To Miguel Sano, the biggest difference between his 56 games in the Florida State League and his 60 contests in the Eastern League this summer has been the quality of the off-speed pitches.
The Twins' No. 2 prospect said after New Britain's 7-4 win against Bowie on Sunday that he thinks he's become a much better hitter against off-speed offerings in his three months in Double-A. The third baseman showcased that against the Baysox, belting a pair of home runs off sliders by Devin Jones to help lift the Rock Cats to the win.
On a 2-for-3 afternoon, the two homers gave Sano 17 in 209 Double-A at-bats after hitting 16 in 206 at-bats with Class A Advanced Fort Myers -- the 33 combined homers are a career high. Sano drove in four Sunday, giving him 99 RBIs for the season, one shy of the 100 he drove in a year ago with Class A Beloit.
The multi-homer game was Sano's third this season, his second in Double-A. It was the seventh time in his career he'd belted two home runs -- he's never hit three or more in a game.
The No. 3 prospect on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list is hitting .244 with a .340 on-base percentage and a .574 slugging percentage in Double-A. Sano has been especially good in the 34 games since the All-Star break, batting .276 with 11 homers and a .996 OPS.
The right-handed Jones opted to challenge Sano with sliders out of the gate, but the Dominican infielder wasn't fooled. The right-handed hitter turned on Jones' first-pitch slider in his first at-bat, mashing the offering way over the wall in left-center field.
"I see a lot of off-speed stuff over here," Sano said. "But I'm working hard with my hitting coach [Chad Allen]. I'm working all the time to have a better approach, a better two-strike approach."
Sano showcased the two-strike approach in the sixth, when he belted his second home run off Jones' 1-2 offering. Jones tried to slip another slider by Sano, and the 20-year-old infielder mashed the pitch over the wall in left-center field.
"I'm just really happy when I hit a home run in the game," said the native of San Pedro de Macoris.
Sano has made steady progress in his time in Double-A, raising his batting average every month. His seven August home runs and 14 extra-base hits both mark his greatest monthly outputs in the Eastern League. His .973 August OPS is also a Double-A best, all despite a declining strikeout-to-walk rate.
In June, Sano had 20 strikeouts and 10 walks, and followed that with 21 punchouts and 13 free passes in July. This month, Sano has struck out 30 times and walked six times in 20 games.
Prior to Sunday, Sano had recorded five straight multi-strikeout games, but did not fan and added a walk in the win over Bowie.
The 20-year-old has another week's worth of games left, and he said he has not yet gotten word from Minnesota on his offseason plans.
No. 5 Twins prospect Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, and Daniel Ortiz added two hits.