Archive | 10:52 pm

SethSpeaks.net Top 10 Twins Prospects

2 Oct

To see the Week 5 football picks, please scroll down. If you’ve seen what Grant Balfour did to the White Sox, and particularly Juan Uribe and Orlando Cabrera yesterday, you will understand why he is now officially my hero! That was AWESOME! I believe he emphatically told Cabrera to grab some pine!! Go Rays! And Phillies! Oh, and Go Dodgers, but only because they’re playing the Cubs!!

Today we conclude the SethSpeaks.net Top 50 Twins Prospects series with the fourth and final part. Here are my choices for the Twins Top 10 Prospects. You can check out Part 1 (Prospects 31-50), Part 2 (Prospects 21-30), and Part 3 (Prospects 11-20). Again, I want to encourage discussion of this list. Feel free to e-mail me at SethSpeaksNet@hotmail.com or Comment here. For information on the purpose of this list and some of the criteria used to develop it, click here. 

So, with all that, let’s get to today’s Twins Prospects:

 

SethSpeaks Top 50 Twins Prospects

 

 

#10 – Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – 22 (9/22/86)

2008 Teams: Ft. Myers Miracle

Acquired: Twins 1st round pick in 2008 out of University of Miami

I have learned that it doesn’t make much sense to question Twins draft selections, at least not before they sign and play for a couple of years. I think we all learned from the 2007 Ben Revere situation that sometimes the Twins front office and their entire scouting department know what they’re doing and that Baseball America and other so-called draft experts are not always perfectly accurate. That is why you didn’t see me overreact when the Twins took Gutierrez with the 27th overall pick in the 2008 draft despite many considering him a 2nd round type of pick. Reports indicate that had the Twins not taken him at #27, the Boston Red Sox would have taken him at #30. In other words, had the Twins not taken Gutierrez at 27, he would not have been there at #31. The Twins really like Gutierrez because of his fastball, pitch movement and sink. He throws hard. He has pitched in a lot of big games. When he was drafted, many saw him as the closer for the Miami Hurricanes in the College World Series. The Twins saw him as a future starter. He had Tommy John surgery a year earlier, so that is why he was the Hurricane’s closer. The Twins had a need in the bullpen at Ft. Myers in late June, so after Gutierrez signed, in part to limit his innings, they sent him to start his career in the Miracle bullpen. In 16 games (25.2 innings), he has gone 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA. To put too much credence to a college pitcher’s numbers in the year he is drafted is not fair since they have been pitching since January. He should now be able to rest his arm throughout the offseason and come to spring training next year as a starter.

2009 Projection: spending the season in Ft. Myers becoming a starter again

Potential: needs to develop more pitches and stay healthy, could be middle of rotation type

Could be in Minnesota in: 2011

 

# 9 – Luke Hughes – 3B/2B/CF – 24 (8/2/84)

2008 Team: New Britain Rockcats, Rochester Red Wings

Acquired: signed as free agent in 2002 out of Australia

Australian Luke Hughes was one of the most intriguing minor league storylines of the 2008 season, probably the first one! Hughes began his second season in New Britain with an incredible April in which he hit eight home runs and was hitting in the high .300s. Based on a very strong start, Hughes represented the Twins in the Futures Game and the Rockcats in the Eastern League All-Star game. There were several times when he was likely on the cusp of a promotion to Rochester, but he kept getting hurt, pulling muscles. His AA numbers dropped precipitously. But a couple of Red Wing injuries later, he was promoted to Rochester where he continued to hit and hit for power. He hit .291/.327/.466 with 11 extra base hits in 103 at bats, including three more home runs. Offensively, a light seemed to go off for Hughes during the 2007 season, his first in AA New Britain when he was an All-Star utility player. That leads to the biggest question surrounding Hughes, defense. What position will he play should he get to the big leagues? 3B is his most natural position. He has played a lot of 2B in this career with the Twins. He played quite a bit of centerfield in 2008. Reports indicate that the Twins would like for him to play a lot of 3B in Winter ball this offseason. I believe he will go to spring training next February with an opportunity to compete for a big league roster spot, maybe even platooning with Brian Buscher at 3B. 

2009 Projection: playing 3B, CF, other for Rochester, chance to platoon at 3B with Twins early in year.

Potential: likely utility infielder/outfielder who won’t hurt the Twins if he has to start for an extended period.

Could be in Minnesota in: 2009

 

# 8 – Kevin Mulvey – RHP – 23 (5/26/85)

2008 Team: Rochester Red Wings

Acquired: Traded to Twins with Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber and Deolis Guerra for Johan Santana in March 2008

Carlos Gomez was considered the centerfielder of the future. Deolis Guerra was considered the future ace of the staff. Kevin Mulvey was considered a nice addition to the trade, but I don’t think that people give him the credit that he is due. Mulvey was a 2nd round pick in 2006 out of Villanova. The Mets moved him right up to AA where he pitched well in a couple of outings. In 2007, he spent the year in AA before throwing 13 shutout innings in AAA.  The Twins started him at AAA Rochester this spring, and he started out very well.  But then he really struggled in the middle of the season. Mulvey presents an interesting case in being careful to giving too much credence to Win-Loss record. Mulvey went 7-9, but his 3.77 ERA was very solid. He gave up 152 hits in 148 innings. He struck out 121, which is pretty good. However, he is known as a control pitcher. 48 walks is average at best. At just 23 years old, Mulvey is one of the youngest pitchers in the league. With the Twins, a solid season at AAA means that because he does not need to be added to the 40 man roster in the offseason, he does not get a September call-up. If he was still with the Mets, he would have been in the big league rotation for at least part of this year. Of course, I am certain Mulvey would love to be in the big leagues. But for the Twins, having a guy continuing to get better while being nearly ready at AAA is a great thing for the team’s depth. 

2009 Projection: starting for Rochester, likely ‘6th’ starter when necessary

Potential: 4th starter

Could be in Minnesota in: 2009

 

#7 – Wilson Ramos – C – 21 (8/10/87)

2008 Teams: Ft. Myers Miracle

Acquired: signed as free agent out of Dominican Republic

Ramos burst onto the scene in 2007 when injury and another catcher’s struggles presented him with the opportunity to play in Beloit at the age of 19. He destroyed the pitching in the league for a couple of months but his season ended early because of an injury. Postseason prospect lists including Baseball America and LaVelle E. Neal’s ranked Ramos quite highly. I was a little more skeptical for several reasons including the low number of at bats last season. But reports told us that he was a big, powerful bat, but he also is a very good catcher with a strong arm. I guess I just needed to see it for a little longer.  Ramos moved up to Ft. Myers for the 2008 season. He started out very slow with the bat, but as the season progressed, he started hitting. He played in 126 games, DHing many times to keep his bat in the lineup. In all, he hit .288/.346/.434 with 23 doubles and 13 home runs. Those are solid numbers for anyone in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, but from a 20 year old catcher, it is exciting. Certainly there are things that Ramos can continue to work on. If he continues to improve, he could be a guy to get Joe Mauer out from behind home plate on more occurrences. Ideally, he becomes a power hitting catcher and forces the Twins to carry three catchers so that Mauer and Ramos can both play every day between catcher and DH.

2009 Projection: spending the season in New Britain catching and DHing

Potential: good hit DH, and a catcher who could move Mauer

Could be in Minnesota in: 2010

 

# 6 – Tyler Robertson – LHP – 20 (12/23/87)

2008 Team: Ft. Myers Miracle

Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2006 from Citrus Heights, CA

It is always interesting to see how the affiliate’s rosters shape up to start each season. We probably overreact many times. In 2007, Tyler Robertson started in Extended Spring Training and quickly moved up to Beloit due to injury in their rotation. He pitched so well that he became the easy choice for Twins top prospect after the season. In reality, he should have only been in Beloit in 2008, instead he was in Ft. Myers. He really only had one bad game early in the year in which he gave up some runs on a lot of hits and a couple of walks. Even with that game, his WHIP for the season was just 1.32. At midseason, I again named Robertson the Twins top prospect. In 15 starts this season, he went 5-3 with a 2.72 ERA. Unfortunately, Robertson missed most of the season’s second half with arm injuries. Wisely the Twins shut him down early. Since he was drafted, many predicted that Robertson’s delivery could lead to arm problems. Hopefully Robertson can come back in 2009 with a strong, healthy arm and better, more fluid mechanics because he has tremendous upside.    

2009 Projection: starter again at Ft. Myers

Potential: potential #2 starter

Could be in Minnesota in: 2011

 

#5 – Anthony Swarzak – RHP – 23 (9/10/85)

2008 Teams: New Britain Rockcats, Rochester Red Wings
Acquired
: Twins 2nd round pick in 2004 out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Swarzak did it to us again! In 2007, he started off horribly at New Britain and then went through his 50 game suspension. He came back with Ft. Myers and moved back to New Britain where he rocketed back up the prospect lists. Many thought that Swarzak would start the 2008 season in Rochester, but a numbers crunch meant that he would head back to AA to start the season. Even then though, the assumption was that he would dominate the Eastern League again and advance to AAA quickly. Didn’t happen. In fact, when Swarzak was promoted to Rochester late in the season, I thought a demotion to Ft. Myers was more warranted. He was 3-8 with a 5.67 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP with the Rockcats. He was incredibly hittable, giving up 126 hits in 101.2 innings making those reports that he has just two pitches seem pretty accurate. But what Swarzak did once promoted to Rochester is why I am a blogger who writes post season prospect lists instead of being a GM and I don’t have GMs beating down my door with job offers! Swarzak made seven starts for the Red Wings. He went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. In 45 innings, he gave up just 41 hits. Had Swarzak pitched this well at New Britain, he would have been in Rochester sooner and would likely be even higher on this list. I am certain that Swarzak was disappointed to begin the season in AA. Hopefully he begins 2009 in Rochester and can get off to a fast start. Hopefully he learns from this and performs to his best regardless of any such disappointment.

2009 Projection: Should spend the season in the Rochester starting rotation
Potential
: #3-type starter
Could be in Minnesota in
: 2009

 

#4 – Danny Valencia – 3B – 23 (9/19/84)

2008 Team: Ft. Myers Miracle, New Britain Rockcats

Acquired: Twins 19th round pick in 2006 out of Miami

The Twins are pretty well set in the outfield, DH, 1B, 2B and Catcher for the next three of more years. Despite adequate play by Brian Buscher, the Twins biggest area of need is the left side of the infield. The hope for 3B, in my mind, is with Danny Valencia. Ever since the Twins inexplicably were able to draft Valencia out of the University of Miami in the 19th round in 2006, he has performed both in the field and with the bat. It came as a surprise to some that he began the 2008 season in Ft. Myers, but despite any disappointment, Valencia did the best thing that he could, he performed. In 60 games with the Miracle, he hit .336/.402/.518 with 19 doubles, three triples and five home runs. After clinching the first half title, Valencia was one of four players promoted to New Britain. Valencia got off to a slow start at AA, but he came on very strong. In 68 games, he hit .293/.336/.490 with 18 doubles, two triples and ten home runs, many of which came in the season’s final weeks. One concern, however, is his strikeout rate. In 263 at bats, he had 70 strikeouts to go with just 17 walks. He certainly has earned his selection to play in the Arizona Fall League where he will compete with other top prospects in baseball. I expect him to spend a month or two in New Britain again in 2009 before a promotion to Rochester. I think he has a chance to be the Twins Opening Day 3B when they enter the new ball park in 2010.         

2009 Projection: Might start back in New Britain, should move up to Rochester, maybe even to the Twins

Potential: big league 3B with power, defense

Could be in Minnesota in: 2009

 

#3 – Angel Morales – OF – 18 (11/24/89)

2008 Teams: Extended Spring Training, Elizabethton Twins

Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2007 out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

Despite being the third round pick of the Twins in 2007 out of Puerto Rico, two rounds after Ben Revere, Morales is actually 18 months younger than Revere (he is actually almost two months younger than 2008 top pick Hicks). Like Revere, Morales began the season in Extended Spring, but instead of moving up to Beloit, he moved to short-season Elizabethton. He was one of the younger players in the Appalachian League and yet, he was one of the most productive hitters in the league. In a very powerful E-Twins lineup, Morales easily led the team in OPS. In 54 games, he hit .301/.413/.623 with 12 doubles, a triple and an impressive 15 home runs. Prospect reports are about upside, and along with Hicks, there may not be a better prospect in the organization than Angel Morales. Like Hicks, it appears that Morales could have all five tools.  History has shown us that the jump from short season to full season can be quite difficult, so it will be interesting to see how Morales makes the transition. This is probably a lofty ranking, but in a year, we will know a lot more about Morales. He could be one of the truly great ones! By the way, imagine if the Beloit outfield next year consisted of Morales, Hicks and Revere.  

2009 Projection: Beloit Snappers OF

Potential: 5-tool athlete, All Star caliber, 30/30 type

Could be in Minnesota in: 2012

 

#2 – Ben Revere – OF – 20 (5/3/88)

2008 Team: Extended Spring Training, Beloit Snappers

Acquired: Twins 1st round pick in 2007 out of Louisville, KY

Just to think, a guy who started the 2008 season in Extended Spring Training created more discussion than any other Twins prospect this year. Of course, much of the discussion started immediately when we heard that the team’s controversial #1 pick in 2007 would not be starting his season in Beloit. He was promoted  to the Snappers because of injury. No one could have anticipated the offensive display that Revere put up in the Midwest League. Revere spent most of the 2008 season with a batting average at or above .400. Multi-hit games became commonplace. If Revere had just one hit in a game (much less an occasional O-fer), people wondered what was wrong. Due to his offensive prowess, fans wanted him to immediately be pushed to Ft. Myers. There were even some fans who (crazily) thought that he should be considered for a big league promotion. He ended the season hitting .379/.433/.497 with 17 doubles, ten triples and a homer. The reality is that Revere probably could have hit well had he been moved up to Ft. Myers. However, there were certainly other parts of Revere’s game that needed work. He is not known for his defense in the outfield or his arm strength. He had ten errors in the outfield. He ended the season with 44 steals in 57 attempts, which is very good. However, he greatly improved that percentage as the season progressed. Ben Revere had an incredible 2008 season. He fully justified the Twins selection of him in the first round a year ago. He greatly improved his prospect status. Yes, he has things that he will need to continue working on, but the fact that he stayed in Beloit all season did not hurt him at all. In fact, I continue to use the career path of Joe Mauer as an example. Mauer spent his entire first professional season in Low A ball too despite hitting .330 (and having better on-base skills). He then started the next season at Ft. Myers and moved up to New Britain after the All-Star break. He was the Twins opening day catcher the following season. Mauer had an extremely fast track despite spending that entire first season in Low A. One reader who saw Revere play a few times called him a “left-handed Howie Kendrick.” Translation – He can flat-out hit. If that is the case, the Twins will be very happy. Who knows, a move to 2B may be necessary and make that comparison even more accurate.  

2009 Projection: roaming the Ft. Myers outfield

Potential: great top of the order bat, 60+ steals

Could be in Minnesota in: 2011

 

#1 – Aaron Hicks – OF – 18 (10/2/89)

2008 Team: GCL Twins

Acquired: Twins 1st round pick in 2008 out of Long Beach, CA

First things first – This is being posted late on Thursday night (10/2/08), so Happy Birthday to Aaron Hicks! The big 1-9!

It is unusual for me to rank players from the short season teams real highly. They are generally five or six promotions from the big leagues, so no matter how well they play, the road is long. Aaron Hicks was picked by the Twins in the first round in June. I was immediately impressed with him because he was the only draft pick who actually went to the MLB draft in Orlando. I know, that’s a small thing, but I happen to think it says a lot. Reports said that he could be a five-tool talent, but that the weakest tool might be hitting. In other words, it could be read as “a very toolsy player with a long way to go”. Well, that is true, but his performance in the GCL was quite impressive in all facets of the game. He hit for average (.318). He took walks (.409 On-Base Percentage). He walked almost as much as he struck out (28 BB, 32 K) without striking out very often (32 in 201 plate appearances). He showed plenty of pop in his bat with 18 extra base hits including four home runs. He showed speed with four triples and he was 12/14 in stolen base attempts. He had just two errors on defense. And no one can question his arm. In fact, it was reported that most teams had him on their draft board as a pitcher since he can boast a fastball in the mid-90s. I really don’t think that the Twins could have hoped for Hicks to make a better impression. Finally, I have had several reports from people who have seen Hicks play and each has told me that he may be the best prospect that the Twins have had in years. All of that means that Hicks is an easy choice for the team’s #1 prospect.

2009 Projection: CF in Beloit

Potential: future middle of the order bat, All-Star caliber

Could be in Minnesota in: 2012

  

 

With that, you now have the complete 2008 Postseason Twins Top 50 Prospects list.  I welcome your questions, comments, opinions, rankings or arguments. You can e-mail me at sethspeaksnet@hotmail.com or Comment there. I hope to discuss this ranking during my upcoming podcasts at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SethSpeaks as well.

 

I appreciate all comments!

Advertisements

NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 5

2 Oct

The “Expert” Panelists’ picks are now up at www.SethSpeaks.net. I have included the overall standings so that you can know whose picks to believe and whose are not worth spending terribly much time looking at (Mine!).

MiLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and am710 The Fan (Bismarck-Mandan)’s Jack Michaels were the Week 4 winners. LaVelle E. Neal made up a game to tie Cory Hepola for the overall season lead, through four weeks.