also available (with pictures) at www.SethSpeaks.net -
Before we dive into Roger’s All-Stars, a couple of quick notes:
- Last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast was one of my favorites. Baseball America posted its Twins Top Ten Prospects yesterday, and John Manuel came on to talk about his choices and other Twins prospects. Then Danny Valencia came on and talked about his 2011 Twins season for a good 15 minutes. He hadn’t been on a podcast since spring training, so it was great to catch up with him after such a memorable season.
- Yesterday on the TwinsCentric blog at StarTribune.com, I wrote about the Twins arbitration decisions. They had to decide whether to offer arbitration to their six Type A and Type B free agents. During the podcast, the Twins announced their decisions. They offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain and Orlando Hudson. They decline offering arbitration to Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch. The three that were offered arbitration have until next Tuesday to decide whether or not they will accept. If none of three accept, the Twins will gain four draft picks next June. If the three accept, then it could cost the Twins an extra $19-21 million in 2011.
- Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Blogging and podcasting and all this writing can be a lot of fun, but a huge part of what makes it fun is the interaction with the readers. I definitely appreciate all of you for coming to SethSpeaks.net daily, and hope that you will continue to find it worth your time.
With that, those that are interesting in the Twins minor leagues know about Roger Dehring. He has written here before, but he writes a weekly Twins Minor League Report for Twinkie Town. He is very detailed and does a great job. He has even developed a very interesting prospect ranking in which he considers performance, age, level of competition and many other factors. We are trying to make it a tradition to include his Twins Minor League All Stars every year around Thanksgiving. By the way, thank you to Twins Cards for the pictures of the autographed cards you see below. Here are his 2010 Twins All Stars:
2010 Twins Organization All-Stars
Thanksgiving is the time each year when Seth provides me the opportunity to post my annual Twins Organization All-Star Team on his site.
This year’s Team will include the best players at each position, including a designated hitter. There will be six pitchers; the top right and left handed starters, a long reliever, right and left handed set-up men and a closer. As with all all-star teams, some very good players are left out. One of those is Liam Hendriks who was my second ranked pitcher. Unfortunately, my top ranked pitcher, Kyle Gibson, is also a right handed starter leaving Hendriks out in the cold. Same holds for Brandon Roberts, who was my fifth ranked player. Unfortunately, all five of the top ranked players on my list were outfielders so he also has been left off this team.
Looking back at the previous teams, it was somewhat surprising that this will be the sixth year we have done this. It was also interesting seeing which players made it and many others who had great seasons and are no longer in the organization. What the future holds for this group remains to be seen. They all had special years this past season, including four of the six pitchers who were selected by the Twins in the 2009 draft.
Following are this year’s All-Stars, including my year-end ranking which ranks position players and pitchers separately:
Danny Rams (18) Catcher
Chris Parmelee (9) First Base
Steve Singleton (15) Second Base
Trevor Plouffe (6) Shortstop
Anderson Hidalgo (25) Third Base
Ben Revere (2) Left Field
Aaron Hicks (3) Center Field
Joe Benson (1) Right Field
Oswaldo Arcia (4) Designated Hitter
Kyle Gibson (1) Right Handed Starter
Dan Osterbrock (8) Left Handed Starter
Kyle Waldrop (3) Long Relief
Kane Holbrooks (4) Right Handed set-up Tony Davis (16) Left Handed set-up
Billy Bullock (11) Closer
Danny Rams was a player who was recognized as having a powerful bat when drafted in the second round in 2007. Rams didn’t hit as expected his first two years, then gained notice when he hit .355 average in 62 at bats in Elizabethton in 2009. Rams had another slow start this year, hitting for only a .217 average before the all-star break. Rams would hit for a .266 average following the break to finish at .238/.302/.439 in 421 at bats. More important, Rams hit 4 triples and a team best 28 doubles and 16 home runs so that nearly half (48 of 100) of his hits would be for extra bases. Rams has developed the power expected of him when drafted. The one area of his game he must improve is that like many young power hitters, he strikes out to often (154 times or 36.5%). If he can cut down on his strikeouts as he moves through the organization, he will have an exciting future with the Twins.
Chris Parmelee is a former first round pick who saw his star become a bit tarnished with a slow start at AA New Britain. Parmelee would be sent back to Ft. Myers in May where he would hit .338/.430/.463 in 80 at bats. He would return to New Britain as a different hitter, going on to hit .275/.341/.389 in 411 at bats. When drafted, Parmelee was considered the best high school power hitter in the 2006 draft. Although he hit 25 doubles; he wouldn’t hit many home runs (6) at New Britain. After striking out more than 25% each year since joining the Twins, he would reduce his strikeout ratio to 16.5%. Parmelee joined the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL where he hit .339/.405/.477, in 109 at bats while tying for the most doubles (11) in the league. He walked twelve times while striking out seventeen times for a strikeout ratio of 15.6%. Parmelee, who began his career alternating between first base and right field, played about two-thirds of his games at first base and appears poised to move up to Rochester in the spring.
Steve Singleton returned to New Britain this spring for a second season. He would go on to hit .267/.325/.410 in 502 at bats with a team best 68 runs scored and 134 hits. His 43 doubles were the most in the organization and tied for the most in the Eastern League. A solid defensive second baseman, Singleton is often overlooked when discussing the top prospects in the organization. The Twins are high on his abilities as evidenced by their inviting him to spring training. A solid number two hitter who struck out only 57 times in 502 at bats, Singleton could move up to Rochester next spring.
This past spring Trevor Plouffe returned to Rochester for the third straight season, yet, on opening day he was only 23 years old. Should he return to Rochester next spring for a fourth year, he will still be about two years younger than the average player in the International League. Plouffe hit .244/.300/.430 in 402 at bats which at first glance isn’t impressive. He did, however, improve his power numbers with 22 doubles, 4 triples and 15 home runs. What may be most promising, he reduced his errors from 26 in 2009 to 12 this season. Plouffe also made a couple trips to Minnesota where he had his first exposure to the major leagues. While with the Twins he hit only .146/.143/.317 in 41 at bats, however, did hit two home runs. Plouffe has a role in the Twins future plans. It just isn’t known whether he will go north with the Twins out of spring training or join them later in the year.
After being one of the top hitters in 2008/2009 with the GCL Twins and Elizabethton, Anderson Hidalgo was the Beloit Snappers leading hitter in 2010. When he suffered a season ending injury in late July, Hidalgo was one of the league’s leading hitters and had he had enough at bats he would have finished second in the league. In 81 games (282 at bats), Hidalgo hit a team best .316 average with a .375 on base percentage and .443 slugging percentage. He would finish his shortened season with 25 doubles which trailed Rams by three with 125 less at bats. Hidalgo isn’t your typical power hitting third baseman, however, with Danny Valencia moving up to the Twins he is the organization’s best third baseman.
Ben Revere likely is the organization’s best leadoff man. He spent this year at AA New Britain where he seemed to be out of the lineup every few weeks with five different injuries. When he suffered a broken orbital bone when hit in the face with a pitch in early August, it was thought that his season was over. We would learn that this young man is a quick healer and his season was far from over. Revere returned from his injury to play in the last few games of the Rock Cat season, finishing with the Eastern League’s third most stolen bases (36) and tied for the second highest batting average (.305). Revere’s play at New Britain earned a spot for him in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. But before heading to Arizona, the Twins had a big surprise for Revere as they added him to their 40-man roster and called him up in September. Revere’s play with the Twins was limited as he hit only .179 average (5-28). After the Twins season ended, Revere reported to the Peoria Saguaros where he was one of the hottest hitters in the league before cooling the last two weeks. He finished his AFL season hitting .295/.358/.330 in 112 at bats with a league best thirteen stolen bases without being thrown out. He also demonstrated great patience at the plate as he struck out only twelve times while taking eleven walks.
Aaron Hicks has been thought by many to have the highest ceiling of anyone in the organization. He is a player who would blossom into that special player who a future championship Twins team could be built around. Thus, when Hicks returned to Beloit for a second season it was a surprise to most fans. Most assumed that Hicks stay in Beloit would be a short one and he would move on to Ft. Myers where his star would continue to brighten. That progress was not to be as Hicks spent his entire season in Beloit, hitting .279/.401/.428 in 423 at bats with 27 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs and a team best 21 stolen bases. Hicks would improve throughout the year, hitting for a .308 average following the all-star break. Hicks continued to strike out to much (112 times), however, he also took an amazing 88 walks. Following the season, Baseball America ranked Hicks the fifth best prospect in the Midwestern League.
Joe Benson was the Twins second round pick in 2006 who has often been compared to Torii Hunter who also was a highly recruited football player out of high school. Although Benson began his season in a slump and returned to Ft. Myers with Parmelee in May, he certainly had his break-out season this year. Benson finished his Rock Cat season hitting .251/.336/.527 in 374 at bats. He had 20 doubles, 7 triples, 14 stolen bases and 23 home runs, which were the fourth most in the league although he had 135 less at bats than the leader who had 33. Benson’s 27 home runs at New Britain and Ft. Myers led the organization with his eight triples second most. Benson finished his year playing in the AFL where he got off to a slow start and would go on to hit .236/.300/.400 in only 55 at bats with six doubles and one home run.
We all remember players who put up eye popping numbers in the Appalachian League, but none had years like nineteen year old Oswaldo Arcia had this year. Arcia led the Appalachian League (his closest competitor and their age is listed in parenthesis) with a .375 batting average (Ramon Morla/20, .323), .424 on base percentage (Marcus Nidiffer/23, .393), .672 slugging percentage (Morla, .610), 259 at bats (Drew Lee/22, 255), 97 hits (Morla, 81), and 51 runs batted in (Morla, 49). Arcia also tied for the league’s second most triples (7) and home runs (14) while hitting the third most doubles (21). Arcia didn’t make a single error this year, playing centerfield in more than half his games although his bat is ideally suited for a corner outfield spot in a future Twins lineup. Following the season, Baseball America named Arcia the third best prospect in the Appy League this season.
Kyle Gibson began his professional career a year ago in the Twins Fall Instructional League. The few people to comment about him glowed as to what we could expect in the future. In a move unusual for the Twins, Gibson began his career in the Florida State League. After posting a 4-1 record with a 1.87 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in seven starts (43.1 innings), Gibson moved on to New Britain where he would be voted an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star. While with the Rock Cats, Gibson pitched so well that he earned recognition from Baseball America as their seventh ranked Eastern League prospect. On a team that was one of the worst in franchise history, Gibson posted a 7-5 record with a 3.68 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 16 starts (93.0 innings). The Twins kept Gibson on a fast track as he finished his first professional season in Rochester where he had an excellent 1.72 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in three starts (15.2 innings). Gibson is not the hard thrower that many fans would like to see at the front of the Twins rotation. He is however, an excellent pitcher who just may have the ability to be the front of the rotation Ace the Twins are looking for.
Daniel Osterbrock had an awesome rookie season in 2008 following his being drafted out of the University of Cincinnati in the seventh round. After posting a 7-2 record and 3.00 ERA at Elizabethton in 2008, Osterbrock would struggle some at Beloit last year where he had a 7-9 record and 5.19 ERA. Osterbrock would return to Beloit this spring, but not for very long. After making only five starts, He got the call to move up to the Florida State League after pitching a 7.0 inning complete game no hitter and being selected the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks. He left Beloit after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings. Osterbrock moved up to Ft. Myers where he would lead the Miracle in innings pitched (112.0) while posting a 7-8 record with a league best 2.73 ERA and league fourth best 1.13 WHIP. With his break-out season behind him, Osterbrock should move up to New Britain next spring where if successful he will be one step away from joining the Twins.
Kyle Waldrop was a 2004 first round pick who missed all of the 2008 season following shoulder surgery. A former starter who had been on the fast track, Waldrop returned in 2009 when the Twins put him in the bullpen at Ft. Myers. He earned a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he would have a 1.46 ERA in 55.2 innings. He spent all of this season at Rochester where he had a first half as good as anyone in the International League, a first half that included one month in which he didn’t allow a single earned run. Waldrop would tire the last few months, yet, he finished with an excellent 2.57 ERA with a 5-3 record on a team that was within a few losses of being the worst season in their 100+ year history. Waldrop continued his reputation as one of the better control pitchers in the organization as he walked only 20 batters in 87.2 innings while ringing up 60 strikeouts. Waldrop was assigned to this fall’s Arizona Fall League where his numbers weren’t good. In a hitter’s league, Kyle had a 1-0 record with a 16.05 ERA in only 12.1 innings.
Kane Holbrooks wasn’t high on any team’s prospect lists when selected by the Twins in the twenty-first round of the 2009 draft. After an ordinary first exposure to professional ball at Elizabethton in 2009, no one expected the year Holbrooks would have this season. He began as Beloit’s closer where he posted a 5-3 record with 9 saves, a 1.67 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 54.0 innings (11.8/9 innings). After earning a spot on the Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star Team, Holbrooks moved up to Ft. Myers where after one relief appearance he was converted to a starter. Holbrooks would post a 3-3 record with an excellent 2.27 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 43.1 innings. He didn’t strike out as many (36) which may have been the result of his moving to the starting rotation or perhaps because he was pitching to hitters at a higher level. The Twins were so impressed with his work at Ft. Myers however, that they gave him a late season promotion to AA where he made one start, allowing three earned runs in 5.0 innings. With a logjam of starters ahead of him, look for Holbrooks to begin next spring back at Ft. Myers with an early season promotion likely.
Tony Davis was selected in the twelfth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Florida. Like Holbrooks, his 5.35 ERA in 35.1 innings in his professional debut was not an indication of what he would accomplish this season. The Twins would assign him to Ft. Myers this spring, skipping Beloit. He would become one of their best set-up men, pitching 31.1 innings with a 2.87 ERA. That performance would earn him a mid-season promotion to New Britain where he was even better, pitching 37.0 innings with a 2.68 ERA. The one concern that may limit his progress is a low strikeout ratio (45 strikeouts in 68.1 innings) and a relatively high number of walks (46). Davis overcame this concern by holding hitters to a .203 average. What was surprising was that right handed hitters hit for a lower average (.194) than did left handed hitters (.214). In an organization with few lefty relievers in the upper levels, look for Davis to return to New Britain next spring where he will attempt to prove that he still has the magic to get nearly 80% of the hitters facing him out when the ball is put in play.
The Twins selected Billy Bullock, a hard throwing closer out of the University of Florida, in the second round of the 2009 draft. After opening his professional career with the Elizabethton Twins, Bullock moved up to Beloit where he had a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings with eight saves. This past spring, Bullock reported to Ft. Myers where he would become a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star before moving on to New Britain. Bullock had a 0-4 record with the Miracle with 14 saves, a 3.63 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 19 walks in 37.1 innings. Bullock would move up to AA where he had a 0-2 record with 13 saves, a 3.44 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 24 walks in 36.2 innings. There is no question that 43 walks in 74.0 innings are more than the Twins like to see, however, nearly fifteen strikeouts per nine innings in AA is an indication that Bullock may have what it takes to become a closer on the big stage a few years from now. There were higher ranked closers, such as fifth ranked Anthony Slama, however, Bullock is my all-star closer based on his leading the organization with 27 saves.
Of course, I’m certain Roger would love to hear your feedback. I want to thank him for putting this together. It’s another great look at the 2010 Minor league season and some of the guys who deserve to be recognized. As always, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.