Miguel Sano made his Major League debut on July 2 last year and carried the Twins offense on his broad shoulders the rest of the way (with a little help from guys like Aaron Hicks and Eduardo Escobar). Barring a rehab stint, it’s almost impossible to imagine the 22-year-old playing in another minor league game.
He’s definitely earned some national attention.
In a blog published this week, ESPN’s Buster Olney pegged Sano as one of 10 breakthrough players for 2016, noting that Sano has already demonstrated he’s a “difference-making slugger.” Olney also named emerging stars like Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez and others.
For the full blog, which requires ESPN Insider access, check out this link.
There are fair questions currently unanswered about Sano’s ability to play right field. My guess is that it will be a work in progress much of the year, even if it turns out to be a successful experiment.
But the Twins are rightfully excited about the young slugger’s bat.
Last year, Sano hit .269/.385/.530, with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs, and drew 53 walks in 335 plate appearances. He demonstrated some of the capabilities of some of the best power hitters in all of baseball.
Stretched out over a full season, that on-base-plus-slugging percentage would have been top-10 in MLB.
It’s a very crude exercise, but if you simply keep those same walk and home run rates while doubling the number of plate appearances, Sano projects to hit 36 home runs, drive in 104 runs and walk 106 times. Those numbers would fit in quite nicely in the third spot in the batting order for the Twins.
Consider this tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Miguel Sano will hit a zillion HRs. But here’s a scout on his RF work: “He’s going to need a lot of fungoes. He’s pretty ugly out there.”
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 29, 2016
But a zillion is a lot of home runs.
Yes, Sano strikes out a lot, and he’s a big guy, and it remains to be seen how he’ll handle right field on a full-time basis. But if he clobbers 35-40 home runs with a .385 on-base percentage (or better), pointing out those flaws will amount to nothing more than nitpicking.