Miguel Sano Rumors
Despite opening the year with one of the best minor league systems in baseball, the Minnesota Twins' collection of young talent continues to get stronger. The club's system entered the year as one of the top five systems, according to two different publications: Keith Law of ESPN (2nd out of 30 -- subscription required) and Baseball Prospectus (4th). Baseball America had a slightly different opinion and ranked the system 10th overall.
When looking at the three Top 10 lists for those publications (Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America -- subscriptions required), a total of 14 players were represented: Oswaldo Arcia, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Danny Santana, Luke Bard, Travis Harrison, Jorge Polanco, Alex Meyer and Trevor May. We can delete both Kepler and Bard because they're in extended spring training and have yet to appear in an official game. Santana appeared on just one list (Baseball America's) and has struggled in Double-A. The highest profile name -- outfielder Aaron Hicks -- is hitting just .144 in the majors after being touted by some as an early American League Rookie of the Year candidate. The other 10 players are thriving in 2013.
Arcia, called up to the Majors in mid-April, has posted a .746 OPS while helping to compensate for the loss in offense as fellow rookie Hicks finds his footing. Strikeouts have been an issue for Arcia but his three home runs have put him in a four-way tie for third on the team in that category despite appearing in just 28 games.
Both Sano and Buxton were ranked either first or second on each of the three publications' top prospects lists. Sano, age 20, has produced an eye-popping OPS of 1.165 OPS in 42 High-A games. The fourth-year pro has some of the best usable power in the minor leagues and he's slugged 13 home runs, more than any other hitter in the minors. According to a front office contact, the young prospect is not just a one-trick pony. "Miguel learned a lot about patience at the plate last season and that's one of the reasons he's off to a good start," he told MLBTR. "He also has a very strong arm at third base and has made good progress defensively this season."
Buxton, 19, is in his first full pro season after being selected second overall in the 2012 amateur draft. After hitting .392 in April, the center fielder's average has dipped in May but he's flashing five tools and still getting on base at a .420 clip. The talent evaluator that spoke with MLBTR said Buxton's natural skills have helped him get off to a hot start although pitchers have started to make adjustments against him. "He's going through a learning process now since he's been seeing mostly off-speed stuff this month," he explained. "He will need to continue to develop that patience and be selective at the plate."
Meyer was obtained from the Nationals during the offseason trade that sent outfielder Denard Span to the National League. The 6'9'' pitching prospect has produced both above-average strikeout and groundball rates while settling in nicely at the Double-A level. When asked what has stood out about the new Twin, the contact stated, "Coming into a new organization isn't easy but Alex has adjusted quite well. He may have the best fastball and the best curveball in the organization."
Gibson continues to rebuild his prospect value after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2011. The injury slowed down his big-league timetable but he's looking good at Triple-A in 2013, averaging almost six innings per start. With three big league starters struggling -- Mike Pelfrey, as well as recent demotion victims Vance Worley, and Pedro Hernandez -- Gibson could become a key contributor by the second half of the year.
The 32nd overall selection of the 2012 draft, Berrios has produced solid results so far this year despite being one of the younger arms in his league. He has a 2.86 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just five walks in 28 1/3 innings of work. Another offseason acquisition, May was part of the package that the Phillies sent to the Twins for outfielder Ben Revere. He's struggled to retire left-handed hitters in 2013 but he's shown the potential to develop into an innings-eating workhorse.
Converted from outfielder to second baseman in 2012, Rosario has spent the early part of this year making strides at the keystone while continuing to hit for a high average in High-A ball. Harrison, 20, needs to tighten his approach at the plate but the third base prospect has flashed good pop with 21 of his 43 hits going for extra bases at the Low-A level. Just 19, Polanco is already in his fourth pro season but his first in full-season ball. The switch-hitting middle infielder is batting .325 with surprising gap power and solid control of the strike zone.
First baseman Chris Colabello was a surprise promotion to the big league club on May 22nd. He didn't make any Top 10 or Top 100 list this year but he's been an impact player for the Twins at the Triple-A level. Colabello, 29, hit .358 with 29 extra base hits -- including 12 homers (the second highest total in the minors) -- in 46 games. In his last 10 appearances, Colabello was hitting .500 (19-for-38). Perhaps in preparation of this call-up, he was recently given playing time in the outfield.
Born in Massachusetts, Colabello spent his childhood in Italy and played for that country during the recent World Baseball Classic. He went to a small U.S. college and was never drafted by a Major League Baseball organization. He signed with the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent after impressing the organization during a tryout camp in 2006 but was released less than a month later. He spent seven years playing independent league baseball before agreeing to a deal with the Twins prior to the 2012 season.
A front office contact told MLBTR that he wasn't shocked by the success that Colabello has had since signing with the Twins because of the consistent success he showed in independent baseball. "It was just a matter of someone giving him an opportunity," he said. "He has power to all fields, has a good plan when he goes to the plate, and stays on an even keel. He's a tremendous teammate and he's always working to get better."
Whether or not Colabello truly has the offensive chops to be a big league regular remains to be seen but he should at least be able to provide help off the bench while also backing up at designated hitter, first base and both corner outfield spots. The organization now has roster flexibility with the rookie -- both in terms of positions that he can play and with his three option years. Should the need arise, he can be shuttled back and forth between the Majors and the minors for three seasons without the risk of having to pass him through waivers.
In a piece for USA Today, Ray Glier got reaction from Colabello after the prospect learned of his promotion.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN recently and told Mackey that he's not yet ready to pat himself on the back for last season's Francisco Liriano trade. Mackey opines that the Twins look like clear winners already, noting that the White Sox paid $2MM for lackluster results from Liriano, who didn't even re-sign with the team. In exchange, Minnesota has a serviceable utility infielder in Eduardo Escobar and a 23-year-old lefty in Pedro Hernandez who already has four solid MLB outings under his belt for the Twins. Mackey notes what a breath of fresh air a good trade is after recent missteps including the Johan Santana trade, the Wilson Ramos trade and the J.J. Hardy-for-Jim Hoey swap. Here are more highlights from Mackey's excellent piece...
- Ryan told Mackey that he's embracing statistical analysis far more in his second run as the team's GM than his first. Ryan consults with Twins' stat guru Jack Goin on every personnel decision, but Mackey notes that "...Ryan's background is still firmly entrenched in traditional scouting."
- When asked by Mackey if he could form opinions on 18 college players he'd never seen after attending just one college game, Ryan replied: "That's what you're supposed to do, and if you go into that college game and you can't do that then you need to get out of the business, because you're paid to evaluate and make a decision."
- Ryan feels that lack of command, not lack of stuff, has been the reason for Mike Pelfrey's early struggles in his first season with the Twins. Pelfrey is still less than one year removed from Tommy John surgery. Ryan isn't surprised by the early problems and feels that Pelfrey "will be fine" in the long run, which implies to yours truly that Pelfrey will have a fairly long leash.
- The Twins have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, whom they signed to a Major League contract this offseason following his dominant season for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in 2012. Mackey reports that Wood's stuff has looked good but notes that the Twins will have to expose him to waivers if he's not on the 25-man roster at the end of his 30-day rehab window because he is out of options.
- Minnesota "flirted pretty heavily" with Joe Blanton this winter, but it looks like they dodged a bullet when Blanton picked the Angels instead. Mackey notes that Blanton has allowed as many homers (nine) as the entire Twins rotation combined.
- The Twins will be cautious with how quickly they promote top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, as the organization wants to see how they fare when facing pitchers in their respective leagues for a second time. Mackey adds that Sano -- Baseball America's No. 9 overall prospect -- doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season.
Twins prospect Miguel Sano has new representation, MLBTR has learned. The 19-year-old third baseman, currently playing at High-A, is now represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council. For all of MLBTR's agency information, please check out our database.
Sano is one of the best prospects in baseball, ranking 11th on Keith Law's top 100 list for ESPN, ninth on Baseball America's list, and 12th on MLB.com's list. One of the subjects of the documentary "Pelotero," Sano "has some of the easiest power in the minors," according to Law.
MLB has announced that Tony La Russa will manage the NL team during the All-Star Game in 2012, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). La Russa retired from managing earlier this offseason, but he'll continue the tradition of the pennant winning managers from the prior year managing the two All-Star clubs. Here's the latest from around the league...
- Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reports that Ryan Zimmerman is open to a creative contract extension that would allow the Nationals to build a strong team around him. "We want to do a deal so it helps me and the team at the same time, so they can go out and sign guys like Prince Fielder or other free agents," said Zimmerman. Fielder is off the table now, and the Nats know what it'll take to sign their star third baseman long-term.
- "Never say never," said Pirates GM Neal Huntington to Jeff Nelson and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio when asked about a potential Andrew McCutchen trade. "If someone wants to back up the truck and give us one of those organization-altering deals, it's something that we'd have to listen to...It would have to be a dramatic overpay on the part of the other club."
- The Nationals consider Yoenis Cespedes a corner outfielder or even a first baseman, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). Earlier today we learned that Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and now awaits MLB's approval to become a free agent.
- The Indians are "making the necessary moves to get [Robert Hernandez Heredia] to the United States," reports the AP (via ESPN). Heredia, better known as Fausto Carmona, faces a judicial process in the Dominican Republic after lying about his identity.
- Twins top prospect Miguel Sano has changed representation according to SI.com's Melissa Segura (on Twitter). He is now with SFX agent Troy Caradonna.
Some links for your Friday...
- Tom Verducci of SI.com said on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show that he expects Carl Crawford to sign with the Yankees after the season, because "nobody is going to outbid them." The Yankees and Red Sox both love Crawford, according to Verducci.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Dodgers should spend more aggressively, especially considering they led the league in attendance last year.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com points out that Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, Bill Hall and Jeremy Hermida will combine to make only $10MM or so less than the entire Pirates team this year. Why is that noteworthy? All four Red Sox are expected to be bench players.
- Cubs GM Jim Hendry is under contract through 2012, but he tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he knows "these jobs aren't forever."
- The Pirates say Pedro Alvarez needs seasoning above AA, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sending the third baseman to the minors limits his MLB service time, so it's a sound financial decision by the Pirates.
- The A's haven't called Joe Beimel, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The A's worked out Wagner Mateo on Tuesday, according to Slusser.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney thinks that the Joe Mauer contract negotiations, which remain cordial, could continue in a few months if the sides don’t reach a deal in Spring Training.
- The Dominican prospect already worked out for the D'Backs and will likely work out for the Indians.
- Twins minor league director Jim Rantz told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that another Dominican prospect, Miguel Sano, has "tremendous upside." Kovacevic says it's still too early to know how much the Pirates missed out on when Sano signed with the Twins instead of the Pirates.
- Phillies prospect Phillippe Aumont tells Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun that he thought he was heading to the Blue Jays at one point this offseason.
- Carl Crawford tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that he's comfortable with the speculation about his future since it "comes with the territory." Crawford is a free agent after the season.
- When asked why the team failed to sign Miguel Sano at FanFest, GM Neal Huntington gave a very interesting response.
"Take your frustration level and multiply it by a million when I got the phone call (that Sano signed with the Minnesota Twins)," Huntington said. "I didn't get it done. I relied on the agent to live by his word that he'd come back to us and give us a chance to make our final bid. We never got the chance."
"We were never in the game for a player even looking for $250,000 out of Latin America before," he said. "This may be one time we were overly aggressive — we moved too quickly."
Team president Frank Coonelly said that the Pirates offered Sano $2.6MM, however he ended up taking $3.15MM from the Twins. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch provided more quotes from the Q&A sessions here (Friday's session) and here (Saturday's session).
- Pittsburgh Penguin co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle made a "very serious" offer to buy the Pirates in a face-to-face meeting with owner Bob Nutting about four months ago, however they did not receive a response. Nutting, who has owned the Pirates for just over three years, has firmly stated that the team is not for sale.
- In an Insider only piece at ESPN.com, Matt Meyers explains how the team's hoarding of prospects through trades and the draft will lead to a brighter future for Pirates fans.
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette grilled Pirates owner Bob Nutting yesterday; let's take a look at the interview.
- Nutting says Miguel Angel Sano's $3.15MM bonus with the Twins, $550K more than the Pirates' offered, "was comfortably within the range" of what the Bucs could've paid.
- GM Neal Huntington has "lots of flexibility" in payroll, but Nutting does not want to divert from the long-term plan.
- Asked if the Pirates would "someday spend at the level of the Brewers and Reds," Nutting replied in the affirmative. That'd be the $75-80MM range. The Pirates currently project to fall under $40MM in 2010.
- Nutting assured Kovacevic the Pirates are "using our revenue-share dollars appropriately."
- By my count, the Pirates have added about $14MM for winter acquisitions Akinori Iwamura, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Church, Brendan Donnelly, Bobby Crosby, D.J. Carrasco (non-guaranteed), and Javier Lopez. Matt Capps, who received $3.5MM from the Nationals, was the one well-paid subtraction.
Some links on the last day of a year we'll remember for Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols and the World Series Champion New York Yankees...
- Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother Brandon Laird, a prospect in the Yankees farm system, were arrested following a brawl at the Celtics-Suns NBA game in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the Associated Press. Gerald lives in Arizona during the offseason while Brandon played in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via his newly minted Twitter account) that Chan Ho Park's name has come up in the Giants' front office.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that Jason Bay was indeed interested in joining the Mets. The two sides didn't go longer than a day without talking once negotiations got started. An interesting note: Speier hears that the Mets never offered Bay a guaranteed five-year deal.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs considers Marlon Byrd an average player, but likes the Cubs' decision to sign him.
- Cameron tweets that the Mariners are "kicking the tires" on Francisco Liriano.
- Mike Lowell's thumb surgery was a success, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Lowell appears to be available, but health concerns may prevent the Red Sox from dealing the third baseman and some of his $12MM salary (the D'Backs face a similar challenge with Chris Snyder).
- Just because Lowell's still in Boston doesn't mean the Red Sox won't consider other third basemen. Adrian Beltre is one option and R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs doesn't think $10-15MM is an unfair asking price for the Scott Boras client.
- Justin Duchscherer tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he returned to the A's because he's comfortable in Oakland and appreciates the club's support through his struggles with depression. Slusser also has details on the incentives in the righty's contract.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wants the Yankees to stay away from free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates' failure to sign Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano was one of the club's low points this year. As Kovacevic says, "not every signing can be an absolute steal."
A fresh bash of Twitter rumors, with the earlier post so bloated...
- The Mets will meet with the agents for Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis, and John Lackey, says SI's Jon Heyman.
- Ed Wade ranks the Astros priorities as closer, offense, eighth-inning reliever, and bench, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick notes that the Astros will meet with Rafael Soriano's agent today.
- Crasnick says the Marlins are getting trade inquiries on arbitration-eligible outfielder Cody Ross. The Fish are expected to retain Ross, however.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that Ryan Garko is on the bubble in terms of being non-tendered. Reliever Brandon Medders will be tendered a contract. You can check out our other non-tender candidates here.
- Miguel Angel Sano has been determined by MLB to be 16-18, and GM Bill Smith doesn't seem to care where he falls in that range.
Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano, long suspected of having an age discrepancy on his records, has been formally granted his U.S. work visa, completing his deal with the Twins, writes Enrique Rojas of ESPN.
The embattled 16-year-old agreed to terms with Minnesota in September, but the deal - which included a $3.15MM signing bonus - wasn't official until the laminate on his visa dried. Interestingly, Rojas refers to the youngster by the surname "Sano" in his article, rather than his father's last name "Jean", which we had heard he would now go by.