10/15/12 10:00 AM ET
Sano shows improved glove at instructional league
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The Twins' No. 1 prospect, and No. 20 overall, led the Midwest League in home runs (28), RBIs (100) and total bases (238). He finished second in walks and OPS, and third in slugging percentage. And there's the most important statistic of all: He did all of that damage as a 19-year-old.
Of all the numbers Sano piled up in 2012, there's one that the Twins would like to bring down: 42. That's how many errors the young third baseman committed for Class A Beloit this season.
"He did some good things and there are some other things he has to work on, specifically his defense," Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. "He did light it up with the bat, with the home runs and the RBIs, but he also had those errors."
Top prospects at instructs
|2||Byron Buxton||OF||2012 (1st round)|
|4||Eddie Rosario||2B||2010 (4th round)|
|6||Travis Harrison||3B||2011 (1st rd supp)|
|8||Jose Berrios||RHP||2012 (1st rd supp)|
|11||Hudson Boyd||RHP||2010 (1st rd supp)|
|16||Kyle Gibson||RHP||2009 (1st round)|
|20||Niko Goodrum||SS||2010 (2nd round)|
The Twins know that error totals can be misleading, especially at that level of the Minor Leagues. And Sano is still very young and very much still growing into his 6-foot-4, 240-pound body. But that doesn't mean they'll just sit idly by and hope he develops into a sound defender at the hot corner. It was a focus for him during the recently-concluded instructional league.
"We're working on his agility," Rantz said. "He was a shortstop when he signed, but he's a big kid for 19. We're concentrating mainly on his defensive play."
They also want to help him with his approach and his focus, the latter of which will help him on both sides of the ball. Sano, to his credit, has made significant strides and it's shown up on the field. While they don't keep official stats at instructs, Twins minor league field coordinator Joel Lepel reported that he believed Sano had made just one error in Florida this fall.
"He's made good strides with the glove," Lepel said. "He also made good strides in Beloit. In the second half, his errors were way down."
After the Midwest League's All-Star Game on June 19, Sano committed 18 errors in 60 games. Before the break, Sano made 24 miscues in 69 games, so his work at instructs is a continuation of what he was already embracing in Beloit. One pro scouting director from another organization said he was sure Sano would be able to stay long-term at third.
He's not alone in this endeavor. Eddie Rosario, No. 4 on the Twins' list (No. 80 overall), also continues his defensive work at instructs this fall. The 2012 season was his first playing second base, moving from the outfield, and by all accounts, that transition has gone fairly smoothly. He hasn't made an error at instructs after committing 15 errors in 71 games. Beyond the error total (see the above comment about taking Minor League errors with a grain of salt), he's become more comfortable at his new home.
"Rosario has made great strides there," said Lepel, pointing out that the young infielder missed nearly a month and a half of development time during the season after getting hit in the face with a line drive. "He's working on the same things as Sano: focus, understanding what you can do. We're having him make the routine plays and work off of that. He's done a great job of that. His pivot's better. He has a strong arm."
Sano and Rosario have been together for three summers, starting with the Gulf Coast League in 2010. In 2011, they battled for the Appalachian League home run title. The Twins only hope they can continue developing together and pushing each other to Minnesota.
"They're a pretty good show to watch," Rantz said. "These two guys are matched up together, and you see the competition with each other. They know each other well. I think they have some fun. It seems one is trying to outdo the other one."