By La Velle
STILL FROM KANSAS CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, MO. — I was told today that the Twins have made an offer to Dominican superprospect Miguel Angel Sano – but it’s contingent on him being able to prove that he’s 16.
When I first head that, I was like, “Well, yah, if he’s not 16 then aren’t all deals off anyway?” Anyway, that’s what I was told by a good source and I’m running with it.
And proving his age is one of the unsolved mysteries of all time, apparently.
The Twins, Pirates and Orioles are the teams known to have interest in Sano, an infielder with power potential. Pittsburgh is believed to have made an offer for him too. Check out his photo on the Post-Gazette site. It’s believed that the Twins offer is around $3 million.
It was the Twins who recently asked Major League Baseball investigators to get involved in Sano’s age verification process. That shows they are pretty serious about the kid. But records on childbirths in the Dominican Republic apparently are as tough to figure out as one of Craig’s blog responses. I kid, Craig. I kid. But the process could take awhile.
If Sano (pronounced Son-YO) is caught lying about his age he won’t be allowed to sign with aa club for a year. Even if he’s really 18 he’s still a prospect – but won’t command offers in the $3 million range.
Sano is considered a shortstop now but speed is not his best asset and he’s projected to be a 220-pounder. He very well might wind up at third base or the outfield. But he has power to all fields and a swing some think is special.
There have been rumors that Sano is looking for a bonus in the $4 million range. Would the Twins go that high? One time they thought they had a shot at a top Latin prospect was when they offered Miguel Cabrera $1 million and watched Florida sign him for $1.8 million.
If the Twins sign Sano for something in the $3 million range, it would obliterate their record bonus for an international prospect, which was $775,000 for Alexander Smit in 2002. In fact, their second highest bonus on the international front is around $150,000 for infielder James Beresford, an Australian currently at Class A Beloit.
COULD BE THE BREAKTHROUGH YEAR
Even if they don’t sign Sano, the Twins still might set signing bonus records this year. From talking with a couple of people within the organization, the Twins have spent recent years pushing hard to improve their relationships in Latin America and feel this might be the year it all pays off.
“We’re pursuing a lot of different players and we are pursuing some high profile players.” Twins general manager Bill Smith. “We have put a lot of time in the past two to three years. This is one of our bullets: To get strong in the international market. We’ve have had some interest in some high profile players (in the past) and haven’t been able to finish them off.”
For instance, the most money doesn’t always get the best players. Facilities, staff and the right words do. Michael Inoa signed with A’s last year for around $4.25 million when Texas reportedly offered more. It didn’t hurt that Billy Beane made a trip to the Dominican Republic to meet the family.
Bill Smith and Mike Radcliff have been to Latin America and know the lay of the land and how things work.
“We continue to be aggressive. We have dispatched some of our best scouts there.”
Indications are that the Twins are in on a few other top prospects. Not for Sano money, but more than that have laid out in the past.
Fred Guerrero is the Twins’ scout in the Dominican Republic. Based in Santo Domingo, Fred Guerrero is the son of Epy Guerrero, who signed George Bell, Tony Fernandez, Jose Mesa, Carlos Delgado, Kelvim Escobar and other top Latin prospects. The Twins hope Fred has his father’s eye for talent and the ability to close deals.
So the Twins seem to have the resources and manpower in place to become a bigger player in the Dominican Republic. Let’s see if it really pays off this season. And let’s see if Sano is really 16.