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  • What's the Plan: Miguel Sano

    In this new series, we'll take a look at several young players in the Twins' organization who may be ready to contribute by next season. How will they be handled? How should they be handled? What do their ascensions mean to players already on the MLB roster?

    What's the plan?

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    There may have been a short period of time where the clamor to see Miguel Sano promoted from Single-A looked a little silly in hindsight. After his first 13 games in Double-A following the promotion, he was hitting .150 with a .625 OPS. Nothing alarming, but perhaps a sign that it wasn't all that outrageous for the 20-year-old to have spent a few extra weeks in the Florida State League.

    That didn't last long.

    Less than two months later, Sano looks to be completely above the competition in Double-A. Even with the slow start, the third baseman ranks statistically as one of the finest hitters in the Eastern League, where his OPS ranks fifth among players with 150 plate appearances and his slugging percentage ranks second.

    As he has rapidly adjusted and grown more comfortable, Sano's numbers in New Britain have gotten more and more ridiculous. Since those first 13 games, he has hit .294/.396/.681 with 11 homers and 34 RBI in 34 games. In his last 20 games he's at .329/.449/.712. In his most recent three-game series over the weekend, he went 6-for-13 with two homers, three doubles and seven RBI. He then added another long ball in Tuesday night's game. Just ridiculous.

    At this point there seems to be little question that, even though he won't yet be 21 when the 2014 starts, Sano will be ready to play in the majors. In fact, based on his transcendence in Double-A it's getting harder and harder to to believe he's not ready right now.

    The Aggressive Route

    Operate under the assumption that Sano will be ready to take over third at the outset of the 2014 season. Let him play out the schedule in New Britain (the regular season ends on September 2nd) and then call him up to finish the year in Minnesota, gathering 50-75 at-bats and providing a nice attraction at Target Field in the final month of a lost season.

    Presuming he doesn't prove totally overwhelmed by the challenge, Sano can enter spring training next year as the favorite to man third base, while the Twins reconfigure around him and try to return to contention with his powerful bat helping lead the way.

    The Conservative Route

    Here's the thing: There's really no rush to get Sano up. His performance is the only factor forcing that issue, and there are plenty of other circumstances that would dictate a slower approach.

    For one, there's the guy currently occupying the hot corner for the Twins. Trevor Plouffe is having a tough season but it seems premature to give up on him. Then there's Deibinson Romero, a 26-year-old third baseman who is having a nice year at Rochester and might merit a look ahead of the young Sano.

    Of course, there's also the assortment of service clock implications. By keeping Sano in the minors through most of April next season, they can add another year of team control, and by holding off until July they can keep his future arbitration price tags down. All of that should be a secondary concern, in my opinion, but it's a factor.

    Letting Sano wrap up his season in New Britain, play some winter ball and open the 2014 season in Rochester would be justifiable, even looking beyond the financial aspects. He is, after all, still 20 years old, immature, inexperienced. And taking a patient approach does buy more time to make decisions on the likes of Plouffe and, to a lesser extent, Romero.

    The Likely Route

    My guess is that the Twins will follow more along the conservative path. I doubt we'll see Sano this September, though it wouldn't shock me if they called him up for the "Sit on the bench and take it all in" experience. It's hard for me to see Plouffe getting buried for the last month, barring injury, and adding Sano would require some 40-man roster hassle.

    With all that being said, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Sano getting a legitimate shot at the Opening Day third base job next year. We've heard as much rumbled through the grapevine, and the slugger's convincing progression in Double-A only serves to fuel that fire.

    Ordinarily, common sense would point to taking things slowly, because the Twins are a team in transition and Sano is still a 20-year-old kid learning how to be a professional. But this isn't an ordinary case. His talent is special, and at some point (perhaps some point very soon) it just no longer makes any sense to leave him stagnating in the minor leagues.
    This article was originally published in blog: What's the Plan: Miguel Sano started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 119 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      This is a very good picture of the possibilities. I think a September call and yet starting at AAA next season might be the best route. I don't think Plouffe would get buried in such a scenario, especially if Morneau ends up being claimed and traded. There's a DH spot for Sano and Plouffe, and Plouffe can get some work in at 1B, LF, and/or RF. Looking at 2014, if Morneau and Willingham are gone, Plouffe could be looking at a move somewhere anyway.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      I posted this on a different thread, but it's on topic so I'll include it here.


      I admit I wasn't sure Sano should get a September call-up, but at this point, why not? He's been tearing AA pitching apart the last month or so. At this rate, he's going to be on the MLB team next year. Why not give him his cup of tea in September, wait for his super 2 status to pass next year and then call him up for good in June. Unless Plouffe starts tearing it up, there isn't really any reason to keep Sano down. He's going to strike out a ton, might as well let him start adjusting to major league pitching in September and give him something to work on during the offseason.


      I don't have any problem seeing him come up in September.

      I think my suggestion is a combination of the aggressive and conservative approach. Please let me know if I'm missing anything.

      Edit: I posted this on the same article but in Nick's blog. Is there a difference between the two?
    1. Jdosen's Avatar
      Jdosen -
      I really hope the Twins take a more conservative route with Sano. I wanted them to leave Hicks in AAA for a month in order to gain that extra year of control, which might not end up being worth a whole lot 6 years from now if it turns out he just can't hit. However for Sano, I think it will be very much in the Twins interests to hold him back in AAA a month or so as that extra year of Sano could be worth 20-30 million dollars down the road, as well as giving them an extra year to try and iron out a contract extension. I am very fearful they bring him up to open 2014 as the starting 3B.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I am hoping the Twins are conservative.

      1 - No need to start his clock. He is a prospect who the Twins should play the service time game on.
      2 - He had a hard adjustment to AA pitching. Obviously he has come along but why not give him the chance to adjust to the junk ball throwers at AAA?
      3 - Plouffe is showing just enough that he could potentially be a RH bat bench at 3B and from reports ive seen, he seems to be a good clubhouse guy. I would like him to break camp at 3B.

      Best case is Sano plays decent in Spring Training, get sent to AAA, does well then when late June rolls around he gets called up for good.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I thought the plan was for Sano to possibly get a September call up in 2015...
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      [QUOTE=clutterheart;152052]I am hoping the Twins are conservative.

      1 - No need to start his clock. He is a prospect who the Twins should play the service time game on.

      To bad this was not the thought with Aaron Hicks.
    1. CharacterGroove's Avatar
      CharacterGroove -
      Put me down for the aggressive route. I think Sano will have a much more productive offseason after gettingng a feel for the what it takes. That, in turn, benefits the Twins.

      To me a poor reason to hold Sano back is because of "team control." This reason alone likely results in a worse product on the field and a disgruntled top prospect.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      I would be very excited to see Sano this year, but I would have no complaints if he debuts next year, hopefully no later than May though.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      I think the Twins should go more towards the conservative route unless Sano completely forces the issue.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I'm normally big on the conservative route, and agree with letting him dominate AA the rest of this year (which is only 3 weeks). Then let him dominate AAA for a month or two (I don't care about the Super 2 thing, but gaining the extra year could come into play (although Sano is definitely a guy to lock up for a long time!).

      My biggest reason for not giving him the September call-up is the 40 man. He doesn't have to be added this offseason, and you would hate to potentially lose someone because of a spot. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty on this roster who could clear waivers and I haven't yet looked at who needs to be added.

      The fan in me would love to see him. I've had a couple of reports from New Britain and more from Ft. Myers that say he's already a better 3B option defensively than Plouffe... and that's not speaking to his ability to hit with power. If he came up, likely he would strikeout like 40-50% of the time, but that might be a good learning tool for him. I would love to watch him.

      Then again, I think the Twins need the extra month for Plouffe to play. I wouldn't mind them giving Deibinson Romero a month to see what he might be able to do or if they want to bring him back in 2014.

      This is not an easy topic. It's not an easy decision by any means.

      However, at this point, I fully expect that Miguel Sano will be the Twins opening day third baseman.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      I thought Hicks and Arcia should have got Sept call ups last year as a reward for strong minor league seasons. Hicks Sano comparisons are irrelevant because Sano is a way more highly touted prospect than Hicks ever was and a top 3 in all of baseball. My vote is call him up in Sept and start him in AAA next year. This was supposed to be the year Plouffe took the starting 3B job and ran with it and that didn't happen so I don't have a problem with him losing meaningless at bats to Sano come September.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      AAA pitchers are better than AA pitchers. That's why they are in AAA and the AA pitchers are in AA. Many of them have been in MLB and are trying to get back there.

      They are savvy, tricky, many of them pitch intelligently. Good enough, in fact, to have pitched in MLB and/or have attained a roster spot in AAA.

      I like the idea of Sano proving that he can rock AAA pitching before we 'bring him up for good'. Cannot see a scenario where he starts at 3B in April next year.

      I would not object to a September call up this year, but the 40 man roster thing is an issue, as Seth points out.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Devries, Bernier, Thomas, and Ramirez are a few guys that could potentially clear waivers but I do see the issue there. I'd also be interested to see what we have in Romero but unfortunately he's not on the 40 man either.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      AAA pitchers are better than AA pitchers. That's why they are in AAA and the AA pitchers are in AA. Many of them have been in MLB and are trying to get back there.

      They are savvy, tricky, many of them pitch intelligently. Good enough, in fact, to have pitched in MLB and/or have attained a roster spot in AAA.

      I like the idea of Sano proving that he can rock AAA pitching before we 'bring him up for good'. Cannot see a scenario where he starts at 3B in April next year.

      I would not object to a September call up this year, but the 40 man roster thing is an issue, as Seth points out.
      Bye-bye Hermsen, Hello Sano. Issue resolved.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      The question is simply: is Sano good enough that you want to control him through 2020 instead of just 2019?

      It's not like he won't learn something in AAA. It will be the first time he consistently sees breaking balls at any count. It will be interesting to see how long it takes him to crush AAA. He only needs to not be on the 25-man for 11 major league days. It's too bad he's not eligible for the Arizona Fall League (foreign players from countries with winter leagues are not eligible).
    1. scottsilvi's Avatar
      scottsilvi -
      You also gotta wonder (or, er, I do) about how the St Peters & Pohlads would feel about a Sept call up. I have to imagine attendance would spike... I know I would attend a couple games a week to see this kid play, and I've only been to a handful of games all year.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      I keep reading that Hicks may not hit. I don't think that's going to be an issue. He's been rushed, but I'd think he'd hit better next year than Clete Thomas is hitting this year. Eventually he'll be .270/.350/.430, good for a CF but not anything too special for a corner guy.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Quote Originally Posted by scottsilvi View Post
      You also gotta wonder (or, er, I do) about how the St Peters & Pohlads would feel about a Sept call up. I have to imagine attendance would spike... I know I would attend a couple games a week to see this kid play, and I've only been to a handful of games all year.
      I don't see that as an issue here. While the Twins do stupid things in the name of "image," they aren't going to mess this up to make a few bucks.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Starting in AAA makes such good sense. Folks need to face the idea that when his current deal is up that the Twins will not be able to or will choose not to afford him. The team needs to preserve every year of control.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I think a few months at AAA would not hurt. If he tears up AAA by late May or June then call him up. He is a part of the future of this ball club. I would not give him a September call up, Plouffe needs to play and see what he has for the future. Unless he can move to first, he will be more of a super utility guy after next year(when Buxton arrives)
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