• Is Sano Too Big to Stay at Third?

    We’ve reached that time of year, just before camps in Florida and Arizona officially get underway, where many publications release their annual top prospect lists. Since he was recently in town for TwinsFest and his name has appeared near the top of many of these lists, Miguel Sano has been buzzing in local baseball circles.

    La Velle E. Neal III recently remarked with some astonishment about Sano’s size when he saw him, noting that the 19-year-old (!) will be listed at 6’4” and 235-240 lbs this year. Naturally, this leads back to questions about the top prospect’s chances of sticking at third base, where men of that stature are somewhat uncommon.

    Don’t believe me? Take a look at the height and weight measurements for third basemen across the majors last season (numbers courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com):

    NYY: Alex Rodriguez 6'3" 225 lbs
    BAL: Wilson Betemit 6'2" 220 lbs
    TB: Evan Longoria 6'2" 210 lbs
    TOR: Brett Lawrie 6'0" 215 lbs
    BOS: Will Middlebrooks 6'4" 225 lbs

    DET: Miguel Cabrera 6'4" 240 lbs

    CWS: Kevin Youkilis 6'1" 220 lbs
    KC: Mike Moustakas 6'0" 215 lbs
    CLE: Jack Hannahan 6'2" 210 lbs
    MIN: Trevor Plouffe 6'2" 205 lbs

    OAK: Brandon Inge 5'11" 190 lbs
    TEX: Adrian Beltre 5'11" 220 lbs
    LAA: Alberto Callaspo 5'9" 200 lbs
    SEA: Kyle Seager 6'0" 195 lbs

    WAS: Ryan Zimmerman 6'3" 230 lbs
    ATL: Chipper Jones 6'4" 210 lbs
    PHI: Placido Polanco 5'10" 190 lbs
    NYM: David Wright 6'0" 210 lbs
    MIA: Hanley Ramirez 6'2" 230 lbs

    CIN: Scott Rolen 6'4" 245 lbs
    STL: David Freese 6'2" 220 lbs
    MIL: Aramis Ramirez 6'1" 205 lbs
    PIT: Pedro Alvarez 6'3" 235 lbs
    CHC: Luis Valbuena; 5'10" 195 lbs
    HOU: Chris Johnson 6'3" 220 lbs

    SF: Pablo Sandoval 5'11" 240 lbs
    LAD: Luis Cruz 6'2" 220 lbs
    ARI: Ryan Roberts 5'11" 185 lbs
    SD: Chase Headley 6'2" 200 lbs
    COL: Chris Nelson 5'11" 205 lbs

    As you can see, only two regulars at the hot corner – Miguel Cabrera and Scott Rolen – were in the same physical class as Sano, who as a teenager might not even be done growing yet. Cabrera was one of the worst defenders in the league at the position, although it bears noting that the aging Rolen was considered a stellar fielder in his prime, so his size wasn’t necessarily an inhibitor.

    Given that Sano is already bigger than almost any third baseman in the majors, at age 19, and has demonstrated shoddy glovework thus far in his pro career, the odds seem heavily stacked against him remaining at his current position, especially with an organization that values steady defense more than most. A switch to first base or an outfield corner wouldn’t preclude him from becoming a star caliber player, but it will ding his value to some degree.

    One way or another, this much is clear: Unlike Brian Dozier, Sano really is the next big thing. Literally.

    This article was originally published in blog: Is Sano Too Big to Stay at Third? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Some of those weight totals are low. Rodriguez is a monster. I find it hard to believe he's only 225; 240 seems more reasonable. And Cabrera is over 250 easily. Still if Sano continues to grow, he's destined for first base.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      My understanding is that Sano is pretty fast and has a good arm. Maybe he would be more valuable in right field than at first base?
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Right handed, strong arm, not a great fielder, but power bat. That sounds more like a right fielder, not a first baseman. Bigger Willingham.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Body fat might be a more indicative of a problem than the size itself. UZR/150 for Rolen was always pretty good until he turned 35 or so.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Some of those weight totals are low.
      I wouldn't doubt that. BR has Sano listed at 195 (ha!). Still, as you said, that doesn't change the fact that he's a huge kid.
    1. twinsfaninsaudi's Avatar
      twinsfaninsaudi -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Some of those weight totals are low. Rodriguez is a monster. I find it hard to believe he's only 225; 240 seems more reasonable. And Cabrera is over 250 easily. Still if Sano continues to grow, he's destined for first base.
      I gotta agree with that. How can it be that Sano and Cabrera weigh the same? Just look at them, Sano looks so much thinner and wiry compared to Cabrera. Is this a muscle weighs more than fat thing? Cabrera is a blubbery chunk vs. Sano the stalwart stallion?
    1. Cody Christie's Avatar
      Cody Christie -
      Sandoval is a pretty big boy over at third too.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Troy Glaus was very close in size, he was 6' 5" and a big guy that played 3rd for a long time. Leave him there until he proves that he must be moved.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I've said it before, and it's only from seeing him 6 games last year, but I would keep him there as long as they can. Keep working with him. Unlike Sandoval, Sano is a tremendous athlete. He's been working on his first-step quickness. He's got good hands and a strong arm. First base is easy. He could move over there one day and be alright there. Even if he can only stay there until he's 28, 29, that's very valuable.

      As others have said too though, it may not work if he gets too much bigger, but first base is always a fallback.

      When I was able to interview him at Twins Fest last weekend, through a translator, he did say he's been working very hard on his defense. that said, he also said that he expected the Dominican Winter League to be much more difficult. His thing is hitting. It'll always be hitting. Defense, well, they'll find a place, but if he works, I still say keep him there as long as you can.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      I agree with Seth, I've been impressed with the athleticism Sano can show at that size. He's not a plodder, and has far more bounce in his step than Cabrera. Could that change over time? Sure. But you keep him there as long as there's a chance.

      I like RF more as a fall back because of his arm, but Sano is a guy who's bat will play anywhere.
    1. SDFan's Avatar
      SDFan -
      I hate to even bring this up - but reading this article I just kept thinking to myself "Are we really sure he's only 19?" Would he be as big a prospect if he were 23?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      A lot of the players listed aren't really THAT much smaller.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Thinking well out into the future, there are some impressive outfield defenders coming up, and most appear likely to be able to hit. Seems to me it would make sense to put a first baseman's glove in a few of those lockers just to increase the ability to keep some guys in the lineup. I'm thinking guys like Kepler, Arcia, Goodrum, Benson, Walker, etc.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Thinking well out into the future, there are some impressive outfield defenders coming up, and most appear likely to be able to hit. Seems to me it would make sense to put a first baseman's glove in a few of those lockers just to increase the ability to keep some guys in the lineup. I'm thinking guys like Kepler, Arcia, Goodrum, Benson, Walker, etc.
      I know Kepler has played a lot of 1B, not necessarily in the minors with the Twins, but that's what he was playing in Germany. Of the other names you throw out, I'd say Walker might be the only one where that makes sense.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "Too big?" "Does or Doesn't" is the real real question with respect to Sano's play at 3B.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      He's going to stay at 3rd as long as possible. Period. It isn't as though there's some glaring hole in the OF that they can slot him into... Honestly, if he hits anywhere close to his potential, his defense can be below average and he'd still be a huge asset.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      He's going to stay at 3rd as long as possible. Period. It isn't as though there's some glaring hole in the OF that they can slot him into... Honestly, if he hits anywhere close to his potential, his defense can be below average and he'd still be a huge asset.
      I completely agree. If he can be average at 3B he becomes so much more valuable. But this kid is entering Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton territory. In all honesty, I don't know that I am that concerned about his defense. His bat is what makes this kid the #12 overall BA prospect. That quality needs to be the one that we are all concerned about.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      3b is fine, why even think about it.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I get frustrated whenever I see an article like this and people immediately think that the article says Sano has a zero chance at staying at 3B. This article is focused on the reality of whether or not he realistically will stick at 3B. I see a kid that is already as big as the biggest 3Bman in the league although a few weights are underreported. I expect him to grow and it's pretty likely that he's 6'5" and 270 by age 25. Realistically I think the odds are getting pretty low that he will stick at 3B regardless of how athletic he is or "how much he wants it" (quote from the other thread). I was at 50/50 earlier in the offseason but I think I'll put his odds at <25% that he sticks at 3B past age 25.

      What odds do you give him? Are you willing to slow his promotion to the majors by 1-2 yrs so his defense is simply bad at the MLB level? The Royals and Nats faced this issue with Myers and harper at catcher and both chose to move them to the OF. 2013 will definitely be spent at 3B to see how well his defensive tools (they are very good) translate to actual defense. The big decision will come next offseason. If he can stay at 3B if would be awesome for the Twins but Sano could be awesome at any position.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      I don't think you should move him solely because of his size. If he can provide league-average defense, he is far more valuable to our future at 3b. If/When Morneau leaves or is traded, Mauer/Doumit/Parmelee (maybe even Plouffe) should be able to hold down 1B for at least the next 5 years.

      Plus, if you work like hell on his defense at third, and the conditioning needed to play 3b every day, I think it will be better for his long term career (in terms of health and baseball IQ) than just shuffling him out to catch flyballs or standing on 1b waiting for balls to get thrown at him. You can always move him later.


      Don't forget, Gentleman Jim was exclusively a 3B for the first five years of his major league career, and I think we could do worse than Sano turning into the next Thome.
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