Yankees star Robinson Cano impressed by Twins prospect

MINNEAPOLIS — As soon as Robinson Cano hears the name Miguel Sano, his eyes light up and he flashes a smile.

“My boy,” the Yankees second baseman says of the Minnesota Twins’ top prospect.

Cano and Sano both grew up in the same town in the Dominican Republic. For Cano, his ticket out of San Pedro de Macoris was baseball when he signed with New York as an 18-year-old in 2001. Eight years later, Sano followed Cano from the Dominican Republic to the United States when he signed with the Twins in 2009 at the age of 16.

It was about that time that Cano first saw Sano play. He had known the youngster for years, but first witnessed Sano’s skills about four years ago.

Sano left a good first impression on the four-time All-Star.

“He was big,” Cano remembers of the now 6-foot-3, 195-pound Sano. “He always hit the ball hard. I was impressed. A young kid with that power. He’s got all the talents and the tools.”

The two Dominican natives have developed a friendship over the last few years. Cano and the Yankees faced Sano and the Twins during a spring training game this year, and Cano can vividly recall the two hits Sano had that game. The two exchange text messages almost daily, and Cano made sure to congratulate Sano after his recent promotion to Double-A.

Still just 20 years old, Sano is quickly moving through the Twins’ minor league system. After beginning the year with High-A Fort Myers, Sano earned a promotion to Double-A New Britain. In 20 games at Double-A, Sano already has hit six homers and driven in 16 runs.

Before jumping up a class, Sano was tearing the cover off the ball in the Florida State League. He batted .330 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI in 56 games with the Miracle. Those numbers were enough to convince the Twins to see what he could do at the next level.

“If he’s hitting in High A in the Florida State League, he can hit anywhere,” Cano said, “Because that’s a tough league.”

Cano played in the same league at the same age — 20 years old — as Sano. In 90 games with the Yankees’ High-A affiliate in 2003, Cano hit .276 with five homers and 50 RBI. Cano went on to debut with the Yankees as 22-year-old in 2005. His numbers in the Florida State League can’t compare to what Sano did in Florida; then again, not many players’ numbers can.

There’s a reason why Baseball America has Sano pegged as the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball while MLB.com has him as the 10th-best prospect. Later this month, Sano will play in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Futures Game, which showcases the best young talent in the minor leagues. The game is played before MLB’s All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, where Cano will likely be as well. Cano currently leads all American League second basemen, so he and Sano could be united later this month.

Sano has visited New York before to watch Cano play at Yankee Stadium, but this will be the 20-year-old’s first chance to shine under the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Cano thinks it’s only a matter of time before Sano is playing on the biggest stage baseball has to offer.

“No matter how young you are, if you have the talent, you might as well get a chance,” Sano said. “There’s a lot of guys in the past few years who are 20 years old who made it to the big leagues. … He’s just got to keep working hard. Hopefully we’ll see him soon up here.”

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