Thursday, February 24, 2011

Miguel Sano: Sooner or Later

Yesterday the folks at Baseball America released their Top 100 Prospects list for all of Major League Baseball. One of the things that I like about their list of prospects is the listing of an ETA or Estimated Time of Arrival. For some prospects the ETA will be as soon as this coming season and for others the wait could be a few more seasons.

The number one prospect on my own top Twins prospect list, Miguel Sano, offers an interesting problem for the Twins. He will only be 17 years old at the beginning of this season so there are many baseball playing years in front of him. The predicament that the Twins find themselves in is how fast they should bring along their future star.

The Baseball America rankings have Sano as the #60 prospect in the minors. They gave him a BA ranking of 70 and state that his best tool is his power. Their prediction for his time of arrival at the major league level is 2014. At the beginning of the 2014 season, Sano would only be 20 years old. That seems very young for the Twins to be making him a central figure in their line-up.

The Twins don't tend to rush talent through their minor league system. They allow players to mature and develop as baseball players. With the arbitration system that is used in MLB, this also allows the organization to hang on to their own home-grown talent for as long as possible.

So the question is raised, is it better to bring up Sano sooner or later?

Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez are two current players that Sano has been compared to at his current age. Both of these players were 21 when they made their Major League debuts. Pujols played the entire 2001 season for the Cardinals at age 21 and was named Rookie of the Year. Ramirez only played two games in the season that he was age 21. The Red Sox proceeded to trade him to the Marlins and he played the entire next season at age 22 when he was named Rookie of the Year.

As far as Twins players are concerned, Joe Mauer made his debut at the age of 21. He only played part of that 2004 season because of a knee injury. That means his first full season wasn't until the age of 22. Justin Morneau made brief appearances in the majors at age 22 and 23 but wouldn't play an entire season until the age of 24. Michael Cuddyer's debut came at age 22 but his first full season wouldn't come until age 25.

The magic age for the debut of players with a skill set like Sano seems to be 21. That seems to line-up with the prediction made by Baseball America. It will be interesting to watch the development of Sano during the next couple years. Like many young foreign-born players, Sano wants to make it to the big leagues as soon as possible.

Will the Twins try to hold back his rise through the organization? Or will Twins fans get a taste of Sano sooner rather than later?

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