Top 30 Prospect Review

3 Jun

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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 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.


18 Responses to “Top 30 Prospect Review”

  1. Stephen June 3, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    Excellent round up and updates. Succinctly stated while leaving out a lot of opinions.

    On a side note, I don’t necessarily think that Valencia is a long term option for the Twins. He’s old enough where his skills should start expanding from potential into reality. However, he hasn’t ever really been seriously considered by many prospect experts and scouts. Personally, I’ve been railing against his ability to help in the major leagues at Razzball in my prospect articles on the Twins.

    Either way, his upside seems to be Ron Coomer (Coomer’s career slash line: .274/.313/421, his minor league slash line: .296/.313**/.469 [** walks were not available for all of Coomer’s minor league career]; Valencia’s minor league slash line:.299/.354/470). But, Coomer didn’t really start playing in the majors until 28 years old. If we look at Coomer’s minor league numbers and compare them to Valencia, even if we remove OBP (but they look like they’d be similar), we Twins fans have little to look forward too.

  2. chris June 3, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    I could see hendriks, bruce pugh and bobby lanigan making the list next year.

    Pugh and lanigan are injured ( not serious I don’t think ) but have been very impressive.

    Kyle Waldrop also will be on it, if not a Twin late this year.

  3. mike wants wins June 3, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    I don’t get the Valencia call up at all. They need an OFer up here with Cuddy out. It’s kind of like having 3 utility infielders, doesn’t make sense in roster construction. I’m happy he’s getting a chance, he can’t be as bad as Harris/Punto offensively (though Punto has been quite good defensively). The two year deal for Harris, which seemed odd in the offseason, now looks even worse.

    Seth, have you talked to anyone in the minors about the hitters this year? Other than Revere, not one has stepped up and said “I’m ready to move up in they system” with his play. Are they concerned at all?

    I still think they need to deal for a 3B or 3B prospect. No one in the system is even close to MLB ready at that position. No one in your top 30 list even projects as the type of hitter you’d want there (could they move Benson there). If you believe in Span, Young, Hicks, Morales, Revere, Tosoni, could Benson move there (I know, seems really stupid, but I don’t see anyone else in the system that is even close).

    • down on the farm June 3, 2010 at 11:19 am #

      they should be concerned about the hitters. It has been two years since they drafted Hicks. He still can’t hit right handed pitching…at all. He can’t steal bases effectively. His five tools are turning into one..maybe two tools. He has a strong arm. And can play a solid CF. That is great. But hardly anything to get too excited about. Until he learns to hit RHP, he is no better a prospect than Benson or Morales. (Hicks is a very polished hitter as a right handed batter…maybe he should stop trying to switch hit).

      Morales…very disappointing year in a repeat year. Benson was in A ball 4 years ago…so obviously not encouraging progress. Parmelee…meh. Tosoni…disappointing. Valencia…disappointing.

      If not for Gibson and Hendriks, and maybe Revere this entire minor league season would be lost. Only Twins fans who view things through rose colored glasses could be excited. Ramos batting below Mendoza in AAA. Guerra, promoted way too early..and the expected dismal results..but hey, he is only 21. (where have we heard this age excuse before??) Guerra has no business in AAA. All in all…nobody other than a Twins fan could be excited about this lot of players. You have Gibson, who looks like he can contribute nicely at the MlB level…then Ramos could be good trade bait…Revere may be a nice top of the order guy…and everybody else is a major crapshoot..most of them will never make it.

      • TT June 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

        Some people are impatient. Because of the hype, they expect players to turn into the next superstar overnight. I am not sure whether to blame the hype or the impatience.

        That said, the history of player development is littered with players who looked good in their uniforms, but could never translate that into major league skills. Morales and Benson are both prime candidates for that. It is way too early to worry about Hicks. Parmelee may still turn into the quintessential late blooming slugger. At least, that is the upside.

        I suspect the reason Valencia got the call is that the Twins don’t really have anyone on the roster who they would have sit on the major league bench. And they are unlikely to stick Revere in the outfield at the expense of at bats for Young, Kubel or Thome. Punto and Tolbert can both play the outfield as backups.

        Valencia has been doing much better recently at AAA. This is a good time to give him a shot at a major league job. Even if he doesn’t have immediate success, he can go back to AAA with a clearer idea of what he needs to do. If he shows he can hit major league pitching, he can at least hold down a job until Casilla is back. And if he can’t hold down the job, then the Twins may be in the market for a major league third baseman. This looks like a chance to find out whether Valencia is really the “third baseman of the future.” After all the hype he has given Valencia, Seth better hope so.

      • mike wants wins June 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

        I’m not giving up on anyone, just surprised that not one hitter has stepped up this year in any real way.

      • roger June 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

        It is interesting TT that you are ready to bail on Morales but not Hicks, especially considering that Morales is actually younger than Hicks. Personally, I think both remain tremendous prospects. Lets give them some time to mature and develop.

      • TT June 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

        Roger –

        I don’t “bail” on players that easily. I think Benson and Morales still have a chance. But Morales is in his second full season at Beloit and has had over 600 PA. He does not seem to be improving and when a player stops getting better …

        Hicks isn’t really showing much improvement over last year’s numbers either. But he is in his first full season in the league. That Hick’s strikeouts have gone up this year is a concern, but not nearly as big a concern as the fact that Morales haven’t gone down.

        Both Benson and Morales are good athletes who seem to be having problem getting their bat on the ball.

  4. Bill in Sarasota June 3, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Agree with Chris’s picks for next year.

    Even though he’s older, Matt Fox has put together a good season so far.

  5. Jeff P June 3, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    It is striking how many of the top 30 have struggled so far. I know it is still a fairly small sample size but man this is bad. There are very few guys to get excited about, especially among the hitters.

  6. roger June 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Seth, I believe that the fourth outfielder for the short-term will be Matt Tolbert. He played there some in spring training as well as some games in Rochester.

    The only two real weaknesses in your top prospects is that, 1) Alex Burnett should have been higher, I had him ranked as the top pitcher in the organization last year…although I do know your thoughts about relievers and understand your thinking; and 2) Liam Hendriks has proven everyone wrong and will likely be a top 10 or 15 in most rankings next year.

    Thanks for the update SEth.

  7. JK June 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Seth, I’d like to see you provide some context for the raw numbers. For instance, the Midwest is a brutal place to hit especially in the spring. I think Hicks and Morales are doing fine given that they’re young for league and have better than average production.

  8. TT June 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    “the Midwest is a brutal place to hit especially in the spring.”

    The top 20 hitters in the Midwest league are all hitting over .300 and guy with the best batting average is only 18.

  9. Steve H June 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    its easy to look back in hindsight right now but through June 1st my top Twins prospect list is:

    1. Kyle Gibson
    2. Aaron Hicks
    3. Ben Revere
    4. Wilson Ramos (finally had a great AAA day, 5-5 -2 2B)
    5. Miguel Angel Sano ( had a HR in game 1 in DSL)
    6. David Bromberg (I’m hoping he gets going again)
    7. Liam Hendriks (too high? for still a relatively SSS?)
    8. Danny Valencia (shown no home-run power thus far)
    9. Angel Morales
    10. Carlos Gutierrez (I think he is a Nick Blackburn clone)
    11. Adrian Salcedo
    12. Joe Benson
    13. Deolis Guerra (youngest pitcher in the IL)
    14. Anthony Slama
    15. Rene Tosoni
    16. Christopher Parmelee
    17. Trevor Plouffe (looking like a studlier version of Brendon Harris)
    18. Jeff Manship*
    19. Tyler Robertson
    20. B.J. Hermsen
    21. Billy Bullock
    22. Yangarvis Solarte (where did this kid come from?)
    23. Kyle Waldrop
    24. Tom Stuiffbergen
    25. Rob Delaney
    26. Michael McCardell
    27. Steven Singleton
    28. Danny Rams
    29. Brian Dinkelman
    30. Bruce Pugh

    H.M. : Michael Tonkin, Blayne Weller, Dustin Martin, Daniel Rolhfing , Chris Herrmann, Bobby Lanigan, Brad Tippett, Dan Osterbrock, Spencer Steedley, Loek Van Mil, Andrey Lobanov, Kane Holbrooks

    • jay lethal June 4, 2010 at 2:57 am #

      Shooter hunt

  10. Steve H June 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    you could put Luke Hughes in at #22 and move Solarte down a few spots…..

  11. amo June 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    hey seth could you give us a list of your top 30 prospects with this year included?

  12. TT June 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Taking a different approach, there are about 10 players on that list that are really “Prospects”, the rest are suspects:

    Jorge Polanco

    (I don’t know why he isn’t on a list. Sano is the better prospect, but Polanco is a true shortstop while Sano appears to have already been moved to third base)

    In terms of suspects, I think Waldrop and maybe Slama have the best shots at making it. Fox would also be on that list. Those three guys are close enough that they should at least get a chance in the big leagues.

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