Height: 6’3″ Weight: 230
Miguel Sano was signed by the Twins on October 9, 2009 as a non-drafted free agent for $3.15mm. Despite a drawn out investigation into his age, Sano got started as a 17 year old in the 2010 DSL, hitting .344 in 65 AB before coming stateside for his US debut in the GCL for the GCL Twins. He likes cheese and apparently pitchers throw him enough of it that his IsoP numbers have been off the charts for a teen. In 2010 he had .203 in the DSL and then a .183 in the GCL. Despite high K rates with 60 K’s in 212 AB overall, he still managed top hit .307. It was more than enough to give us something to work with on projection beyond the international scouting reports.
Sano came in with a high enough prospect score to make his way into our 2011 preseason Top 100 Prospect List:
93. Miguel Sano 3B MIN – A young corner infielder with plus plus power projection. He’s already a beast at over 230 lbs so there is some concern as to if he can even stick at 3B and if not where does he go besides 1B. So conditioning will be very important. But the power upside is significant, we’re talking 30+ HR per season. But he just turned 18 so this is all projection and upside. The odds of him hitting that peak is not the highest which is why he is near the bottom of this list. 2011 will be a telling season.
Well, 2011 did tell us more about Sano. So let’s take a look at the tools and see what makes him one of the brightest young prospects in the game.
Sano has raw power that is very rarely seen in such a young player. In 2011, he had an IsoP of .345 over 293 plate appearances. An unrealistic number outside of the fact that he actually did it. It was powered by 18 doubles, 7 triples and 20 HR.
Despite the gaudy stat line there and all of the accolades that will come along with them heading in the 2012 prospect season, there are some current red flags that need to be highlighted as well. His K rate was once again above the 25% mark which is troubling. His BABIP dropped from around .400 in 2010 to a more normal .339 and with that he was able to keep his average at .292, very similar to his 2010 GCL of .291. A good sign.
His 2011 walk rate of 7.8% isn’t bad, especially for such a young player, but it’s also a number that he will need to keep moving in the right direction as he forces pitchers to stay in his zone where his power can fully develop.
Sano is so big already, that even if he holds all of his current athleticism, he projects as a below average runner. He stole 5 bases in 2011 while getting caught 4 times. Not much projection here.
As Geo Utter pointed out during our look at the Appy League hitters in our Touch’em All series, Sano still has the issues of a youngster in the field. He committed 26 errors in 225 chances in 2011.
SS isn’t going to be an option for Sano, let’s be blunt about it. He’s actually already pushing the physical growth levels for the position and he’s just 18. The good thing is that he actually has enough arm to handle SS, so the move to 3B is an easy transition and he should continue to grow as a fielder there.
Miguel Sano should start the 2012 season with the Beloit Snappers in Low-A since there is little reason to rush him to the pitcher friendly FSL. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see him make it to the FSL sometime in 2012 anyway.
That move would put him on track for a 2014 debut. More than ample time for him to mature as a hitter, start working deeper counts and utilizing his power to the fullest extent as he climbs the ladder. If he can reign in the K rate to a more palatable sub 20% level his power is going to be at an elite level which could actually produce All Star power numbers with 30+ HR and possibly some 40+ HR seasons.
But he’s going to need to keep the K rates down to get a full season of AB each season and get to those levels. There aren’t many 3B prospects in the game I would start a farm system with above Sano. His elite power is going to play regardless of him sticking at 3B, moving to RF or being relegated to 1B. But I think he has an excellent chance of sticking at 3B and despite his high K rates, his downside as a hitter is still at least an average major league hitter and his upside is tremendous.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our recent article in our top 10 series: Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects List and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.