Twins top prospect Sano looms large

Miguel Sano, a 19-year-old power hitter, is a big part of the Twins' future, especially if he can stay at third.

Miguel Sano entered Target Field on Friday wearing a pink shirt, hands stuffed deep into his pants pockets and arms pulled in tightly. Twins officials soon scrambled for a closet.

The kid flew up for TwinsFest from the Dominican Republic without a coat. And they needed a coat big enough for his expanding frame.

Sano, the Twins' top prospect and one of the best in all of baseball, has grown an inch in the past year and will be listed in the 2013 media guide at 6 feet, 4 inches.

Sano, 19, said he weighs between 235 and 240 pounds, similar to what he carried at Class A Beloit last season. He's expected to move on to a higher Class A level, Fort Myers, this season. The Twins spent Friday marveling at his size yet still believing that he will be able to stick at third base.

Sano committed 42 errors last season, posting an .884 fielding percentage. Combine that with his expanding frame, and the Twins would appear to have a future outfielder or first baseman on their hands.

Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor leagues, pointed to third basemen such as Adrian Beltre and Aramis Ramirez, who committed 37 and 39 errors, respectively, as 19-year-olds and improved. Beltre might be the best defensive third baseman in baseball. The Twins probably would be happy if Sano is 80 percent of that.

"He's pretty athletic for his size. He's got pretty good feet, and he has some softness to his hands,'' Steil said. "It just a matter of consistency. That will come as he gains more experience. He didn't play third base a whole lot. He was a shortstop his whole life. So it's just a different speed of the game there. As he adjusts to that and gets more under control, his errors are going to come down."

Sano, with the help of agent Rob Plummer, has been working on keeping his weight down and learning English. On Friday, he was interviewed with an interpreter but wanted to answer questions in English. He said poor footwork at times and erratic throwing got him into trouble at Beloit. But he worked on defense extensively while playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League.

"When I played in the Dominican, I worked at third base, and I feel so [much] better now," he said. "I like third base."

The fact that Sano was allowed to get any time in the Dominican League -- filled with veteran players such as Manny Ramirez, Felix Pie and Miguel Tejada -- shows how highly he is regarded. He played in 20 games, batting .265 with four homers and 14 RBI.

"I was so happy when I [got to] play in the Dominican for winter ball," he said.

Sano's great power potential makes him a blue-chip prospect -- especially if he remains at third base. He batted .258 with 28 homers and 100 RBI in 129 games for Beloit last season. He walked 80 times and struck out 144, but the Twins noticed improved plate discipline as the season went on.

Even Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, during a media luncheon on Friday at Target Field, said Sano "may be top 10 in the game among prospects.''

And their top prospect is at TwinsFest this weekend, meeting other members of the organization and seeing what Twins fans are like.

"This is going to be a good event for him to get a big-picture feel for Twins baseball and understand where he fits in all of that and interact with fans and see why we have been harping on him about his English," Steil said. "That's a big part of being a major league player, is working with the media and being fan-friendly in addition to being able to communicate with your coaches and teammates."

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(11) Kansas State
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