Twins third base prospect Miguel Sano is heading for tests on his problematic right elbow, reports Mike Bernardino of the Pioneer Press. He felt something in the joint during an intrasquad game on Thursday.
"He came in and they asked him, ‘How did that feel?'" said assistant GM Rob Antony to Bernardino. "He said he felt it a little bit on that one. So they took him out of the game and he went in to get it checked out. When he came in today it was still a little sore."
Sano, 20, suffered a strained UCL playing winter ball during the offseason. The team had been rehabbing him with a conservative throwing program in recent weeks. The worst case scenario would be Tommy John surgery to repair the elbow, which would wipe out pretty much his entire season.
"I think they had a plan and they followed the plan perfectly," added Antony. "That was just a matter of, ‘OK, we're going to have to find out here. So let's go, let's roll him out there and find out sooner than later.' And if he gets through a week of games and there is no discomfort, you might say, ‘OK, here we go.' Unfortunately he felt a little something and we have to check it out and see where it's at."
Baseball America ranked Sano as the sixth best prospect in baseball a few weeks ago and he is widely considered the best pure power-hitting prospect in the minors. He hit .280/.382/.610 with 30 doubles and 35 home runs in 123 games split between Single-A and Double-A last year.
It's unlikely Sano would have made the Twins roster out of spring training, but it seemed likely he would have made his MLB debut at some point in 2014. Bernardino says Sano will be shut down for a few days even if Friday's test come back with good news.
The Tommy John rehab timetable for position players is roughly half what it is for pitchers, but that still means 6-7 months on the shelf.