Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Time For Twins To Let It Sano
In June (as of this writing), the Twins are 4-11. In those 11 losses, the Twins have scored more than two runs just three times (with one of those times being a total of three runs). Two of their four wins have come scoring just two runs. Also in that span, the Twins have lost to run totals of one, two, and three (three times) runs. At this point, it's pretty safe to say the offense is struggling and needs a boost.
Enter Miguel Sano.
Earlier this month, Byron Buxton was promoted by the Twins. While Buxton was the organization's (and baseball's) top prospect, it was Sano who was expected to reach the big leagues first. After missing last season due to Tommy John surgery, there was no doubt Sano would need to shake off some rust. Now into June, Sano appears like he could immediately provide a boost to a struggling Twins lineup.
Since May 20, Sano has hit .324/.410/.592 over the course of 19 games for Double-A Chattanooga. In that time span, he's launched four home runs and driven in 17. His 16/10 strikeout to walk ratio is in a good place, and it would appear that Sano is more than clicking at the plate. His power has been talked about since the day he was signed by the Twins. On the season Sano has 12 home runs, and he's compiled 102 longballs in his 435 minor league games.
So far in 2015, the Twins have started both Kennys Vargas and Kurt Suzuki in the 5 hole 18 times. While Vargas may profile capable of that role, he's hit .150/.150/.150 with nine strikeouts, zero walks, and no extra base hits since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester. Suzuki has regressed from his career year in 2014 as expected, but even at his best (15 HR in 2009), he isn't a power threat.
What's worse than Vargas and Suzuki getting at bats in the heart of the order, the Twins have started Eduardo Nunez and Eduardo Escobar in the 5 hole a combined 12 times on the season. The two utility men have combined for four home runs over the course of 234 at bats. Looking for power in the middle of the lineup, Escobar's .624 OPS simply isn't going to get it done.
Now, although Sano has tormented Double-A pitching, expectations for his major league contributions should no doubt be muted. As with Buxton before him, Sano will be making the leap from Double-A when his time comes. This is definitely the right move, but the success may not immediately translate. The one thing that should however, is his power.
Where Buxton's hit tool is one that is still developing, Sano commands the strike zone well (he's striking out a career low $24.6%), and has an elite level of power. Currently graded 80/80 Raw Power by Fangraphs, Sano possesses the ability to destroy plenty a baseball. His Double-A career .292 ISO (isolated power, or slugging minus average) should be more than welcomed at Target Field.
Paul Molitor hinted that they have been keeping an eye on Sano, and his promotion could come sooner rather than later. The argument probably should be that it needs to be sooner rather than later. Sure, Sano may not hit .300 or even .280 in his first go-round at the big league level, but give him three months and you can bet on him launching 15-20 home runs.
The Twins offense needs a boost, it's time to let it Sano.