Scoggins: There was so much promise, but look at Sano now

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The transaction happened within a vortex of trade deadline frenzy, so subtle that it escaped without much notice or emotion.

The Twins placed Miguel Sano on the 60-day injured list last week, signaling an end to his playing days in Minnesota.

Shrug.

Now back to worrying about the pitching.

The indifference to the Sano news was striking because this wasn't just another daily transaction involving a player with marginal ties to the team.

Sano was once hailed as an organizational savior, along with Byron Buxton, a couple of can't-miss prospects destined to become stars while leading the Twins out of a bleak period in team history.

Contrast that image to present reality, and Sano's quiet exit with a damaged left knee after 13 years with the organization leaves an awkward dance between team, veteran player and a fanbase that already has turned the page.

Sano is 29 years old and should be in the prime of his career. Instead, he batted .083 in 20 games this season, and during his brief return from knee surgery, many people, including me, expressed concern that Sano's presence might take at-bats away from young players who deserved to be in the lineup over a player with the third-highest salary on the payroll.

Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey didn't completely rule out a possible return for Sano if the team makes the playoffs, though the timing of his IL stint "makes it challenging to imagine that," Falvey acknowledged.

Common sense says his season is over. His career in Minnesota, as well.

Sano's contract expires after the season. The team holds a $14 million option for next season, which obviously isn't going to get picked up.

So how should one view Sano's legacy in Minnesota?

In examining his eight seasons in totality, his impact is best described as unfulfilling considering the hype that accompanied him. The promise of stardom never materialized beyond a few productive seasons and periodic hot streaks that served as a tease.

Back in 2009, the team signed the 16-year-old Dominican prospect to the largest international signing bonus in franchise history — $3.15 million. The organization's top scouts thought Sano reminded them of the great Miguel Cabrera.

Sano was rated the 11th-best prospect in all of MLB in 2015, with Buxton holding down the No. 1 spot. Sano started his big-league career with a bang, finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 in a half season of performances. The hype appeared justified.

There were other high points. He made an All-Star team in 2017 and reached 30 home runs twice.

Every time he launched a ball into orbit or put together a three-week streak of home run trots, the reaction was always the same: He's finally figuring it out and this version of Miguel Sano is special.

It never lasted long. Something always got in the way of his becoming a consistent force in the middle of the lineup.

Injuries. Strikeouts. Concerns about his weight. The right field debacle.

Sano never made the necessary adjustments as a hitter to minimize slumps and strikeouts. His home runs were prodigious and generated big reactions in the stadium. OK, that was 6% of his at-bats.

Since making his debut in July 2015, Sano owns the second-most strikeouts in MLB at 1,042, trailing only Eugenio Suarez at 1,091. Suarez has nearly 1,100 more at-bats than Sano during that span.

Sano has a career strikeout percentage of 36%, and he reached 1,000 strikeouts faster than any player in the history of Major League Baseball.

His occasional home run wasn't enough to offset his whiffs or to justify keeping him in the lineup, even when healthy. Now he's injured again as his team pushes for a playoff spot.

The realization that Sano almost assuredly won't play another game in a Twins uniform barely made a ripple in public discussion. What a sad ending to something that once held so much hope and anticipation.