In today's prospect preview we're going to look at a player who could end up in the top ten on prospect lists next year, despite not having an at-bat above rookie ball right now. Miguel Sano could follow in the footsteps of
Mike Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper in becoming a top 5 overall prospect within the next two years, and I do expect him to be in some top tens next year. Read more on Sano after the jump...
Miguel Sano - SS/3B - Twins - 2011 was Sano's first full year in the U.S. and boy did he make an impression. Signed for $3.15 million as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic, Sano is not long for the position due to size concerns. He has already added 40 pounds (up to 232) since signing in 2009 and at only 18 years old, still has time to add more to his 6'3 frame. Sano's calling card is power, as Baseball America's Jim Callis has said he may have more power than anyone in the minors, Non-Bryce Harper division. Sano delivers easy power using his muscular lower half and impressive bat speed to spray the ball all over the field. He absolutely dominated the rookie-level Appalachian League, hitting 20 home runs in 267 at-bats, good for one every 13.35 at-bats. He also tallied 18 doubles and 7 triples, totaling 45 extra base hits which led the league.
Sano does have his flaws however, as he struck out in 77 at-bats (26.3% k-rate), though he redeemed himself a bit with 23 walks (7.8% bb-rate) which is solid for an 18 year old. Sano will also struggle a bit on defense, and has little to no shot to stick at shortstop. He's likely ticketed for third base, though he'll have to work hard to maintain his agility and athleticism as well. He has solid hands and a good enough arm for the hot-corner, though body concerns could push him to an outfield corner. He won't be pushed to the outfield or first base until he has proven himself incapable of handling third base because he's a potential superstar if he can stick there. Speed is also not an aspect of his game, as he stole five bases while getting caught four times last season.
Looking to the future, a lot of his value depends on something Sano can't really control...if he grows more or not. He's athletic for his size, but if he keeps growing, he might have to move regardless. As for his skills, he is the rare prospect you'd feel comfortable throwing 30-35 homers on annually. He could always struggle for contact, but when he does connect everyone inside, outside and around the ballpark will know about it. Given that he will play in his first full season league at 19, Sano has plenty of time to work out the kinks, and he already showed progress in contracting his strike zone as the 2011 season wore on. Sano has a very bright future ahead of him, and while prospects of his ilk have plenty of risk (Pedro Alvarez), the Twins aren't known for rushing their players making him a strong buy in my book. He will likely begin 2012 in Low-A Beloit, but given his potential he could move up to Hi-A before the season ends.