Name: Miguel Sano
Position: Third base
Notable 2011 Stats: .292/.352/.637 with 18 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR, 77/23 K/BB, and 5-for-9 SB in 66 games with Elizabethton (Rookie)
Why He’s This High: From the moment he was signed, Sano was considered one of the top international prospects in baseball. He turns just 19 in May, but he’s already shown absolutely huge power, and he may grow into more. He swatted 20 homers in just 66 games in Advanced-Rookie Elizabethton last year as an 18-year-old, ripping 45 extra-base hits overall. That’s a rate of 103 XBH per 150 games, and if Sano can stay anywhere near that by the time he hits the majors, he’ll be a huge star.
Originally signed as a shortstop, Sano has some athleticism and a cannon arm, and while he’s not a good bet to stick at short (where he played 16 games in 2011) or even at third, he could become a good defender in right field.
Why He’s This Low: Understandably, Sano remains quite raw. He strikes out far too much (77 times in 66 games this year), and you’d like to see him walk more than 23 times, as well–after all, he’s usually going to be nibbled to because of his power. Sano managed to break .900 with his fielding percentage at third base this year (.905), but he’s a career .877 fielder at the position in 84 games, and he needs to show big improvements in his footwork and accuracy if he’s going to stay at the position. His plus arm may allow him to succeed in right field, but some have speculated that he’s a first baseman in the end, which obviously puts a lot of pressure on his bat.
Obviously, Sano is a long way from the majors, so there are a lot of hurdles he has yet to clear. That’s somewhat mitigated by his youth and projectability, but it’s awfully difficult to rank him higher than this given that he’s never played in full-season ball and his many warts are very obvious against even Rookie-level competition.
Conclusions: Sano is one of the most exciting young power hitters in the game, and almost nobody is putting on this sort of power display at this age. Heck, it wouldn’t be that far off to call Sano a sort of righthanded Bryce Harper–however, while Harper’s non-power/arm skills are merely debated as to whether they’ll be excellent, good, or merely solid, Sano’s could be anything from solid to abysmal. He remains very raw and has a lot of work to do on tightening up his approach at the plate and the field. He boasts extraordinary offensive upside, but it could be three years before we have a concrete idea of what exactly to expect from him in the majors.
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