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September 13, 2013

Notes from the Field

In Person: Miguel Sano vs. Maikel Franco

by Chris Mellen


When going through the schedule each week and figuring out which games I am going to attend, I typically first look through the projected pitching rotations to see which arms I can line up. Due to the nature and timing of pitching, there’s a smaller window of opportunity to catch everything you need to see. The position players then usually fall into place from there. The final series of the season between Reading and New Britain was different, however. My main objective was to get my eyes on two prospects: Miguel Sano and Maikel Franco.

I’ve seen quite a bit of Sano since he signed with Minnesota, but it’s been in spring training and fall Instructs against low-minors competition. One of the big things I’ve been waiting to see is how his progressing hitting skills match up against more advanced arms. The reports on Franco have been intriguing, and it was my first opportunity to take a long look at the 21-year-old. With the chance to see both third base prospects on the field at the same time, it presented a chance to do some comparing and contrasting.

Defense: Neither Sano or Franco is likely going to be known for his defense. In game action, both were deliberate and didn’t look natural with their movements or reactions. There’s a lack of trust that shows in how robotic each can be. I give Sano the better chance to stick at the position based on his having more fluidity and his signs of development, but there’s still a good amount of defensive growth necessary for him to become average.

Franco’s slow first step, especially to his left, limited his range at the hot corner. My gut says it is more likely that he moves off the position in the long run, but my mind is still open. Both Sano and Franco featured plus-to-better arms, and showed no trouble in getting some steam behind their throws. Ideally, they’re arms you’d like to see stick at third and not move across the diamond.

Swing: Sano and Franco are fairly different here. Once Sano gets his hands started, he drives the head of the bat out to the ball and creates big extension with his arms. Subsequently, he handles balls out and over the plate. Sano lined a fastball slightly away and at the thighs; it resulted in an out, but illustrated how he covers the plate. His swing is quick enough to get the bat head out in front, while the weight stays on the back leg to keep his hips from clearing too soon to prevent carving it off. On the flip side, Sano’s swing leaves him prone to hard stuff on the inner half. A couple of low-90s fastballs got up quickly on his hands for foul balls, and he’s more apt to fight offerings off in this area.

Franco, on the other hand, drives his hands down more before getting extended. He’s also loose pulling them in. It was difficult getting middle-in past Franco, as he easily rifles the barrel through the zone. All of the hard contact he produced was in this area, including the inside fastball that he golfed off the top of the wall for a double and the changeup that he lined into left for a single. He squares the ball up very well with backspin in this zone. There was some inconsistency in wrapping the head of the bat, which led to weakness with balls out and over the plate. Franco’s swing is designed to get out in front quickly, and when he tried to adjust the path it was too late. Curveballs in this area especially gave him trouble, resulting in swinging strikes.

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Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Scouting,  Minor Leaguers

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