Miguel Sano still represents some promise for the Minnesota Twins, but a message has clearly been sent now.
Over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Miguel Sano hit 53 home runs over 861 at-bats for the Minnesota Twins and he was an All-Star in 2017. That made it easier to ignore his weight issues, an increasing propensity to strike out in lieu of a better approach at the plate and taking more walks. After Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, amid some roster shuffling, Sano was sent down to High Single-A Fort Myers.
Sano missed time earlier this season with a hamstring issue. That injury can be added to the fractured shin that shortened his 2017 campaign as injuries that probably took longer to recover from due to his weight and lack of conditioning. An official listing of 260 pounds hasn’t been correct since Sano arrived at 2016 spring training, seemingly bent on sabotaging the ill-conceived idea he could play right field.
In his first taste of big league action in 2015, Sano looked like an advanced major league hitter at 22 years old. Strikeouts are always going to be a part of life for a slugger, but his pitch recognition was at a level far beyond his years. More recently he has been selling out to pull the ball, and this year his strikeout rate (40.5 percent) has spiked to a level rarely seen even in these “three true outcome” times.
Sano is hitting .203/.270/.405 with seven home runs, 27 RBI, 66 strikeouts and 14 walks over 163 plate appearances for the Twins so far this year. Being sent all the way down to High-A ball reeks of a de facto rehab assignment (with full access to the Twins’ spring training facility), where Sano can get his conditioning in line and figure things out with the bat in a lower pressure environment.
The Twins are shaping up to be trade deadline sellers. Sending Sano down to get back on track could be with that in mind, in concert with the idea of not selling low on him if they were to move him. But a message has been sent now no matter what, and Sano’s response will say a lot about his future with the Twins.