I went into the Minnesota Twins system thinking they had less than talent than they do. I was wrong.
The Twins have done very well with their International signings and their 2011 draft helped re-stock a system that was starting to lack depth and upside arms.
Below are my top 16 prospects with 2012 opening day age, position, and comments on each player. Below the top 16 is a small list of additional notable names. Enjoy.
|1||Miguel Sano (18-3B)||Sano played the entire 2011 season as an 18 year old and hit 20 HRs in only 267 at-bats. He has legitimate 30-40 HR power and has yet to fill out his 6’3” frame. He is still adjusting to professional pitching and will strikeout a lot and needs to learn pitch recognition and plate discipline. He is also very raw on the defensive side and profiles in a corner somewhere with hope that he can stay at 3B. His power comes easy with a sweet swing and if he can prove to handle 3B he will be a star in this game.|
|2||Oswaldo Arcia (20-OF)||Arcia played across 3 levels in 2011 and hit 46 doubles, 8 triples, and 26 HR. He has above-average power to go with his plus hit tool. On defense he has slightly above-average range and arm. He has struggled with the plate discipline and is a bit aggressive at the plate but he is only 20 and finished in High-A ball. He tailed off at the end of the year with an elbow injury but should be fully recovered. I seem to like him a bit more than others but I see a potential All-Star here.|
|3||Eddie Rosario (20-OF/2B)||Rosario possesses above-average tools across the board but no plus tools. He has quick hands and generates good bat speed and has easy 20+ stolen base speed to go with 15+ HR power and the potential to hit .300. He has decent patience for a player his age but could use some more discipline and pitch recognition. The Twins are moving him to 2B full-time next year and he has the athleticism for the position and if he can prove to handle 2B he could pass Arcia in the org rankings.|
|4||Aaron Hicks (22-OF)||A lot of reports are a bit bullish on Hicks and while he has taken a step back he is still a true CFer with above-average arm, speed, and range. He still has his solid patience at the plate but saw his K rate increase while his power and average decreased. Still, a CFer who can get on base at a clip higher than .350, steal bases, and have gap power is a solid prospect in my book. Double-A will be a great test to see if he can make the right adjustments to move further up the ladder.|
|5||Levi Michael (21-SS)||Michael is the Twins 2011 1st round pick. He has well above-average speed and patience and could hit .300 due to the fact that he makes a lot of contact with out expanding his zone often. He has only average range and played all over the infield in college and will earn the “grinder” grade from scouts. Reports are mixed on his ability to stick at SS but if he can stay there he has a chance to be a well above-average regular with a chance at making a few All-Star appearances.|
|6||Liam Hendriks (23-RHP)||He was hit hard in 49.1 Triple-A innings but only walked 3 batters. He has plus control to go with a 4-pitch repertoire. His fastball sits 88-92 mph and he needs to learn to keep the ball down if wants to be more than Kevin Slowey 2.0. He could make the Twins rotation out of Spring Training.|
|7||Kyle Gibson (24-RHP)||Gibson will miss all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John Surgery but has #3 upside and is not far from ready. He has a fastball that sits low-90s with good sink and he pairs it with a plus slider and average change. His control is also above-average but the injury and the fact he was very hittable in Triple-A are cause for concern.|
|8||Joe Benson (24-OF)||Benson comes armed with a power arm and power bat that shows more in BP than in games. He also has solid patience at the plate but strikes out a lot and may struggle to hit above .260 in the Majors. He has above-average speed and should be an asset in RF but the speed has not resulted in a successful base stealing resume with only a 59% success rate in pro ball. If he cannot make some minor adjustments he may turn into a 4th OFer.|
|9||Hudson Boyd (19-RHP)||Boyd was a supplemental 1st round pick in 2011 and comes with the highest ceiling of any of the pitchers in the system. He has a 91-95 mph fastball, well above-average curve that flashes plus, and below-average change that needs a lot of refinement. He is a bit old for a high school player with no pro data (he turns 20 in October) and is at least 3 full years from being in the Bigs. With the high ceiling comes a floor of a power right-hander out of the pen.|
|10||Travis Harrison (19-3B)||One day older than Boyd and picked 5 slots ahead of him in the draft, Harrison had one of the best power bats in the high school ranks. I have read mixed reports on his ability to hit for average and he may struggle against better velocity at higher ranks. He is a below-average defender and runner but has an above-average arm. If he cannot stick at 3B he could be a power bat in RF or LF with a strong arm.|
|11||Adrian Salcedo (21-RHP)||Salcedo has well above-average control and a 4-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball, change, and two breaking balls. The breaking balls both are below-average and need refinement if he wants to remain a starter. He also has room to fill out his frame and could add a mile-an-hour or two to his fastball. His ceiling is of a #3 but with a floor of a middle reliever.|
|12||Brian Dozier (24-MIF)||Where he lacks in tools he makes up for in the stat column and keeps outperforming what scouts say about his tools. He will be 25 in May and could be starting at SS by then. He has solid patience and a good idea of the strike zone. He makes contact and hustles on every play. His arm profiles better at 2B but he can handle SS while Michael gets time in the minors.|
|13||Max Kepler (19-OF)||Singed out of Europe at age 17 he already shows good patience and the ability to handle CF. As he fills out his wiry 6’4” frame he should develop at least average power to go with his athleticism. He is still very raw and has a ways to go but could be top-10 in the system soon.|
|14||Alex Wimmers (23-RHP)||Wimmers took a step backwards in 2011 with the loss of his control and command. He has a potential plus change-up and a higher ceiling than any other pitcher in the system outside of Boyd but has a long way to go and time is not on his side.|
|15||Chris Parmelee (24-1B/LF)||Hit well in his MLB debut and played very good defense in limited duty but there is no evidence that he has the power to profile as a regular at 1B or in LF long term. He could be a valuable bench player with good patience and ability to hit RHP well.|
|16||Madison Boer (22-RHP)||Boer was a 2011 2nd round pick and has a plus fastball/slider combo out of the pen but the Twins will try him in the rotation where his fastball will sit in the low-90s to go with his slider and developing change. His quick route to the Majors is in the pen and if he cannot handle starting duties I expect him to move quickly as a reliever.|
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt
Filed under: On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | 2012 Top Prospects, Aaron Hicks, Adrian Salcedo, Alex Wimmers, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, Eddie Rosario, Hudson Boyd, Joe Benson, Kyle Gibson, Levi Michael, Liam Hendriks, Madison Boer, Manuel Soliman, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins, Nate Roberts, Niko Goodrum, Oswaldo Arcia, Prospects, Travis Harrison