With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
As a part of their “leave no stone unturned” approach, no organization does a better job mining for talent in all parts of the world. Beyond the international hotbeds of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, the Twins have a strong presence in Australia and have found talent in plenty of other non-traditional places including Germany, Russia, and South Africa. Aiding their search for future major league contributors, Minnesota has a clearly defined organizational philosophy which has proven to be a successful and winning model, but they aren’t afraid to deviate from that model when they identify a special talent.
Sano is clearly the crown jewel of the system and the only elite, impact talent in the pipeline, but beyond him there is a great deal of depth and a healthy balance of position and pitching prospects. That depth was augmented by a very strong and very deep 2011 draft class. Not only did they make some very shrewd picks they also signed 18 of their first 19 picks missing out on only HS LHP Adam McCreery (14th round). While they weren’t included in the below RHP Tim Shibuya (23rd) and RHP Trent Higginbotham (26th) are both guys that intrigue me a great deal. Of the 7 organizations I’ve covered for our Team Prospect List series this offseason, the Twins had a “record” 60+ names on my preliminary prospect list compared to the 45-50 I usually wind up with.
2011 was a season to forget as things went wrong early and often both in the majors and minors but the team isn’t as far off as many may think. This is a system that is more substance than hype and flash and as a result it will almost always be underrated. The Twins seem to embrace the little engine that could concept (despite playing in a top-12 market) and clearly were uncomfortable playing the role of big market, big payroll team last season. They may not compete for the AL Central crown in 2012 but they are positioned better than any of their divisional foes to produce and maintain a winning team at the major league level going forward. The White Sox, Tigers and Indians have very weak farm systems and the Royals (as much as I wish it wasn’t the case) lack the financial resources to retain a significant portion of their homegrown talent once it reaches free agency.
Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I live in Kansas City and was born/raised in the Twin Cities until I left for college. As a result I am admittedly a die-hard fan of both the Twins and Royals. I will do my best to write what follows in as unbiased a fashion as I possibly can, but be forewarned that the fan in me will likely overwhelm the writer/scout/analyst in me from time to time.
Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: B
Pitching Upside: B-
Pitching Depth: B
System Grade: B
Catcher – Chris Herrmann (24): Hit 0.269/.385/.399, 19 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 10 SB, 79 BB and 74 SO in 512 PA (121 G) for Fort Myers (A+) and New Britain (AA). In this author’s opinion Herrmann is vastly under appreciated as a prospect. You won’t find his name on many top-10, 15 or even top-20 prospect lists but that doesn’t change the fact that the Twins have a quality player on their hands. After signing as the team’s 6th round pick in 2009, he played left and right field and finished with a 0.845 OPS in 59 Appy League games. The Twins started to transition him behind the plate in 2010 while at the same time dropping him in the FSL. Splitting time between the outfield and catcher while skipping a level would prove to be too much for most prospects and these factors played a big part in the 200 point drop in his OPS (0.611). Herrmann started 2011 back in the FSL but needed just 24 games to advance to New Britain as he continued to spend more time behind the plate. He has below-average power potential and still has a lot to work on as a catcher but he’s made great strides. Herrmann has good speed and athleticism, especially for a catcher, and profiles to be a competent hitter with outstanding plate discipline. Minnesota has pushed him but he’s been able to adapt and respond to the challenges put before him. He should open 2012 in Rochester but has a chance to reach the majors and contribute either as a backup to Mauer or as an everyday option behind the plate if Joe gets hurt or moves to another position. He’s definitely a part of the team’s long term plans and will be able to easily surpass the offensive contributions that Minnesota got from Drew Butera, Rene Rivera and Steve Holm (24, 16, and -4 OPS+ respectively).
First base – Chris Parmelee (23): Hit 0.287/.366/.436, 30 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 68 BB and 94 SO in 610 PA (142 G) for New Britain (AA) and was one of four Twins to make his major league debut on September 6th. Parmelee started in every one of the Twins final 21 games and crushed major league pitching to the tune of 0.355/.443/.592 with 6 2B, 4 HR and a strong 13-12 SO-to-BB in 88 PA. Minnesota’s 1st round pick in the 2006 draft, Parmelee has advanced slowly but steadily through the system and surprised everyone with his September performance. Obviously he’s not going to be able to repeat that kind of output over a full season but, like Herrmann I think he’s a vastly underrated prospect – in large part because he’s been around for so long. He provides solid defense at 1B and with recent adjustments to his swing should be able to hit in the vicinity of 0.280 with above average power and an excellent approach. The drawbacks are a complete lack of speed and his struggles against LHP (0.226/.288/.308 with New Britain in 2011). There’s very little that can be done about the foot speed but he should be able to improve against southpaws as he continues to develop. If his batting splits improve he can be an every day 1B for the Twins, if not he can still be an asset as a part of a platoon, as a DH and as a bat off the bench.
Second base – Eddie Rosario (20): Hit 0.337/.397/.670 with 9 2B, 9 3B, 21 HR, 17 SB, 27 BB and 60 SO in 298 PA (67 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). As you will see in the names that follow, the Elizabethton roster was stacked with talent and Eddie Rosario was the primary force that helped the team finish with a 42-26 record. The Twins have a number of players like Michael, Dozier, and others that could play 2B but they lacked a true prospect at the position, that is until the Twins moved him to fill that hole in instructional league. The early returns are promising and he has the skills to stick at the position. He doesn’t have the same discipline as Herrmann or Parmelee (not surprising given the differences in age and experience) but does bring an above-average bat, above average power and above average speed to the table regardless of where he winds up playing. His offensive profile as a 2B would make him one of the best players at the position if he continues to develop as he has.
Third base – Miguel Sano (18): Hit 0.292/.352/.637 with 18 2B, 7 3B, 20 HR, 5 SB, 23 BB and 77 SO in 293 PA (66 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). He teamed with Rosario to give the E-Twins a dynamic power hitting duo, the likes of which the Appalachian League hasn’t seen. Sano is without question the best prospect of the bunch, and the team’s slam-dunk best prospect overall. He has a chance to become a devastating major league hitter with plus-plus power and above-average to plus bat to go with it. He draws a lot of comparisons to Miguel Cabrera and while I generally don’t like comps, there’s a lot of merit to this one. The big question with Sano is regarding how long he will be able to stick at 3B as he’s already outgrown SS. Some sources predict an eventual move to RF while others think he winds up at 1B. I’m inclined to side with the 1B camp but the Twins have every reason to keep him at the hot corner for the time being. Already a near-consensus Top-25 prospect in all of baseball, he very well could wind up occupying the #1 spot at some point before he reaches the majors. Midwest League pitchers should probably start bracing themselves now … a force is coming and his name is Sano (okay, that’s the fan in me right there).
Shortstop – Levi Michael (20): He battled several injuries this spring with UNC which dropped his production and his draft stock, but that worked to Minnesota’s advantage as they were able to land him with their 1st round pick (30th overall). Those same injuries prevented him from taking part in the instructional league this fall but if healthy he should join Sano and Rosario in Beloit and serve as the team’s shortstop. It’s very possible that all three could move up through the minors together. While Michael lacks pro experience he has a very advanced approach and sound line-drive producing swing from both sides of the plate. While he likely won’t hit a lot of HR, he should contribute his share of doubles and is able to use his above average speed and quickness on the bases and in the field. Some believe that a move to 2B would maximize his defensive skills but he has the range, arm and instincts to stay at short for the long-term and the Twins appear committed to him in that role. He’s an ideal 2-hole hitter that can handle the bat, take a walk and set the table for guys like Rosario and Sano behind him in the lineup.
Outfielder #1 – Oswaldo Arcia (20): Hit 0.291/.335/.531, 23 2B, 13 HR, 3 SB, 18 BB and 70 SO in 316 PA (81 G) with Beloit (A), Fort Myers (A+) and a 2 game rehab stint with the GCL Twins (Rk). Arcia missed about two months of the 2011 season due to an elbow injury that required surgery. He was hitting well, though limited to DH, with Beloit during April and was sent to Fort Myers when he returned at the end of June and held his own the rest of the season. When healthy he has plus raw power and excellent present strength and bat speed. Arcia’s plate discipline and approach need some work but he’s a naturally gifted hitter with a knack for making productive, quality contact. A lot of sources are putting too much stock into his FSL performance without acknowledging that he was promoted immediately – aside from 2 GCL games – after returning from his injury. The lost time and rust surely played a role in the results as did the fact that it logically took some time for his elbow to round back into form. Arcia could give the Twins another impact bat and could be patrolling one of the corners at Target Field as early as 2013.
Outfielder #2 – Joe Benson (23): Hit 0.285/.388/.495, 28 2B, 16 HR, 13 SB, 56 BB and 109 SO in 472 PA (111 G) for New Britain (AA) and also had 3 game rehab stint with the GCL Twins (Rk). Benson made his major league debut on September 6th, started in 19 of the team’s final 21 games and hit 0.239/.270/.352 with 6 2B, 2 SB, 3 BB and 21 SO in 74 PA with the Twins. Like Parmelee, Benson is another product of the Twins 2006 draft class (2nd round) and has moved at a slow and steady pace prior to his debut. He’s a true five tool player with plus raw power, speed and arm strength. Unlike Arcia who is raw defensively, Benson is an excellent fielder who can play left, right or center. The biggest question mark about his game lies in his ability to make contact and limit strikeouts on a consistent basis. A stint in Rochester would probably be to his benefit but a strong spring may push him onto the Opening Day roster.
Outfielder #3 – Aaron Hicks (22): Hit 0.242/.354/.368, 31 2B, 5 HR, 17 SB, 78 BB and 110 SO in 528 PA (122 G) for Fort Myers (A+). Another five-tool talent with good on-base skills, Twins fans are still waiting for him to put everything together and turn in a complete season. Ranked by Baseball America as Minnesota’s top prospect prior to the 2009 and 2010 seasons, there is still a ton of upside here and he’s always shown the ability to draw walks – which is a great trait for any major league hopeful. He has an outstanding arm with above average range and plus speed making him a viable long-term CF prospect. While Hicks hasn’t moved as quickly as most would have hoped and he’s no longer young for his level, he’s still on track and very well could be a late bloomer.
Starting Pitcher #1 – Liam Hendriks (22): 3.36 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 21 BB and 111 SO in 139.1 IP (25 G/24 GS) between New Britain (AA) and Rochester (AAA). Also made 4 starts in the majors and finished with a 6.17 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 16-6 SO-to-BB ratio in 23.1 IP. Liam is your typical Twins starter with excellent command and control of his 4-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, slider and changeup). Known for keeping the ball down in the zone during his minor league career, Hendriks failed to consistently display that ability in his brief time in the majors and it’s something he will need to get back to the next time he gets his shot in Minnesota. That chance could come early on as he’s capable of making the Twins Opening Day rotation, and failing that will almost certainly contribute to the Twins at some point during the season. Long term he’s most likely a #4 or #5 starter but could pitch at the level of a #3 a couple of seasons over the course of his career.
Starting Pitcher #2 – Kyle Gibson (24): 4.81 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 27 BB and 91 SO in 95.1 IP (18 GS) with Rochester (AAA). Gibson got the fan base excited early on in Spring Training with some strong outings but never really got on track once the Triple-A season got underway. He made his last start of the season on July 22nd and had Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter. Prior to the surgery he profiled as a #2/#3 starter with a low-90s fastball with good movement and two above-average pitches in his slider and changeup. Both his secondary pitches can put hitters away and despite the injury and disappointing season overall, he still managed to strike out almost a batter an inning. He’ll likely miss the bulk, if not all, of the 2012 season but should be ready to compete for a spot in the Twins 2013 Opening Day rotation.
Starting Pitcher #3 – Adrian Salcedo (20): 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 27 BB and 92 SO in 135.0 IP (29 G/20 GS) for Beloit (A). Salcedo is a strike throwing machine having walked just 56 batters in 355.1 IP in his minor league career to date. He throws a low-90s fastball with sink, changeup and a slider/curve and uses his arsenal to induce a healthy amount of ground balls (49.1 GB% in 2011). Like most Twins pitching prospects he keeps his stuff down and fills the zone with strikes. So far that has worked to his advantage, but how he fares against more advanced competition may be a different matter. His ceiling is that of a #3 starter but like Hendriks is more likely to settle in as a back of the rotation arm.
Starting Pitcher #4 – Hudson Boyd (19): The Twins 2nd supplemental pick (55th overall) signed late and won’t make his professional debut until this spring. Heading into the draft, Boyd was listed at 6’2″ and 240 lbs, but the pitcher that reported to instructional league in the fall was carrying an extra 40 pounds. With an already large frame – when he’s in shape – the extra weight is a bit of a concern, but I have little doubt that he will report to camp with most, if not all, of that extra bulk worked off. Boyd throws his fastball in the low 90s and can run it up to 96 giving him more velocity than most pitchers in the system. He complements his fastball with a power-curveball that projects as a plus pitch. As is typical of most HS picks, his changeup was seldom used and lags well behind his other pitches. His large frame works in his favor and should allow him to be durable, eat innings and allow him to maintain his velocity during his starts. If the changeup advances and he keeps his weight under control Boyd has the upside of a #2/#3 starter but failing that could be a power bullpen arm.
Starting Pitcher #5 – Alex Wimmers (23): 4.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 22 BB and 39 SO in 40.2 IP (12 G/4 GS) for Fort Myers (A+) with an additional 1.0 inning appearance with the GCL Twins (Rk). Minnesota selected Wimmers in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2010 draft out of Ohio State with the belief that he would be able to move quickly. He fit the Twins control-first mode and allowed just 6 hits, 1 run and a 23-5 SO-to-BB rate in 4 FSL starts after signing. Big things were expected of him coming into the season but instead he completely lost the strike zone and walked the first 6 batters he faced in his first FSL start of the season. He was placed on the DL due to “illness” and didn’t pitch in a game again until July. Luckily he was drafted by an organization that knows a little something about finding the strike zone and helped him rebuild his delivery. His final start of the year, a 7.0 inning no-hit shutout, brought his season to a very positive conclusion. He throws his fastball right around 90 mph and also has an average curveball but it’s his changeup that is his bread and butter plus pitch. Assuming he’s beyond his bout of wildness, Wimmers has a limited ceiling but a relatively high floor and should wind up as a #4 starter.
Relief Pitcher #1 – Matthew Summers (22): 0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 5 BB and 36 SO in 20.2 IP (20 G) with Elizabethton (Rk). Summers pitched as both a starter and reliever at UC Irvine prior to being selected by the Twins in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. After signing he pitched out of the bullpen but the Twins have the intention of putting him back in the rotation to open the 2012 season. (Yes, I am kind of cheating by listing him here). He’s capable of throwing in the mid-90s with a changeup, cutter and curveball rounding out his mix. How Summers handles his role in the rotation as well as the assumed jump to Beloit will say a good deal about his future and I’m very optimistic about him but it’s hard to imagine his 2012 can go as well as his 2011 in the Appalachian League did.
Relief Pitcher #2 – Matt Hauser (23): 1.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 29 BB and 75 SO in 63.2 IP (42 G) between Beloit (A) and Fort Myers (A+) with a brief stint in New Britain (AA). The Twins 7th round pick in the 2010 draft, Hauser was excellent in a brief 15.2 inning stint after signing and he carried that into 2011. He throws his fastball in the 90-92 range and also has a solid slider but it’s his plus splitter that will play the biggest role in his success or failure as a relief arm.
Best of the Rest
I’ll be breaking down the best of the rest lightning round style!
- #1) 3B Travis Harrison (19): The Twins 1st of two supplemental 2011 draft picks, Harrison – the 51st player selected – signed late and is still waiting to make his professional debut. He’s got a potentially plus bat with plus power but is a long shot to stick at 3B and likely will wind up at 1B instead.
- #2) SS Brian Dozier (24): Hit 0.320/.399/.491, 33 2B, 12 3B, 9 HR, 24 SB, 55 BB and 66 SO in 569 PA (127 G) with Fort Myers (A+) and New Britain (AA). Nathaniel’s a big believer, but I’m not. He sees a Jamey Carroll type with more power. I hear that type of comparison and I’m not excited. I think the 2011 performance was a bit of an aberration and he’s destined to be a utility player capable of backing up both middle infield positions.
- #3) RHP Manuel Soliman (22): 3.97 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 50 BB and 120 SO in 136.0 IP (28 G/25 GS) for Beloit (A). Hit below 0.200 as a 3B/1B in two seasons before converting to a starter. Handled the Midwest League well given his limited experience but still lacks consistency.
- #4) RHP Madison Boer (22): 3.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3 BB and 43 SO in 25.1 IP (23 G) between Elizabethton (Rk) and Beloit (A). The Twins 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft, Boer has the frame (6’4″ 215 lbs) and athleticism to build upon as well as a low-90s fastball, slider and splitter.
- #5) OF Max Kepler (18): Hit 0.262/.347/.366, 11 2B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 23 BB, 54 SO in 221 PA (50 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). Berlin native is still very young and very toolsy. Both attributes make him intriguing and a very unknown commodity.
- #6) LHP Corey Williams (21): 3.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5 BB and 11 SO in 11.2 IP (7 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). The Twins 3rd round pick from the 2011 draft – out of Vanderbilt – he’s one of the few LHP prospects in the system with an intriguing four-pitch mix.
- #7) SS Niko Goodrum (19): Hit 0.275/.352/.382, 10 2B, 2 HR, 8 SB, 21 BB and 56 SO in 230 PA (59 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). Goodrum gets a lot of love as a potential sleeper/breakout candidate for 2012 and given the progress he made in his first full professional season it’s easy to understand why there’s some buzz around him.
- #8) RHP Angel Mata (19): 1.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 19 BB and 30 SO in 37.0 IP (12 G/11 GS) for the GCL Twins (Rk). A recent (2010) international signee out of Venezuela, Mata already hits 94 with excellent movement on his fastball but his secondary stuff still needs a lot of work. One of my personal sleeper picks for the 2012 season.
- #9) OF JaDamion Williams (21): Hit 0.324/.406/.465, 12 2B, 4 HR, 10 SB, 25 BB and 58 SO in 212 PA (50 G) for Elizabethton (Rk). The Twins 10th round pick from the 2010 draft Williams took a massive step forward after hitting just 0.214/.279/.295 in 2010. He bears watching to see if he can build upon the momentum as he tackles the Midwest League.
- #10) 3B/2B Jairo Perez (23): Hit 0.337/.413/.580, 20 2B, 15 HR, 11 SB, 32 BB and 48 SO in 316 PA (74 G) for Beloit (A). Perez, another Venezuelan signee, struggled when he came stateside in 2009 and missed the entire 2010 season due to injury. Had an outstanding breakout year in 2011 and was one of the few players in the minors to hit better than 0.300/.400/.500. Should move up to Fort Myers for 2012.
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Twins, check out Puckett’s Pond.
Topics: Aaron Hicks, Adrian Salcedo, Alex Wimmers, Angel Mata, Brian Dozier, Chris Herrmann, Chris Parmelee, Corey Williams, Eddie Rosario, Hudson Boyd, JaDamion Williams, Jairo Perez, Joe Benson, Kyle Gibson, Levi Michael, Liam Hendriks, Madison Boer, Manuel Soliman, Matt Hauser, Matthew Summers, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins, Niko Goodrum, Oswaldo Arcia, Travis Harrison