Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Potential premium power hitter whether he’s at third base, first base or in left field.
The Player: Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins) – The Twins made a huge splash signing him out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. They allowed him to start his career in the DSL in 2010 to get him more game action in advance of the GCL season in June. In the DSL he crushed the raw competition, hitting .344/.463/.547 before coming stateside. As a 17-year old in the GCL he raked again, this time with a .291/.338/.466 line. As is frequently the case, the Twins continued to take it slow with Sano in 2011, promoting him only to the rookie level Appalachian League, rather than the Midwest League. He torched the league in 66 games, pounding out 18 doubles and 20 home runs while still hitting .292 as an 18-year old.
Body: Extremely impressive physically. Mature, well-proportioned body with lots of strength for his age. Room to grow and the size of his hands/feet suggest that he may have another spurt in him. Could end up being a monster in the 6-4, 225 range.
Makeup: All indications I have received are that Sano is a hard worker that takes to instruction well and tries diligently to apply his lessons to his game. He has the confidence to evaluate himself and make changes to his game as necessary. There was some noise about him working far more on his offense than defense in 2011, but nothing to be overly concerned about at this point.
Hit: Sano has natural hitting actions with hands that get the bat to the zone very quickly. He has strong arms and wrists that can snap the bat through the zone with ease. He does get long at times when he sells out for power and that will open some holes in his game. An aggressive hitter, he must improve his pitch recognition in full-season ball. Has a tendency to get out front, particularly on secondary pitches. When he keeps his weight back he has potential to be a plus hitter. Grade – 30/60
Power: Easy power to all fields. Has that “different” sound off the bat and it looks effortless. Has good loft in his swing without going the way of an uppercut. Can get it out of the park without barreling the ball. Has the strength to drive it out the other way and began to trust his hands to do that late last year. Elite power potential with the hitting ability to let it play. Grade (raw power) – 60/70
Arm: Has the arm strength for the left side of the infield when he keeps his arm up. When it dips he loses some zip and a lot of accuracy. With more consistency, should be an easy plus arm. Grade – 50/60
Fielding: Has enough athleticism and arm strength to play 3B. Footwork is messy and inconsistent. Regularly fields balls off the wrong foot and has trouble getting throws away quickly. Has solid infield instincts. Twins really believe he can play third and insist he will still get time at SS. If the body grows, no way he stays on the left side. Has potential to be fringe-average at third. Grade – 30/40
Speed: Below-average runner now and not a graceful runner. Will have trouble maintaining current speed as body matures. Grade – 40/30
Summation: Potential for plus-plus power with hitting ability and modest on-base skills. If the bat matures as projected he is an asset at any position on the diamond. Needs to continue improving approach and pitch recognition against better pitching to allow power game to develop fully. Long term home could be left field and it would be advantageous to make that move sooner than later. Knows the game well and confidence in his abilities may give him an edge to turn raw tools to on-field production. Special talent.
Relative Risk: High. Very young and without a full-season debut. With high risk comes potential for high reward and Sano could be a big time middle of the order slugger.
Future: The Twins intend to start Sano at Low-A Beloit for his full-season debut in 2012. He has the mature natural hitting skills to rake against the generally inexperienced pitching of the Midwest League and he could force the organization’s hand in terms of his promotion schedule. A trial at High-A late in the year could be a catalyst for a much quicker developmental path through the rest of the organization.