2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects In 30 Days — Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano missed the entire 2014 minor league season following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He tore his UCL in spring training, but, after a full year of recovery and rehab, appears to be ready this season. Sano’s raw power can’t be overstated — scouts agree on his 80-grade power — as he crushed a combined 35 home runs in High-A and Double-A in 2013. It was a follow up act on his 28 home runs in High-A in 2012.
Not only was Sano flashing power, but he did it in his age-18 and 19 seasons. Add in his double-digit walk rate, though the strikeouts will be there, and it’s easy to see why many are still very high on Sano, despite his lost season. A young, cost-controlled bat at the hot corner like Sano’s is a rare commodity, with only Kris Bryant and Corey Seager as the other third baseman regularly ranking higher than Sano.
Prior to 2014, Sano had been a featured guy in the top-25 and even top-10 of prospect lists. This year Keith Law has ranked Sano 15th, though he cautions on the strikeouts and the likely eventual move to first base.
When healthy, Sano has grade-80 raw power, with the potential to hit 30-35 homers a year in the majors, generating that output with a rotational swing that makes good use of his hips and legs. He’s done a good job of improving his ball/strike recognition, but will probably always be a 150-plus strikeout guy, as he can overswing and expands his zone when behind in the count. He’s always been rough at third base, and if the arm doesn’t come all the way back, that’ll speed his move to another position, likely first base due to his sheer size, although the bat will profile anywhere on the field. It may take him a few weeks or months to shake off the rust, and he’s more likely to see the majors in 2016 than 2015. He’s still the Twins’ cleanup hitter of the future now that this injury is completely behind him.
Over at FanGraphs, Kiley McDaniel opines similar defensive concerns but does foresee Sano being 30-35 home run guy in the majors.
The contact and defensive issues will be important to watch next season, but I wouldn’t expect to see a full 100% Sano until the end of 2015. He should go straight to the upper levels of the minors for 2015 and may get a big league look depending on how well he performs, with 2016 a reasonable time to look for an extended big league audition. There are some concerns that Sano isn’t as mentally mature as some other elite prospects, so it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in for spring training following over a year of rehab.
The power is readily clear, not only in the sheer home run counts but also his isolated slugging as well as his hitting prowess relative to league average. While Sano hasn’t faced many opposite-handed pitchers, he has had no issues against them in limited plate appearances.
|v L as R||153||337||.301||19||.343||24.6%||10.1%||.291||.368||.592||.960|
|v R as R||307||1028||.309||64||.315||27.2%||13.0%||.269||.373||.578||.951|
Even given Sano’s age and missing the 2014 campaign, Steamer is a believer in the bat to the tune of 14% above league average. For someone who isn’t expected to break camp with the big league club, the projection system sure does like Sano quite a bit.
No doubt Sano has power, but after missing an entire season of development, the Twins would be wise to get him back on track. He’s never tasted Triple-A pitching and his strikeouts will always be a factor. Still, with an ability to drive the ball out of any park while not entirely selling out plate discipline — his strong walk rates prove that — Sano will likely be a huge asset by at least 2016. As was the case with Addison Russell, both keeper and dynasty format fantasy players should make a move and draft Sano this year, though be aware he will likely only get a cup of coffee in September.