Bothered for months by a sore elbow, Twins' No. 2 prospect Miguel Sano will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and is expected to miss the entire 2014 season.
The 20-year-old third baseman felt something in his right elbow Thursday after making a hurried throw during an intrasquad game in Fort Myers, Fla. He underwent an MRI that revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will travel to the Twin Cities, where the procedure will be performed, MLB.com reported.
"We knew the test was going to be when he had to make a pivot and turn a double play at second or like it bothered him when he came in on a slow roller and he made a strong throw to first," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "That's when he said he felt it again. Up until then, every day [it was], 'Nope, don't feel it.'
"You start gaining some optimism and you get a little excited thinking maybe this is going to work out and he won't need [surgery]. But when something happens and he has a setback like that, you have to deal with it."
Recovery time for position players is roughly six months, meaning Sano likely will sit out what would have been his fourth season in the Minor Leagues.
"He's a little bummed out. He wants to play baseball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told the newspaper. "But as I told him, you've just got to let [the doctors] take care of it."
The injury dates back to Sano's stint with Double-A New Britain over the second half of last season and limited him to two games in the Dominican Winter League. It was initially diagnosed as a strained ligament, and the Twins opted for rest and rehabilitation, a decision that was confirmed after Sano was examined by noted arm specialist Dr. James Andrews.
"It was our doctors, it was Dr. Andrews, everyone agreed that was the right course of action, so we don't have regrets whatsoever on how this was handled," Antony said.
Ranked by MLB.com as baseball's No. 4 overall prospect, Sano ranked second in the Minors with a .610 slugging percentage, .992 OPS and 70 extra-base hits last season. He was third with 35 homers, sixth with 268 total bases and seventh with 103 RBIs in 123 games split between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and New Britain.
Already the subject of a 2011 documentary, "Ballplayer: Pelotero," Sano signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in October 2009. The native of the Dominican Republic was named an Appalachian League postseason All-Star in 2011 after he batted .292 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 66 games with Elizabethton. He spent the following season with Class A Beloit, where he hit .258 with 28 homers and 100 RBIs in 129 games and was named Midwest League Prospect of the Year.