MLB.com recently released their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. The Twins, as expected, had two of the very best with outfielder Byron Buxton at #1 and third baseman Miguel Sano at #4, sandwiched between Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley. The expectations are already high for Sano going into 2014, and many expect him to join the big league club at some point during the season after getting his first taste of Triple-A competition.
Sano hit 35 home runs with a .280/.382/.610 line last season, split nearly equally between Single-A Fort Myers Double-A New Britain. Sano himself expects to dwarf those numbers in 2014. Via Phil Miller of the Star Tribune:
“I hit 45 this year. More games,” he said. “Maybe 55, you never know.”
His next project: Developing a better grasp of the strike zone, in hopes of becoming a more patient hitter. Sano seemed excited about the possibility after Joe Mauer offered to work with him in Fort Myers, Fla., next month. Considering he posted a .382 on-base percentage in 2012, drew 65 walks last year and 80 the year before, he’s already displayed plenty of patience.
But Sano is characteristically thinking big. How many walks this year? “Hundred and 20,” he said. “Maybe 150.”
When Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus published his top-ten prospect list for the Twins in November, he called Sano “the best all-around power threat in the minors”. Sano has simply just given us yet one more reason to keep an eye on him as he moves his way through the Twins’ system.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”