CINCINNATI -- Byron Buxton had his chance. And now Miguel Sano is getting his,
The Twins are set to call up their power hitting prospect from Class AA Chattanooga in time to play against the Royals during a four-game series in Kansas City. Sano, a 22-year old third baseman, got off to a slow start for the Lookouts but heated up in May and was torrid in June to reclaim his status as one of the top offensive prospects in baseball.
Sano will take the place of designated hitter-first baseman Kennys Vargas, who was optioned to Class Chattanooga following the Twins 2-1 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Sano opened the season ranked by Baseball America as the 13th best prospect in the game. He wasn't even No. 1 on the Twins list - that went to Buxton. Sano batted .159 with four homers and nine RBI in April as he struggled after missing all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery in his right elbow. That didn't surprise the Twins much because they figured he had to knock off some rust.
In May, he batted .303 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI. And he took off from there, batting .329 in June with six home runs and 17 RBI. In June, Sano dropped his strikeouts while keeping his walks steady, and posted a robust 1.090 on base-plus-slugging percentage.
His defense, as of a few weeks ago, still needed work. But the Twins will likely use him as the designated hitter with a few starts at third base, where Trevor Plouffe should remain atop the depth chart.
Sano is good friends with Buxton. It would have been fun for Twins fans to see them in the same lineup, but Buxton, called up last month, is out for several weeks with a sprained left thumb.
The Twins need offense. Their designated hitter production is near the bottom of the American League. On Wednesday, they were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in a 2-1 loss to the Reds. Even in Tuesday's 8-5 they were 3-for-14 in run scoring situations.
Sano arrives just as the Twins have sputtered to a 2-4 road trip as they prepare to take on the AL Central-leading Royals at Kauffman Stadium.