|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Sano's bat making familiar sound05/02/2012 11:53 PM ET
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
For those tasked with working with him every day, whether Miguel Sano is right or not can be determined simply by the sound of his bat connecting with ball.
In a nine-game stretch from April 21-29, when the Twins' No. 1 prospect went 6-for-33 (.182), that sound was heard all too rarely.
But in his last couple games, including a 3-for-5 performance with a double and two RBIs on Wednesday in Class A Beloit's 6-5 win over Cedar Rapids, Snappers hitting coach Tommy Watkins has heard it a lot.
"It's unreal. It's amazing to see the ball come off his bat, it's a different sound," said Watkins, who spent 12 seasons in the Twins system before getting a nine-game callup with Minnesota in 2007. "In all my years of playing, and three of coaching, I've never heard or seen the ball come off the bat the way it comes off his."
Baseball is a game that will, inherently, drive any hitter into a slump. What coaches like Watkins want to see from a young player like Sano (who will turn 19 on May 11) is simply how he works through it.
Between going 4-for-5 on April 20 and culling together his next multi-hit game Monday, when he went 2-for-3 against Dayton, Watkins said he saw Sano, MLB.com's No. 23 prospect overall, doing the things indicative of a talented, mature young athlete.
"I think he deals really well with it, despite him being young. He's probably one of our hardest working guys," said Watkins. "He's been working hard on the field, with his game, his hitting, and really hard off the field, with his English."
According to Watkins, Sano has been especially focused during his regular English classes with tutor Rafael Yanez, and has seen his conversational skills improve greatly. That has helped him defensively, in that he's increasingly able to communicate with teammates and direct the infield.
"I've been very impressed with the way he goes about his business, he's catching on [with English] really well. You can have a conversation with him, and he's getting better every day." said Watkins.
As one might expect, with that kind of work ethic off the field, Sano has been just as diligent with his responsibilities on the field.
"You would never be able to tell he was a guy that got a lot of money or has the status he has," said Watkins. "He communicates with the guys on defense, runs balls out. It's amazing to watch his batting practice, even his work in the cage."
And eventually, the slump at the plate ended and Watkins' ears perked up once more at the sound of Sano's bat finding its groove.
"I don't even know how to describe it," said the hitting coach. "It's a different kind of loud."
First baseman Roy Rhodes went 2-for-4 and contributed an eighth-inning home run for the Snappers on Wednesday, and designated hitter Adam Bryant doubled and drove in two more runs.
Starter Matthew Summers surrendered three runs -- one earned -- on six hits with two strikeouts over five innings but didn't factor into the decision. Corey Williams earned his fourth save with two shutout innings.