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  • TD Top Prospects: #2 Miguel Sano

    Miguel Sano would be the #1 prospect, arguably, in about 27 of the 30 major league organizations, at least according to Baseball America. In the Minnesota Twins organization, he ranks a solid #2. I bet you can guess who will be named the Twins Daily #1 Twins Prospect tomorrow. It’s been a long time since the Twins have had a prospect with the kind of power that Miguel Sano has. He also has a jovial personality and that combination means he has a chance to be a popular superstar.

    What’s to Like?


    A lot! First and foremost is the immense power of Miguel Sano.

    In 2012, in Beloit, Sano hit 30 home runs. Last year, he moved up to Ft. Myers where he hit 16 home runs in 56 games before adding another 19 homers in AA New Britain… as a 20 year old! Remember that the Midwest League and especially the Florida State League are considered fairly extreme pitcher-friendly leagues.

    What is his power potential? Sano is 6'-4" and weighed in at 250 pounds at his Twins Fest physical, and he may still be growing. As you recall from the interview with him at Twins Fest, when I asked him if his home run goal for 2014 was going to be 40 (after 30 and 35, respectively, in the past two seasons), he said, “Maybe 45, maybe 50. More games… Maybe 55. I’m working hard, getting good pitches. That’s it.”

    That is another thing to like about Miguel Sano. Yes, he will strike out, but his strike zone judgment has greatly improved. After walking just 6.2% of the time in the GCL and 7.8% at Elizabethton, Sano walked 14.5% of the time in Beloit. Last year, he walked about 12% of the time in Ft. Myers and then 13% in New Britain. The key has been his ability to lay off of those tough sliders down and away. With more experience, his ability to get his pitch should continue to improve.

    Another area of great improvement for Sano came on the defensive side of the game. 2012 was his first season when he was a full-time third baseman. He committed 42 errors and posted an 88.4% fielding percentage. Of course, I always like to point out that nearly 30 of those errors came in the first half of the season. In 2012, he committed a combined 23 errors at the hot corner and his fielding percentage jumped to 93.2% There is still work to be done, but reports say he greatly improved his range. He is able to play a little deeper because he has such a strong arm.

    He also has some of the intangibles for greatness. Sano has great confidence and he wants to be great, not just very good. He wants to lead the league in home runs and RBI. He can come across as brash at times. He has always had a lot of personality. Earlier in his career, some say he lacked maturity. Now, most say he is becoming more of a leader. He has a lot of fun both playing the game and in the clubhouse. His English has also come a long way over the last couple years.

    What’s not to like?


    As mentioned above, he still has work to do at third base. He will make great plays and then stumble on some more routine plays. Often that is more of a concentration thing. So, he needs to become more consistent.

    When Miguel Sano puts the ball in play, generally good things happen because he is so powerful. However, putting the ball in play is still a concern. Sano struck out in 26.7% of his GCL plate appearances, and then 26.3% at Elizabethton. In Beloit in 2012, he struck out 26.0%. In his 56 games with Ft. Myers a year ago, he struck out 25.1% of the time. However, when he moved up to New Britain, he struck out 29.3% of the time. For for a glimpse of what that means: in 2006, Brandon Wood struck out in 28.5% of his plate appearances at AA. So, although Sano has put up incredible power numbers, dismissing his strikeout rate might be a little naïve and premature.

    Remember that I put Sano’s confidence in the positive category? I believe a player need to be confident, bordering on arrogant, to become a truly great player. However, there is a certain line that shouldn’t be crossed, and that line is consciously showing up your opponent. Sano famously took his time rounding the bases last year in New Britain after a monster home run off former teammate Bobby Lanigan. Clearly Sano was in the wrong in that case, and Jeff Smith and the organization were right in benching him for a few games. Hopefully that is a lesson learned for the still just 20 year old Sano.

    The only other concern came early this offseason when, after playing in just two games in the Dominican Winter League, he was shut down due to a UCL strain. Immediately many were concerned about the possibility Sano would miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season if he needed Tommy John surgery. He not only saw Twins' doctors, but he also saw Dr. James Andrews, who prescribed a plan of rest and then beginning rehab in January. Sano is now on a throwing program and experiencing no pain in his elbow. It’s obviously something to be aware of, though there does not appear to be much concern.

    Looking Back


    Some of the readers at Twins Daily may be able to think back further than I, but in the last 25 years, power prospects have been few and far between in the Twins organization. I remember when Justin Morneau made his major league debut and received a standing ovation from Metrodome fans. I was watching at my home… standing up, and clapping. In 2002, he had 16 homers, 12 in the Midwest League (63 games) and four in 53 games in Ft. Myers. In 2003, he hit 22 minor league homers and four big league blasts. In 2004, he hit 22 homers in 72 games in Rochester and 19 home runs in 74 games with the Twins.

    Michael Cuddyer had 30 home runs in a full season at New Britain in 2001. In 2002, he played at AAA Edmonton and hit 20 home runs. That was good for 5th place on the team’s roster as Michael Ryan led with 31 and Michael Restovich had 29.

    I think it’s fair to say that when Miguel Sano arrives in the big leagues, he will arrive with more fanfare than any Twins player ever, with the possible exception of Joe Mauer. Sano signed with the Twins in October of 2009 under a cloud of controversy and intrigue. It’s been impressive that he has met and exceeded many of the expectations placed on him

    So… When will we see him?


    I expect Miguel Sano will return to New Britain to start the 2014 season. I also have my doubts he will spend any time in AAA Rochester.

    Assuming health, I would put the odds of Sano making his big league debut in 2014 at about 99.9% But when? There will be a couple factors that play into this. First, the strikeout rate and the defense will need to continue to improve. However, if Trevor Plouffe were to be placed on the disabled list for an extended period of time, I have little doubt the Twins would not hesitate to call up Sano, whether that be in May or June. Otherwise, the Twins could wait until June and gain a year of pre-arbitration time. They could have him play in the Futures Game at Target Field in July and then just stay with the big league club. Since he would have to be added to the 40 man roster after the 2014 season anyway, I believe he would, at the latest, be called up in September unless things went terribly wrong.

    Like TD Prospect #3 Alex Meyer, and like TD's #1 prospect whom you'll learn more about tomorrow, and like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and Johan Santana, Miguel Sano is a cornerstone player. He is a guy who has the potential to lead the Twins organization back to prominence.
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      This is just one example of an article talking about how the Twins tried to change him. From:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/po...me-david-ortiz

      (it does also go on to say how they wanted him to utilize his power-frame more, but this is why I say it's been demonstrated)

      "Ortiz spent nearly all of 1999 at Triple-A, hitting .315 with 30 home runs, before going 0-for-20 in September. He hit .282/.364/.446, playing in 130 games but platooned a lot. But there was a reason he hit only 10 home runs.

      The Sporting News, April 30, 2001:
      A year ago, the Twins tried to get DH David Ortiz to shorten his stroke and punch balls up the middle and to the opposite field."
      Sorry. Something from the Sporting News doesn't qualify as proof. Letting Ortiz go was one of the biggest mistakes the Twins ever made. Fine - we can all agree on that. The idea that the way he was coached in Minnesota was the problem and that, magically, the way he was coached in Boston made all the difference is just baloney. As a hitter, he figured it out - that's how it works sometimes. I think it is more clear that he started juicing than getting away from some horrible hitting approach. I think it is also telling that after the Twins let him go, he sat around for a while before signing with the Red Sox.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Who cares about Ortiz? This article is about Sano who is going to be awesome. I'm already planning to get his jersey the second he hits the bigs.
    1. jimv2's Avatar
      jimv2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Can we stop with the "Twins ruined David Ortiz power" business. He turned into a great hitter, partially because he could use the whole field in Fenway and because he started taking special vitamins and was hurt a lot less. He was an injury prone, inconsistent hitter with the Twins. That was on him, pure and simple. He needed somebody to blame it on and wasn't man enough to take the blame.
      Bingo.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      I think it is also telling that after the Twins let him go, he sat around for a while before signing with the Red Sox.
      Good point, he made $1.25M in his first year in Boston. I think he may have signed to a minor league deal initially.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Sorry. Something from the Sporting News doesn't qualify as proof. Letting Ortiz go was one of the biggest mistakes the Twins ever made. Fine - we can all agree on that. The idea that the way he was coached in Minnesota was the problem and that, magically, the way he was coached in Boston made all the difference is just baloney. As a hitter, he figured it out - that's how it works sometimes. I think it is more clear that he started juicing than getting away from some horrible hitting approach. I think it is also telling that after the Twins let him go, he sat around for a while before signing with the Red Sox.
      I said that is just one example. If I had time to do an exhaustive search, I guarantee I would fine numerous more. (another example just because: http://www.twincities.com/ci_2327658...rs-david-ortiz)

      And heck, sure he sat around waiting for a team to sign him. Luckily for him, that team was Boston. They let him be himself, which in turn resulted in him becoming their powerhouse DH. When he started with them he was platooned, until it was clear what he was doing for them was working. I think that says a lot about how their potential "coaching" helped him become that guy (Juice or no juice). It's not always a guy just "figures it out" by himself. Look at all the talk about the changes Brian Dozier made last year, for example. A lot of that credit is given to Brunansky for helping him make those changes. You're certain that is not the case with Ortiz? Find proof of that for me...

      But I digress. I'm definitely looking forward to Sano's MLB debut more than any other player ever. Such a different type of guy for the Twins, and that's going to make it that much more fun watching him!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      It's fun reminiscing about the David Ortiz situation, isn't it?

      Oh yeah... Miguel Sano...
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      ^^^Great point and rebuttal, Seth. Why bring up Ortiz when the thread is about Sano!
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      A different kind of question. You called Sano a cornerstone player. I agree, when he comes up he should be successful, and even if he just becomes a power hitting below average third basemen he looks to be a positive player for the Twins for the foreseeable future. My question is this: How long until Miguel Sano has a corner locker in the clubhouse?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that the 2 negatives mentioned are very overblown:

      In his age 20 season Sano had a 27.4% K% overall. In his age 20 season Harmon Killebrew had a 35.5% K%. I think that Killebrew turned out alright.

      About the HR incident:

      a. There was bad blood between Sano and the pitcher; from here, referring to a Reusse writeup:
      Sano was promoted from Class A Fort Myers to New Britain on June 9 and joined the lineup on June 12. Lanigan was released from New Britain on June 25. During that two-week period, Sano and Lanigan had a loud confrontation as the Rock Cats were on a road trip.

      b. Lanigan was one of Jeff Smith's favorites. Ask any player in the Twins' organization (in private) who has played for Jeff Smith about how much they like him and what he is all about. I am amazed that he is still with the organization.

      c. The Twins should not take the edge out of Sano. A bit of attitude infusion will do wonders for this team.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Thrylos, I assume you are referring to Killebrew's strikeout rate in the big leagues as a 20 year old, three seasons before he played consistently in the big leagues?

      There will be examples on both side of the strikeout thing. Wood is one example, and there are examples the other direction. I don't think I've overblown it by stating that it is a concern, and I think it can be a concern. It's just one piece of his game. It's not something I'm particularly worried about at this time, but it would be naive not to mention it.

      As for the incident, I can't believe there are people who think showing up an opponent, regardless of the back story, is ok. I'm good with showmanship, enthusiasm, excitement, but there has to be a line.

      And, I'm with you completely on the Jeff Smith thing. I was shocked when he got assigned to the AFL... I don't get it.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      I hope Sano is ready to begin the season at AAA, rock the first half of the season and be promoted mid season where he continues to produce and establish himself as a future star. But I also want Meyer to do the exact same thing. And I want Gibson to be 100% ready out of ST, make the rotation and never leave. And I want Buxton to do the same thing at AA, get promoted to AAA mid season, continue to shine, look great in September, and establish himself as a budding all star and permanent fixture in CF for the next dozen years starting in 2015.

      And all of these things could really happen. But...but...they might not. Especially in the cases of Buxton and Sano and how young they are, 20 and 21 early season. This is NO inditement as to their talent or potential. In fact, it's actually just the opposite! They are both SO talented that it makes what they have done already, and will yet do, all the more impressive considering their youth.

      They'll get here. It will be soon. We're all impatient for it. But Sano specifically in this case, would not be hurt by a brief return to AA to begin the year. While his AVG was down there and strikeouts a little high, so was his power, walks, OB and production. But I could see managers, coaches and scouts, (who watched him in person all season), determine that a month or so to get in a groove, beat up on people, conquer that AA level just a little bit more before moving up to AAA with even more confidence.

      This wouldn't in any way "set him back" or even slow him down. In fact, it might even speed up his development to gain momentum, keep it going, and shoot right to the Twins sometime second half.

      Now, he could just as easily ale in ST and prove he's immediately ready for Rochester and AAA competition. Simply stating no need to rush him, and no need to panic if the Twins are a little conservative the first month or so.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Re: Sano getting bigger. Should we start to worry about his weight? If he's 6' 4" and 250 lbs, then he's already got 10 pounds on Miguel Cabrera - who used to look like this, back in his 3B days for Florida:



      Not that either Cabrera or Sano are real fatsos.But, maybe those 20-25 pounds of paunch factor into the difference between a player that is able to stick at 3b and one who has to play 1B?

      Seems like every team has at least one guy - CC in NY, Sandoval in SF, Fielder in TX, Delmon in Bal, etc.

      All those guys, at their worst, were a lot heavier than Sano is now. Obviously they didn't get that way overnight. Would it be out of order to ask Sano to do something about his weight now?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Re: Sano getting bigger. Should we start to worry about his weight? If he's 6' 4" and 250 lbs, then he's already got 10 pounds on Miguel Cabrera - who used to look like this, back in his 3B days for Florida:
      ok. There are 250 lbs and there are 250 lbs. Here is what Sano looks like these days (from Twinsfest)




      And here is what Pablo Sandoval (a third baseman) used to look like at allegedly 240 lbs last season:



      (he is 5'11" - with 3 inch heels on)

      Here is what Miguel Cabrera (allegedly listed at 240 who is also 6'4") looked like last season:




      So. Are you really still wondering about Sano's weight?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      My question is about the trend. Every new report I read about Miguel Sano they all say the same thing - he's still getting bigger. Well, what's getting bigger? He's listed at 6' 4." is that 250 pounds all muscle? Obviously no. Not standing next to Byron Buxton its not.

      My thinking is, take the Sano from 2-3 years ago, when he looked like this:



      And draw a straight line through the 250 pound Sano of today, and there's a chance that in 4-5 years his body "grows" into something like this:



      Heh, just kidding (not really).

      Maybe Sano's physical development mirror's Cabrera's, who again, isn't obese or anything but, he like Sano, isn't exactly Adrian Beltre over there and maybe keeping 25 pounds of paunch off his frame is the difference between playing 3B and 1B. He would seem to need every edge he can get.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Maybe Sano's physical development mirror's Cabrera's, who again, isn't obese or anything but, he like Sano, isn't exactly Adrian Beltre over there and maybe keeping 25 pounds of paunch off his frame is the difference between playing 3B and 1B. He would seem to need every edge he can get.
      If those 25 lbs (of muscle) help him hit 50+ instead of 30 HRs, I'd take the less range at 3B
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Lets face it, theres a naturaly aging process for everyone, as a former marathon runner, I know!! Every year that they get out of him at third base is a bonus!! Sooner or later he will be at first base or DH or outfield.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by [IMG View Post
      http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/daily-pitch/2012/08/03/youngx-large.jpg[/IMG]

      .

      I think it comes down to his love for baseball and his drive to get better. By all accounts, Sano is a hard worker, both offensively and defensively who wants to be great. Delmon Young had all the talent in the world but to me he didn't like playing baseball, never worked on defense, or worked on his conditioning. I don't see the parrallel to Sano in that sense.
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It's fun reminiscing about the David Ortiz situation, isn't it?

      Oh yeah... Miguel Sano...
      Yeah why cry about Ortiz he was still unproven so a miss is understandable. NOW if you wanna cry I would cry about the Bartlet/Garza trade. I knew that was a bad move at the time and I don't know much about baseball.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I can't wait for him to be up here. Thank goodness they went outside their normal processes and signed him. A testament to the scouts and negotiators that they recognized his potential, and signed him.

      I don't see why they should keep him in AA. The pitchers in AAA are better, they are largely former MLB starters, or number 5 pitchers waiting for an injury......but as long as he is up for 2 or more months this year, I'm pleased.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Thank goodness they went outside their normal processes and signed him. A testament to the scouts and negotiators that they recognized his potential, and signed him.
      As the scouting lore goes, the Twins were the first team to identify Miguel Cabrera as a super prospect. Their strong presence in Venezuela suggests they could have signed him if they would have ponied up the >$1.9 he signed for. Now THAT is something to cry about! I would certainly hope they learned from that painful experience!
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