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09/30/09 9:37 PM ET
Twins sign Dominican prospect Sano
Organization anticipates big things for 16 year old
By Tyler Mason / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Angel Sano was officially signed by Minnesota on Wednesday, receiving a $3.15 million bonus. Sano may be just 16 years old, but those within the Minnesota organization are already predicting big things from the Dominican teenager. "I think upon his signing, he immediately enters our organization as one of the higher ceiling bats that we have," said Mike Radcliff, Minnesota's vice president of player personnel. "He has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order kind of offensive player. He has strength, a good swing, finish, all the things that potentially add up to average, and he can hit for power." Sano joins 16-year-old German prospect Max Kepler-Rozycki as two of the highest-profile international signings in recent Twins history. Radcliff admitted his organization might not have as much influence overseas compared to other clubs when it comes to signing prospects, but thinks the additions of Kepler-Rozycki and Sano could change a bit of that perception. "There's a lot of people that want to point to that as being something special and something unique and different and maybe brings a new era," Radcliff said. "I don't want to be cliché or boring or anything, but you try to pick out the players that you identify and do the best you can on them. ... They happen to be in the international market, where we don't have the same profile as some other teams." The biggest question mark surrounding Sano currently is his age. Radcliff said there has been no official determination of whether Sano is in fact his listed age of 16, but added it's not something the club is concerned about. "There has been a long, arduous investigation by MLB," Radcliff said. "His age has not been completely verified. But we have a lot of confidence with the amount of time we've spent on this, getting to know the player and the family and all the surrounding people. We feel confident that he this age, he is 16, 17, a youthful player. Somewhere around there." While Major League Baseball and the Twins continue to work on verifying Sano's age, the next step for Sano will be to obtain a work visa before he can travel to the United States and join Minnesota. "We've consummated the deal, and now we've just got to get him home by getting his visa and paperwork and getting him going," Radcliff said. Sano currently plays shortstop, but his size -- 200 pounds and possibly still growing -- could lead to a position change once he makes it to the Twins' organization. "There's every reason to believe he'll be a very large young man," Radcliff said. "His tools and skills now allow him to play short. The probability is he'll end up playing some sort of corner position, hopefully third. If not third, then first base, left field or right field." Radcliff and others within the Twins organization had developed a relationship with Sano's agent, Rob Plummer, whom Radcliff said has had several high-profile, highly-paid clients over the past several years. Sano, whom the Twins have been following for over a year, was the first Plummer client Minnesota has signed. "Because of the length of this deal -- this has gone on for quite some time -- I think the positive relationship certainly [helped]," Radcliff said. "We were diligent enough to maintain conversation and do the observations all through the period of time. I guess our persistence has been rewarded."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.