Twins Believe Hard-Hitting Sano Can Rein In Errors

MINNEAPOLIS—Midway through the Rookie-level Appalachian League season, Miguel Sano's OPS was 40 points higher than his fielding percentage. He had as many errors (18) as RBIs.

The Twins chose to emphasize the hitting part of that equation.

"He can really hit," vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "He's way ahead of a typical 18-year-old."

Facing pitchers who are generally two years older than he is, Sano has begun spraying hits in all directions. He batted .280/.329/.541 with seven home runs through 157 at-bats with Elizabethton. His 22 extra-base led the league.

Trouble is, Sano already has outgrown shortstop, the position he played when he signed for $3.15 million as a 16-year-old in 2009. The Dominican town of San Pedro de Macoris has gained renown for producing big league shortstops, but Sano, at 6-foor-3 and still growing, has struggled to make plays up the middle.

In two seasons in short-season ball, Sano had committed 15 errors in 31 games (.894 fielding percentage) at shortstop. The Twins responded by moving him to third base, where the mistakes haven't stopped, but have been noticeably reduced.

This season, Sano has committed nine errors in 26 games at the hot corner, good for a .900 fielding percentage.

"He's still getting comfortable over there, but it looks like a more natural fit," Radcliff said. "He moves pretty well, and he's got good hands. We always projected him at third or the outfield, but he's so young, it's too early to say what he'll be."

The Twins believe Sano can learn to play third base well enough to succeed there, especially since he's such a prodigy with the bat.


• Righthander Alex Wimmers returned to action with high Class A Fort Myers in mid-July after missing three months as he sorted out his problems throwing strikes, a process that included a consultation with a sports psychotherapist. Wimmers walked all six hitters he faced in his first start this season, so the Twins shifted him to the bullpen upon his return. The early results included a 12-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nine innings.

• Elizabethton righthander Tim Shibuya, a 23rd-roudner from UC San Diego this year, pitched the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter on July 16. Relievers Garrett Jewell and Steve Gruver finished the game.