Twins prospect Miguel Sano has high expectations for himself in 2014

9 Comments

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.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.