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Gleeman: Buxton/Sano vs. past top prospect duos

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:19 PM

Based on the recent BA midseason Top 50 that had Byron Buxton at No. 1 and Miguel Sano at No. 3, Aaron did some research and wrote up a great post profiling past instances in the past 25 years where two Top 5 prospects resided within the same organization. I must say the results are somewhat sobering, and worthy of discussion.

Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, midseason rankings, and great prospect duos » AaronGleeman.com » Aaron Gleeman's Baseball and Minnesota Twins Blog

The B.J. Upton/Delmon Young example, in particular, is a bit unnerving considering the various similarities. Upton was the toolsy center fielder, No. 2 overall draft pick, huge success in the minors as a teenager. Young was the big slugger, mature body, incredible swing, 40-HR potential. I think we'd be bummed with either of their outcomes for the Twin Terrors.

Then again, it's also probably safe to say Buxton and Sano are a notch above Tampa's tandem in prospect caliber. Buxton is viewed by some as not only the best prospect in the game, but perhaps the best prospect of the decade. And whereas Young's status was based more on reputation and potential than production, Sano has put up. He has already eclipsed Delmon's career minor-league HR total.

What are your thoughts?

#2 clutterheart

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:32 PM

I expect Sano's recent struggles adapting to AA pitching to weigh heavy on the minds of prospect rankings. Unless he turns it around, he is destined for mid teens.

#3 Nick Nelson

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:45 PM

Recent struggles? Entering today he had a 1.044 OPS in his last 12 games, and he's the youngest player in his league.

#4 Ozziedavisfan

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 11:09 PM

i think your going to have to give a guy who 11 of his 16 hits were for extra bases and has 82 abats at that level and is 20 years old a little more time before you drop his prospect ranking. just a thought.

#5 howieramone1406390264

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 11:12 PM

Definitely a buzz kill.

#6 Ncgo4

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:26 AM

Excuses about Sano's age are nonsense. If he's too young for double A move him back. The Twins moved him because they thought he was ready. At least so far, he was not. I expect he will prove to be able to hit at this level, but so far he has not. Except for a five game stretch it would be a real disaster.

in Ft. Myers he hit 330 and had a 26% k ratio (based on AB's plus walks). In NB the numbers are 195 and 30.9%. The last 10 games the numbers are 194 and 35.3%. But that number is misleading because for the last nine games the numbers are 111 and 40%.

This is professional baseball and results are the ONLY thing that counts. Is Sano still one of our 2 best prospects? Clearly yes. But do not ignore the depths to which he is struggling. Age, his very strange new environment, getting used to an increased skill level of opponents. These are all possible reasons. They are not, however, a reason to minimize what is going on.

Sano is in the worst slump in his very short professional career and how he reacts, both production wise and emotionally is very critical. How the Twins react will be equally interesting. This is great kabuki, and I am very hopeful that the turnaround will be shortly at hand. I love this young man's skills.

#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:42 AM

Sano has been struggling of late, and the strikeouts are concerning. I get that his OPS is still pretty high because when he does make contact, he hits that ball really hard and often really far. But, strikeouts are not new to Sano, and it will be an issue with him. Should be no surprise that he is striking out at a greater percentage now. Older, better pitches will take advantage of his flaws, and he will need to adjust.

I would argue that "results" are not all that matters in the minor leagues. Not at that age and level, at least. He is where he should be, and he will just need to make adjustments. In my mind, that is the key in the minor leagues. If he is able to make those adjustments, then he should be better than Delmon Young. If not, then he may not be better than Brandon Wood.

That is the reality of prospects, even Top 5 or Top 10 prospects. Fair or not, prospect ranking set up some major expectations that only rarely are met. There is no certainty in any prospect.

#8 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:53 AM

Recent struggles? Entering today he had a 1.044 OPS in his last 12 games, and he's the youngest player in his league.


In his last 9 games, he is hitting .111/.200/.185 (.385) with two doubles, 3 walks and 12 strikeouts.

My concern rate is like 0.5%, but it is one of the worst slumps of his career. My concern is low because of his age and because he has shown in the past that he can make adjustments. My assumption is that within a short time, he'll go on a strong run again and be just fine.

#9 ThePuck

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 06:47 AM

I'm not worried about him

#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 06:59 AM

I love the interviews and blogging and reporting and video that we see about the Twins minor league system. It is a huge change from just a few years ago -- and not just because the Twins have a wealth of prospects now.

Minor Leaguers once toiled in virtual obscurity (and still may in some organizations) but beginning with Seth and others and now even the major sports news sources, we have so much more information about them and their progress in the system. And I think it is absolutely great that even if some players won't make it to the major league club, they often get a moment or two of stardom in the minor league reports. As much as playing ball is a dream for many, minor league ball is still not a easy occupation.

But Gleeman's column is a good cautionary tale -- and not just because of Delmon Young or Sano's recent struggles. There is no guarantee that ANY great prospect will go on to be a star or superstar (or even an every day player at the major league level). So much can happen -- they may not be able to make the adjustments, injuries happen frequently, some may get blocked in a system or traded away.

It is fun to see what happens with the minor league teams each day -- and even more fun to dream about what "could be" when they get to the majors. But as I'm sure each one of them is told, they need to take each day, play hard, learn and ENJOY where they are at -- and we all need to do the same without focusing too much on the next level.

#11 jharaldson

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:19 AM

Sano has an OPS of .827 in his time at AA which would rank 13th in AA if he had enough qualifying AB's. Struggling for Sano looks pretty good.

#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:22 AM

Sano has an OPS of .827 in his time at AA which would rank 13th in AA if he had enough qualifying AB's. Struggling for Sano looks pretty good.


Nobody is questioning that. He's shown good power. But, if he can clean up the K-Rate, it's crazy how good he can be. And again, tha'ts (hopefully) just a matter of time.

#13 markos

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:31 AM

The B.J. Upton/Delmon Young example, in particular, is a bit unnerving considering the various similarities. Upton was the toolsy center fielder, No. 2 overall draft pick, huge success in the minors as a teenager. Young was the big slugger, mature body, incredible swing, 40-HR potential. I think we'd be bummed with either of their outcomes for the Twin Terrors.

Then again, it's also probably safe to say Buxton and Sano are a notch above Tampa's tandem in prospect caliber. Buxton is viewed by some as not only the best prospect in the game, but perhaps the best prospect of the decade. And whereas Young's status was based more on reputation and potential than production, Sano has put up. He has already eclipsed Delmon's career minor-league HR total.


It is a very sobering comparison, though I think Upton is an acceptable outcome for Buxton. Given all the hype of the last three months, it seems disappointing to think of Buxton as ONLY a borderline all-star who averages about 3 WAR per season, but back in March I would have been very satisfied with that outcome.

Regarding the Young/Sano comparison, I think it is important to point out that Sano has walked roughly TWICE as often as Young in the minors in roughly the same number of plate appearances. Considering plate discipline was/is one of Young's biggest issues, Sano looks to fair much better in that area.

#14 TheLeviathan

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:34 AM

That is a most excellent article. I feel like people have taken a step past just excited and hopeful for the future and ventured into "just you wait and see, World Series here we come in 2016!" I understand why, when the product on TV every night can be this hard to watch, you have to have something to invest in, but this is not a high rate of success.

Good cautionary tale.

#15 Turd Furgeson

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:46 AM

I think a BJ Upton comp for Buxton is much closer to his absolute floor. I don't even see that though. Buxton is showing exceptional contact skills that BJ doesn't possess. (assuming that's the Upton we're talking about.

Sano has a really high ceiling but the contact skills are always the major question mark. I was a bit surprised to see Sano ranked that high by BA honestly, but it's good to see. I'll give Sano 200 ABs at AA before I really get worried about the batting average though.

#16 gunnarthor

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:16 AM

I've always thought that plate discipline was the hardest thing for a player to get. Young had something like a 6% walk rate in the minors - 98 walks in over 1600 PA. Both Sano and Buxton seem to be better at that. And Upton's weakest tool has been his hit tool, I don't think Buxton has that problem. Sano could hit for avg/onbase like Upton but with more power. I think Buxton's floor is a different type of player (good avg, no power).

But it is what it is and they aren't the only two prospects we have.

#17 Ncgo4

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:19 AM

This is a special moment for we twins fans. The #1 & #3 prospects, plus Hicks, Arcia & Gibson already up. Then we also have Rosario, Cabela, Keplar, Stewaretc in the minors and we see a twins base more excited than at ant previous time I recall, even when Mauer was coming up. Back then we would check on his team to see how he did. Now, I'm not sure which box score should be checked first. Crazy to think about 2 or 3 years from now.

#18 Nick Nelson

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:31 AM

In his last 9 games, he is hitting .111/.200/.185 (.385) with two doubles, 3 walks and 12 strikeouts.

My concern rate is like 0.5%, but it is one of the worst slumps of his career. My concern is low because of his age and because he has shown in the past that he can make adjustments. My assumption is that within a short time, he'll go on a strong run again and be just fine.


Yeah, the numbers change drastically if you nudge the endpoints even slightly. That's the nature of picking apart such a small sample. He's been in Double-A for only 26 games.

You can pick out several 10-game stretches in his career where he has struggled. Last year from May 14 to May 24 he hit .061/.184/.061. He came back from it OK. I'd be a lot more worried about his current bad nine-game stretch if he hadn't hit .294/.333/.882 in the nine games preceding.

#19 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:42 AM

Excuses about Sano's age are nonsense. If he's too young for double A move him back. The Twins moved him because they thought he was ready. At least so far, he was not. I expect he will prove to be able to hit at this level, but so far he has not. Except for a five game stretch it would be a real disaster.

in Ft. Myers he hit 330 and had a 26% k ratio (based on AB's plus walks). In NB the numbers are 195 and 30.9%. The last 10 games the numbers are 194 and 35.3%. But that number is misleading because for the last nine games the numbers are 111 and 40%.

This is professional baseball and results are the ONLY thing that counts. Is Sano still one of our 2 best prospects? Clearly yes. But do not ignore the depths to which he is struggling. Age, his very strange new environment, getting used to an increased skill level of opponents. These are all possible reasons. They are not, however, a reason to minimize what is going on.

Sano is in the worst slump in his very short professional career and how he reacts, both production wise and emotionally is very critical. How the Twins react will be equally interesting. This is great kabuki, and I am very hopeful that the turnaround will be shortly at hand. I love this young man's skills.


You do realize that what Sano is going through is pretty normal for prospects in general? Even the top prospects tend to struggle, and Sano had his moments last year as well. He hasn't had that issue this year until his promotion, so I'm not too concerned, and at this point you shouldn't either. He also just made one of the most difficult jumps a prospect can make...

And yes, age matters, especially when you are dealing with a 20 year old kid. Most men are not done developing physically until their mid 20s, and that makes a huge difference when he's playing against guys much further along in that cycle.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised at all if his struggles last most of the remaining season. To an extent, it's expected. It essentially means that we won't see him in Minnesota opening day 2014. That really isn't the end of the world. If he really struggles into next year, his rankings will start to drop, and it would be justified. Right now, though, I'm not worried about it.

#20 hawkeye forever

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:41 AM

This is a special moment for we twins fans. The #1 & #3 prospects, plus Hicks, Arcia & Gibson already up. Then we also have Rosario, Cabela, Keplar, Stewaretc in the minors and we see a twins base more excited than at ant previous time I recall, even when Mauer was coming up. Back then we would check on his team to see how he did. Now, I'm not sure which box score should be checked first. Crazy to think about 2 or 3 years from now.


Who is Cabela?

#21 70charger

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:26 AM

Who is Cabela?


Cornelius Cabela. We don't know much about him since he signed out of Indy Ball, but he has been working out with Sidd Finch in Tibet, so I have high hopes.

#22 2wins87

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:14 PM

As far as absolute floors go, I think Sano's is probably somewhere between a Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn. The strikeouts are concerning. Reynolds was a 20-30% strikeout guy in the minors but like Sano (and unlike Delmon) knows how to take a walk. I think we would have to be a bit disappointed if Sano turned out like Reynolds or even Dunn, but his power is comparable, and if he can hit even a little better you're already looking at a pretty valuable hitter.

For Buxton I think a BJ Upton floor may be a bit ungenerous (which if you ignore this year still looks pretty good). Upton was a super athletic prospect, but Buxton is a step above, he's got Willie Mays like athleticism. I think his floor is maybe Upton's bat with better defense and probably a few more infield hits. If his bat is better then look out.

#23 Red Bull

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:10 PM

Man a lot of you guys are disappointing me, let me tell you why its insane to compare duos like BJ Upton/Young and Hosmer/Moustakas to Buxton/Sano .

What have Buxton/Sano done throughout their lives that Upton/Young and Hosmer/Moustakas didn't? Buxton/Sano have dominated every league they have played in, they have been dominant in baseball at every age in every league. They put up big numbers everywhere they go, something the other 2 pairs didn't do. All 4 of the players from those 2 pairs weren't nearly as dominant in the minors(Especialy in the first couple years) as Buxton/Sano. Most top 10 prospects that become busts are those type of guys that kinda come out of nowhere later in the minors(Not really out of nowhere but kinda). The Guys like Mauer and Trout who dominate right away in the minors are the ones who become stars. Buxton and Sano are both gonna be great, especialy Buxton. Seriously you have to look at a players track record from there first year in the minors.
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#24 drjim

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:56 PM

Man a lot of you guys are disappointing me, let me tell you why its insane to compare duos like BJ Upton/Young and Hosmer/Moustakas to Buxton/Sano .

What have Buxton/Sano done throughout their lives that Upton/Young and Hosmer/Moustakas didn't? Buxton/Sano have dominated every league they have played in, they have been dominant in baseball at every age in every league. They put up big numbers everywhere they go, something the other 2 pairs didn't do. All 4 of the players from those 2 pairs weren't nearly as dominant in the minors(Especialy in the first couple years) as Buxton/Sano. Most top 10 prospects that become busts are those type of guys that kinda come out of nowhere later in the minors(Not really out of nowhere but kinda). The Guys like Mauer and Trout who dominate right away in the minors are the ones who become stars. Buxton and Sano are both gonna be great, especialy Buxton. Seriously you have to look at a players track record from there first year in the minors.


I'll add to this thought.

A couple other bust profiles:
-those that have high draft pick or big signing bonus pedigrees but don't dominate and stay in rankings because of said pedigree or non-hit tools.
-those that "hold their own" while they are young for a level

Like Red Bull said - those that don't bust are those that dominate at every level. The only slight pause I have is Sano's K rate. I fully expect him to improve on that over the next couple of months, but the fact is is that he will always be a K guy.
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#25 Thrylos

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:24 PM

Thoughts?

in random order:

- I think that Sano should be rated higher than Buxton. Period. FSL is the league that you have to prove yourself and I am still waiting for Buxton to do it, while Sano killed it.
- I saw DJ Baxendale (Sano's teammate now) make a total fool of Buxton last spring in 3 pitches (and everyone else as well; this is more of a Baxendale comment, who is back btw and healthy).
- SSS. This is for the above, as well as Sano's work in Hardware City this season.
- I really do not buy what BA has to say about rankings. I suspect that Harmon Killebrew (arguably the best position player to wear a Twins/Senators uniform) would not have made that list because he was lacking a couple of tools (D and Speed). Also, the best pitcher to wear a Twins/Senators uniform (Walter Johnson) would probably not have made their list because he had only one pitch (fastball) so he would be doomed to a middle reliever ceiling...

In other words, I really take these with a huge grain of salt, unless they are accompanied with actual performance data. Both Sano and Buxton have been performing great this season. It will be great to see them challenged further, follow their development and hope they make it...
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#26 Thrylos

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:36 PM

As far as absolute floors go, I think Sano's is probably somewhere between a Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn. .


2 words why I really dislike the "floor" comparables when talking about prospects:

Bo Jackson

Sano's floor (and everyone's) is Bo Jackson. But Bo Jackson not making it to the majors before the injury....

I'd rather talk about comparables and potential... And if someone had to twist my arm for names, I'd say Harmon Killebrew for Sano and Rickey Henderson for Buxton. But that is ceiling and potential and they have to be around for 20 more years to reach it...
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#27 Nick Nelson

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:41 PM

Red Bull, have you seen B.J. Upton's numbers from his first two years in the minors? He skipped rookie ball altogether, and put up a .930 OPS in Triple-A at age 19. If he was a lesser prospect than Buxton, it wasn't by much. Only reason he wasn't ranked No. 1 is some dude named Mauer.

#28 jokin

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:19 PM

In his last 9 games, he is hitting .111/.200/.185 (.385) with two doubles, 3 walks and 12 strikeouts.

My concern rate is like 0.5%, but it is one of the worst slumps of his career. My concern is low because of his age and because he has shown in the past that he can make adjustments. My assumption is that within a short time, he'll go on a strong run again and be just fine.


My concern rate is -50%. Are we really debating the fates and fortunes of a very young man's career- on what essentially amounts to statistical noise concerning Sano's first 26 games- all the while being the youngest player in AA?

#29 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 06:29 AM

My concern rate is -50%. Are we really debating the fates and fortunes of a very young man's career- on what essentially amounts to statistical noise concerning Sano's first 26 games- all the while being the youngest player in AA?


I'd be careful in calling this statistical noise. Statistical noise involves what is essentially a small sample size coupled with the randomness of what is being measured. Players routinely struggle when being promoted to AA, which tends to mean they have to adjust. That's not random, and while sample sizes can come into play, Sano has routinely shown through his career that strike outs are an issue. He was clearly able to adjust from Beloit to Fort Meyers, but his promotion to New Brittian has shown that he still has some issues to work on.

I'm not terribly worried about it just yet. He's 20 (the youngest in his league, in AA, and still keeping an OPS around .800, which to me at least is the measure of a good hitter. That said, major league pitchers are much better than AA pitchers at exposing the holes in his swing. He either needs to fix the gaps in his swing or learn to lay off the pitches out of the zone (or both). Given his progression in the area this season, I suspect that those numbers will improve at some point.

That said, this is a does of reality to people who think he's going to be in Minnesota sometime before next September.

#30 drjim

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 06:38 AM

I'd be careful in calling this statistical noise. Statistical noise involves what is essentially a small sample size coupled with the randomness of what is being measured. Players routinely struggle when being promoted to AA, which tends to mean they have to adjust. That's not random, and while sample sizes can come into play, Sano has routinely shown through his career that strike outs are an issue. He was clearly able to adjust from Beloit to Fort Meyers, but his promotion to New Brittian has shown that he still has some issues to work on.

I'm not terribly worried about it just yet. He's 20 (the youngest in his league, in AA, and still keeping an OPS around .800, which to me at least is the measure of a good hitter. That said, major league pitchers are much better than AA pitchers at exposing the holes in his swing. He either needs to fix the gaps in his swing or learn to lay off the pitches out of the zone (or both). Given his progression in the area this season, I suspect that those numbers will improve at some point.

That said, this is a does of reality to
people who think he's going to be in Minnesota sometime before next September.


I was following you until the conclusion. Struggling for a couple of weeks doesn't mean it will take over a year to put it together. He could just as easily start clicking following the all star break and futures game.