Miguel Sano won't be taking part in the 2014 season after reconstructive elbow surgery. (Kathy Willens/AP)
For Minnesota's Miguel Sano, his season is over before it even started.
On Saturday, the Twins announced that Sano would be undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow. Sano, a 20-year-old third baseman who is regarded as Minnesota's second-best prospect, will be sidelined for the next eight months, putting an end to his 2014 season.
Sano had been experiencing pain in his throwing elbow dating back to winter ball. The Twins' prospect was initially cleared to take part in camp after an examination, but he apparently felt some discomfort after making a throw across his body on Friday, leading to a second examination and a decision to undergo surgery.
Sano had been quickly climbing the ladder for the Twins since being signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic . He made his U.S. debut at just 17 years old with the Twins' short-season Gulf Coast League team in 2010, spent 2011 in short-season rookie ball, then played in Low-A Beloit in 2012. 2013 saw him post a sterling .330/.424/.655 line in 243 plate appearances at High-A Fort Myers before getting a midseason promotion to Double-A New Britain. In his first taste of Double-A, Sano hit .236/.344/.571 with 19 homers in 276 PA, showing good power and solid plate discipline, and giving hope to Twins fans that he and fellow top prospect Byron Buxton would soon be turning Minnesota around.
While the news likely won't affect the Twins on the field this season, it will have ramifications for 2015 and beyond. For Sano, recently named the No. 6 prospect in the game by Baseball America, it wipes out a year of development and a chance that he could've been up with the big-league squad by the end of 2014. For the Twins, it means that Sano is unlikely to join the team until mid-2015 at the earliest. For both, it raises the question of whether Sano will be able to stick at third base after major elbow surgery.
Luckily for Sano and the Twins, position players usually face quicker rehab times from Tommy John surgery. With a recovery time of eight months, Sano will likely have the opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League and winter ball and build up some at-bats before the 2015 season. Sano also has youth on his side; he doesn't turn 21 until May.