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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Sano Quandary

If you can't tell, Miguel Sano is a kid.
Also, I own this jersey :)
If I told you that there was a Twins prospect at AA New Britain batting .243, you probably wouldn't blink an eye. If I told you he had some pop in his bat, and a good arm from the left side of the infield, maybe you'd express mild interest. But if I told you that the prospect was Miguel Sano, and that he had a combined 26 HRs and 80 RBIs in early August, playing in 2 pitchers' leagues, you'd probably be interested.

Anyone who is reading this piece probably knows what Miguel Sano might -- or could -- mean to this franchise: without exaggeration, he probably is the best power-hitting Twins prospect in the past 30 years.

He just turned 20, and he's holding his own at AA, which is generally considered the largest jump a hitter will make before reaching the major leagues.

The purpose here isn't so much to cast opinion (to be sure, I have one, but I'm trying not to let it play out), but rather to to present arguments in favor of, and against, the idea of Sano finishing the season at Target Field as a member of the Twins. Without further ado, let's go through the pros and cons.

Call Him Up!!!

1. Sano is the best power hitting prospect the Twins have had in . . . well, forever. The Twins need power. Joshn Willingham and Justin Morneau are probably gone, and in any event they have largely been ineffective in 2013; Trevor Plouffe is sporadic. Right now, this club needs a middle-of-the-order bat that can do damage for the next several years. Anyone have a better in-house option than Sano?

2. Yea, his AA batting average isn't great, but look at that OPS (.915). When he is getting on base and making contact, he's doing big, big damage. He has performed in the clutch this season with the Ft. Myers Mircale and the New Britain Rock Cats, and absolutely nothing suggests he won't continue that trend.

3. Twins fans have been really screwed over these past few years. Sweet Lord: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jason Marquis, a billion injuries, shredded payroll. Come on, Pohlad Family and Terry Ryan, we really, really need a glimpse of the future, even if he's only 80% ready. You can't sell All-Star tickets on mere promises. Or maybe you can, but good luck filling those seats for the 81 non-All-Star games next season.

People, Let's Be Prudent

1. There is no rush with any prospect in this organization. The Twins need to be taking a long look -- this is a team that needs to be set up to win in 2015-2018. Forget the last month of 2013. And look at his maturity issues. This is a guy that needs to be taught "the process," taught humility, and then brought up when he's ready.

2. Miguel Sano is not dominating AA. Let's not talk about this as if he's tearing the cover off the ball. The guy has 42 strike-outs in 41 games. Yea, he can, and does, hit the ball out of the park, but there's much more to being a major league player than that. And how about his defense. Yes, it's undoubtedly improved, but there's work to be done.

3.  A jump to the big leagues from AA isn't always in the player's best interest. Look at Oswaldo Arcia: a great hitting AA prospect, called up before he was ready. And it messed with his head. Let's not do that with Sano. Let's make sure he's ready, even if that means finishing this season in AA, or even starting 2014 in AAA. Sano is a rare, rare commodity. And the Twins can't screw this up.

In short, this is a great dilemma. Again, Miguel Sano is 20 years old. And tearing the cover off the ball.Yet, even the biggest Sano supporter should concede that he's far from a perfect prospect. For me, going into the second week of August, I'm almost 50/50 as to whether Sano should spend September with the Twins. I'd love to hear you comments -- and arguments both in support and against -- Sano spending the last month of this season in Minneapolis.

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