Fantasy Impact: Miguel Sano’s Hot Start
There were a number of reasons why Miguel Sano flew under the radar for fantasy owners during the early parts of the 2015 season. He had missed most on the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, and after the 2012 MLB Draft he saw himself consistently ranked below another Twins prospect; Byron Buxton. For those in the know, Sano was always a prized prospect for the Twins. The subject of a fantastic documentary “Pelotero” about Dominican prospects and their scouting/signing process, Sano has always had top-rated power for a prospect, but since he was signed so young he would have to grow into a major league body. Check out that documentary, I included a link to the website for the film and it will tell you where you can watch it.
In their 2013 and 2014 annual pre-season books, Baseball Prospectus had Sano listed at 6’4” (6’3” in 2014) 195 pounds. This year’s edition of the Prospectus had Sano at 6’4”, 235 pounds! That’s 40 pounds and you have to assume some if not most of that added weight is muscle. Fangraphs has Sano listed at 195 pounds, ESPN has him at 262, Baseball Reference at 260, and the Twins official website has him at 260, so if you want an OFFICIAL weight you’ll probably have to head to Target Field with a bathroom scale. Regradless, it’s worth noting that Sano has filled out considerably over the years and is now ready to make an impact with the big league club.
In the minor leagues, Sano showed elite power ISO’s of .345, .263, .325, .335, and .270 from 2011 to 2015 across three levels. Along with the power, scouting reports praised Sano’s ability to take walks at a decent rate for a power hitter. Sano posted decent walk rates above 11.9% from 2013-2015.
Sano hit the ground running since his promotion on July 2, hitting safely in his first seven games with three multi-hit performances. In 13 games, he’s slashing .326/.434/.558 with six extra-base hits including two home runs. His ownership is up to 64.2% in ESPN leagues and 55% in Yahoo leagues. The second number is a bit baffling as Sano carries shortstop eligibility in Yahoo leagues this year.
Third base is incredibly deep this season, so a lot of fantasy owners probably don’t think they have a need for Sano outside of keeper leagues right now. If he isn’t owned in your keeper league, stop reading and go grab him. The main concern is how Sano will do for the rest of the season. If you can keep him, chances are you can just stash him on your bench at a low cost for next year if he experiences struggles down the stretch this season.
Trevor Plouffe has provided above-average production for the Twins at third base and has a better glove than Sano, so getting regular starts at third to obtain eligibility for next year could be difficult. In his 13 games, Sano has been the designated hitter in 12 of them while playing third only once. He’ll definitely fill in to spell Plouffe on his days off, and I think the DH job is his for the time being so he should see regular playing time. The Twins see him as more than a DH, but for the time being that’s where he’ll play and I like that. His chances of injury are reduced as he’ll only be hitting, but it should be noted that he’s currently sitting out with a sprained ankle after tripping on a baseball. Still, he’ll get to focus on hitting and he won’t have to let errors in the field haunt him at the plate.
Sano possesses a great deal of raw power and he’s already shown it at the major league level. He should continue to show that power with a few bumps (and sprains) along the way, but the Twins are committed to him as a run producer and he should find himself in the middle of the lineup on a nightly basis. Target Field plays well for right-handed power, and this is a player that could help you with 10 or more home runs over the remainder of the season. The batting average may not be elite, he could hit around .240, but his ability to take a walk will help keep him in the lineup. The power alone warrants the gamble for the rest of the season, and he’s worth adding in all fantasy formats where he is available.