KANSAS CITY (mlb.com)-- Top prospect Miguel Sano made his long-awaited debut with the Twins on Thursday, serving as the designated hitter and hitting sixth against the Royals.
Sano went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in his debut, reaching on an infield single in the ninth inning off closer Greg Holland for his first Major League hit. Shane Robinson replaced him as a pinch-runner, but Sano's hit led to a run with Eduardo Escobar coming through with an RBI triple to give the Twins some breathing room in a 2-0 win at Kauffman Stadium.
"I feel really happy, not for the single, but for my team winning tonight," Sano said. "It's my goal to try to win a lot of games this year."
Sano, ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was officially recalled from Double-A Chattanooga on Thursday. Sano said he found out on Wednesday, and was told about his callup by manager Doug Mientkiewicz in front of his teammates.
"It was a good moment," Sano said before Thursday's series opener. "I was really happy when they told me. This was the opportunity I wanted my whole life. I want to stay up here my whole career and never get sent down."
Sano, 22, has been on Minnesota's radar ever since he was signed to a record $3.15 million bonus as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. The third baseman is known for his plus power, which is something the Twins have been lacking, as they're tied for 23rd in homers this season.
"I think it's exciting for myself, our staff and our players," manager Paul Molitor said pregame. "His name has been out there for a quite a while, really all the way back to when we signed him. It's been a five-year journey for him. But we're looking for a pick-me-up and we tried a few things to try to jumpstart us a little bit. You hope he's that guy. He's going to add a presence to the lineup."
Sano was swinging a hot bat at Double-A, as he hit .274/.374/.544 with 15 homers, 18 doubles and 48 RBIs in 66 games. He started off slow, as he missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, but since May 1, Sano batted .315/.400/.601 with 11 homers in 48 games.
"I feel really good at the plate," Sano said. "The first month I didn't do very good, but I tried to work hard and make adjustments every day with the manager and hitting coach."
Sano will be the club's regular designated hitter in the short-term, as Trevor Plouffe will remain the third baseman. But Molitor said he plans to have Sano do extra work at first base and in the outfield to help with his versatility. Sano will also see spot duty at third base, when Plouffe needs a rest or if the Twins give Joe Mauer a day off and move Plouffe to first.
"I do expect him to be the DH," Molitor said. "I talked to Trevor today and he's my third baseman."
Sano has made just three career starts as a DH, so Molitor said he talked to him pregame about different routines he can utilize in between his at-bats.
"I didn't tell him how to be a DH but just a few options on what people do," Molitor said. "I cautioned him somewhat about how to use that time in between at-bats. You can't be thinking about your at-bat or your next at-bat the whole game."