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  • The Miguel Sano Quandary

    If I told you that there was a Twins prospect at AA New Britain batting .243, you probably wouldn't blink an eye. If I told you he had some pop in his bat, and a good arm from the left side of the infield, maybe you'd express mild interest. But if I told you that the prospect was Miguel Sano, and that he had a combined 26 HRs and 80 RBIs in early August, playing in two pitchers leagues, you'd probably be interested.

    Anyone who is reading this piece likely knows what Miguel Sano might -- or could -- mean to this franchise: without exaggeration, he probably is the best power-hitting Twins prospect in the past 30 years.

    If you can't tell, Miguel Sano is a kid

    He just turned 20, and he's holding his own at AA, which is generally considered the largest jump a hitter will make before reaching the major leagues.

    The purpose here isn't so much to cast opinion (to be sure, I have one, but I'm trying not to let it play out), but rather to to present arguments in favor of, and against, the idea of Sano finishing the season at Target Field as a member of the Twins. Without further ado, let's go through the pros and cons.

    ~~~Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar~~~

    Call Him Up!!!

    1. Sano is the best power hitting prospect the Twins have had in . . . well, forever. The Twins need power. Joshn Willingham and Justin Morneau are probably gone, and in any event they have been largely ineffective in 2013; Trevor Plouffe is sporadic. Right now, this club needs a middle-of-the-order bat that can do damage for the next several years. Anyone have a better in-house option than Sano?

    2. Yea, his AA batting average isn't great, but look at that OPS (.915). When he is getting on base and making contact, he's doing big, big damage. He has performed in the clutch this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle and the New Britain Rock Cats, and absolutely nothing suggests he won't continue that trend.

    3. Twins fans have been really screwed over these past few years. Sweet Lord: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jason Marquis, a billion injuries, shredded payroll. Come on, Pohlad Family and Terry Ryan, we really, really need a glimpse of the future, even if he's only 80% ready. You can't sell season tickets on mere All-Star promises. Or maybe you can, but good luck filling those seats for the 81 non-All-Star games next season.

    People, Let's Be Prudent

    1. There is no rush with any prospect in this organization. The Twins need to be taking a long look -- this is a team that needs to be set up to win in 2015-2018. Forget the last month of 2013. And look at his maturity issues. This is a guy that needs to be taught "the process," taught humility, and then brought up when he's ready.

    2. Miguel Sano is not dominating AA. Let's not talk about this as if he's tearing the cover off the ball. The guy has 42 strike-outs in 41 games. Yes, he can, and does, hit the ball out of the park, but there's much more to being a major league player than that. And how about his defense? It's undoubtedly improved, but there's work to be done.

    3. A jump to the big leagues from AA isn't always in the player's best interest. Look at Oswaldo Arcia: a great hitting AA prospect, called up before he was ready. And it messed with his head. Let's not do that with Sano. Let's make sure he's ready, even if that means finishing this season in AA, or even starting 2014 in AAA. Sano is a rare, rare commodity. And the Twins can't screw this up.

    In short, this is a great dilemma. Again, Miguel Sano is 20 years old. And tearing the cover off the ball. Yet, even the biggest Sano supporter should concede that he's far from a perfect prospect. For me, going into the second week of August, I'm almost 50/50 as to whether Sano should spend September with the Twins. I'd love to hear you comments -- and arguments both in support and against -- Sano spending the last month of this season in Minneapolis.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Miguel Sano Quandry started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 77 Comments
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I'd say this: if you think there is a chance you're going to have him be on the roster on Opening Day - any chance at all - then call him up and see what you see. I wish they had done that with Hicks.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Give him a Sept call up and start him at AAA next year until he's ready. I don't care if he learns humility so long as he hits bombs. Despite Arcia's struggles he's still arguably been the 2nd best hitter on the team so I have no problem with his early call up this year.
    1. CGNikolic's Avatar
      CGNikolic -
      I know he is a top prospect, but he is just a 20 year old kid hitting .243. While his OPS shows that he is not being over matched at AA, he really is not exactly "tearing the cover off the ball". Is it really worthwhile for the Twins to call him up this September to get him acclimated with being in the big leagues, which he may not be prepared for until 2015 (when he will only just be turning 22 years old by the way)? I say let him finish out the year in AA, then start him next year in AAA and unless he is playing horrible, he will debut by the time 2014 September call-ups come around, and possibly stay up for good. The Twins have already had problems with this player's attitude, would promoting him from AA to the big leagues and then proceeding to send him back down next spring just cause more issues?
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      He doesn't need to go on the 40 man roster this winter so there is absolutely no reason to call him up but AAA is in a pennant race right now while New Britain is not. the Questions should be should we let Sano go up to AAA to finish out their season and play in their playoffs assuming they make it or stay in AA?

      Check out my blog post on this from this morning in the blog section.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      The Twins are going to have to adjust to a different mindset. Arcia and Sano have their own agendas--they aren't going to be Mauer clones! Promoting Sano this season is simply enabling him. This season is in the toilet and "the new wave" won't save it. Invite Sano to Spring training (non-roster) and then assign him to Rochester. Force him to prove himself at AAA before promoting him--and at the very least hold him back to gain the extra year of control. Sano won't make the difference between making/not-making the playoffs in 2014.
    1. Mave's Avatar
      Mave -
      .361/.489/.778(!) for an OPS of... 1.267(!!!) in his last ten games. During this stretch, he has 9 Ks and 8 BB... I would take that for a prodigious power hitter, who generally tend to just strike out more, any day...not to mention a 20 year old with as much power potential as anyone in baseball.

      Perhaps we can overlook his first dozen games at AA, where inevitably he was going to struggle seeing as he did make one of the more difficult jumps a ball player can make (as mentioned above), and look at what he is doing recently.

      I'd say give the kid a shot come September. Where should we set the Over/Under for how quickly would Target Field sell out upon hearing the news that he was called up? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? 1 hour?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by CGNikolic View Post
      I know he is a top prospect, but he is just a 20 year old kid hitting .243. While his OPS shows that he is not being over matched at AA, he really is not exactly "tearing the cover off the ball". Is it really worthwhile for the Twins to call him up this September to get him acclimated with being in the big leagues, which he may not be prepared for until 2015 (when he will only just be turning 22 years old by the way)? I say let him finish out the year in AA, then start him next year in AAA and unless he is playing horrible, he will debut by the time 2014 September call-ups come around, and possibly stay up for good. The Twins have already had problems with this player's attitude, would promoting him from AA to the big leagues and then proceeding to send him back down next spring just cause more issues?
      Uhhh.... two days in a row, and two very young stars spent an unacceptably long time admiring their home run shots, and were summarily "rewarded" for their "transgression" an AB or two later with plunkings. I refer of course to Bryce Harper and J-Upton. These sorts of "attitude problems" have ways of getting themselves sorted out through the MLB system of justice. Considering what transpired in those 2 situations, I'm not too concerned with promoting Sano sooner rather than later.....Truth be told.... with Twins management confirming that Sano's defense is no longer an issue, Sano has little left to improve upon facing minor league pitchers.

      Do you still have doubts? Here's further evidence- although Sano's AA BA is abnormally low, there really is very little to be concerned about. For example- if Sano qualified among the Eastern League statistical leaders, his SLG of .559 would lead the League. His OPS of .914 would be 3rd in the League.

      Furthermore, Sano's BB% is better in the EL than in Class A+ (13.8% vs. 11.9%), while his K% is only !% worse in AA over A+. His Isolated Power rate is nearly identical (.321 vs .325).

      The one stat that stands out is mostly luck-related. His BABIP at New Britain is only .267, which is way, way below his normal minor league BABIP production number, which has been anywhere between .307 and .422 (it was .397 at Ft Myers this year). I think you'll find that once that BABIP inevitably normalizes (maybe not enough PAs left in this season), Sano's production will look pretty similar to previous seasons. Remember he has 11 HR in 168 PAs at New Britain, and 16 HRs in 243 PAs at Ft Myers, almost the identical rate of HR production per PA.

      Bottom line, Sano will be fine.....believe in Ryan when he says how much he thinks of Miguel as a human being- the club needs to turn the page and get an infusion of his type of youthful energization in turning this moribund franchise around. I appreciated Deduno's frustrated passion in the dugout last night. Let's get more of that, not less. Get him up here in September, and get him positioned for a fast track to full-time at 3B at some point early on in 2014.
    1. CGNikolic's Avatar
      CGNikolic -
      You have caught me not looking at the advanced statistics of Sano's production.. Well played Mauer. But I feel that the stats and your points prove that Sano is ready to move a level then, but preferably only to AAA. I'd like to see him join AAA soon actually and (as mentioned before in this thread I believe) help Rochester get a playoff berth and experience a playoff push all this fall, then start in Rochester next spring and move up to the big leagues at some point next year when the Twins feel his all around game is ready. I want to see him up here as soon as possible too don't get me wrong, I just don't want to experience another Hicks fiasco (who had also been doing pretty well at AA). And I'm not worried about his attitude, I'm saying that in regards to the Twins and how they seem to be dealing with it.. I think we'd all like to see more emotion and intensity and enthusiasm from this slower than molasses group of players.. But the main question is what do the Twins want? And how will they handle a personality such as Sano when they get a chance to witness it everyday?
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      The Omen.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      should we let Sano go up to AAA to finish out their season and play in their playoffs assuming they make it or stay in AA?
      .
      This. Get the kid away from Jeff Smith and the Mitchell Report cheat hitting coach and let him help Rochester win. Then invite him to ST as a non-roster invitee and see whether he will win a job.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      My reaction is mixed ... I'd love to see him just to have something of interest to watch in September. I also get the maturity issue and the 40-man issue (although given some of the dreck we have on there, I don't know if it matters that much).

      But I have one other reaction: I'm really hoping for a "changing of the guard" in the managerial position after the season. I have some niggling feeling that it might be better to wait on some of the "kids" until after that happens so they all just have a fresh start.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      As much as I would like to see him in sept I don't think it's a good idea, I don't see a whole lotta good that comes out of it. If he struggles then who knows, if he does well, then you have to start him next year in the majors and burn a year of team control. Keep him in AA the rest of the year, start him in AAA next year and call him up in June
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      He doesn't need to go on the 40 man roster this winter so there is absolutely no reason to call him up but AAA is in a pennant race right now while New Britain is not. the Questions should be should we let Sano go up to AAA to finish out their season and play in their playoffs assuming they make it or stay in AA?

      Check out my blog post on this from this morning in the blog section.
      Agreed. The secret third option seems most prudent. Ignore the average, as pointed out above it has been just fine since he put his opening two week jitters behind him. Taking two weeks to adjust to AA pitching is another reason not to bring him to the majors just yet. This NB team is the first unsuccessful team Sano and Rosario have played on, get them in the playoffs in Rochester and drill into their skulls that they are winners. I don't know that that attitude is prelevant with the big club.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      I'm dying for something of interest to watch with the Twins right now. I also think fan interest would spike a good bit if they moved him up. But I think I agree with those saying that starting his service time now probably doesn't make a lot of sense.

      Moving him to AAA does seem like a good proposition, though. Having him already getting time at AAA would make it pretty obvious he's probably playing with the big league team at some point next year, so maybe that's enough of a marketing boost to help sell a few season tickets. It would be a shame for Deibinson Romero who's having a pretty good season, but it's hard to see much hope for Romero having much of a place in the team's future.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Agree with Bonnes, if you think he might be on your roster next April, bring him up in September.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I'd say this: if you think there is a chance you're going to have him be on the roster on Opening Day - any chance at all - then call him up and see what you see. I wish they had done that with Hicks.

      Absolutely on both points.

      Last year they gave at bats to some guy who was never going to stick with the team,as a badge of service. They should have had Arcia/Hicks up at that point,and the other in September getting at bats.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ericchri View Post
      I'm dying for something of interest to watch with the Twins right now. I also think fan interest would spike a good bit if they moved him up. But I think I agree with those saying that starting his service time now probably doesn't make a lot of sense.

      Moving him to AAA does seem like a good proposition, though. Having him already getting time at AAA would make it pretty obvious he's probably playing with the big league team at some point next year, so maybe that's enough of a marketing boost to help sell a few season tickets. It would be a shame for Deibinson Romero who's having a pretty good season, but it's hard to see much hope for Romero having much of a place in the team's future.
      Absolutely on both points.

      Last year they gave at bats to some guy who was never going to stick with the team,as a badge of service. They should have had Arcia/Hicks up at that point,and the other in September getting at bats.
      If the Twins are sincere about rewarding performance with promotion (and I think they generally are), Sano's amazing season deserves a September call-up---- likely more than any recent Twins prospect.

      I concur that a short stint in the playoff run for Sano (and Rosario) with AAA Rochester would also be a win-win: for affiliate harmony.... as well as how own personal, as well as team and organizational, development. Service time issues would make little difference in a September call-up- If Rochester extends a playoff run into the second week of the month, Sano could perhaps get a 2 and a half-week cup of coffee with the Twins. A taste of the big time now would ideally get him charged up for next year and perhaps help in maturity-gains about carrying himself like a big-leaguer about his going into 2014, rather than it being an all-new experience. Ideally, a Wil Myers-type schedule for promotion occurs next year, with Sano banging down the door to starting Twins 3Bman, in May or June.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Oh, as for plunking hitters, that's worse than PEDs....you are trying to hurt someone else. The commissioner should be cracking down on that.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I'd say this: if you think there is a chance you're going to have him be on the roster on Opening Day - any chance at all - then call him up and see what you see. I wish they had done that with Hicks.
      I'm guessing that going into September of 2012, the Twins had no intentions of calling Hicks up in 2013 until June, at the earliest- thus no September call-up urgency. When the Phillies called about Revere, everything changed, and the Twins were caught in a chess game having not looked 2-3 moves ahead on possible optional roster approaches.

      I hope they learned that lesson well and call up all of the legitimate prospects in September, Pinto, Rosario, Sano......(Buxton? probably a bridge too far...).
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Oh, as for plunking hitters, that's worse than PEDs....you are trying to hurt someone else. The commissioner should be cracking down on that.
      Given that this type of enforcement of "unwritten rules" has been going on since the Reds were still called the Red Stockings, I doubt Selig will do much more policing on the issue than what's already in place.
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