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Twins Keep Diamond, Deal Bullock

28 Mar

The Twins were able to retain the services of lefty Scott Diamond. He cleared waivers and the Twins were able to work out a trade with the Braves to keep Diamond and be able to send him to AAA Rochester. Unfortunately, it cost the Twins arguably their top relief pitching prospect, Billy Bullock (arguably because many – myself included – have Carlos Gutierrez ahead of him).

I don’t understand the move. Diamond is viewed as a back-of-the-rotation starter, at best (not that that is a bad thing). At the absolute best, he could be another Brian Duensing. If that’s the case, then the price is probably acceptable.

That’s not to say Bullock was untradable or a perfect prospect. Despite a fastball in the upper-90s, the 2009 Twins 2nd round pick from Florida  walked over six batters per nine innings in his half-season at New Britain last year. He also struck out more than 13 per nine.

I don’t get this trade at all. I don’t like it. These are just initial thoughts upon hearing the deal. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

I’ll leave you with this, a terrific tweet from Steve Adams (who writes at MLB Trade Rumors):

Let’s get this straight. #Twins trade Hardy for Hoey/Jacobsen because they need power arms. Now trade Bullock for finesse LHP?

Exactly!

Twins 2011 Impact Prospects

15 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

As you have seen, Danny Valencia graces the cover of my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011. Under his picture reads, “Danny Valencia arrived in 2010 and held the Twins to the A. L. Central Title.” Under four pictures of Twins minor leaguers, the question is asked, “Which Prospect(s) will help the Twins in 2011?”

Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011

Now, as you know, there are over 160 profiles of Twins minor leaguers in the book. How many of them could we see in Minnesota, and under what circumstance would we see them? Here are some names (alphabetically) to keep in the back of your mind heading into spring training.

Let’s start with the prospects that we have already seen play for the Twins.

Luke Hughes - We didn’t get to see a lot of Hughes in 2010, but what we saw was positive. I mean, he became the first Twins player since 1984 to hit a home run in his first at bat. Hughes struggles defensively, but at least he can play multiple positions, and most important, he is right-handed and has a lot of power in his bat. His role with the Twins could be a right-handed bench bat and designated hitter who can fill in from time to time around the field.

Trevor Plouffe - Plouffe was back and forth between Rochester and the Twins throughout last summer. He struggled late in the Triple-A season, but he displayed power and improved his defense. I think he’ll compete with Alexi Casilla for the starting shortstop job. As this is his final option season, I would anticipate that he will play at 3B and 2B in 2011 than he did in 2010 as he could potentially be a utility infielder as well.

Ben Revere - We got a glimpse of Revere in September and I think that is the role we will see him fill in 2011 as well. If Denard Span is hurt, Revere could replace him for a couple of weeks in centerfield and in the leadoff spot. Some think he should be a fourth outfielder already, but he is just 22, hasn’t spent a day in AAA, and despite hitting .300 yet again and having game-changing speed, he still has parts of his game that need to improve, specifically defense.

Next, there are two guys that we haven’t seen yet, but we know we will hear a lot about this spring:

Scott Diamond - The Twins Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves organization has to spend the season with the Twins or go through waivers and be offered back to the Braves. It is likely he would be claimed or the Braves would take him back, so the Twins will likely give the left-hander every opportunity to make the team.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka - The Twins made big news last Thanksgiving when they won the bid to negotiate exclusively with Nishioka. The two sides agreed to a three year contract with an option for a fourth year. It’s almost a given that Nishioka will be with the Twins and playing at 2B, although he will also see time at shortstop in spring.

The following are Twins minor leaguers that I think have at least some chance of debuting with the Twins in 2011:

Joe Benson - The Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year hit 31 doubles and 27 home runs in 2010. He is an excellent defender with Revere-like speed, and a Cuddyer-like arm. He has work to do before he’s ready for a full-time big league job. It woudl be great if he could spend the year at Double-A.  He has to work on putting the ball in play more consistently, but if he does, he could get a September call-up.

David Bromberg - After leading three minor league levels in strikeouts from 2007 to 2009, his strikeout rate was down at Double-A last year. However, he ended the season with nine starts and AAA where he struck out just over eight per nine innings. He will start the season in the Rochester rotation, and if the Twins have a need for a starter and Bromberg is pitching well, he very easily could be the one promoted for a spot start, or even possibly a long-relief role.

Billy Bullock - Bullock throws gas. The 2nd round pick from 2009 consistently throws around 95 mph with a very good slider. He began the 2010 season by striking out 45 in 37.1 innings at Ft. Myers. After being promoted to Double-A, he struck out and incredible 60 batters in 36.2 innings. Of course, he also walked 24. If he can display any semblance of control in 2010 in the upper levels of the minor leagues, he becomes very intriguing for the Twins in the second half of the season.

Tony Davis - Bullock’s college teammate is a left-hander who also pitched well in his first full season. He began the season by posting a 2.87 ERA in Ft. Myers and followed it up with a 2.64 ERA in New Britain. Again, control is his issue. He walked 46 batters and struck out 45 batters in 2010. The Twins added some left-handed veterans this offseason, so it would take a lot of control and some breaks for Davis to debut in 2011.

Kyle Gibson - The 2009 top pick is clearly the Twins top pitching prospect. He moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and ended the season with three starts at Rochester. Gibson is clearly going to be a starter for the Twins at some point. The question is whether it is in June, August, or if they can wait for him to debut until 2012. If he pitches well early in the 2011 season, he should be starting for the Twins by June. If he’s pitching well later in the season, but the Twins starters are doing their part, there is some opportunity for him to debut later in the summer in the bullpen.

Carlos Gutierrez - The Twins second first round pick in 2008 throws hard and induces a lot of ground balls because he gets a lot of sink on his pitches. He has struggled as a starter, and he thrives in the bullpen. He has a chance to contribute to the Twins in the second half of the 2011 season if he is pitching well.

Chris Parmelee - The Twins 2006 first-round pick had always shown an ability to take a walk and hit for some power. In 2010, he made major strides in putting the ball in play and hitting for average. Hopefully in 2011, he can put it all together and become a big-time, all-around hitting prospect. It would be great if he could spend the full season in AA, but if he’s hitting well and (the worst-case scenario occurs and) Justin Morneau needs to miss extended time, Parmelee becomes an option for the big league club.

Chris Province - Province came to the Twins last year in spring training from the Red Sox in exchange for Boof Bonser. He is a reliever, although he made several starts a year ago between Double-A and Triple-A. A lot would need to happen for him to debut with the Twins, but he has a fastball that darts in on a right-hander’s hands. If he’s pitching well at a given time when there is a need, he has an outside shot.

Brandon Roberts - Roberts has generally played well throughout the four years he has been in the Twins organization. The problem is that he has been hurt so much. Last year, he finally remained healthy enough to work up to AAA where the CF hit over .300. He has had some knee problems, but speed is his game. Again, there is a smaller chance, but if he stays healthy and produces like he did last year, you never know.

Steve Singleton - After a slow start in 2010, he came on well late in the season. He led the organization with 43 doubles, and had 54 extra base hits on the year. He puts the ball in play and plays solid defense at 2B and has also played 3B and shortstop. He has a lot of pop for a second baseman, and if he can continue to play well, if there is an injury, he deserves an opportunity.

Rene Tosoni - Tosoni is just a solid all-around player. The only weak part of his game has been an inability to hit left-handed pitching. He tried to play in 2010, but his shoulder was experiencing just too much pain, so his season ended with surgery. He profiles similarly to Jason Kubel in terms of hitter. He is a little better defensively, has a little bit more speed, and has a strong arm. It will be interesting to see how he returns from missing so much time last year.

Kyle Waldrop - He had an absolutely incredible first-half of the season a year ago. It started with a great spring training before being sent to Rochester. Prior to the AAA All-Star game, he had posted both an ERA and a WHIP of under 1.00. He struggled some in the second half. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but he gets a lot of movement and sink on the fastball and could be a groundball reliever option sometime this season.

Dakota Watts - Maybe the biggest long-shot on the list, the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 pitched at Beloit, Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2010. He was clocked at 99 mph while in Ft. Myers. That along makes him worth watching. He can get a strikeout, probably walks too many, but is at least worth watching, and maybe he would be a long-shot September call-up.

Finally, there are some more veteran minor leaguers that the Twins brought in for the 2010 season that are worth noting:

Justin Huber is back after a year in Japan. Consider the day that Michael Cuddyer took over at 1B for an injured Justin Morneau in September of 2009, Huber was initially supposed to play 1B, but an oblique injury took him out of the lineup the rest of the season. Jeff Bailey spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and showed some power.  He can play 1B and the corner outfield positions. Chase Lambin was an International League All Star a year ago. He can play 3B, 2B and 1B. Matt Brown has spent a little bit of time in the big leagues and can play the four infield positions and spent time in the OF last year. Ray Chang is an option at 3B and 2B. Rene Rivera and Steve Holm are backup catcher options with big league service time.

Yorman Bazardo has always pitched well in the minor leagues, but still just 26, it hasn’t transferred to success in the big leagues. He pitched well in Venezuela this winter. Chuck James pitched well for the Braves for a couple of years before he was injured. The lefty went 10-1 between AA and AAA with the Nationals organization. Phil Dumatrait is a lefty-reliever option with big league time. Eric Hacker had a decent 2010 with the Giants AAA team and got a 40 man roster spot for it.

In a typical year, the Twins will promote between 12 and 18 players from Rochester throughout a season . Sometimes it is a straight promotion. Sometimes it is an injury-fill. There are various reasons. I mentioned 18 names above before discussing the minor league veterans that the organization added.

How many of these guys will come up and contribute in some way? Who will be surprise candidates? Can any of them have an impact in 2011 the way that Danny Valencia did in 2010? That is the fun part about following prospects. We can guess, but once the season gets started, you never know how it will play out.

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John and the TwinsCentric guys helped put together the Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011, and it has been quite the project. However, the results are tremendous. The magazine is 128 pages of Twins content, with no advertisements. Just pure Twins talk. The TwinsCentric crew wrote player profiles on the Twins roster, and we each wrote an additional article or two.

I wrote one article on the success that the Twins Advanced-Rookie League team in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has had over the last 25 years and the role that consistency has played in that. Their manager, Ray Smith, signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 1978 and debuted with the Twins in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He spent parts of three years with the Twins. When his playing career ended, he became the Elizabethton Twins manager, in 1987. 25 years later, he has won a lot of games and a lot of championships, but more important, he has helped a lot of young men and young ball players begin their path up the Twins system. His pitching coach, Jim Shellenbeck, and his hitting coach, Jeff Reed, have ton of playing and coaching experience. It was a really fun article to research and write, and I think it turned out very well.

The other article I wrote was essentially an organizational depth chart. In the article, as I did last year, I broke out the Twins prospects into Infielders, Outfielders, Catchers, Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers, and gave my top five prospects in each category along with a Sleeper and One to Watch. There are also charts with 2011 roster projections.

Minnesota Twins Organizational Depth Chart Article

There is a lot of Twins information in the magazine. There is information on the current roster, Target Field, the minor leagues, several historical articles and much, much more.

The magazine is now available for pre-order at the Maple Street Press website. The magazine will be available on news stands around Minnesota starting March 1. However, if you pre-order, the magazines are set to ship out on February 17, so you can get it before it hits the news stands. For those of you outside the Minnesota areas, it will not be available in your market, so ordering online is the way to go if you are interested.

Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011

Minnesota Twins Top Prospects (Part 2: 11-25)

13 Jan

available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Alright, if you missed prospects 26-50ish, click here or scroll down, but for now, it is time to take a brief look at my choices for Twins prospects 11 through 25. If you missed it earlier, I also did an interview with Bullpen Banter, talking about the 2011 Twins and Twins prospects. Check it out here.

SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects List 2011

As you know, I have been working on the 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for months. After of research and writing, a conclusion is finally in sight. In the next week, I will provide more information on the book, and how you can order or pre-order.

One thing that the book includes is my Top 30 prospects and a reminder of my previous Top 30s, going back to 2005. The book will include top 10 lists from many of your favorite bloggers.

I did something a little bit different in compiling my Top 50 list. I took the entire list of Twins minor league prospects from the GCL through Rochester, and in an Excel spreadsheet, I put each name in the first column and each name in the first row. Then I went through and compared every prospect to every other prospect, picking which of the two I thought was the better prospect. My ‘vote’ on each was based on a ton of research, stats, scouting reports and more. I considered which of the two players I would trade if a team said that I could pick which prospect to send in a potential deal. I compared Aaron Hicks to Kyle Gibson and Miguel Sano, and also against Matt Schuld and Matt Trau. I compared Manuel Soliman to Dan Osterbrock, Joe Benson and Dallas Gallant. After doing that for every player (which took WAY too long), I added up the total number of times I selected each player. The player that I chose above all players obviously ended up with the most points at the end of the day. The one with the second most votes would be the #2 prospect. And so on. Of course, there were ties, sometimes three-way ties, which I broke by my head-to-head results, so to speak. The results were interesting, at least in the middle of the list, but really throughout. Today I will post my choices for Twins Prospects #26 through 50 with a brief description. As you would expect, there was a tie at 50, so in fact, here are prospects 26-51. As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

#25 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – New Britain

                Hard-throwing young right-hander pitched very well in Ft. Myers until an injury. Returned and pitched well enough to get in a couple games with the Rock Cats.

#24 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester

                Guerra may be one of the more polarizing prospects in the Twins system. He is still young, has a tremendous changeup and he’s got great makeup. Unfortunately the numbers tell a different story. 2011 is a big year for him as it is his final option season.

#23 – Billy Bullock – RHP – New Britain

                Bullock throws very hard and has an improving slider. He’s succeeded as a closer and gets plenty of strikeouts. The only concern is how quickly his walk rate has raised at each level the past two years. No rush though. He doesn’t need to be added to the 40 man roster until after the 2012 season.

#22 – Pat Dean – LHP – Elizabethton

                My choice for breakout pitching prospect in 2011, the Twins 3rd round pick in 2011 walked one and struck out 34 in his 25 innings between GCL and E-Twins. The lefty could move up quickly next year.

#21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Minnesota

                Plouffe was promoted to the Twins three times in 2010. He struggled making contact in limited time, but he did hit two home runs. He had a career-high in home runs in 2011. His batting average was actually around .300 for Rochester most of the year, until he went on a horrible slump to end the season.

#20 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – New Britain

                Lanigan had an incredible, dominant month of April, but then he was hurt and missed about two months. When he came back, he did alright and ended the season by making a few starts in AA.

#19 – Daniel Ortiz – OF – Elizabethton

                My choice for breakout hitter of the 2011 Twins minor league season. Ortiz impressed in the GCL after being drafted in 2008. He missed all of 2009 with a knee injury. After a slow start in 2010, he had a great month of August, hitting over .300 with eight home runs.

#18 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit

                Hermsen started the season in Extended Spring Training, but he was soon promoted to Beloit where he held his own. The highlight was a one-hit complete game shutout in Cedar Rapids, less than an hour from his hometown, in which he had a no-hitter into the 9th inning. Struggled a lot late and then pitched well in Elizabethton.

#17 – Max Kepler – OF – GCL Twins

                I didn’t know what to expect from “the greatest prospect ever from Europe.” However, the 17-year-old more than held his own in the GCL. He’s a five-tool talent, and most important, he improved over the course of the season. Long ways to go, but huge upside.

#16 – Eddie Rosario – OF – GCL Twins

                The Twins took Rosario in the 2010 4th round out of his high school in Puerto Rico. He came to the GCL and immediately performed well, all-around. Good defense and arm. Hit for average and got on base and extra base hits. Also stole 22 bases.

#15 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka – SS/2B – Chiba Lotte

                You all know about Nishioka. He’d probably be higher if he weren’t 26. Can he be a very good big league player? Average big leaguer? We will certainly find out. But I think he will be solid all-around.

#14 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Rochester

                On a podcast a few weeks ago, Gutierrez said he much prefers to pitch out of the bullpen. He saw great value in his time starting, working on secondary pitches. But anyone with a sinking, 97 mph fastball who thrives in the bullpen can be very effective. I think he will be in the big leagues in June, if not sooner.

#13 – Manuel Soliman – RHP – Elizabethton

                Two years ago, he was a 3B prospect struggling in the DSL. He was moved to pitcher the last two seasons, and he throws hard with adequate second pitches. At Elizabethton, he threw one seven inning no-hitter and carried a second into the 7th. Still improving.

#12 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – New Britain

                April in New Britain was bad for Parmelee. He was sent back to Ft. Myers in May and made some adjustments. He was back in AA in a month and didn’t stop hitting. In fact, he led the Arizona Fall League in hits. Cut down strikeouts and hit for average in 2010, but the power is still there. Will be fun to see what he is capable of in 2011.

#11 – David Bromberg – RHP – Rochester

                Bromberg had moved up one level each year. He began the 2010 season in New Britain, but he made several starts for AAA Rochester. And he held his own. Ceiling is probably mid-to-back-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s got good stuff and knows how to pitch.

So there you have it, my choices for Twins Prospects 11-25. What do you think? Were there any surprises? Still to come is my top ten Twins prospect list, which I will post on Friday morning. Check back when you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

Roger’s 2010 Twins Minor League All Stars

24 Nov

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.

Preliminary Twins Top 30 Prospects

8 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Happy Monday! Monday marks Day 3 of a three day weekend, so today’s blog will be shorter, and yet, hopefully it will create a ton of discussion. With the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook now available, my attention is turning quickly to my third annual Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. If you’re interested in the 2009 version or the 2010 version, they are still available! In fact, if you would like to buy a copy of the 2009 version, I have about ten of them at home, ready to send out. If you’re interested, e-mail me for details.

Anyway, one of the big parts of SethSpeaks.net has been a Top 50 Prospect List. Last year, I came out with my top 50, and then did a ton of research for the book, and in the book, my top 30 looks a little bit different. When I write the book, I do find it fun to make a projected Top 30 prospect list to see what I think based on following box scores daily, reading some reports on players and general knowledge. Then as you would hope, I learn a ton more about each player while researching and writing the book, so it shouldn’t look identical.

So today, I am going to share with you my current Top 30 Twins Prospect list. Please remember that it is a preliminary list, but what I would love would be for you to post your thoughts in the Comments section. Who is ranked too high? Too low? Why? And of course, I would love for you to post your top 10 list as well.

SethSpeaks.net Twins Preliminary Top 30 Prospects

  1. 1.      Kyle Gibson
  2. 2.      Aaron Hicks
  3. 3.      Miguel Sano
  4. 4.      Joe Benson
  5. 5.      Alex Wimmers
  6. 6.      Angel Morales
  7. 7.      Ben Revere
  8. 8.      David Bromberg
  9. 9.      Oswaldo Arcia

10.  Liam Hendriks

11.  Adrian Salcedo

12.  Chris Parmelee

13.  Eddie Rosario

14.  Max Kepler

15.  Manuel Soliman

16.  Danny Ortiz

17.  BJ Hermsen

18.  Trevor Plouffe

19.  Niko Goodrum

20.  Carlos Gutierrez

21.  Martire Garcia

22.  Pat Dean

23.  Rene Tosoni

24.  Billy Bullock

25.  Tom Stuifbergen

26.  Bruce Pugh

27.  Miguel Munoz

28.  Steve Singleton

29.  Danny Rams

30.  Michael Tonkin

General Thoughts:

  • The #1 spot is still up in the air for me. Do you take the guy who could be a very good #2 starter as early as the middle of next season, or do you want the guy in Low A ball with no fewer than six great tools, several of which have not developed into skills yet. Or, do you take the 17 year old Dominican infielder for whom the sky is the limit?
  • Ben Revere is a tough one for me too. The guy can flat out hit singles. He’s incredibly fast. He is improving defensively in CF, but he has no arm. He has shown know extra base power at all, but his short, compact, strong swing tells me that he should be able to hit a lot of doubles and triples, and how many of his singles can be turned into doubles thanks to a stolen base?
  • And while we’re talking about outfielders, we know that Joe Benson put up serious power numbers in 2010, but how do we evaluate the monster Appy League season of Oswaldo Arcia and try to determine what it means going forward? How about the impressive return to the field for Danny Ortiz after missing all of 2009 with a knee injury? What about the 2010 debut in the GCL for OF Eddie Rosario? And, the guy that gets forgotten way too often is Angel Morales, who despite a lack of home runs, showed steady improvement in areas he needed to.
  • I don’t rank relief pitchers terribly high traditionally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the importance of a bullpen to a team. I have two relievers here in the top 30 that I believe can be very good for the Twins. But that isn’t to take anything away from Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Dakota Watts or other relief pitchers.
  • Rene Tosoni is one that should probably be ranked higher. He was right around nine or ten last year at this time in my rankings. He returned to AA New Britain and was putting up similar offensive numbers despite playing with a bad shoulder that finally had to be operated on. He’ll be 24 through most of the 2010 season, and he has a chance to be very good.
  • It is also always interesting to see how I end up ranking upside versus likelihood of contributing to the Twins. For instance, if Max Kepler meets his potential, he could be a perennial All-Star. David Bromberg’s big-league upside is likely a #4 starter. But I believe that Bromberg will soon make the big leagues and get that opportunity  after holding his own for a couple of months in Rochester. Meanwhile, Kepler has to be promoted six times to reach the big leagues.

So, what do you think? Help me choose. Give me any stats or notes that you may have to help me make the right choices. Finally, feel free to post your Top 10 Twins Prospects as well. You can e-mail me if you would like,, or you can leave Comments here.

Twins Bullpen Blitz

14 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and www.StarTribune.com -

It will be another offseason full of difficult decisions for the Minnesota Twins front office. There are double-figure free agents. They have two contracts with 2011 options that they need to determine if they should be picked up. There could be as many as nine arbitration situations. Although the Twins have a fairly solid core of players under contract for 2011, it will be interesting to see how those players are complemented.

One area that could experience the most turnover is in the bullpen. Over the last decade, Twins fans have seen how important a strong bullpen can be as well as how much it can hurt if the bullpen struggles. Even with Joe Nathan out for the entire 2010 season, the Twins went into the playoffs with what was believed to be solid, deep bullpen.

However, that group in the bullpen was comprised of several players who may not be in a Twins uniform in 2011 for various reasons. Here is what we know today:

Joe Nathan – We know that the Twins will be paying the veteran closer $11.25 million for the 2011 season even if we can’t confidently predict how good and how healthy he will be.

Matt Capps – He has a year of arbitration left. Looking historically at closers in their final arbitration year, it is likely that Capps could demand somewhere between $7 and $9 million in 2011. He was solid in 2010, and he would provide insurance should Nathan not be ready. He is prone to allowing plenty of base runners.

Jesse Crain – Despite the hanging slider to Mark Teixeira in Game 1, Crain proved himself to be one of baseball’s better relievers through most of the 2010 season. He is a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could make $3 to $3.5 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines it, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. After his season, it is likely that Crain could command a three or four year contract at an average of $3.5 to 4 million a season.

Jon Rauch – He was solid as the Twins closer through most of the season’s first half. Very hittable, but he racked up good save totals. He was also so bad late in the first half and early in the second half that the Twins had to trade their most big-league ready prospect for Capps. He also would be a Type B free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepted, he could earn as much as $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get a supplemental 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. He could likely get a two year contract in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Matt Guerrier – Guerrier has racked up the relief appearances over the last four years. He has remained remarkably durable. He has also pitched at a very good level, well enough that he would be a Type A free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration, and he accepted, he could earn $4 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would get the signing team’s first round pick next summer (unless the signing team owns one of the first 15 picks in draft, in which case, the Twins would receive their 2nd round pick) and a supplemental first round pick. Because he isn’t a strikeout pitcher, Guerrier could struggle to find a team willing to give up and early draft pick to sign him. If the Twins do not offer him arbitration, Guerrier could probably sign a two year deal worth between $6 and 7 million total.

Brian Fuentes – The Twins got a good one when they acquired Fuentes from the Angels. The 35 year old southpaw was amazing against left-handed bats. He led the league in Saves in 2009 and recorded 25 saves with the Angels in 2010 before the trade. He made $9 million in 2010. He becomes a Type B free agent because his 2011 option would only vest with 55 games finished (he finished 35 total in 2010). If the Twins offer him arbitration and he accepts, the Twins would likely pay him between $9 and 10 million in 2011. If the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines, the Twins would gain a supplemental 1st round pick next summer. If the Twins do not offer arbitration, he could sign with a team needing a closer and get two years and $14-15 million. Or, if all teams see him as an 8th inning lefty type, he could still get two years and $8-9 million.

Clay Condrey, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay – We have to assume that these free agents will not be back with the Twins in 2011, and if so, it would be like Mahay’s minor league deal signed late in spring training.

Pat Neshek – He made $650,000 in 2010, his first arbitration year. If he is offered arbitration, he likely would be in the $650,000 to $750,000 range. If not, he would become a free agent.

Glen Perkins – Perkins got enough time in 2010 with the Twins to make himself arbitration-eliglble this offseason, a year later than he wanted. He would probably make $750,000 in arbitration, if offered.

Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Jose Lugo – These pitchers all have less major league service time than required to be arbitration eligible, so they would make about the league minimum, around $420,000. Mijares would likely be closer to $450,000-500,000.

More to Consider:

  • The Twins bullpen generally consists of six and sometimes seven relievers, including the closer.
  • Joe Nathan is pretty much untradable right now. Until he proves he is healthy, the assumption must be that he will be paid by the Twins.
  • There are free agent bullpen options left and right, many of whom will be available and looking for a job as spring training approaches. So your bullpen does not completely need to be filled by the above players.
  • It cost top prospect Wilson Ramos to acquire Matt Capps from the Nationals. There is no way that the Twins would non-tender Capps. But think about this; would you rather have Matt Capps at $8 million, or bring back Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier at a combined $7 million? Would you rather pay Capps $8 million. Could the Twins trade Capps before arbitration to bring back more young talent?
  • How much money should the Twins tie up in the bullpen? Potentially $20 million is locked up between Nathan and Capps. If we assume a $110 or even $120 million payroll, how many dollars should the bullpen cost?
  • With that in mind, would you rather have Capps at $8 million or JJ Hardy $6 million and a veteran, right-handed bench bat who could spell Justin Morneau at 1B for $2 million?
  • If the Twins bring back Carl Pavano and pay him $9 million in 2010, there could be a starter or two who would pitch out of the bullpen. Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing will be in the rotation. Scott Baker will get a big pay raise in 2011, so he should start. Nick Blackburn’s salary jumps up to $3 million in 2011. Kevin Slowey could get $2 million or so in his first year of arbitration. Without a trade, there are six starters right there, and one would likely get pushed to the bullpen.
  • And that doesn’t even take into account a couple of pretty strong starting pitching prospects in Kyle Gibson and David Bromberg, both of which could be ready by June for the big leagues. It also doesn’t factor in a couple of very hard-throwing bullpen arms who could be ready soon like Carlos Gutierrez or Billy Bullock.

So, if you’re the GM, and you have to worry about a payroll, and you alone have the final call on the Twins roster, what does it look like? Which free agents do you offer arbitration? Which do you want back? Which young pitchers do you want to be on the big league roster? How do you make it all work?

The TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook is now available for pre-order at just $4.95 for the first 500 copies sold THIS WEEK. To learn more about the entire Twins roster, all the questions they have to ask, and the options that they may have, this is a must-have electronic book. We will look at the 40 man roster decisions, outline the entire Organizational Depth chart, review the cases for and against the many Twins players eligible for arbitration, look at the Twins players who can become free agents, look at other players around the league who will be available via free agency as well as potential trade targets. This book is as comprehensive as it gets. If you’re not convinced, you can get last year’s version for FREE as a sample of what you will be getting.

PODCASTS – Last night, the Twins Geek and I were both on Fanatic Jack’s podcast and we talked about all of the Twins free agents and arbitration-eligibles and some possible trade candidates. It was a lot of fun and if you have a chance, please listen to it here. Of course, if you missed my podcast on Tuesday night, you can http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sethspeaks/2010/10/13/sethspeaksnet-weekly-minnesota-twins-podcastlisten to that here.

BLOGS -

Arizona Fall League

The AFL is back in swing now and the Twins prospects are playing for the Peoria Saguaros. In their first game, on Tuesday night, Chris Parmelee went 1-4 with a double. Joe Benson was 0-2. Ben Revere was 0-1. Tyler Robertson gave up one run on a hit and three walks in his first inning. Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs in his two innings. Last night, Ben Revere went 1-4 with an RBI. Chris Parmelee was 2-4. Joe Benson went 1-3 with a run scored. Carlos Gutierrez struck out two in a scoreless inning. The one Twins prospect that has not played in their first two games is David Bromberg. The righty will start for the team on Friday.

Lots of things covered above, please Leave your comments here.

Twins Minor League Weekly: Midseason Awards Show

14 Jul

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Last night, Travis Aune and I hosted Twins Minor League Weekly, our weekly review of the goings on throughout the Twins farm system. Last night was a special show. We spent the first half hour discussing the Twins affiliates and their seasons. The second half of the season, we ‘presented’ our Midseason Awards. For the awards, we enlisted some extra help. Travis and I voted, but so did six others who know something about the Twins minor leaguers. They are: LaVelle E. Neal from the Star Tribune, Josh Johnson from Josh’s Thoughts, Roger Dehring from Twinkie Town, Andrew Kneeland from Twins Target, Dez Tobin of Dez Says, and Steve Lien from Gear up for Twins Baseball.

Each voter voted for their top three in five categories; Best Hitter, Best Relief Pitcher, Best Starting Pitcher, Biggest Surprise, and Biggest Disappointment. They each then sent me their current Top 5 Twins Prospects. The results were very interesting. I’m going to ask that you listen to the podcast for the final results, but below, I will give you the top three finishers in each category, in alphabetical order, for you to consider.

Best Hitter: Joe Benson, Anderson Hidalgo, Ben Revere

Best Relief Pitcher: Kane Holbrooks, Anthony Slama, Kyle Waldrop

Best Starting Pitcher: Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, Dan Osterbrock

Biggest Surprise: Joe Benson, Jonathan Goncalves, Liam Hendriks

Biggest Disappointment: Wilson Ramos, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak

Top 6 Twins Prospects: Joe Benson, Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, Wilson Ramos, Ben Revere, Miguel Sano

Again, the lists above are in alphabetical order. To hear who the ‘winners’ were in each category, or who ranked first through sixth in the Top Prospect list, click here to listen to last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly.

A couple more notes:

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here.

SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects

4 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

In the past, I have tried to do my Top 50 Twins prospect reports right before the June draft and then shortly following the completion of the minor league seasons which is generally in mid-September. This past year has been so much more busy than ever before on so many fronts, so this year, I am still going to update my Top 50 list and do some of my other pre-draft blogs, they will just have to be a bit condensed. With that, today I will be posting my updated Top 50 Twins prospect list. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on any of the rankings. You don’t have to agree with me. So ask questions and present your Top 10, 20, 50 list for discussion too.

#1 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Prospect lists are a combination of potential with likelihood to reach potential. Gibson can be a top of the order, #2 type of pitcher, and there is a very good chance that it will happen.

#2 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit Snappers – Hicks has all of the tools, including the 6th tool (plate discipline). The Midwest League is not an easy place to play, but 2010 has been a very streaky season. His strong streak told us just how good he can be.

#3 – Miguel Sano – SS – DSL Twins – All of the potential in the world, but still a long way to go. He wants to be up in the big leagues by 19. The Twins will be wise to note let that happen.

#4 – Wilson Ramos – C – Rochester Red Wings – Strong spring training. Horrible start at Rochester. Seven hits in his first two big league games. Reality set in. Ramos is immensely talented, both offensively and potentially defensively when he puts in the effort. Will be interesting to see if he’s still with the organization in August.

#5 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – 19 years old. Throws hard. Working on the breaking pitches, but he has been impressive in his short stint at Ft. Myers so far, even though he should probably be waiting for the Elizabethton season. Very high ceiling.

#6 – Angel Morales – OF – Beloit Snappers – It’s been a disappointing 2010 so far for Morales. He hasn’t hit for as much power, but the tools are all there. It would be nice for him to have a strong second half. He is one of the better base stealers in the organization.

#7 – Joe Benson – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Speaking of all the tools, Benson’s ability to hit for power and get on base very well have him high on this list. The ability to put the ball in play seems to be the one thing that he needs to improve most, which is likely why he is back in Ft. Myers.

#8 – Davis Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – It’s been an up and down season for Bromberg, but he has four or five pitches, and he’s quite young. He also has great confidence and will work through any struggles. I expect that he will have a strong second half.

#9 – Ben Revere – OF – New Britain Rockcats – Comparing Revere to Hicks, Morales and Benson isn’t really fair. The other three are all much better and have much higher potential in terms of power and defense and arm. But Revere is a great singles hitter with tremendous speed and his base stealing has continued to improve. His likelihood to be a solid big league player is higher than the other three OF prospects.

#10 – Danny Valencia – 3B – Minnesota Twins – Valencia is currently with the Twins with Michael Cuddyer out. Everywhere he has played, he has hit for average. He has never hit below .282. He doesn’t like to walk too much, but an IsoD of over .050 is at least adequate. He is yet to homer this year, but his minor league track record indicates that he can hit for some power. And his defense has continued to improve.

 

#11 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Is he ready for AAA? Probably not. But he’s holding his own and continues to learn. Best changeup in the organization, and his incredible improved control is very impressive.

#12 – Alex Burnett – RHP – Minnesota Twins – Burnett was a surprise when he made the team out of spring training, but he has proven that he is ready and has pitched very well for the Twins. He always had good control, even as a starter. He throws hard and has three very good pitches. He’s still young, but he is a guy who could be a future closer.

#13 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Rochester Red Wings – Plouffe has seemingly put things together in 2010, and it’s hard to believe that he is still just 23 years old. He has the ability to be an everyday Major League shortstop, which alone should probably move him even higher up this list.

#14 – Liam Hendriks – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – I don’t know if Hendriks’ terrific start this season is a surprise, but it certainly has been noticed. He was the organization’s pitcher of the month in April which earned him an early promotion to Ft. Myers where he has continued to be very good. His stuff is very good, and he understands how to get hitters out.

#15 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Hermsen started the year at EST, but when needed, he was promoted to Beloit. He has been good at times, and at other times shown that he might be best served by pitching at E-town. But he has good stuff, good size and very good control, and the Twins love that.

#16 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – I still believe that Gutierrez will be a big league relief pitcher, and a very good one. It’s important to remember that he is working on adding pitches while in AA. He gets a ton of ground balls. He throws 95 with sink. Just has to trust his stuff and he can dominate.

#17 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain Rockcats – How much has the shoulder injury hurt Tosoni in 2010? He is still hitting around .280, but to this point, the power hasn’t shown up the way it did last year. Tosoni is very good, so this ranking doesn’t feel right. I think he should be higher, but right now, today, I just can’t do it.

#18 – Bruce Pugh – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Although he was called a sleeper this offseason, Pugh was also a very pleasant surprise this year… until an elbow injury which has sidelined him for a few weeks already. Hopefully he will be alright because he throws hard and has a couple of improving secondary pitches that make him potentially dominant.

#19 – Jeff Manship – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Again, a guy who is the big league club’s sixth start, and gave up two runs in six innings for the Twins shouldn’t be ranked this low. Manship can pitch in the big leagues, although his time in AAA this year will be valuable as well. He can help the Twins already when needed, but he can still continue to get better.

#20 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – Ft. Myers Miracle – Parmelee has a ton of potential as well, but he was overmatched in AA. Getting sent back to Ft. Myers was the best thing that could happen. He can now work on his game without being overwhelmed. The contact rate is always the question with Parmelee, but hopefully with the Miracle, he can regain his ability to take walks and to hit for power.

 

#21 – Max Kepler – OF – Extended Spring Training – All the talent in the world, but it will be very interesting to see how Max Kepler is able to put it together. Very good speed. Solid already defensively. Needs work on the offensive part of the game. But he’s just 17, and the Twins will be very patient with him. I’d expect him to spend two years with the GCL Twins before advancing.

#22 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Hopefully his elbow issues and his upcoming MRI reveal nothing and that Stuifbergen can rest and come back strong soon. He is another guy who just knows how to get hitters out. He has very good stuff, but he knows how to pitch, and that’s important too.

#23 – Blayne Weller – RHP – Extended Spring Training – I’m surprised and curious as to why Weller has not been promoted from EST to a full-season team, and yet, it is in his best interest to pitch for the E-Twins this year. He’s got good stuff and great control. Just a notch behind Hermsen.

#24 – Luke Hughes – 2B – Rochester Red Wings – How cool was it to see Hughes hit a home run in his first at bat with the Twins? Again, this feels like a low ranking, and yet, as good as Hughes has shown he can be, he just keeps getting hurt and isn’t able to sustain the success very long. If he could stay healthy, he can help the Twins, maybe as a pinch hitter. I also think he could compete for the starting 2B job next year.

#25 – Chris Herrmann – C/OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Herrmann has done a very good job adjusting to the catcher position. He’s quick and has a strong arm. But he is also an excellent defensive left fielder. He is also a solid hitter. The Twins typically do not have players skip levels, but Herrmann was pushed from Elizabethton last year to Ft. Myers this year and hasn’t been completely over his head. He’s got a chance to be a solid all-around player.

#26 – Bobby Lanigan – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Gibson got all the notice, but Lanigan was even better in April. Unfortunately, he has only pitched once since then. He has a good fastball and a very good slider, so hopefully he can get back soon.

#27 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain Rockcats – Another guy who should be much higher on this list probably.  

#28 – Billy Bullock – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – The 2009 second round pick from Florida can throw hard. He can dominate and gets a lot of strikeouts, but he should continue to get better and better. He is a future closer option.

#29 – Tyler Robertson – LHP – New Britain Rockcats – Robertson has really struggled in 2010 at AA, allowing hitters to bat about .330 against him so far this year. The lefty does have decent stuff and a high baseball IQ, but he’s still so young for the level, even after spending two years at Ft. Myers. Hopefully his arm strength will continue to increase and he can move up this list. Remember, he was my choice for the Twins #1 prospect after the 2007 season.

#30 – Anthony Slama – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Again, I know most won’t like this ranking, but it’s clear that there must be some reason that Slama has not been promoted, and I think a big part of that is the number of walks, which would likely increase more in the big leagues. But his ability to get strikeouts is pretty impressive, and he needs to get a shot soon. I mean, he’s already 26!

 

#31 – Michael Tonkin – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Tonkin was pitching best at EST when Beloit had a need, so he was the first promoted. He has actually done better than I would have thought. He’s got good control. He has a decent fastball and an improving curveball. He has a long way to go.

#32 – Yangervis Solarte – IF/OF – New Britain Rockcats – Like Hughes, Solarte can play a lot of places. His most natural position is 2B, but he can play basically all of the infield and outfield positions adequately. His biggest asset, however, has been his bat. Not sure how confident I am that he will sustain it, but he certainly could, and I’m comfortable with this ranking.

#33 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit Snappers – Rams hit two home runs last night. I really, really hope that he can find a way to put the ball in play more because when he makes contact, he hits the ball so hard and can hit the ball a long way!

#34 – Shooter Hunt – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – It is good to see the improvements that Hunt has made this year. But he has a long way to go before we can feel confident in his future. But the potential is so high, he has to be on the list. He’ll be making another start today.

#35 – Jorge Polanco – SS – DSL Twins – When Baseball America named Polanco the top defensive infielder in the Twins organization, I wasn’t sure how to take that. It means he is very good, but it could also be an indictment of the rest of the system’s infielders. Polanco will have to show some bat to move his way up the list. I don’t expect him to hit much for a couple of years.

#36 – Edgar Ibarra – LHP – Beloit Snappers – I may be biased because I saw him pitch in Beloit, but I was very impressed with the high-side of his four pitches. Good fastball, worked both sides of the plate. Very good slider. Devastating changeup. Now, he wasn’t consistent with any of those pitches, and hasn’t been all year, but the pitches are there, and his potential is high.

#37 – Kyle Waldrop – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Waldrop has impressed this entire year. 2009 was about staying healthy. 2010 has been about ground balls, throwing hard, getting a ton of movement on his pitches, and great success. There is a good chance that Waldrop, even with his lack of strikeouts, gets promoted before Anthony Slama.

#38 – Miguel Munoz – RHP – Beloit Snappers – The numbers haven’t been there in Beloit, but the stuff is incredible. Munoz throws quite hard and has good stuff. He just needs to throw more strikes and be more consistent.

#39 – Santos Arias – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Arias fell a bit on this list, but even with his horrible performance in late innings for the Rockcats, his ERA isn’t bad. He still has good stuff. He has been healthy. He’s got a very good fastball, and a very good changeup. I’m not giving up on him at all.

#40 – James Beresford – SS/2B – Beloit Snappers – he was the player in Beloit that I was most impressed with. He will have to get bigger to make it to the next level. I assume that will happen, so he could move up this list very quickly. He got off to a very tough start in April, and is still hitting just .240, but he could very well be a big leaguer.

 

#41 – Anderson Hidalgo – 3B – Beloit Snappers – Hidalgo has been a doubles machine. He doesn’t play every day and splits some time with Reggie Williams at 3B, but he just hits. He’s the one hitter at Beloit that is actually putting up numbers, and not just singles. He doesn’t like to walk, and he doesn’t have much range, but he can continue to improve, and definitely is worth watching.

#42 – Michael McCardell – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – It’s been a tough season for McCardell in terms of wins and losses, but he hasn’t pitched terribly at all. He is a solid starter, probably a future bottom of the rotation guy, or even a long reliever. He has good stuff and is mentally strong, so he will be fine.

#43 – Brian Dinkelman – OF – Rochester Red Wings – This is probably a case of Age-ism. Dinkelman has done nothing but play well since the Twins drafted him in 2006. He is playing in AAA this year, and continues to walk more than strikeout, get extra base hits, hit for average and “do the little things.” He has also transitioned to the outfield pretty flawlessly.

#44 – Brad Tippett – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Tippett is back on the DL with forearm issues. He just has not been able to get going. He has never thrown hard, but he’s got good size, so if he can continue to gain strength, he can add a few mph. And again, the Australian knows how to pitch.

#45 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Extended Spring Training – Arcia is young and did a nice job last year in the GCL. Has all kinds of tools.

#46 – Andrei Lobanov – LHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – One walk and 35 strikeouts in 22 innings in the GCL last year. He likely will go to E-town, but he has done quite well with the Miracle.

#47 – Steve Liddle – OF – Beloit Snappers – I thought he would do more this year with the Snappers. He has shown good power at times, but you would hope for more from a college hitter.

#48 – Rob Delaney – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – This is way too low, but Delaney has been hittable in Rochester after dominating all the way up to that level. That said, he still is walking very few and striking out about a batter an inning. He is ready.

#49 – Josmil Pinto – C – Beloit Snappers – The guy can hit a bit. Seems adequate behind the plate. No speed whatsoever.

#50 – Reggie Williams – IF – Beloit Snappers – Lots of talent. Getting a chance to play this year. He doesn’t seem to be a 3B, but should be a 2B. He has also played in the OF. Takes decent at bats and has doubles power.

There you have it. There is my Top 50 Twins Prospects list as of June 4, 2010. Let me know what you think, agree or disagree, and feel free to post your comments and questions in the Comments section.

Top 30 Prospect Review

3 Jun

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Before we get started, if you are curious for my thoughts on Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia, Ken Griffey, Armando Galarraga, Jim Joyce, and all of last night’s minor league notes, click here (or scroll down). I actually posted early during the game last night. The Twins loss was a tough one and manager Ron Gardenhire was clearly frustrated during his press conference after the game. Gardy did say that Danny Valencia was brought up to play, not sit, so that’s a good thing. Does that mean that Orlando Hudson could be out for a while, with Nick Punto heading to 2B and Valencia at 3B? Or, are the Twins pulling the plug on the Punto/Harris combination at 3B and giving Valencia a shot? It will be fun to watch. Talking to Valencia last night, he was just excited for the opportunity. I’m happy for him.

At 9:20, I will make my weekly appearance on KFAN and www.KFAN.com with Paul Allen. It’s always fun to talk Twins with him. There are certainly plenty of baseball topics to cover this week, so it should be a lot of fun. On Wednesday, PA is joined by Baseball Bo Mitchell who now is the fantasy baseball and football guru for FS North. Today at noon, he will be hosting a live chat, so be sure to send him your questions.

The Twins lost 2-1 in extra innings to the Seattle Mariners. It was a frustrating loss due to a bad call at the end of the game, but the Twins had a couple of chances. Cliff Lee was definitely on his game and he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. Kevin Slowey was very good as well for seven innings. Jesse Crain was again very good in the 8th. Matt Guerrier threw one-plus good innings, and Jose Mijares actually made the pitch he needed to thanks to a very solid play by Matt Tolbert. I don’t know how this Seattle team is in last place. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas have both been very good, and they rely on a ton of movement on their pitches. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez are both very good. And their lineup is very good. Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Franklin Gutierrez are very good.

If you bought a copy of the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook (still available here, by the way), you know that near the back, you can find my Top 30 Twins Prospects for 2010. In addition, you can find my Top 30 lists from the previous four or five years. It’s always fun to look back and see where I was right or wrong. That’s really the subject of today’s blog posting. I am going to give my 2010 Top 30 Twins Prospects (as found in the Prospect Handbook) and give a brief update on how those players have done in 2010 through two months. On Friday, I will post my updated Top 30 or 40 or 50 prospect list. I definitely encourage any discussion or questions that you may have, in the Comments.

  • #1 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit Snappers – It has been a roller coaster year for the 20 year old outfielder. He’s leading off and playing both CF and RF for the Snappers. He had a rough two weeks to his season (began 1-31), then went on a roll that propelled his batting average over .300. But he is now hitting about .240 after another rough stretch. Immensely talented. Good speed. Good power. Good range. Incredible arm. He’s a great prospect, no question. He just has a long way to go. He’s very raw.
  • #2 – Wilson Ramos – C – Rochester Red Wings – The 22 year old catcher almost made the big league club out of spring training, but he has done a good job of making the Twins look very wise in that decision. He hit below .200 in the first month. When Joe Mauer missed some time, Ramos was promoted to be the Twins starting catcher. He went 7-9 in his first two games, and then pretty much stunk after that. Since being demoted, his batting average dropped to about .150 and is now around .170. Yikes! Still a great catching prospect. The power will come. The batting average should improve. Defensively, he has a very strong arm. He has a lot more to develop now.
  • #3 – Miguel Sano – SS – DSL Twins – What do we know about the 17 year old? He’s 17 and has a ton of talent. He was in Ft. Myers from spring training until a week or two ago when he returned to the Dominican Republic to play with the DSL Twins. He hit a home run on the first pitch of his career and later tripled. But he has a ton to learn on the field and off the field. He wants to make the big leagues in three years. Just a guess… not going to happen.
  • #4 – Angel Morales – OF – Beloit Snappers – He was the Snappers co-MVP a year ago, but he was sent back to the Midwest League this year. A tremendous athlete, he has not hit for average this year. He has shown power glimpses, and his speed is tremendous. Again, immensely talented, but he has a lot of room for improvement.
  • #5 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Gibson began his pro career this spring with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After just a hand full of starts, he was promoted to AA New Britain where he has continued to pitch great. He has proven himself to be an extreme ground ball pitcher. Not only does he have great stuff on the mound, but he understands how to pitch, which is a great combination for a pitcher. Normally, I would assume he will spend the rest of the season in New Britain, but Gibson isn’t a typical pitching prospect and I would not be shocked if he moves to Rochester by year’s end. I can’t see him getting to the big leagues in 2010 unless there is a long-term need for a starting pitcher.
  • #6 – Ben Revere – OF – New Britain Rockcats – No power. Not a great outfielder. Not a strong arm. Not any extra base hits. But the guy hits. He just gets single after single after single. He had a decent showing in spring training, and is doing much better in AA New Britain than I would have guessed. There are some guys who just hit .320 every single year, and Revere might just be that as long as he maintains his terrific speed. He has also done a little better at drawing walks this year.
  • #7 – Danny Valencia – 3B – Minnesota Twins – Valencia got off to a rough start in Rochester this year. At one point he was hitting just .152. He then went on a 20 game hitting streak and has been hitting between .285 and .305 since. There are concerns. He has yet to hit a home run this year, although he has a lot of doubles. He has never walked a ton, but he has his IsoD back up to .050+ which is at least adequate. It will also be interesting to see how much his defense has been improved. With Michael Cuddyer going on the Bereavement List after last night’s game, Valencia was called up to the big leagues for the first time.
  • #8 – David Bromberg – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – 2-4 with a 3.72 ERA in his first ten starts for the Rockcats this season so far. However, he has 28 walks (and 39 strikeouts) in 55.2 innings. It has been a season of ups and downs already. AA is the level when you find out what you have in a prospect. Most pitchers struggle with the adjustment to AA, so I’m not at all worried about Bromberg. He’s still a top prospect, and it will be good to see how he adjusts in the second half.
  • #9 – Rene Tosoni – OF – New Britain Rockcats – The late signing of Jason Repko meant that Tosoni was sent back to New Britain. He has been solid despite being unable to play much in the outfield due to shoulder problems. He’s primarily been a DH. He’s hitting .281 with 14 extra base hits. He still isn’t hitting left-handed pitching much, and his power is definitely down, but that could be related to the injury.
  • #10 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – Salcedo began the season at Extended Spring Training. When there was a need in Beloit, the first name called was Michael Tonkin. Then BJ Hermsen. But the next need came at Ft. Myers, and Salcedo was chosen to make a few starts for them. He has pitched against the top teams in the Florida State League  and held his own. At just 19, it is likely he goes to Elizabethton or even Beloit for much of the rest of the season. He throws hard though, and he has a very good slider/curveball. He could be special.
  • #11 – Deolis Guerra – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – We so often forget that he just turned 21 after the season began. He is so young. He started the season by pitching very well in New Britain. Most important he was walking no one. He was promoted to AAA Rochester and has experienced plenty of struggles. Not a hard thrower, he is known to have the best changeup in the organization.
  • #12 – Joe Benson – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle – Had a bad April in New Britain, but in May, he hit .283 and hit four of his five home runs. It was then that he was demoted to Ft. Myers where he is hitting just .258 but had another five home runs in a couple of weeks. He has Revere-like speed. He is very good defensively and has a strong, accurate arm. He is the total package. He walks a ton. When he hit about .150 in April and when he hit .283 in May, his IsoD was about .120 in each case.
  • #13 – BJ Hermsen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – he also began the year at Extended Spring, but he has made a hand full of starts with the Snappers now. He has had a couple of very good starts and a couple of starts that make me wonder if he could go to Elizabethton too. But the tall right-hander has great control and gets groundballs. He’s just a notch behind Salcedo in my mind.
  • #14 – Chris Parmelee – 1B – Ft. Myers Miracle – We all know that Parmelee won’t hit for batting average, but he really struggled to start the year at New Britain. He didn’t even take walks and didn’t show a lot of power. When he was demoted to Ft. Myers, it was well deserved. The goal would be for the game to slow back down for him so he can respond. So far, so good. He’s got three homers with the Miracle and has been taking more walks.
  • #15 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – In his 11 starts, he has had one start in which he gave up seven runs and one that he gave up eight runs in. In another, he gave up four runs. In 8 out his 11 starts, he has given up two runs or less. And most important, he is getting to work on his additional pitches so that when he does eventually move back to the bullpen, he has a couple of pitches to choose from.
  • #16 – Jeff Manship – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – Nick Blackburn left the Twins for a family emergency and Manship came up to the team and made a spot start. He gave up two runs in six innings. He did a great job. That was probably his best start of the year as he has been a good starter in Rochester throughout the year. He has made strides from last year and will continue to pitch better as the season moves forward. He’s a solid #6 starting pitching option. He has actually pitched better with the Twins in limited duty than he has with the Red Wings.
  • #17 – Tyler Robertson – LHP – New Britain Rockcats – The lefty is currently 0-5 with a 4.89 ERA in AA, but most important, he is healthy. He made one start for Rochester when Manship was summoned to the Twins. The lefty doesn’t strike many out, and needs to cut down on the walks. Opponents have hit .333 off of him through his nine AA starts. Robertson has the size. He’s left-handed. He has a high baseball IQ. I believe he will be just fine, but clearly he will need to adjust to AA, just like everyone.  
  • #18 – Alex Burnett – RHP – Minnesota Twins – When the Twins promoted Alex Burnett for opening day because of the Clay Condrey injury, I was surprised. Pleasantly. But I figured it was a short-term situation, and it was. He was sent back to Rochester, but he never pitched because Jose Mijares went on the DL and he was brought back. He has stayed, and he has been impressive. He struggled with control early, he has been tremendous of late. Burnett has not allowed a run since May 8, a span of eight games and 13 innings.
  • #19 – Blayne Weller – RHP – Extended Spring Training – The right-hander remains in EST and likely will spend the summer in Elizabethton, Tennessee, pitching for the E-Twins. I had him ranked third among the big four, but he isn’t far behind Salcedo and Hermsen in my book.
  • #20 – Billy Bullock – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle – The Twins 2nd round pick in 2009 has been pitching pretty well, most of the time. He is 0-3 with nine saves in 20 appearances. In 27.1 innings, he has 14 walks to go with 36 strikeouts. He was very good in May and continues to improve. He could be in New Britain in the next month.
  • #21 – Trevor Plouffe – SS – Rochester Red Wings – The 23 year old Plouffe has seemingly put it together in 2010. The acquisition of Hardy makes his future with the Twins uncertain, but he is playing well at Rochester. Well enough that he was promoted to the Twins for a 3 game series against the Brewers. He struggled upon his return to Rochester, but last night, he hit his fifth homer of the year.
  • #22 – Danny Rams – C/1B – Beloit Snappers – Rams is strong. He has tremendous power. He does a decent job behind the plate and has a very strong arm. He is even solid at 1B. He can hit a fastball a long ways. However, he struggles with breaking pitches. Six walks and 49 strikeouts in 138 plate appearances.
  • #23 – Anthony Slama – RHP – Rochester Red Wings – It’s still hard to understand completely why Slama is not in the big leagues at the age of 26. In 26 AAA games this year, he is 0-1 with 11 saves. Opponents are hitting .142 against him and his ERA is 2.03. In 31 innings, he has 36 strikeouts. The only negative is the 15 walks.
  • #24 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Extended Spring Training – He remains in EST and will likely go to Elizabethton.
  • #25 – Mike McCardell – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – The 25 year old McCardell is currently 0-5 with a 4.45 ERA for the Rockcats. He certainly pitches to contact. In 57 innings, he has just 28 strikeouts to go with 20 walks.
  • #26 – Steve Singleton – 2B – New Britain Rockcats – Started the season quite slowly but turned it around in May. He is able to play three infield positions well. He can hit for average and is at his best when he is patient at the plate. He has enough power to be a big league middle infielder.
  • #27 – Luke Hughes – 2B – Rochester Red Wings – Hughes was one of the good stories of the first half. The Australian who signed with the Twins in 2002 finally made his big league debut in April and in his first big league at bat, he launched a home run against Max Scherzer. Unfortunately, after he was sent back to Rochester and he has been hurt since then. That has been the story of his last two seasons. He plays well and gets noticed, and then gets hurt. With Singleton, they could compete for the 2B job in 2010.
  • #28 – Santos Arias – RHP – New Britain Rockcats – Arias was a breakout candidate for me this year, but he has really struggled in his time with the Rockcats. He was their closer early in the season and that did not go well. He is 0-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 20 games (2 starts). Again, control has been the problem. In 33.1 innings, he has 24 strikeouts to go with 19 walks. He throws hard and has good offspeed pitches, so I think he’ll have a good second half.
  • #29 – Max Kepler – OF – Extended Spring Training – Still just 17 years old and at EST. He’ll play in the GCL this year, and maybe next year.
  • #30 – Tom Stuifbergen – RHP – Beloit Snappers – Stuifbergen made a big name for himself last year in the WBC and the World Cup, but he also pitched well for Elizabethton after missing the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He began this season in Beloit pitching very well, but he missed time recently with some elbow discomfort. He told me last night that he has an MRI scheduled for next week on his elbow. He made a start last weekend and although he hit 90, he said there was pain in the elbow. Hopefully he will get good news because he is a guy that, if healthy, could move up this list very quickly.

There you have it, a review of how my Top 30 Twins prospects have done to start the 2010 season. I would love to hear your thoughts on my Top 30. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my updated Top 50. But if you have any thoughts, comments or would want to post your top 10/20/30, please feel free to comment here.

2010 Ft. Myers Preview

12 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The 2010 Twins minor league roster previews are brought to you by the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. Get your copy here!

Jake Mauer will be the Miracle’s manager in 2010 after managing the GCL Twins the last couple of years. Former long-time big leaguer Jim Dwyer will be the hitting coach while Steve Mintz is the pitching coach. Let’s take a look at players on the Miracle roster to start the 2010 season (note – prospect ranking for my choices for Top 30 Twins prospects as updated in the Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook):

The Starting Pitchers

Kyle Gibson (5), Michael Tarsi, Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh, Brad Tippett.

Obviously Gibson is the name here, but he isn’t the only pitcher with upside. That said, he clearly has tremendous upside, multiple average or better pitches, and great makeup. Lanigan has a good fastball and is probably best known for having a very strong slider. Pugh throws hard and is still working on secondary pitches. He moved into the Beloit starting rotation late last year and was impressive. The goal would be for him to continue that progression. Brad Tippett doesn’t throw hard, but he absolutely knows how to pitch. Long and lanky, he still has room to grown and add strength. Tarsi is a tall lefty who doesn’t throw hard. He is the one returning to the Miracle rotation for the second year.

The Bullpen Arms

Billy Bullock (20), Henry Arias, Michael Allen, Tony Davis, Shooter Hunt, Blake Martin, Matt Williams.

This group is an interesting mix of hard-throwing talents and guys who have a lot to show. Billy Bullock is arguably the best relief pitching prospect in the system. The hard throwing righty became a reliever one year ago and added velocity to go with a very good slider. Tony Davis was drafted a year ago as well, and he spent time with several of the Twins affiliates, including a AA New Britain. The lefty knows how to pitch. Shooter Hunt had a rough 2009, and his first outing this year was ugly, but Mauer got him back out there the very next day and he was better. His upside is tremendous. Hopefully he can work through his control issues. Matt Williams has been around for a long time yet is still young. The Australian always does a good job and is sometimes overlooked. It is a big year for Arias, Allen and Martin.

The Catchers

Jair Fernandez, Chris Herrmann, Daniel Rohlfing.

This is a solid group of catchers, but the shock (for me) of spring was that Herrmann is skipping Beloit. He has played everywhere. He told me he played a lot of 2B his first year in college. He caught, played OF and played 3B over the next two years. The Twins drafted him as a catcher, but he played LF most days in Elizabethton. He was moved to catcher at Instructs, and in the first couple of games, he has played CF and catcher. Could he be another Craig Biggio type? The big thing is, that he can hit with a smooth lefty-handed swing. Fernandez came to camp this spring and played a little. Rohlfing actually played some in the outfield last year as well.

The Infielders

Nate Hanson, Yangervis Solarte, Drew Thompson, Paul Kelly, Chris Cates, Deibinson Romero, Nick Romero.

In 2005, the Twins drafted high school middle infielders Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson. They both had great starts to their career, but both missed significant time over the next two years. Last year, Thompson made a successful comeback in Beloit. This year, hopefully the same will be said for Kelly. Both are good guys, very talented, and if they can stay healthy through this season, both should jump back into the prospect rankings. Deibinson Romero was taken off of the 40 man roster this winter and returns to Ft. Myers where Twins officials would love to see anything positive. Nate Hanson played all over the Beloit infield a year ago, and will likely spend more time at 1B this year. Likewise, Solarte has the ability to play as many as seven positions. Chris Cates is great defensively and pitchers love when he is playing SS behind them. Nick Romero is another guy fully capable of playing around the infield. He has some real pop in his bat as well.

The Outfielders

Evan Bigley, Michael Harrington, Ramon Santana.

Three games into the season and there are already rumblings that Aaron Hicks or Angel Morales could move up to Ft. Myers in an attempt to give them an actual center fielder. Evan Bigley is a very good player, a very good hitter. Harrington can play all three positions and last year had a lot of extra base hits. Ramon Santana is an infielder that has now moved to the outfield, probably because of how good of an infielder he was. Chris Cates and Chris Herrmann have already played centerfield this year.

SUMMARY

To be completely honest, this is a team that has the ability to lose a lot of games early in the season. However, there are a few guys that are clearly have a chance to advance, but this could be a team built for a second half playoff run when some guys from Beloit are added to the roster.  

If you have any questions or comments on this preview of the roster, please feel free to ask… Leave your questions or comments.

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