Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

1 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – Now Available as an e-book for $6.99 by clicking here. You can, of course, still get the print version for $13.99 by clicking here

At this point, we have reviewed the infielders and catchers throughout the Twins organization. Today, we will jump to the outfield. This information, of course, could be completely altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where all of these players will wind up. In reality, there will be changes. Several players will be released. Some will be placed a level higher (or lower) than I would guess. This is just giving readers a reminder of who remains in the Twins system from last year, and who are the new players brought in this year. That said, I try to think about where these guys will

I need to reiterate that these are my thoughts. I have no insider information to know where players will be playing for certain in 2012. Obviously after spring training, some of these players will be let go. There will be Disabled List players, extended spring training and more.

Minnesota Twins  

Ben Revere (LF), Denard Span (CF), Josh Willingham (RF), Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit

A lot of people seem to wonder why Willingham would be the right fielder. To me, that’s an easy choice. At Target Field, left field, centerfield and the gaps are pretty huge. I want Span and Revere covering the ground. Willingham isn’t a good left fielder. As far as playing the strange bounces off of the right field wall, anyone can have difficulties and will have to adjust to hit. Willingham will walk a lot and hit a bunch of home runs. I was chatting with Jamie Ogden at Twins Fest, and the comment that we agreed upon was the he will have the ability to take advantage of a pitcher’s mistakes and hit them a long way. It’s nice to have a guy like that in the middle of the lineup. As for Revere, I think it’s much better for him to play 3B. Simply, the throw from LF to 3B is much shorter than it is from CF. Also, the throw to home from CF is longer. Span doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can throw. Span, when healthy, is a good on-base guy with speed and some extra base pop. Revere should be much improved, at least in terms of OBP, in 2012. He said that his goal is to steal 100 bases on 2012. He dropped that number to 80, but he plans on going whenever he gets a chance. Even though he didn’t play great in 2011, he made the Twins fun to watch and he made things happen. Imagine what he can make happen when he actually gets on base at a good clip! Trevor Plouffe should get plenty of time in left field, but he could also DH. He can hit lefties, and it will be interesting to see how he does in left field now that he doesn’t have the infielder’s glove. Ryan Doumit could get some time in right field as well.

Rochester Red Wings

Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Matt Carson (RF), Rene Tosoni, Mark Dolenc, Dustin Martin

Ramirez and Carson were minor league free agents brought in by the Twins. Carson is a power hitter. Ramirez is an all-around player who was a top prospect with the Tigers just a couple of years ago. Joe Benson has spent the past two years at New Britain, so he is ready for the challenges of AAA. He could move up to the Twins as necessary throughout the year, at least after the June Super 2 timeline. The same can be said of Rene Tosoni who will likely play nearly every day between the three outfield spots as well as DHing.  Benson could be a star if everything comes together. He could be a 30/30 guy with plus-defense in time. Tosoni is a guy who I think could fill a role as a platoon player and bench bat and occasional DH. He showed at times the power the he possesses. Dolenc has spent the past two years in New Britain and will likely need to advance to Rochester in 2012. He has averaged 439 plate appearances over the past four years and had a career-high 467 plate appearances in 2011. He has terrific tools, can play all three positions, gets on base, has very good speed, and plays really good defense with a strong arm. Dustin Martin put together his best year at Rochester (in his third season there).

New Britain Rock Cats

Angel Morales (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Evan Bigley (RF), Steve Liddle, Michael Hollimon

Aaron Hicks had a frustrating and inconsistent season in 2011 in Ft. Myers. He was tremendous in June and then struggled for a couple of months. He definitely represented himself well in the Arizona Fall League. His defense and arm are certainly ready for advancement. It is a big year for Hicks. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season, but he will have to continue to show improvement on the field, in his approach at the plate and show consistency. What he does in 2012 may determine whether he remains a switch-hitter as well. Evan Bigley spent all of 2011 in New Britain and showed that he could be a candidate for a midseason promotion. Angel Morales is younger than Hicks (something many seem to forget). 2011 was a lost year for him. He missed three months with his elbow injury. He had arthroscopic surgery and came back at the end of the season. He has good speed and a vastly improved approach at the plate. Although he hasn’t hit as many home runs the last couple of seasons, no one seems to be worried about his power. Liddle really struggled last season in Ft. Myers, and he had shoulder surgery following the year. The Vanderbilt product is the nephew of Twins 3B coach Steve Liddle. Hollimon can play all around the infield and can also play around the outfield. He could be the guy to go back and forth between New Britain and Rochester regardless of where the need is.   

Ft. Myers Miracle

Lance Ray (LF), Nate Roberts (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Wang-Wei Lin, Danny Rams, Dan Rohlfing

I was surprised when the Twins sent Arcia to Ft. Myers following rehab of his elbow. I would be surprised if he jumps up to New Britain to start the season, but not completely. If he has one thing to work on, it is cutting down on the strikeouts. I think he can end the year with the Rock Cats. Lance Ray can hit, even if his 2011 Beloit numbers didn’t strongly indicate that. He has a very fluid swing and good power. Nate Roberts was the 5th round pick a couple of years ago. He missed a lot of time on the DL with a knee injury. He is an on-base machine, taking walks and always willing to get hit. Wang-Wei Lin has steadily improved over his time, and after two years in Beloit, he will need to play in Ft. Myers. He has a good, line drive swing but the Taiwan native still has plenty to improve. Dan Rohlfing impressed behind the plate and will go to big league spring training in that role, but he can also play the outfield. At Instructs, Rams was moved to the outfield, although he will continue to catch some. The goal is to let him really focus on his swing and his bat.  

Beloit Snappers

Danny Ortiz (LF), JD Williams (CF), Tyler Koelling (RF), Drew Leachman, Matej Hejma, Jhonatan Goncalves

Ortiz was my choice for player of the month last April in Beloit, but it was a struggle through most of his season. He could start with the Snappers and spend a couple of months there (he already played in the Midwest League All-Star game last year). Tyler Koelling and Drew Leachman are two college outfielders who should advance to Beloit. JD Williams had an incredible season in Elizabethton in 2011, yet it went almost unnoticed thanks to Rosario and Sano. Baseball America just called him the fastest player in the Twins farm system, and he has the ability to bunt for hits from both sides of the plate. He played RF usually for the E-Twins because Eddie Rosario was in center. Matej Hejma is from the Czech Republic. Although he didn’t play a lot, or that well, in Elizabethton, he has to move up to Beloit because he has already played three seasons in the short season leagues. Goncalves is an interesting case. He has played most of the past two seasons in Ft. Myers, but he ended last year in Beloit which is probably where he should have been all along.  

Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

Max Kepler (CF), Candido Pimentel, Romy Jimenez, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

Like Niko Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will begin the season at Extended Spring Training. Like Goodrum, I suspect that Kepler will not return to Elizabethton but will instead advance to Beloit before the short season begins. He has so much talent but is still very raw. Pimentel is similar to Otis Nixon, very thin and very fast. Romy Jimenez (formerly known as Romy Trinidad) missed most of last year with an injury in his first year in the States. Kelvin Mention did miss all of 2011 with injury. Kelvin Ortiz came to the States and really struggled. He should go back to the GCL. And Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Ivan Rodriguez) will certainly spend another season in the GCL.  

TOP THREE (OR SO…) PROSPECTS

1.)    Oswaldo Arcia, 2.) Aaron Hicks, 3.) Joe Benson, 4.) Angel Morales, 5.) Max Kepler, 6.) JD Williams, 7.) Lance Ray, 8.) Danny Ortiz

SUMMARY

Barring injury, the Twins starting outfield should be solid despite the losses of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (And to a lesser extent, Jason Repko). Benson and Tosoni are fairly close to being ready to contribute on a regular basis. Beyond that, there is a lot of talent but a lot of question marks. Can Aaron Hicks take that next step? Will Angel Morales return in 2012 with some added power? How quickly will the Twins advance Oswaldo Arcia? The ceilings of JD Williams and Max Kepler are very high, and there are so college draft picks (Roberts, Ray, etc.) who could advance fairly quickly. Of course, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano also remain in the future outfield situation as well which provide even more depth over time. Outfield is a position of strength for the Twins system. 2012 will be a big year for many of them! 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!

14 Responses to “Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders”

  1. Shane Wahl February 1, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    This projection looks really solid. Has Nate Roberts played much CF? I was wondering about the Fort Myers CF position. The New Britain starting OF is pretty exciting. One would think that this year would be the test for Morales, ending in the Arizona Fall League. There is a lot of depth at this position and one would think that *someone* is going to have to be trade bait.

  2. TT February 1, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I don’t think Benson is going to steal 30 bases. If he does, he will get caught over 20 times if his minor league base percentages are any indication. He may have the speed to steal bases, but there is really no indication that he has the skills or that he is developing them. His base stealing hasn’t improved in the last three years.

    Benson hit better in his second year at New Britain, but apparently at the expense of his power numbers. His improvement leaves some hope he will eventually overcome his inability to make contact. I am still skeptical. I think he is one of those athletic players who looks good in his uniform but won’t make enough contact to stick in the big leagues as anything more than a fourth outfielder. He is a long way from a 30-30 guy.

    Tom Kelly was quoted somewhere to the effect that the “game was a little too fast” for Benson during his major league call-up. That is not a good sign. But then TK is not very forgiving in his evaluations.

    I also think Hicks, not Arcia, is the Twins best outfield prospect. Hicks has the range and arm to be a gold glove center fielder. If his bat develops, he could be really special.

  3. Jim H February 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I think you are a little hard on Benson, TT. He reminds of Hunter. I thought Torii was likely a 4th of too when he first showed up in the majors. Many of his weaknesses were similar as well. Clearly Benson has a ways to go and likely won’t be afforded the opportunity to learn on the job, like Hunter did. Also I believe Kelly’s remarks about Benson were on a TV broadcast when Kelly was filling in for Blyleven. I took them more to mean that Benson wasn’t quite ready, then that he never would figure it out.

    I agree that Hicks is probably still the best OF prospect. Nothing has happened to reduce his talents, he just hasn’t turned them all into skills, yet.

  4. Jim H February 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I forgot to say, good report Seth. I think maybe you could of included Parmelee as a possible OF sub as well. If he starts the season in AAA and hits well there, he could see time in RF if the Twins needed him there. He probably would be as good as Willingham there and Willingham could spend more time at DH if things went down that way.

  5. TT February 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Jim -

    Hunter was a gold glove quality center fielder even while he was in the minor leagues. In fact, the Twins called him up briefly (it may have been only one game) while he was at AA just for his defense. Benson may have the tools to play center, but he has never shown that kind of defensive skill. My real skepticism is that he also strikes out a lot more than Hunter ever did.

    “I took them more to mean that Benson wasn’t quite ready, then that he never would figure it out.”

    That may have been his meaning. but I don’t think you would have heard that about Hunter despite his early struggles at the plate in the big leagues.

    • Dave February 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      “Benson may have the tools to play center, but he has never shown that kind of defensive skill” – not sure why you say that. Benson had a highlight real catch on ESPN, and is generally considered one of the organizations top defensive outfielders. Great arm and range.

      Not sure why you are always “hating” on Benson. And while his slugging dropped from .527 to .495 he still led the Rockcats. He also led the organization in SLG% for the full season teams. Add in the .388 OBP and you have a very productive player last year despite contact issues. I expect he will show much better at the MLB level when given the chance.

      • TT February 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

        ” not sure why you say that.”

        Because I am comparing him to Torii Hunter.

        “you have a very productive player”

        Against AA pitching. My problem with him is that that combination of walks and high strikeouts. I think it indicates he is waiting on pitches. If the pitcher gets it over, he strikes out. If the pitcher misses too often, he walks. And if he gets ahead in the count in the minor leagues he is likely going to get a pitch he can hit. In the major leagues, not so often. I think people are underestimating how difficult its going to be to adapt that approach to make it work in the big leagues.

  6. Jim H February 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I may be remembering it different but Hunter wasn’t gold glove quality, when he first came up. Maybe by the 2nd or 3rd time, but not right away. Kelly didn’t even play him in center all of the time at first. Hunter had all the problems most young players do, poor jumps, throwing to the wrong bases, poor routes, etc. He learned quickly when he got to the majors, where they made him concentrate on defense.

    • TT February 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Jim -

      I remember the scouting reports, which may well have exaggerated how polished Hunter was. Jacque Jones did play some center field in 1999, but Hunter played 90 games there and about 23 games split between left and right. He never started anywhere else in the field for the Twins before or after that and he won his first gold glove in 2001.

  7. Jim H February 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I shouldn’t have used Hunter as a comp for Benson. I am not all that sure that they are all that comparable. Things are bit different now for the Twins. When Hunter came up, the Twins brought up a bunch of young guys and let they all struggle together. They aren’t likely to do that now. First, they expect to contend. 2nd, bringing up young guys too soon won’t help you win, plus they get expensive before they get good, like Delmon Young.

    As far Benson goes, he has a lot of talent. TT has a point, a lot of great athletes don’t put it all together in baseball. Benson seems to me a pretty good bet to become a major league regular. I am not a scout, however.

  8. mike wants wins February 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I don’t think super 2 is something they need to worry about with Benson. I like him, and I think he can be a starting MLB OFer some day, but I wouldn’t worry about super 2 status. That said, they have plenty of other guys in front of him in the pecking order, and I’d be surprised to see him up much, if at all, next year.

    Hicks can play D, but until he shows he can hit, its all promise and no production. Super, super talent, but as TT said about Benson, that’s not enough.

    The MLB OF seems like a good mix of O and D, though I’d like it a lot more if Revere could figure out how to get on base more often. Here’s hoping….

  9. tadz February 3, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Matej Hejma was released in Nov.2011.

  10. Gary February 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Why no intereat or action by the Twins to acquire OF Russ Canzler after the Rays put him on waivers. For $100K, they could have had a right-handed hitting corner OF and corner IF that hits for average and power and was the International League MVP. Seems cheap enough. By virtue of their record, the Twins would have had a shot before Cleveland where Canzler ended up.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thursday Links - Groundhog Edition - Puckett's Pond - A Minnesota Twins Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More - February 7, 2012

    [...] notes, Seth Stohs continued his series or Organizational Depth, ranking Middle Infielders and Outfielders.  From the Two groups, I think that Jamey Carroll and Josh Willingham will have the greatest [...]

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