Miguel Sano: The Next…

In Baseball America’s list of Top 100 Prospects, Twins minor leaguer Miguel Sano climbed from #94 in 2010, to #60 in 2011, and finally to #18 in 2012.  Sano, the 19 year old kid that makes most Twins fans daydream of 2014, undoubtedly holds the distinction of the top prospect in the Twins organization.  Sano regularly draws comparisons to superstars like Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.  While there’s never a “sure thing” when it comes to prospects, the young Twins third baseman certainly tip-toes that line.  I’ve never seen Miguel play in person, but in my mind I dream of three different players that I imagine Sano growing up to become: Giancarlo Stanton, Albert Pujols, or Miguel Cabrera.  I don’t mind setting lofty expectations, as I am only a fan.  As a fan (which originates from the word “fanatic”), I am allowed to think big!
Miguel Sano – courtesy mlb.com
Offensively, Sano blew the Midwest League out of the water in 2012, leading the league in home runs and RBI’s.  Sano’s defense needs the most improvement, making 42 errors last season at third base.  In three seasons in the minor leagues, he has made 90 errors and holds a career fielding percentage of .885.  The pop in his bat somewhat makes up for his defensive struggles, however.  His .893 OPS would place him .003 points ahead of Josh Willingham in 2012.
Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 19 Beloit MIDW A MIN 129 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 8 3 80 144 .258 .373 .521 .893 238
Generated 1/7/2013.

Giancarlo Stanton played a half a season at High-A and a half in Double-A as a 19 year old in the Marlins organization.  Like Sano, Stanton had played 2 previous seasons in the organization.  Stanton’s power numbers translate very closely to Sano’s, hitting 28 home runs and driving in 92.  They even struck out exactly the same amount in nearly the same number of at bats.  The two real significant differences lie in Sano’s more frequent walks, but Stanton playing at a higher level of baseball.  Defensively, Stanton played in the outfield, which is a much easier position to master defensively than third base.  Baseball America ranked Giancarlo Stanton the 16th best prospect in the MLB before the 2009 season.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ FLA 129 479 76 122 24 5 28 92 3 3 59 144 .255 .341 .501 .842 240
2009 19 Jupiter FLOR A+ FLA 50 180 27 53 9 3 12 39 2 2 28 45 .294 .390 .578 .968 104
2009 19 Jacksonville SOUL AA FLA 79 299 49 69 15 2 16 53 1 1 31 99 .231 .311 .455 .766 136
Generated 1/7/2013.

Albert Pujols got his start in the minor leagues at the age of 20 playing a majority of the season in Low-A ball for the Cardinals organization, eventually making 3 appearances in AAA that season.  Pujols hit for higher average, struck out much less frequently, but otherwise finished with similar numbers to those of 19 year old Sano and Stanton.  He spent nearly all of his time, like Sano, at third base, ending the season with 22 errors and a .950 fielding percentage.  Baseball America ranked Albert Pujols the 42nd best prospect in the MLB before the 2001 season.  Pujols was un-ranked in 2000.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2000 20 3 Teams 3 Lgs A-A+-AAA STL 133 490 74 154 41 7 19 96 4 5 46 47 .314 .378 .543 .920 266
2000 20 Peoria MIDW A STL 109 395 62 128 32 6 17 84 2 4 38 37 .324 .389 .565 .953 223
2000 20 Potomac CARL A+ STL 21 81 11 23 8 1 2 10 1 1 7 8 .284 .341 .481 .822 39
2000 20 Memphis PCL AAA STL 3 14 1 3 1 0 0 2 1 0 1 2 .214 .267 .286 .552 4
Generated 1/7/2013.

Miguel Cabrera followed a similar track to that of Stanton and Sano, playing his third professional season at the High-A level as a 19 year old.  Cabrera’s power statistics were significantly lower than the other three at this age.  Although he hit 43 doubles, only 9 balls landed in the cheap seats.  Cabrera rarely walked, but also didn’t strike out at the alarming rates of Sano and Stanton.  He made 16 errors that season playing third base, and finished with a .936 fielding percentage – not as bad as Sano, but still not great.  The 2012 AL MVP, according to the statistics, probably had the least successful season at Sano’s current age of the four.  Baseball America ranked Miguel Cabrera the 38th best prospect in the MLB before the 2002 season.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2002 19 Jupiter FLOR A+ FLA 124 489 77 134 43 1 9 75 10 1 38 85 .274 .333 .421 .754 206
4 Seasons 368 1428 225 409 103 10 28 228 23 5 131 262 .286 .350 .431 .782 616
Generated 1/7/2013.

Although the numbers in each comparison are close in many areas, the similarities between Sano and Stanton’s career path seem almost identical.  Stanton may have been a hair ahead in progression at Sano’s current age, but in any event he eventually made his big league debut at the age of 20 for the Florida Marlins.  In his first three seasons with the Marlins, Stanton hit .270 with 93 homers and 232 RBI.  He even led the NL in slugging percentage in 2012.  Stanton still struggles to put the ball in play, striking out 432 times in 1324 at bats (32.6%), which can be somewhat expected from such a raw power hitter.

Year Age Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB Awards
2010 20 FLA NL 100 359 45 93 21 1 22 59 5 2 34 123 .259 .326 .507 .833 118 182
2011 21 FLA NL 150 516 79 135 30 5 34 87 5 5 70 166 .262 .356 .537 .893 141 277 MVP-23
2012 22 MIA NL 123 449 75 130 30 1 37 86 6 2 46 143 .290 .361 .608 .969 158 273 AS,MVP-24
3 Yrs 373 1324 199 358 81 7 93 232 16 9 150 432 .270 .350 .553 .903 140 732
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 1/7/2013.

If Miguel Sano does indeed follow a similar career path as Giancarlo Stanton, the power numbers sure do look appealing.  The two biggest factors to his success will be his abilities to cut down on strikeouts and sharpen his defensive skills.  It will be interesting to see if Sano changes positions by the time he reaches the majors, possibly either to first base (depending on Chris Parmalee’s progress) or to a corner outfield spot.  Stanton’s track would place Sano with the Twins either late this season or hopefully ready by 2014.  No matter when he arrives, there’s no question he has the potential to rejuvenate a fan base that quickly diminished after two near-100 loss seasons.  Miguel Sano may just become the next Giancarlo Stanton.

Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.

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