Feb. 25: Souhan: Twins have sizable expectations for a sizable Sano

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2014 - 9:50 PM

While Byron Buxton has become the consensus top prospect in baseball, 260-pound Miguel Sano is the best Twins prospect on the doorstep of the big leagues.

– Miguel Sano is genial and polite during interviews, but if you don’t speak Spanish, a conversation with him becomes something like talking on your cellphone while driving through a tunnel. Both sides are willing to converse, but the connection isn’t always clear.

Unless you ask him what his goals are.

“I want to hit 40 home runs, drive in 100 runs and win a Gold Glove,” Sano said.

While Byron Buxton has become the consensus top prospect in baseball, Sano, a hulking third baseman, is the best Twins prospect on the doorstep of the big leagues. Last year, despite having his average dip dramatically after being promoted to Class AA New Britain, he finished the season with these composite totals: .280 batting average, 38 homers, 103 RBI.

When he takes batting practice on the Twins minor league fields, he is capable of hitting a vehicle driving on Plantation Road beyond the left-field fence. He is capable of clearing the road completely.

While the 6-4, 260-pound Sano will have to improve his pitch selection to make the jump to the majors this summer, the more pressing questions about him regard his fielding. Can he be a big-league third baseman? If so, can Sano, only 20 years old, remain there if, as the Twins suspect, he continues to grow?

“I think he can be a good third baseman,” Twins farm director Brad Steil said. “A lot of people say that he’s going to end up at first because he’s a big guy, but he is a tremendous athlete for someone his size. He certainly has the foot quickness and the agility to be a third baseman.”

Sano made 42 errors in 125 games at third base at Class A Beloit in 2012. Last year, in 120 games at third between Class A Fort Myers and New Britain, he made 23.

“I’m very impressed with his fielding,” said Rob Antony, Twins vice president and assistant general manager. “From 2012 to 2013, he improved greatly. He’s got good hands. His errors come when he doesn’t set his feet for the throw or tries to do too much — dives and knocks down a ball and then tries to throw a guy out when he doesn’t have a chance. He’s a hard worker. He’ll continue to work on it.”

Sano is an arresting sight. Joe Mauer is 6-5 and 230 pounds. When he stands next to Sano, he looks like an undernourished teenager.

This spring, Sano is wearing a specially made Wilson small glove as a training aid. On Sano, the glove looks comically tiny. Imagine Kent Hrbek wearing an oven mitt.

The expectations for Sano are sizable. He could become one of the best sluggers in Twins history. No Twin has hit 40 home runs in a season since Harmon Killebrew — another slugger who began his career at third base — hit 41 in 1970.

The prospect of Sano batting cleanup for the Twins by midsummer had manager Ron Gardenhire laughing about the stereotypes that have been applied to his team. Just because the Twins have struggled to draft or develop pure power hitters and power pitchers doesn’t mean Gardenhire doesn’t want them.

“I’ll take the guy who throws 98, if he gets guys out,” Gardenhire said. “I’ll take the guy who hits 40 home runs, all day long.”

A more accurate stereotype would be that the Twins lack fiery personalities. Sano could change that, too. At Beloit, Fort Myers and New Britain, he has hit long home runs and either taken an inordinate amount of time to round the bases, or taunted the opposing dugout. Twins officials say Sano also takes an inordinate amount of abuse from opposing dugouts.

“If other teams are hooting and hollering at you and buzzing you, I think there’s a time and a place where if you hit one you get to watch it a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “If they’re buzzing balls by your head, you’ve got to have a little fight in you in this game.

“He threw the bat — I watched that play. But if I hit one that far — if I could ever hit one that far — I might do the same thing.”

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Stiff neck keeps Correia sidelined

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    FORT MYERS, FLA. – Twins righthander Kevin Correia was scratched from his scheduled batting practice session Monday because of a...

  • Video: Gibson fighting to get back in starting rotation

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    A healthy Kyle Gibson is hoping to return to the starting rotation in 2014.

  • Video: Jason Kubel: 'Feels like I haven't left'

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    Twins outfielder Jason Kubel talks about rejoining the Twins after leaving in 2011 for a two-year contract with the...

  • New book by agent Shapiro tells how to seal the deal

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    After he negotiated a $9 million contract with the Twins that made Kirby Puckett the first $3 million-a-year player in...

  • Video: Swarzak talks about pitching batting practice

    Tuesday February 25, 2014

    The Twins righthander doesn't like pitching from behind a protective screen.

  • Miguel Sano, right, tossed the ball to Danny Santana as Darin Mastroianni ran the bases Monday. At 6-4 and 260 pounds, Sano has quite a size advantage over the 5-11, 190-pound Mastroianni.

  • Even though they expect him to continue to grow, the Twins want Miguel Sano to play third.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close