After already clubbing a career-best 18 home runs -- and counting -- before the All-Star break, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano is ready to put his power on display on a national stage.The Twins confirmed via social media on Thursday that Sano will participate in the 2017 T-Mobile Home Run
After already clubbing a career-best 18 home runs -- and counting -- before the All-Star break, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano is ready to put his power on display on a national stage.
The Twins confirmed via social media on Thursday that Sano will participate in the 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby alongside the game's most powerful sluggers on July 10 at Marlins Park in Miami. It will be Sano's first time in the event, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
"I'm really excited," Sano said. "I watch them a lot. I've been working really hard my whole life to get there. It is really fun to compete with those guys because they have a lot of power, too. I try to do my job every day, and I got this opportunity."
Sano, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound slugger, blasted 25 home runs in 116 games last season after hitting 18 homers in 80 games as a rookie in 2015. In 2017, however, Sano is hitting the baseball with more authority than ever, posting a career-best .548 slugging percentage buoyed by the second-highest average exit velocity in the Majors, per Statcast™. Sano's average exit velocity of 95 mph trails only Aaron Judge's 95.8 mph.
"It means a lot to him to be recognized as someone who can potentially compete in a contest between the best power hitters in the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think Mig is one of those guys who is wired for big stages. I don't know how it's going to unfold, but I'm really happy he's going to get that opportunity, and hopefully it's coupled with the fact that he gets to play in the game."
The 24-year-old averaged a projected distance of 406 feet on his home runs throughout the first two years of his career. This season, his average distance on homers has increased to 412 feet, a mark that is the sixth-highest among all big leaguers who have hit at least 15 home runs, according to Statcast™ measurements.
Sano has been going yard with even more vigor in his third season in the Majors as well. His 107.2-mph average exit velocity on home runs is nearly 1 mph higher than his previous high for a season, and it's tied with the Tigers' J.D. Martinez for the eighth-highest among batters with at least 10 homers.
In an event that now rewards participants with a bonus for hitting home runs more than 440 feet, Sano, who has blasted five homers in his career 440 feet or longer, should have no trouble putting on a show for a national audience.
Sano is the second player to commit to the event, joining Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Official announcements are expected in the next week.
"I remember [Robinson] Cano winning," Sano said. "I saw last year when Stanton won. It's a great moment and chance to be in the Home Run Derby and represent my family and the Twins."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.