Sanó playing for the Fort Myers Miracle, 2012
May 11, 1993 |
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Miguel Sanó was born in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic, to a poor Haitian and Cocolo family. He chose to begin to play baseball with the name Sanó, his mother’s family name over using his official surname of his father, which is Jean, out of respect to the Dominican Republic. He was discovered at a young age, and worked with scouts to develop his talent. In early 2009, Major League Baseball conducted an age investigation, a prerequisite for every player signed in Latin America, that confirmed Sanó’s identity but could not verify his exact age. Sanó claimed to be 16 years old, but there had been rumors in the Dominican Republic that he was older. Twins then-general manager Bill Smith stated that "Sanó’s age and identity have probably been scrutinized more than any player in the history of the Dominican Republic," and the issues and difficulties involved actually caused Sanó to lower his asking price from the $3–4 million bonus he was seeking when the international signing period first opened.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the first team to offer Sanó a deal, and appeared to be his most ardent suitor, but negotiations between the two sides were at a standstill after agent Rob Plummer rejected a $2.6 million offer from the team. Sanó elected to sign with the Twins over many other teams. Besides the Pirates, the Cleveland Indians also expressed interest in Sanó, and even had him come to their academy in the Dominican Republic for a workout session. The Baltimore Orioles pursued Sanó for a short time; however, they believed his value was well below his $3 million price tag. Other interested teams included the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
On September 29, 2009, Sanó stated that he would sign a Major League Baseball contract with the Minnesota Twins, which included a $3.15 million signing bonus. The bonus was the largest for a Latin American player from outside of Cuba in 2009, and the second highest bonus ever for a Dominican amateur, second only to the $4.25 million the Oakland Athletics paid lefthanded pitcher Michael Ynoa in 2008. It was also the highest international signing bonus in Twins history, more than the Twins spent on 70 international prospects from 2006-2008 combined. Sanó’s deal surpassed the $3 million the Yankees gave catcher Gary Sánchez. The contract was contingent upon Sanó receiving a visa from the United States, and on October 20, 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that Sanó was issued a work visa by the United States government, clearing him to play professional baseball; this was later confirmed by the Twins on December 5.
Sanó is also one of the subjects of the 2012 feature length documentary Pelotero. The film follows Sanó through his controversial signing period in 2009. The film is directed by Jonathan Paley, Ross Finkel and Trevor Martin, narrated by John Leguizamo, and produced by Bobby Valentine. It premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2011 and had a theatrical release in theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis in July 2012. The film was screened from July 13–19 in Minneapolis by the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul in the St. Anthony Main Theater.
Prior to the 2011 season, Sanó was rated the third best prospect in the Twins' minor league system by Baseball America. Sanó spent 2011 playing third base and shortstop for the Elizabethton Twins, the Twins rookie league affiliate in the Appalachian League, hitting .292 with 20 HR and 59 RBI. Following the 2011 season, Sanó was rated the top prospect in the Appalachian League by Baseball America, the top Twins prospect by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, and the 18th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.
Sanó spent 2012 with the Class-A Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League. He transitioned fully to third base, and general manager Terry Ryan stated that the team hopes to move Sanó closer to the major leagues soon. However, his developing defense and propensity for striking out have the Twins making sure not to rush his path through the minors. Sanó hit .258 with a .373 OBP, and led the Midwest League with 28 HR and 100 RBI. Following the 2012 season, Sanó was rated the second best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America, the second best Twins prospect by Baseball Prospectus, and the top Twins prospect by Baseball America. He was also rated the 12th best prospect in the game, as well as the top third base prospect, by MLB.com.
On June 9, 2013, Sanó and Eddie Rosario were promoted to the New Britain Rock Cats of the Class AA Eastern League. He compiled 35 home runs, 103 RBIs, and a .280 batting average overall. At the end of the 2013 season, MLB.com ranked him as the third best prospect in the league, and second in the Minnesota Twins organization behind only Byron Buxton. The Twins invited Sanó to spring training in 2014. During spring training, Sanó tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and will require Tommy John surgery. He will miss the 2014 season.
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