Introducing Miguel Angel Sano

Now that Strasburg-mania is cooling down, the next top amateur player will find out his destination over the next month. 16-year-old shortstop Miguel Angel Sano has been profiled heavily over the past few months. At 6’3” Sano is expected to move to a corner as he ages. His bat appears to be special and has drawn some comparisons to former shortstops like Gary Sheffield.

Most of Sano’s value comes from his age and projected bat. Defensively he has a strong arm, but the athleticism required to stick at shortstop is probably going to be lost with a few more inches, assuming he isn’t physically maxed out. Some of the previous top bonus babies include Wily Mo Pena and Joel Guzman. Neither became a star, but both helped their signing franchise in some fashion or another. Pena recorded a positive WAR during his time in Cincinnati and was later traded for Bronson Arroyo. Guzman has been a massive bust, but was essentially dealt straight up for Julio Lugo, who later became two first round draft picks.

Lack of superstardom hasn’t stopped teams from investing big money bonuses to foreign prospects. Just last year the Athletics signed Michael Ynoa for a record breaking 4.25 million dollars and the Reds signed outfielder Yorman Rodriguez for a positional player record, one Sano should break. Kiley McDaniel has listed the Pirates as the frontrunners, with teams like the Rays and Orioles also interested in the youngster. McDaniel also implies that the Pirates pick at number four, who we now know by the name of Tony Sanchez, could be selected with cost in mind. Sanchez certainly fits that bill.

Is Sano worth the investment? The victor of the Sano sweepstakes is probably going to pay between 3 and 4 million for his services. Of course you run the risk of Sano burning out on baseball before ever taking a major league swing, but don’t you run that same risk for just about any amateur talent? I’ve taken the last three years worth of top five picks and their signing bonuses and created a created, illustrating how Sano’s costs may stack up to those of the top amateur talents:

signingbonus

Coincidentally, the cheapest pick has been selection four; the same pick the Pirates held Tuesday night and seemingly held true to the recent trend. The most expensive pick, outside of the first, has been number five thanks to Matt Wieters and Buster Posey. The average across the board is 4.28 million, which would set another international signing record.

Teams must answer whether Sano would be a top five selection in his first eligible draft, if the answer is yes; they should put forth the money. If the answer is no, they need to evaluate where he would fall. Remember, this is 4.28 million in closed negotiations; Sano is on the open market, in theory that would inflate his price.

Sano won’t be hitting homeruns off Tropicana Field’s outer walls or on Sports Illustrated covers like Bryce Harper but expect to hear a lot more about him in the next four weeks.




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6 Responses to “Introducing Miguel Angel Sano”

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  1. metty5 says:

    RJ–

    I have to disagree with the rational at the bottom because of the last sentence you wrote:

    “Teams must answer whether Sano would be a top five selection in his first eligible draft, if the answer is yes; they should put forth the money. If the answer is no, they need to evaluate where he would fall. Remember, this is 4.28 million in closed negotiations; Sano is on the open market, in theory that would inflate his price.”

    You can’t evaluate players monetarily in different systems. An open vs. closed market is a huge difference. Giving a player the ability to negotiate with several employers rather than a sole bidder own your professional rights (draft) will greatly increase your earning power.

    I’m not really sure were the draft picks come into this other than that Pittsburgh went below slot to save money for Sano. I’m not sure that the open international system can be equated to; find the players true ranking among draftees, offer them in the ballpark of that slot recommendation/what that position has been historically paid.

    Pittsburgh really hasn’t been a huge player in the Latin area like the Giants or Rangers. A Sano signing could really put them on the map down there as serious contenders.

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  2. milkman41 says:

    “Reds signed outfielder Rafael Rodriguez for a positional player record” – it was actually the Giants who signed Rodriguez, if I’m not mistaken.

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  3. JasonL says:

    Pena was not signed by the Reds initially. He was acquired from the Yankees.

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  4. Paul Thomas says:

    Based on where international players typically appear on top-prospect rankings compared to draftees who are paid the same bonuses, international bonuses should (in my semi-informed opinion) be discounted by a factor of somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 compared to draft bonuses, because they are obtained through a partially open market.

    Just emphasizes how effective the draft is at screwing minor leaguers out of fair wages…

    In general, we should expect bonuses paid to international players to be lower than those for domestic players, once you discount properly for open versus closed markets. Why? Because international player evaluation is much less effective than domestic evaluation.

    There are a number of reasons for this (culture shock, poorly organized or nonexistent amateur ball systems [as compared to the very well-organized NCAA and high school systems in the US], malnourished players in poverty-stricken regions) but the biggest reason is simply the age of the players at signing. Most American players will have minimal height growth after signing, so physical projection is comparatively easy. It’s a lot harder to figure out how heavy a guy is going to be (and thus what positions he’ll be able to play) when you’re guessing at two dimensions instead of one.

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  5. Lots of Great information in your posting, I bookmarked your site so I can visit again in the future, All the Best, Trinidad Vreeland

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