KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Miguel Sano was promoted to the major leagues Thursday as the Twins' highest paid international prospect. He lost that distinction before ever taking an at-bat.
The Twins agreed to a $4 million contract with 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Wander Javier, the team confirmed, outstripping the franchise record $3.1 million they paid Sano in 2010.
The deal does not become official until several more steps are complete — a physical, visa clearance, age verification — but Javier represents an investment of three summers of scouting and evaluating.
"He has the tools and talent, we believe, that make him a viable projection as a five-tool talent, someone who profiles at high levels both offensively and defensively, and at a premium position," said Mike Radcliff, the Twins vice president for player personnel, who scouted Javier more than a half-dozen times since 2013. "At the same time, we're talking about evaluating a 14-, 15- and now 16-year-old player. You take in as much information as you can and try to make an informed decision, but there is no way to even know what all the variables are, much less how they'll affect him as he develops into an adult."
Still, the Twins have been impressed with Javier's speed and defensive ability, enough to be reasonably confident he will remain a shortstop, and they are intrigued with his ability to hit with gap power.
"This is a guy we liked better than anybody else," Radcliff said of Javier, ranked as the fourth-best Dominican prospect by the website DPL. "What we see, what we believe, what we project, is that he has a chance to be special. Some of our [comparisons] are very successful players. And the commitment we're making illustrates that."
Signing Javier empties the Twins' bonus pool, set by the commissioner's office at $3,948,500. Under MLB rules, the Twins will have to pay a 100 percent tax on the extra $51,500 Javier received, but the Twins might still sign another player or two, albeit at much lower cost. They can also acquire the right to pay more bonuses in trades with other teams, though the Twins have never done so.
Plouffe still at third
Before manager Paul Molitor met with Sano on Thursday, he had a chat with Trevor Plouffe, the gist of which was simple: You're still the third baseman.
"I don't think he felt [worried]. It was just a courtesy to one of my veteran, leader players, to let him know that Miguel is coming up here to DH, primarily," Molitor said. "I told him there might be a day or two where he might have to go over [to first base], and I told him we were going to get Sano prepared to do other things. [It was] just a respect thing."
• Righthanded reliever A.J. Achter is the first Rochester player ever selected to back-to-back Class AAA All-Star Games, the International League announced. Achter, who has held hitters to a .125 average this season, will be joined by Red Wings righthander Taylor Rogers and second baseman James Beresford and also hitting coach Tim Doherty in the July 15 game in Omaha. It's only the second time that four Red Wings were invited to the All-Star Game.
• Ricky Nolasco's injured right ankle was examined by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., and the doctor "was a little more concerned about the bone fragment that's in there," Molitor said. But nothing has been settled about a course of treatment. The Twins are hoping Nolasco can avoid surgery, but he hasn't pitched since May 31 and has experienced pain each time he has tried to throw since.