• Is Sano Too Big to Stay at Third?

    We’ve reached that time of year, just before camps in Florida and Arizona officially get underway, where many publications release their annual top prospect lists. Since he was recently in town for TwinsFest and his name has appeared near the top of many of these lists, Miguel Sano has been buzzing in local baseball circles.

    La Velle E. Neal III recently remarked with some astonishment about Sano’s size when he saw him, noting that the 19-year-old (!) will be listed at 6’4” and 235-240 lbs this year. Naturally, this leads back to questions about the top prospect’s chances of sticking at third base, where men of that stature are somewhat uncommon.

    Don’t believe me? Take a look at the height and weight measurements for third basemen across the majors last season (numbers courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com):

    NYY: Alex Rodriguez 6'3" 225 lbs
    BAL: Wilson Betemit 6'2" 220 lbs
    TB: Evan Longoria 6'2" 210 lbs
    TOR: Brett Lawrie 6'0" 215 lbs
    BOS: Will Middlebrooks 6'4" 225 lbs

    DET: Miguel Cabrera 6'4" 240 lbs

    CWS: Kevin Youkilis 6'1" 220 lbs
    KC: Mike Moustakas 6'0" 215 lbs
    CLE: Jack Hannahan 6'2" 210 lbs
    MIN: Trevor Plouffe 6'2" 205 lbs

    OAK: Brandon Inge 5'11" 190 lbs
    TEX: Adrian Beltre 5'11" 220 lbs
    LAA: Alberto Callaspo 5'9" 200 lbs
    SEA: Kyle Seager 6'0" 195 lbs

    WAS: Ryan Zimmerman 6'3" 230 lbs
    ATL: Chipper Jones 6'4" 210 lbs
    PHI: Placido Polanco 5'10" 190 lbs
    NYM: David Wright 6'0" 210 lbs
    MIA: Hanley Ramirez 6'2" 230 lbs

    CIN: Scott Rolen 6'4" 245 lbs
    STL: David Freese 6'2" 220 lbs
    MIL: Aramis Ramirez 6'1" 205 lbs
    PIT: Pedro Alvarez 6'3" 235 lbs
    CHC: Luis Valbuena; 5'10" 195 lbs
    HOU: Chris Johnson 6'3" 220 lbs

    SF: Pablo Sandoval 5'11" 240 lbs
    LAD: Luis Cruz 6'2" 220 lbs
    ARI: Ryan Roberts 5'11" 185 lbs
    SD: Chase Headley 6'2" 200 lbs
    COL: Chris Nelson 5'11" 205 lbs

    As you can see, only two regulars at the hot corner – Miguel Cabrera and Scott Rolen – were in the same physical class as Sano, who as a teenager might not even be done growing yet. Cabrera was one of the worst defenders in the league at the position, although it bears noting that the aging Rolen was considered a stellar fielder in his prime, so his size wasn’t necessarily an inhibitor.

    Given that Sano is already bigger than almost any third baseman in the majors, at age 19, and has demonstrated shoddy glovework thus far in his pro career, the odds seem heavily stacked against him remaining at his current position, especially with an organization that values steady defense more than most. A switch to first base or an outfield corner wouldn’t preclude him from becoming a star caliber player, but it will ding his value to some degree.

    One way or another, this much is clear: Unlike Brian Dozier, Sano really is the next big thing. Literally.

    This article was originally published in blog: Is Sano Too Big to Stay at Third? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. Mave's Avatar
      Mave -
      Pablo. Sandoval.

      Sano is 19, and sure he may not be done growing, but regardless of that, let him adapt to his growing body before limiting his positional value. Given that time frame (and his aforementioned athletic ability), I really think the defense will iron itself out over time.

      Also, just look at all of the offensive production/ability provided by the names above. Can Sano produce on this level? I don't see why not. It's been fun to hop online and see the numbers he has put up in his short career.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      This is an interesting discussion. Wish there were internets a while back, so the similar discussion on whether Cal Ripken is too big to be a shortstop would be googleable

      I think that he will probably end up smaller than Miguel Cabrera and definitely smaller than the Panda. Whether he grows as a fielder is more important than size. Travis Harrison (albeit a bit smaller, but equally stiff) is in the same equation and with a slew of OFs coming up, you cannot have 2 first basemen. And if Kennys Vargas hits in A+/AA this season the way he hit in A last season, there would be a third name in the equation. This is a good problem to have and I think it is just too early to tell (or even ask this question...) We shall find out in time.
    1. SockNet's Avatar
      SockNet -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      "Too big?" "Does or Doesn't" is the real real question with respect to Sano's play at 3B.
      Thank you! What's the difference in two inches? Probably not much. Weight should not matter as long as it is good weight (muscle) and as long as that bulk does not affect his mobility. Does he have acceptable range both ways? Can he read balls, charge and retreat well? Can he throw? Does he know where he needs to be and when he needs to be there? No one is ever forced to change positions because of their size. They are forced to change because they are not good enough. Sano's size does not imply any lack of ability and/or potential ability. Sano is being judged on markers. The Twins want X amount of skills developed by Y dates to be ready for the majors by Z age/year.If he falls behind on those markers he will be moved.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by SockNet View Post
      Thank you! What's the difference in two inches? Probably not much. Weight should not matter as long as it is good weight (muscle) and as long as that bulk does not affect his mobility. Does he have acceptable range both ways? Can he read balls, charge and retreat well? Can he throw? Does he know where he needs to be and when he needs to be there? No one is ever forced to change positions because of their size. They are forced to change because they are not good enough. Sano's size does not imply any lack of ability and/or potential ability. Sano is being judged on markers. The Twins want X amount of skills developed by Y dates to be ready for the majors by Z age/year.If he falls behind on those markers he will be moved.
      Lot of assumptions in your post. Size does matter since the bigger you get the less agility you have. Some big guys have plenty of ability, watch the NBA those guys are huge and can move.... I doubt they could move well enough to play 3b however. It also isn't just height, he also has a frame that could bulk up. He isn't tall and skinny. We're all hoping he can figure it out, but the odds are against him since he already is a bad fielder.
    1. SockNet's Avatar
      SockNet -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Lot of assumptions in your post. Size does matter since the bigger you get the less agility you have. Some big guys have plenty of ability, watch the NBA those guys are huge and can move.... I doubt they could move well enough to play 3b however. It also isn't just height, he also has a frame that could bulk up. He isn't tall and skinny. We're all hoping he can figure it out, but the odds are against him since he already is a bad fielder.
      What am I assuming? Other than the comment about height, I qualified every statement I made. You are assuming Sano's size equals less agility. You don't know that. I addressed your concerns about Sano bulking up and his agility which is finely tuned mobility. I would tend to agree NBA players couldn't play 3b because, well, they are trained to play basketball not Major League 3b(I've never liked comparing sports, difficult to defend and/or refute). Again though, that's an assumption. As for his fielding, he may be bad now but when was the last time a polished 19 year old infielder broke into the majors? The last two position players I can remember are Andruw Jones and Bryce Harper, both outfielders. I just think it's too early to be having this discussion with regards to Sano. He is at least a full year away and likely more.
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