It didn't take long for Miguel Angel Sano to flash some of the talent that made him a heavily-recruited prospect last season in the Dominican Republic.
Currently playing for the Twins' Dominican Summer League team, Sano last week hit the first pitch he saw for a homer and later tripled in the same game.
Jose Marzan, the Twins' Latin America coordinator, said Sano has power that's not often seen from a 17-year old, ``and hitting a home run on the first pitch you saw is pretty special.''
Sano received a $3.15 million signing bonus from the Twins and spent spring training working out at the club's minor league facility in Fort Myers, Fla. But Sano, along with Jorge Polanco, another promising teenager, were sent back to the Dominican Republic to get some games under their belts.
The Twins will eventually bring both players back. When that will happen is unknown. It's a good bet they will not be on the Gulf Coast League rookie team roster when play begins in about a month.
``He can get comfortable there and do what we expect him to do,'' Marzan said. ``What we expect him to do at this point is not dominate but to get comfortable, put up some decent numbers and then come over to the Gulf Coast League.''
Sano, from San Pedro de Macoris, also can have some contact with his family. Having met Sano, he's a pleasant kid who's loaded with talent - but he's a KID who has had his life change dramatically over the last several months.
I asked Marzan how Sano and Polanco handled things while in Fort Myers,
``They were in extended spring training and they fit right in,'' Marzan said. ``On any given day you would go, `Wow, these guys are good.' Another day, they would look like everyone else.
``The coaches were very pleased with both of those kids and pleased with what they did in extended.''
Former Twins backup catcher Chris Heintz will coach the Gulf Coast League team.
``He is looking forward to having those guys for the Gulf Coast League.''
While Polanco is a true shortstop, Sano will play the corner infield spots as well as short. Having seen Sano up close, he'll probably get too big to play short because he's got some size on him now and should fill out
``We profile him as a future corner player because of his size and power,'' Marzan said. ``We want him to get acclimated with those positions.''
Infielder Luke Hughes, who homered in his first major league at-bat with the Twins earlier this season before being sent down, missed out on chances to at least be considered for more callups.
He's been out for nearly a month because of a pulled groin muscle but is expected to return to action on Friday for Class AAA Rochester. Hughes could have been called up this week instead of Matt Tolbert when Alexi Casilla landed on the disabled list.
The Twins signed righthander Brad Hennessey in March as he finished up his rehabilitation following Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2009 season. Hennessey, the 21st overall pick of the Giants in 2001.
Hennessey debuted on Tuesday, giving up a run on two hits in an inning of work. ``He topped out at 88 (miles an hour) but I'm sure he's a little quicker,'' said Jim Rantz, the Twins' director of minor leagues.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks, the Twins' first round pick in 2008, battled to get his batting average to .300 after a 1-for-31 start. But May ended up being a rough month for him, as he batted .214/.321/.313 with one homer.
Outfielder Angel Morales, another highly-touted prospect, batted .235 with now homers at Beloit in May. Both Hicks and Morales should be pressing for promotions to Fort Myers at this point, so there's a some head-scratching going on among some Twins folks.
So far, Jose Morales is 0-for-4 in throwing out basestealers and has been charged with two passed balls at Rochester.