high breaking ball. Sano flinched at it but laid off. He then fouled off a high fastball. Finally the pitcher made the mistake Sano was looking for, a belt high hanger that was launched about 430 ft for a grand slam.

      I'm actually glad to know that Sano has been seeing so many breaking balls, it can only help him get better at recognizing these pitches and laying off the bad ones. Next year the pitchers will only get better and the FSL is a pitchers league. I still expect Sano to hit for good power though.
      This is great stuff! No doubt Sano will strikeout a ton in the majors....but he will be productive like many of the high K/high power hitters making millions today
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by markominne View Post
      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.
      Who cares how many games the Twins lost in 1982. That is the point. When you are losing, rebuild. After two 95+ loss seasons what players have the Twins developed for the long run? Get the prospects, like Joe Benson, up to the major leagues and see what they can do. From the 1982 team there were several guys who made it and a few that did not, like Dave Engle, Lenny Faedo, and Brad Havens. Rebuilding is a two step process: develop the guys who are good and weed out and replace the guys who are not. By moving early on Lenny Faedo they got Greg Gagne up to replace him. If you move conservatively you will not get that information.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Lets look at another historical example, Chuck Knoblauch. Drafted in 1989 at the end of the first round he started played 50 games at A- and 20 at A+. In 1990 he was in AA. And in 1991 he was with the Twins.

      Following the Twins current conservative path, he would have played 1989 at Elizabethton and maybe the end of the year at Beloit. He would have started 1990 in Beloit, then maybe part of the season in Ft Myers. If he was really good they would have had him in New Britain in 1991 and maybe a shot at the end of the season with the MLB team. So, Knoblauch might have made the Twins at the end of the season he was ROY in. THis was mainly the path Mauer took (Rookie--->A---->A+/AA--->A+/AAA/MLB).
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Lets look at another historical example, Chuck Knoblauch. Drafted in 1989 at the end of the first round he started played 50 games at A- and 20 at A+. In 1990 he was in AA. And in 1991 he was with the Twins.

      Following the Twins current conservative path, he would have played 1989 at Elizabethton and maybe the end of the year at Beloit. He would have started 1990 in Beloit, then maybe part of the season in Ft Myers. If he was really good they would have had him in New Britain in 1991 and maybe a shot at the end of the season with the MLB team. So, Knoblauch might have made the Twins at the end of the season he was ROY in. THis was mainly the path Mauer took (Rookie--->A---->A+/AA--->A+/AAA/MLB).
      I don't think you realize what you just did there. You negated yourself in exactly the way that those who pay attention have already understood: "Knoblauch moved more quickly than the "modern era" Twins. Kinda like Joe Mauer." ...wait, what?

      Not to be a dick, but this whole premise is stupid because you fail to acknowledge the simple and obvious fact that every single player is different.

      And that's all there is to it.
    1. Steve J's Avatar
      Steve J -
      I don't think Sano and Delmon are comparable. Delmon's minor league OBP was driven largely by a batting average, Sano's by a high walk rate.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Lets look at another historical example, Chuck Knoblauch. Drafted in 1989 at the end of the first round he started played 50 games at A- and 20 at A+. In 1990 he was in AA. And in 1991 he was with the Twins.

      Following the Twins current conservative path, he would have played 1989 at Elizabethton and maybe the end of the year at Beloit. He would have started 1990 in Beloit, then maybe part of the season in Ft Myers. If he was really good they would have had him in New Britain in 1991 and maybe a shot at the end of the season with the MLB team. So, Knoblauch might have made the Twins at the end of the season he was ROY in. THis was mainly the path Mauer took (Rookie--->A---->A+/AA--->A+/AAA/MLB).
      I don't think you realize what you just did there. You negated yourself in exactly the way that those who pay attention have already understood: "Knoblauch moved more quickly than the "modern era" Twins. Kinda like Joe Mauer." ...wait, what?

      Not to be a dick, but this whole premise is stupid because you fail to acknowledge the simple and obvious fact that every single player is different.

      And that's all there is to it.
      This whole premise is a very inelligent, well-thought-out philosphy of teaching baseball to elite prospects at the higher levels faster than the current trend. Good example with Chuck, mlhouse. Maybe Sano isnt as good as Knoblauch was at the same age? Sano certainly wasnt as good as Harper at the same age. But he is an elite prospect, hence the #1 ratings by most lists.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve J View Post
      I don't think Sano and Delmon are comparable. Delmon's minor league OBP was driven largely by a batting average, Sano's by a high walk rate.
      True, Delmon and Sano are as different as can be. But they are similar in that they were signed as teenagers. But, Delmon, being from the U.S.(?), was able to play at higher levels immediately. Whereas Sano is not getting that opportunity (for whatever reason). I can see that Sano strikes out a ton and had a ton of errors and whatever. But so did Plouffe. So did Valencia. So did Bautista. Lets just stop right there with listing Twins 3rd baseman that were crap defensively and couldn't make consistent contact.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      We will know a lot more if Arcia repeats AA.....
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnfanforlife View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Lets look at another historical example, Chuck Knoblauch. Drafted in 1989 at the end of the first round he started played 50 games at A- and 20 at A+. In 1990 he was in AA. And in 1991 he was with the Twins.

      Following the Twins current conservative path, he would have played 1989 at Elizabethton and maybe the end of the year at Beloit. He would have started 1990 in Beloit, then maybe part of the season in Ft Myers. If he was really good they would have had him in New Britain in 1991 and maybe a shot at the end of the season with the MLB team. So, Knoblauch might have made the Twins at the end of the season he was ROY in. THis was mainly the path Mauer took (Rookie--->A---->A+/AA--->A+/AAA/MLB).
      I don't think you realize what you just did there. You negated yourself in exactly the way that those who pay attention have already understood: "Knoblauch moved more quickly than the "modern era" Twins. Kinda like Joe Mauer." ...wait, what?

      Not to be a dick, but this whole premise is stupid because you fail to acknowledge the simple and obvious fact that every single player is different.

      And that's all there is to it.
      This whole premise is a very inelligent, well-thought-out philosphy of teaching baseball to elite prospects at the higher levels faster than the current trend. Good example with Chuck, mlhouse. Maybe Sano isnt as good as Knoblauch was at the same age? Sano certainly wasnt as good as Harper at the same age. But he is an elite prospect, hence the #1 ratings by most lists.
      Just a reminder... Knoblauch was a 1st round pick from a big-time college program. The Twins started him at Hi-A, and he played great and moved up to AA quickly...

      Levi Michael was a 1st round pick from a big-time college program. The Twins started him at Hi-A... don't you think that if he would have played well, the Twins would have moved him up??
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Good point Seth. The Michael expample is a good sign that the Twins would start a guy on an accelerated path if they deem the prospect worthy. Levi has either proven unworthy, or that the Florida State league deflates offensive numbers.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      The problem I have with how they have dealt with Sano/Rosario, is that they were both wayyy too good for a full year in Elizabethton. In my opinion, they both could have skipped (or spent half a season in) ELZ and been getting a taste of full-season schedule in Beloit in 2011. That wouldhave allowed them to break in to an advanced league at A+ towards the end of last year. If they succeeded in A+ last year we could be talking about starting in A+ and putting pressure on the MLB club to vacate 2B and 3B (making way for Rosario/Sano) to start 2014.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      I can't wait to see what he can do in A+!
    1. markominne's Avatar
      markominne -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by markominne View Post
      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.
      Who cares how many games the Twins lost in 1982. That is the point. When you are losing, rebuild. After two 95+ loss seasons what players have the Twins developed for the long run? Get the prospects, like Joe Benson, up to the major leagues and see what they can do. From the 1982 team there were several guys who made it and a few that did not, like Dave Engle, Lenny Faedo, and Brad Havens. Rebuilding is a two step process: develop the guys who are good and weed out and replace the guys who are not. By moving early on Lenny Faedo they got Greg Gagne up to replace him. If you move conservatively you will not get that information.
      My point is simply that the 1982 rebuild job you're glorifying resulted in a world series championship 5 years later, by a team that was at least as lucky as good. Say what you will, but rushing that great crop of rookies from 1982 that you hold up as an example resulted in exactly 2 winning (and 1 .500) season in 9 years (1982-1990), by the end of which the team had been substantially rebuilt. I don't think you or most of us are going to continue attending games at Target Field for 5 years of losing baseball in the hopes that at the end of that period the Twins might cobble together an 85-win season that might or might not be enough to get them into even the expanded playoffs. In the meantime, many of us will be howling about how the "cheap" Pohlads are playing minor leaguers instead of retaining and buying established major leaguers. Like it or not, the business of baseball requires a competitive team on the field for a team to be viable.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I think it's silly complaining about Sano's promotions based on a few elite HS #1 overall picks that moved quickly and became stars. He was in full season ball as a teenager and he has some issues. I think the comments that he saw 70% breaking balls is an issue. He still struck out a lot and most pitchers in low A don't have a good breaking ball.

      I'm hoping he can take the Giancarlo (Michael) Stanton path and get a promotion to AA next season while being on the radar in 2014 for a promotion. Going that fast will probably mean that 3B is not an option though.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Good comparison of Sano to Stanton. Thats probably the best Ive heard yet. Big hitter, dunno what they r gonna b on D
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      I think it's silly complaining about Sano's promotions based on a few elite HS #1 overall picks that moved quickly and became stars. He was in full season ball as a teenager and he has some issues. I think the comments that he saw 70% breaking balls is an issue. He still struck out a lot and most pitchers in low A don't have a good breaking ball.

      I'm hoping he can take the Giancarlo (Michael) Stanton path and get a promotion to AA next season while being on the radar in 2014 for a promotion. Going that fast will probably mean that 3B is not an option though.
      Ouch! That's a painful reminder to me--Stanton the OF the Twins should have drafted instead of Revere. I favor Sano beginning at Ft. Meyers and hopefully at mid-season earning a promotion to New Britain.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Ouch! That's a painful reminder to me--Stanton the OF the Twins should have drafted instead of Revere. I favor Sano beginning at Ft. Meyers and hopefully at mid-season earning a promotion to New Britain.
      I hope this isn't a hindsight post.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      Justin Upton, BJ Upton, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr - All of these guys are American-born players that were OUTFIELDERS. Their advantage was not in just understanding the culture, which is a major hurdle, but they are playing defensive positions that allows them to use there athleticism to its fullest. When Miguel Cabrera first came up with the Marlins, he was playing left field. Centerfield is a very important defensive position, but when you have the natural ability to run the way all of these guys I listed, it can cover up some of the technical flaws in their defense.

      With Sano, clearly the Twins management thinks he can be a corner infielder. He isn't allowed to just shag fly balls and make sure he is hitting the cutoff man, he is having to work hard on his defense. The time and practice this takes is mentally taxing enough, but add to it the offensive expectations and cultural adjustments.

      Sano was 16 when he came to the Twins. Most of us would have been playing our SOPHOMORE seasons of high school ball. Byron Buxton was just drafted and as an 18 year old (only one year younger than Sano), fans and experts alike expect him to spend probably 4 years in the minors before getting a sniff at MLB. The Sano debate is only a debate, because it seems like he has been in our system for awhile. His age is huge to consider. He has tremendous power as we know, but the SKILLS in his game need a lot more than just some tweaking. If Buxton has at least four years to go, can't we wait three more for Sano?

      Lastly, if our favorite team was competitive and in the midst of a mid-2000's type of run, would we as fans be pushing for some of our top prospects to be pushed so hard or would we be patient and just wait for them so we could reload instead of rebuild? Elite prospects should be treated correctly and pushed on the timeline that is right for them and REGARDLESS of how the parent club is doing.
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