45 Prospects in 45 Days: Minnesota’s Miguel Sano
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
Miguel Sano signed for $3.15 million with the Minnesota Twins as a 16-year old. The Dominican-born Sano garnered the second largest signing bonus given to a Latin American player at the time behind pitcher Michael Ynoa ($4.25M) of the A’s.
The 19-year old right handed third baseman is 6’ 4” and weighs 235 pounds and possesses 80 grade power that has been his calling card throughout the minors. Sano is currently playing third base, but may have to shift off of third due to defensive limitations. Sano is so famous that there is even a movie about him. And a sequel is planned.
However, Sano’s 2014 season ended before it started as he is scheduled for Tommy John surgery on March 12 and will need about eight months to rehab following the surgery.
Sano is the best all-around power threat in the minors, with elite raw power and a hit tool that should allow most of it to show up in game action. His swing can get loose and he will chase outside the zone despite showing a willingness to take a walk when he’s pitched around, so pitchers with a plan and command of off-speed offerings can trip him up.
Keith Law at ESPN is perhaps more effusive in his praise of Sano rating him the eighth best prospect MLB and second overall in the Twins system (again behind Buxton). Law notes:
Sano is the best pure offensive prospect in the minors, boasting 80-grade raw power and an easy swing that generates hard contact using his hips and legs, along with a history of making adjustments to his plan at the plate.
Law also thought (prior to the TJ surgery) that Sano should land in the Opening Day lineup for 2015. Of course, that is now a dream deferred.
Baseball America puts Sano at sixth in the top 100 – the highest ranking of the three major prospect lists – and also second in the Twins org.
Minor League Production
Majestic. Stupendous. Glorious. Sano’s power is video game-esque. And it has come through at each stop along the way. His ISO numbers are nearly unbelievable. Sano’s calling card is his power and he’s brought it to bear in each of his minor league seasons.
The concern with Sano (beyond his ability to stay at third base defensively) is the batting average risk. Sano’s hit tool will need to perform at an average level to be able to activate the power at the major league level.
As a 20 year old at AA last year, Sano was ahead of the development curve so his injury, while not ideal, does not hurt nearly as much as it would for a player that was on or behind the development curve with respect to age.
We’ll leave these here even though we know now that Sano won’t see the field in 2014. Sano’s projections imply a two-true outcome player. It’s either a HR or strikeout. Now, it was assumed prior to his injury that it was unlikely that Sano would see any meaningful time in the majors in 2014. So, these projections should be taken with a relatively large grain of your favorite spice. However, we can see that Sano’s power was expected to come through even with a batting average hovering around .230.
Sano’s 2014 value is clear. It’s zero. However, that doesn’t mean Sano should be ignored. To paraphrase Jason Parks, Sano isn’t dead. He just won’t be at a minor league park near you. Now may be the time to check in on the Sano owner in your keeper or dynasty league to get a read on what he thinks of Sano. If he’s down on him or believes this injury will have a long term effect on Sano, see what you can offer to get Sano on your team. He won’t come any cheaper than he will this year. Sano’s power isn’t going anywhere and he should be ready to go for 2015.