I don’t know how many of you saw this on Friday, but the Twins have asked Major League Baseball to look into what they consider to be irregularities in Miguel Angel Sano’s age documentation and MLB has agreed to do an investigation. The general idea is that the Twins say that they believe it’s possible that Sano’s mother had a child named Miguel Angel Sano that died at birth and that the player currently thought to be Sano is an older teenager using the dead child’s birth certificate to appear younger.
It’s important to remember that right now, this scenario posed by the Twins seems incredibly unlikely. As the original blog post (ESPN Insider only) points out, Dominican laws requires children to be “declared” before a birth certificate is issued meaning that most children that die during birth wouldn’t have birth certificates. This coupled with the fact that the Pirates have done their “bone-graft test” (that’s in quotes because I have no idea what it is, not because I doubt the veracity of it), which has shown that he’s between 16 and 17 seem to indicate pretty strongly that the Twins are just trying to cover all their bases with a 6’3″ 16-year-old before offering him a seven-figure signing bonus.
Despite all this, Jorge Aragure, who posted the story at ESPN about the investigation, still thinks the Pirates are the favorites to sign Sano, and in an interview on Tyler Hissey’s podcast shortly before the allegations went public, Kiley McDaniel (who’s covering the Latin American market for Baseball Prospectus) indicates that there aren’t many questions about Sano’s age and reiterates that the Pirates have had the most interest, though ten teams may be willing to go as high as $3 million.
All of this kind of gives me the gut feeling that little has changed with Sano, even with this pending allegation. If MLB does find reason to think he’s older than he claims, he’ll be suspended for a year. I’m still not sure that’s likely and part of me wonders (WARNING: BASELESS SPECULATION AHEAD) if the Twins didn’t ask for an investigation to try and drum up uncertainty and scare other teams off. In the interview I posted above, McDaniel doesn’t shy away from the “Latin Stephen Strasburg” label and when you read that Cards’ GM John Mozeliak flew to the DR to watch him in person, it really gives an idea of how interested other teams are in this kid.
That being said, he’s still just 16 years old and I’m still a little slow to agree with people who say that the Pirates HAVE TO SIGN HIM, LEST OUR FUTURE BE CAST INTO THE FIERY PITS. Seeing how the Pirates operated the second day of the draft, I don’t really feel that their success in the draft is tied to Sano, assuming they can get a decent number of the high school pitchers signed.
All of this is mostly a reminder of what Sano is; a great young talent that I’d certainly rather have in the Pirates’ organization than out of it, but a free agent nonetheless. If he ends up signing somewhere else, that doesn’t mean that the Pirates failed to sign him, necessarily, but jsut that he picked another team. As much as he seems to have a relationship with Rene Gayo and be interested in the Pirates’, he has an American agent who’s telling him just what the Pirates are and what a future with them might mean. If he doesn’t sign, we’ll sign other free agents in Latin America, and we’ll hope that they pan out. Just because a kid is the most highly touted when he’s 16 doesn’t mean he’s going to be the best player.