Every Friday I will be taking a look at a prospect in the lower levels of the minors who is a strong candidate to move toward the top of prospect lists, if they are not already near the top. It actually surprised me when I started looking through our list of prospects we have reviewed, and determined that we had not looked at one of the top 10 prospects in the minors right now in Miguel Sano.
Signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 to a bonus of $3.15 million, the story of Miguel Sano is extremely interesting, and I highly recommend that you check out the movie about his signing process, Pelotero! (available on Netflix Streaming) if you haven't already done so. Due to the prolonged signing process, Sano did not debut even in the Dominican Summer League until the 2010 season. He played in 20 games there, hitting .344/.463/.547 with 3 home runs and 10 runs batted in. Sent to the Twins' rookie affiliate to finish out the year, Sano added 4 more home runs to his season total while hitting .291 in 41 games.
The Twins eased him on during the 2011 season, as he was sent to short-season Elizabethton, where he hit .292/.352/.637 with 20 home runs, 59 runs batted in, and 45 total extra base hits. He spent some time at shortstop that year, but was primarily a third baseman. He was converted completely for the start of the 2012 season, and played third base exclusively that year. At the plate, Sano hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 home runs, 100 runs batted in, had 60 extra base hits in total, and drew 80 walks against 144 strikeouts. Promoted to High-A to start 2013, Sano is hitting .368/.435/.747 and is tied for the minor league lead with 9 home runs so far.
In terms of scouting, you're looking at a prospect who turns 20 in a week, and has already shown elite power potential in game. He is currently playing third base for the Twins' High-A affiliate, but there are questions about whether or not he can stay at the position as he continues to grow. If he can't, his arm and bat profile very well for a right field assignment. There are questions about the amount of strikeouts that he has, and whether or not his hit tool will be even average once he gets to the Majors, which could severely limit the utility of the power.
The Twins have been moving Sano along at a level per year, allowing him to continue his development on both sides of the ball. While his hitting thus far has been outstanding, I would have to believe that he will remain in High-A in the hopes that his defense at third base will continue to improve. There is clearly more positional value for Sano to stay there rather than having to move to a corner outfield spot, but that may still occur. Realistically, Sano seems most likely to debut in the Majors some time after the 2014 season, with late in the 2015 season most likely as of now. Even at that pace, he will still be just 22 years old when he gets there.
He has been known about as a top prospect since he signed, so the odds of him being owned in most dynasty leagues are high. With that, he is a prospect I would absolutely be targeting if you are already rebuilding with a two year plan.