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:
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.
|2010||17||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-FRk||61||212||34||65||16||1||7||29||4||3||24||60||.307||.379||.491||.870|
|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|
|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|
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.