Imagine being 20 years old and having people speak of you and fellow Twins prospect Byron Buxton as "the future of the franchise." That's pressure.
That's what infield prospect Miguel Sano lives with every day. He and Buxton are the recipients of enormous expectations. They live with the impatience of fans waiting to see them perform on baseball's biggest stage.
Buxton and Sano are both making excellent progress toward that goal.
Sano is considered to have elite, game-changing power -- power that can cause considerable acceleration to his timetable to the big leagues.
Ranked No. 2 on the Twins' Top 20 Prospects list (behind only Buxton), Sano is ranked the No. 3 overall prospect in baseball. Buxton is ranked No. 1 overall on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Sano comes from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, which is also the hometown of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, the player Sano most wishes to emulate.
After signing a contract as an international free agent at age 17, Sano played his first professional games in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .344 with three homers in 64 plate appearances. He then played in the Gulf Coast Rookie League to finish the season, hitting .291 in 148 trips to the plate.
In parts of four professional seasons, Sano has hit 86 home runs in 368 games. He has driven in 282 runs. In his 1,556 plate appearances, Sano has a composite batting average of .281. He hit 28 home runs and knocked in 100 runs last season at Class A Beloit.
This year, Sano has spent time at Class A Advanced Fort Myers and at his current assignment, Double-A New Britain. He has 31 home runs already this year, with 15 of them at New Britain.
Sano's bat is his ticket to stardom. Perhaps superstardom.
I got my first glimpse of Sano in the 2013 All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field. He was the starting third baseman for the World Team. Sano went hitless in the game, walking once in three plate appearances.
His powerful body was on display. Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the right-handed hitting Sano looks far larger than that. He has a larger-than-life persona.
Sano has extremely strong hands. His power is generated from his trunk, but his hands add the important component of strength to his swing, generating backspin on the ball.
Sano's strikeouts have been reduced as he gains experience recognizing and selecting pitches he can drive. He is lethal against fastballs. He is improving against the increasing number of breaking balls he is seeing.
Signed as a shortstop, Sano continues to improve as a third baseman. In the brief look I had, I think he might be better suited to play first base. I believe it might afford less pressure and allow him to concentrate on hitting. But he is comfortable at third, and that's likely where he'll stay.
A player with Sano's power and overall hitting tools is a treasure for a franchise. Given his ability to run well enough to steal bases, he is a multi-talented threat with a bat in his hands or as a baserunner.
It would be tempting for the Twins to accelerate Sano's development. While they need him sooner than later, he's making progress toward becoming a finished player. But, he isn't there yet.
Refinements regarding cutting down his strikeouts and fielding ground balls more naturally may be the finishing touches for Sano, a player destined to help the Twins going forward.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.