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Updated: February 25th, 2014 11:08am
Miguel Sano: 'I'm ready' for Majors. Question is: Are the Twins ready?

Miguel Sano: 'I'm ready' for Majors. Question is: Are the Twins ready?

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by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One of the most intriguing questions that will be asked during Twins spring training revolves around a guy who wears No. 72 in Fort Myers and probably won't start the season with the Major League club.

Is Miguel Sano ready for the big leagues?

Are the Twins ready for Sano?

If you ask the hulking third baseman, he'll tell you he can play in the Majors. But he, like everyone else, is uncertain when he'll get the call.

"I believe September, May, June," Sano said Saturday in Fort Myers. "I'm ready, you know? I'm going to work hard, the Twins take the decision when I play in the Major Leagues."

Ask superstar Robinson Cano and, according to Sano, he'll tell you the same thing.

Cano told Sano last week that big league camp is great, according to Sano's recounting. "And then he told me, 'See you in Minneapolis.'"

The two have been friends for five or six years, because Cano trained with Sano's coach, Moreno Tejada, in the Dominican Republic, Sano said.

But ask an impartial third party, and you might hear something different. I wrote in the offseason that the Twins would be prudent to keep Sano in the minors for at least half a season. I think he has superstar potential, and I think teams are wise to capture the most value as they can from players like that.

Sano has torn up every level at which he's played. He's continued to grow, to a muscular 260 pounds, although he and his agent, Rob Plummer, said at Twinsfest that Sano will drop weight this spring.

He gained weight this offseason because he wasn't supposed to exercise, given his balky elbow, Plummer said at Twinsfest. The Twins had enough concerns about Sano's right elbow that they shut him down during winter ball, but he has since been given a clean bill of health. He wears an athletic sleeve on his right arm during spring training for infield drills. When he throws to bases, he doesn't appear to hold back, putting throws on a line to the second- or fist-base bags.

He has hit 90 home runs in the minors, in just more than 1,600 plate appearances from rookie ball to Double-A. That's a pace of about one homer every 18 plate appearances. He 35 bombs between Class A-Advanced and Double-A in 2013, in 519 plate appearances. That's a pace of one long ball every 15 plate appearances.

That's big power.

For the stat-inclined, his Isolated Power (slugging percentage minus batting average) in High-A last season was .325. In Double-A New Britain, he increased that to .335, although his average there dipped to .236. Despite the lower average, Sano still got on base 34.4 percent of his plate appearances and slugged .571.

If those numbers translated directly to the Majors, it would make him a top-10 hitter, according to weight on-base average (wOBA).

Of course, Double-A isn't the Majors. He'll have to adjust to better pitching as he moves up the ladder. But it's fair to say the bat isn't what the Twins are waiting to see this spring.

Sano knows it, too.

"Yeah, work on my defense. A lot," Sano said. "I'm no perfect, like everybody. A lot of players make errors. The errors are for the players. But I try working for my defense a lot."

He said he works with Twins staffers like Paul Molitor, Tom Kelly, Joel Lepel and Tommy Watkins to improve his defense at third base. For now, he says he's enjoying big league camp, like relishing the chance to take extra batting practice with Twins great Tony Oliva.

"Yeah it's cool. I told my mom when I talk to my mom that big league camp is really cool. It's better than the minor leagues, like 100 percent," Sano said.

The Majors offers a better lifestyle during the regular season, too. It's a waiting game to see when Sano will get his callup. It may have little to do with how he performs this spring. But a big spring couldn't hamper his chances of living the big-league lifestyle in 2014. Like Sano, we'll just have to wait and see.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
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