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TwinsCentric: Miguel Sano, for better or worse

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: January 10, 2013 - 11:39 AM

 Following in John’s footsteps, I thought the For Better or Worse series might be fun to bring to a couple of the minor leaguers. Today, we’ll take a look at Twins top prospect Miguel Sano. I’ll take a look at his 2012 season, give a few reasons why he could be better in 2013 and a few reasons why he could be worse in 2013. And then at the end of the article, you’ll be asked, “What do you think? Will he be better, or will he be worse?”

2012 Recap

Coming off of a 20 home run season in 2011 in short-season Elizabethton, Sano was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League in 2012. He began the season as an 18-year-old. He led the league in walks and strikeouts, but he also led the league in home runs.

He came into the season as the Twins top prospect, and Baseball America ranked him as the 18th best prospect in baseball. He did nothing to lessen his prospect status on the field. In 129 games, he hit .258/.373/.521 (.893) with 28 doubles, four triples, 28 home runs and 100 RBI.

He made the transition from shortstop to third base full time. He played 125 games at third base and committed 42 errors. His fielding percentage was just .884.

He was the #1 overall pick in the Dominican Winter League. Although he has not played a lot for Estrellas de Orientes. Although his playing time has been somewhat sporadic, he has had 49 at bats in 20 games. He hit .265/.373/.571 (.944) with three doubles and four home runs.

Why He’ll Be Worse

First and foremost, he will be moving up a level to play in Ft. Myers. The Florida State League is more advanced than the Midwest League. He will again be one, if not the, youngest players in the league. Although he has the world of potential, he did strikeout 144 times, or ever 26.0% of his plate appearances. He has tremendous power, but the ball parks in the Florida State League are bigger than in the Midwest League as well.

Why He’ll Be Better

In reality, if Sano puts up the same numbers in a more advanced league, that is like an improvement. Sano is an incredible athlete. He’s about 6-3 and assumed to be around 245 pounds. He is like a shorter version of Lebron James. He has tremendous power to all fields. He may hit a few less home runs, but he also could hit a bunch of doubles. Although his strikeout rate is high, observers noted that he seemed to have much better control of the strikezone in 2012 than in 2011. He will need to continue to lay off tough pitches. However, Sano also walked 14.5% of the time in 2012 and had an Isolated Discipline of .115. That said, having Kennys Vargas hitting behind him all season should allow him to see a few more pitches. Sano is huge and powerful, but he is quite fast and runs the bases very well.

Defensively, Sano had a lot of errors, but he was much improved in the second half. After posting 30 errors in the season’s first half, he had just 12 in the second half. Having seen him play in early June and then again in early August, he looked so much better at the hot corner, much more relaxed, and ready before each pitch. If he would stop growing, he could take big strides with the glove on the immaculate fields in the Florida State League.

So, which will it be? Will Miguel Sano get better or worse in 2013? Let us know what you think.

Something to Consider

In 2002, Joe Mauer spent the entire season in the Midwest League (for Quad Cities). He turned 19 in mid-April. In 2012, Miguel Sano spent the entire season in the Midwest League (for Beloit). He turned 19 in mid-May.

In 2003, Joe Mauer spent the first half of the season in the Florida State League for Ft. Myers. He then spent the second half in New Britain. The Twins traded AJ Pierzynski following the season so that Joe Mauer could be their Opening Day starting catcher in 2004, at the age of 20.

Is it possible, in your mind, that Miguel Sano could be on the same path? If he starts the season in Ft. Myers and plays in New Britain in the second half, could he be the Twins Opening Day starting third baseman in 2014, at the age of 20?

----

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