Miguel Sano: The Next Giancarlo Stanton?

Jason Arnold

Ray Guilfoyle takes a peek at Twins power hitting third base prospect Miguel Sano, who some think is the next big power hitter in MLB.

Miguel Sano is well known amongst prospect hounds like myself and all of you, and he is now starting to get the praise as one of the top prospects in the game after his excellent, albeit inconsistent, 2012 season in the Midwest League.

John recently published his early 2013 Top 50 Hitting Prospects ranking Sano at No. 6 behind only Jurickson Profar, Oscar Taveras, Wil Myers, Xander Bogaerts and Javier Baez. Sano hit .258-.373-.521 with 28 home runs, 75 runs, 100 RBI, 8 stolen bases, a .263 ISO, all while displaying a solid eye at the plate as his 14.5% walk rate indicates.

The Midwest League's second ranked prospect according to Baseball America, he started the 2012 season hitting 13 home runs in the first two months of the season, and pitchers started throwing him less and less strikes, thus increasing his walk total. But, the downside of that was Sano striking out 26.0% of his at bats. There is a silver lining in that his K rate did drop from his 26.3% rate in 2011. His 144-80 strikeout to walk ratio is to be expected for a hitter with that much power.

Here is what John wrote about him in his Review of his 2012 Top 50 Prospects recently:

14) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, Grade B+: Hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 homers, 80 walks, 144 strikeouts in 457 at-bats for Low-A Beloit. May have the best raw power of any hitter in the minors. He strikes out a lot but he also draws some walks and is still just 19.

What I tend to forget to look at when reviewing prospects is their age relative to the league they are playing in, and the fact that Sano is only 19 years of age tells you that his 80 power has some room to grow. Like John says, he strikes out too much, but some think he has the talent to not only hit for power, but also for average.

Here is what Jim Callis from Baseball America wrote about him recently in his Top 20 Midwest League Prospects:

He homered three times in his first four games and went on to top the league in homers (28), RBIs (100), extra-base hits (60), total bases (238) and rank second in walks (80).
Capable of driving the ball out of any part of any ballpark, Sano has 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale and a selective approach that should allow him to hit for average as well. Already huge as a teenager, he moves well for his size and has a cannon arm. His hands and instincts are nothing special at third base and he made 42 errors in 125 games, so he may wind up in right field, where he'd have the upside of a Giancarlo Stanton.
"I like him better than all the power guys who have come through the Midwest League," the AL scout said. "He's not as good a hitter as Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Morneau was, but he's every bit as good a prospect as they were. He's much more athletic than I thought."

I have to say that I was surprised with the Giancarlo Stanton comp here. Callis is a respected prospect writer, so that drove me to do a comparison of the two big time power hitters. Let's take a look at their minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference, to see if the comparison holds true.

Miguel Sano

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 17 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-FRk 61 212 34 65 16 1 7 29 4 3 24 60 .307 .379 .491 .870
2010 17 Twins DOSL FRk 20 64 11 22 2 1 3 10 2 1 14 17 .344 .463 .547 1.009
2010 17 Twins GULF Rk 41 148 23 43 14 0 4 19 2 2 10 43 .291 .338 .466 .804
2011 18 Elizabethton APPY Rk 66 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 5 4 23 77 .292 .352 .637 .988
2012 19 Beloit MIDW A 129 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 8 3 80 144 .258 .373 .521 .893
3 Seasons 256 936 167 261 62 12 55 188 17 10 127 281 .279 .368 .547 .915
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2012.

Giancarlo Stanton

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2007 17 2 Teams 2 Lgs A--Rk 17 56 8 9 3 0 1 3 0 0 4 21 .161 .226 .268 .494 15
2007 17 Marlins GULF Rk 8 26 6 7 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 .269 .321 .346 .668 9
2007 17 Jamestown NYPL A- 9 30 2 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 3 15 .067 .147 .200 .347 6
2008 18 Greensboro SALL A 125 468 89 137 26 3 39 97 4 2 58 153 .293 .381 .611 .993 286
2009 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ 129 479 76 122 24 5 28 92 3 3 59 144 .255 .341 .501 .842 240
2009 19 Jupiter FLOR A+ 50 180 27 53 9 3 12 39 2 2 28 45 .294 .390 .578 .968 104
2009 19 Jacksonville SOUL AA 79 299 49 69 15 2 16 53 1 1 31 99 .231 .311 .455 .766 136
2010 20 Jacksonville SOUL AA 53 192 42 60 13 2 21 52 1 0 44 53 .313 .442 .729 1.171 140
2012 22 Jupiter FLOR A+ 4 16 2 5 1 0 2 5 0 0 0 1 .313 .313 .750 1.063 12
5 Seasons 328 1211 217 333 67 10 91 249 8 5 165 372 .275 .368 .572 .941 693
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2012.

One difference between the two power hitters is that Stanton reached Low A at the age of 18, while Sano reached Low A this season at the age of 19. I assume that could be due to the fact that the Sano is from the Dominican Republic and he had adjustments to make on and off the field when he signed with the Twins. Age differences aside, Sano does appear to be a decent comp to Stanton. In their age 18 seasons, here are their stats, although Sano accomplished his stats in a level lower than Stanton:

Sano (Rook): .292-.352-.637, 20 HRs, 58 runs, 59 RBI, 77 Ks, 23 BBs, 267 at bats, 13.35 HR/AB

Stanton (A): .293-.381-.611, 39 HRs, 89 runs, 97 RBI, 144 Ks, 59 BBs, 479 at bats, 12.28 HR/AB

Sano hit 19 less home runs in 212 less at bats, but his home run per at bat rate is comparable to Stanton's 12.28 rate. Stanton struck out in 28.3% of his at bats at the age of 18 while Sano struck out in 29% of his at bats, yet Stanton's 10.7% walk rate was higher than Sano's 7.8% rate. Overall the two are comparable after looking at their age 18 seasons. Now let's see if the comp holds true at the age of 19. Again, Stanton was 1-2 levels higher than Sano.

Sano (A): .258-.373-.521, 28 HRs, 75 runs, 100 RBI, 144 Ks, 80 BBs, 457 at bats, 16.32 HR/AB

Stanton (A+/AA): .255-.341-.501, 28 HRs, 76 runs, 92 RBI, 144 Ks, 59 BBs, 479 at bats, 17.11 HR/AB

Now the comp is starting to look real good, as they both his 28 HRs at the age of 19, with Sano scoring one less run than Stanton, but driving in eight more runs. Their strikeout rates were very similar with Stanton striking out at a 26.1% rate, while Sano's was just slightly better at 26.0%. Sano had the better eye at the plate as he walked 14.5% of his plate appearances, while Stanton walked in 10.7% of his plate appearances.

While Stanton reached each level of the minors a year before Sano, Sano appears to be a pretty good comp for Stanton if you focus on how each performed at the same age. Sano will have to continue to show solid plate discipline as he moves up the minor league ladder, but his power is comparable to Stanton's, and like Callis mentions in his player profile, Sano could eventually move to right field. But all that aside, his power will play at any position on the field.

What do the Minor League Ball readers think? Let's hear it in the comments section.

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