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The Sano Show

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Windy skies tonight in New Britain

This is a night where I'm glad I'm not a real journalist with a real deadline. Wow, what a game. Well, more specifically, what a game for Miguel Sano: 3-for-4, 2 HR, 5 RBIs. And the 1 out he made was a 400 ft monster fly ball that the Phillies' center fielder made a fantastic, leaping catch on. OK, I'll start at the beginning:

The conditions at New Britain Stadium were damp, to say the least. About an hour before game time, a brief but severe storm passed through. The infield remained in good condition thanks to the tarp -- more accurately thanks to the grounds crew pictured above -- but parts of the outfield (lacking the advanced drainage system of Target Field) were soaked. The grounds crew did a great job taking care of that issue, however, and the game started just over an hour late (one neat thing about minor league baseball is that it's very much an all-hands-on-deck mentality -- the same people helping with the tarp or the drainage might be some of the same people you encounter in the press box or the concourses later).

Perhaps Rock Cats starter Trevor May was off his rhythm due to the delay, because he surrendered a long and loud homer on the very first pitch of the game. It seemed as if May would settle down, though, and fortunately had his very good curve going early on, but it wasn't going to be that easy. A control problem that plagued May ended up (more or less) costing him 2 more runs: in the second inning, he walked the #7 hitter with 2 outs, then gave up another no-doubter to right field. It was his only walk of the night -- accompanied by 6 strikeouts -- but it was damaging.

On the whole, I'd call it an up-and-down performance for May. On the one hand, the struck out 6, only walked 1, and had flashes of excellent pitching. On the other hand, he allowed 2 long home runs, issued a costly 2-out walk that preceded a home run, and was over 50 pitches with only 1 out in the third inning. He ended up tossing 93 pitches to make it through 5 innings. Definitely not an awful performance, but also not the kind of performance that's going to make Terry Ryan pick up the phone and set May up in Rochester. His final line: 5 innings; 4 ER; 6Ks; 1 BB. 2 HR.

Offensively, wow. Have you heard of this prospect the Twins have? Miguel something-or-other? I'm no baseball expert, but I sure have been to a ton of MLB and MiLB games. Sano's performance tonight ranks right up there with any individual performance I have ever seen: A long, frozen rope single to left field; a first-pitch homer; and an amazing 9th inning homer. And his one out was a long, long fly to center. Ridiculous. Boy does that guy know how to hit. In fact, I have video of all his at-bats on my YouTube channel. Check it out. Again, I apologize for the poor quality of the video and the finger(s) that may occasionally appear in the corner of the screen. Hey, I never said I was Steven Spielberg!

Two funny things about Sano's at-bats this evening: his single was hit harder than either of the homers; and the flyout to center field probably traveled farther than either of the home runs. The power he generates is amazing. Jeez the guy is impressive.

Back to the game and the other 20-some players on the team. The problem with tonight's game is that there wasn't nearly enough Rock Cats offense. 5 hits -- 3 from Sano; one from Josmil Pinto; 1 from Nate Hanson. Although Trevor May wasn't great tonight, he did deserve better performance from the other 6 guys in the lineup.

I spoke to Rock Cats' manager Jeff Smith after the game. The obvious questions would have been about Sano. But what could Smith say besides "he's great" or "he's a rare talent." "Wow. He hit the ball hard and far tonight???" I can write crap like that (in fact, you're reading it!). Instead I asked about May. As I've written before, May's downfall typically has been issuing too many walks and prematurely driving up that pitch count. But what about tonight? Only 1 walk and 6 strikeouts -- peripherally good numbers. Smith stated: "Home run on the first pitch of the game, and just fell behind. . . . If you look back, [May] only gave up 5 hits, but his pitch count got up there pretty fast. . . . There were about 2 or 3 at-bats that the other team had that were about 10-pitch at-bats. It might have started 1-0, 2-0 [on the batters], and the next thing you know, a guy starts fouling pitches back. [May] didn't pitch that bad. A lead-off home run, and then an 0-2 home run."

For the most part that's an accurate assessment. There were a couple very, very long at-bats. May wasn't bad by any means. I didn't get a chance to speak to him -- and I'm pretty sure he would not have been one to make excuses -- but you do have to wonder what happens to a starter after an hour-long delay. Especially when the starter gives up a first-pitch homer. Although May took the loss, there were plenty of good things about his performance tonight: first-pitch strikes seemed to be better; the curve was great, especially early in the game; the extremely wet conditions on the field didn't seem to affect his control; 6 Ks to 1 BB in 5 innings with 5 hits is a solid performance, excepting that 2/5 hits were homers.

All in all, what a crazy night. I'll be honest: I wanted to see a Miguel Sano home run tonight. I got what I came for, and then some. I'll leave you with a couple funny Sano stats: he's 4th on the Rock Cats in home runs despite playing only 17 games for them. He has more homers than singles. He has 16 RBIs in 17 games. And get this, HE'S BATTING A LOUSY .236. What a freak of nature.

Thanks for reading.


  1. jokin's Avatar
    No need to thank us readers, you're reportage is first rate and the absolute best tonic on yet another miserable night at Target Field.

    Since you've witnessed a few of Sano's games since his arrival, are you picking up any significant differences in his approach at the plate of late? I noticed that his walks and strikeouts were nearly equal not that long ago, but now, he's no longer getting the walks, but the power and average are soaring with a few additional strikeouts.

    You noticed that he's now 4th on the team in HRs. I'll go one further....what do you think his chances are to catch the Eastern League leader in Home Runs? He now only trails the guy from the Phillies AA team, 15-6.

    I noticed you passed on asking the obvious questions to Jeff Smith in favor of a different approach. Good for you. Your reporting is reassuring in its clarity and exposition from Jeff Smith about May. This sounds like not even a bump in the road on his progression towards major league starter..... But, going back to the 500 lb. Dominican elephant in the room... don't you get the feeling that "everybody" in the Rock Cats braintrust from Smith on down, knows what extraordinary talent they have in Sano? And that they have a firm handle on what they have to accomplish, together, over the next 2 months? And hopefully, that Sano, in garnering their full developmental attention, as he is ever-quickly becoming acclimated to Connecticut, is feeding off that attention to detail and stays right on the fast track?
  2. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.
    Last night Sano seemed to do a better job of laying off the breaking pitches that ended up low and away (you know, Michael Cuddyer's favorite pitch ). Watching some of the games on Gameday from last week it seemed that he was falling behind in the count more often and then of course was being forced to swing at the pitcher's pitch, not the hitter's pitch. So that's one thing. Another thing is that he just seemed locked in. Just off the top of my head -- and this is probably wrong -- but I think he only swung and missed once or twice last night. So long story short Sano just seems more comfortable with his surroundings.

    That would take a lot of work to catch the guy from the Phillies! I mean, it's possible Sano could hit 15 homers as a Rock Cat, but every homer the other guy hits makes it harder to catch. But hey, if there's one guy that's up to the challenge, I think it's Sano.

    As to your last question, yes, the Rock Cats are aware of what they have with Sano. And I think that's passed down (with specific instructions) from the Twins. I could be wrong, but I think the Twins can even dictate things like where players bat in the order, etc. So from 1,000 miles away, the tone is being set by Terry Ryan & Co.
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