Sunday, January 23, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 20-16

Well, we've finally come to the end of the Twins prospects lists..... At least on this site. Please check out TwinsTarget for the final 15. If you've missed prospects 50-21, you can start by checking em out here.

20. Jose Gonzalez Lefty Reliever 2/3/1990.
He was signed signed in 2007 out of Tucupita, Venezuela. He went 2-1 with a .72 ERA for Elizabethtown and Fort Myers. He struck out 43 and walked 7 in 37.1 innings. He only gave up 20 hits! He has had good numbers at every level he has played since he was an 18 year old in the DSL. Here is a snippet from Seth Stohs earlier today at TwinkieTown, check it out : 
"Now, in terms of prospect status, it's a good example of numbers versus scouting. First, he's just 5-9 and his body type is often compared to that of Jose Mijares. That might be a warning sign. Right now, his fastball sits between 83 and 86 mph, although I'm told he touched 89 late in the season. So, it's a little difficult to get too excited...." 
His ceiling is probably left-handed specialist, but if he can keep up the production, he has a chance to be used more. I ranked him #37 last year.
2011 Outlook: He held his own at Fort Myers and I'd expect him to stay there most of the year.

19. Nelvin Fuentes Lefty Reliever 4/7/1989.
He was a Twins 16th round pick in 2007 from Loaiza, Puerto Rico. He was a part of the 2009 Baseball World Cup Puerto Rican roster. He has perfromed well in international competition. He went 1-1 with 3 saves and a 3.27 ERA for Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out 61 and walked 17 in 44 innings. If Fuentes can keep his K rate high as he moves up, he'll be a dominant lefty in the majors. I ranked him #43 last year.
2011 Outlook: Will start in Beloit or Fort Myers, he will move up quickly if he keeps striking out 12 per 9 innings.

18. Chris Parmelee First Base/Outfield 2/24/1988.
He was a Twins 1st round draft pick in 2006 out of Chino Hills high school (CA). He hit .285/.356/.401 for Fort Myers and New Britain. He hit .258/.359/.441 for Fort Myers before his promotion but his HR power really dropped off after he was promoted. He had only 6 HRs for New Britain, but he did have 25 doubles in 463 plate appearances. He has a good walk rate and his strikeout rate has come down every year, but his prospect value lies in his HR power. I ranked him #12 last year.
2011 outlook: Will probably spend all season in New Britain, unless he has a HUGE year.

17. Eddie Rosario Outfield 9/28/1991.
He was a Twins 4th round pick in 2010 from Guayama, Puerto Rico. He hit .294/.343/.438 and stole 22 bases in 27 attempts in 213 plate appearances for the Gulf Coast Twins. Many considered Rosario the best player out of Puerto Rico in last year's draft. He has drawn comparisons to  Bobby Abreu. He's another promising, toolsy outfield prospect in the Twins system.
2011 outlook: With a decent year in GCL, I'd expect he will spend 2011 in Elizabethtown.

16. Nate Roberts Outfield 2/25/1989.
He was a Twins 5th round draft pick in 2010. He hit .336/.444/.547 with 5 steals in 7 tries in 153 plate appearances for Elizabethtown after finishing a college season where he led the nation in runs and on base percentage. Just awesome offensive numbers! It will be interesting to see how Roberts does in less offensive leagues. The Appalachian League is very offensive oriented. Roberts will be fun to watch develop.
2011 outlook: Will start the season in Beloit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 25-21

Earlier today, I posted a piece on #6 Twins prospect Alex Wimmers at Keeping with the pitching prospect theme, all five of the Twins prospects in this post are pitchers. If 6 pitching prospects wasn't enough reading, I wrote about #8 Adrian Salcedo the other day. If you've missed any of the other prospect posts, start here.

I also want to announce my new Twins pod-cast. Touch 'Em All with Louie Schuth of Hitting the Eephus and myself will be on the air Monday nights at 11 Eastern/10 Central. Please join us for our first show Monday night.

One way to get the latest news about this blog, my TwinsTarget posts, or my podcast is to like my blog page on facebook.

25. Martire Garcia Lefty Starter 3/1/1990.
He was signed out of Yamasa, Dominican Republic in 2007. He went 8-1 with a 3.31 ERA for Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out 93 and walked 38 in 73.1 innings. He struck out a ton of guys in 2010, even without possessing an overpowering fastball. His fastball does have good movement however and he does possess a good hard curve ball. He does give up too many base-runners, walking too many guys. Garcia is young and at 5'11" 150 lbs., very small. It will be interesting to see if he can gain some weight and a couple miles per hour on his fastball.  Not a lot of information on him out there, but his numbers, age and left-handedness make him an intriguing prospect.
2011 outlook: Look for Garcia to spend most of the year in Beloit.

24. Bobby Lanigan Starter 5/5/1987.
He was a Twins 3rd round draft pick in 2008. He went 5-4 with a 3.48 ERA for Fort Myers and New Britain. He struck out 58 and walked 19 in 95.2 innings. Lanigan was injured part of the year and his K and BB numbers really suffered when he was promoted to New Britain. His fastball tops out at around 92 mph and he has a nice change up. I shot some crude phone video of Lanigan here. He could be a back of the rotation starter option for the Twins in a couple of years.
2011 outlook: Lanigan will probably spend the season in New Britain with a call-up to Rochester if their is a depth issue.

23. Dan Osterbrock Lefty Starter 1/27/1987.
He was a Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He went 9-9 with a 2.65 ERA for Beloit and Fort Myers. He struck out 106 and walked 28 in 139.1 innings. He doesn't throw really hard but has amazing control, walking less than 2 per inning in 2010. He is another one of those solid starter prospects that throws strikes in the Twins system. He could be a back-end of the rotation guy for the Twins in 2 or 3 years. A left-handed starter that throws strikes can be pretty valuable.
2011 outlook: Osterbrock will probably spend the season in New Britain.

22. Kyle Waldrop Reliever 10/27/1985.
He was the Twins 25th overall pick in 2004 out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He went 5-3 with 2 saves and a 2.57 ERA for AAA Rochester. He struck out 60 and walked 20 in 87.2 innings. The former first round pick had seemed to hit a wall as a starter, but he has really developed into a great reliever. He was left unprotected in the rule 5 draft, probably due to his underwhelming strikeout rate. The Twins are fortunate that Waldrop went unclaimed, he could be needed on the major league club in 2011.
2011 outlook: Waldrop is not on the 40-man roster, but should be in the mix to help fill out the Twins bullpen that has lost many parts.

21. Pat Dean Starter 5/25/1989.
He was a Twins 3rd round draft pick out of Boston College in 2010. He went 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA for Elizabethtown. He struck out 32 and walked only 1 in 24.1 innings. He has great control and a 92 MPH fastball. He could move through the system quickly. That's right, the Twins drafted a starter in an early round out of college. Another shocker, he is a strike thrower.
2011 outlook: Dean will probably start the season in Beloit and if he dominates, earn a relatively quick promotion.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't doubt Joe Nathan!

The Twins have lost 4 top flight free agent relievers in the 2010 off-season. A post about the 2011 bullpen options is forthcoming, but I ended up wanting to examine Joe Nathan more.

I'm here to tell you to be hopeful. Don't Doubt Joe Nathan!

Jim McIssac/Getty Images

Joe Nathan came to the Twins before the 2004 season. Nathan had never closed before, but all he has done is save 246 games in 271 chances. He's never had an ERA above 2.70, has struck out at least 9.67 batters per 9 innings and never walked more than 2.88 per 9. He was a top 5 closer from 2004 - 2009. He's been awesome. 

Late in spring training, Nathan injured his elbow. He had to have the ulnar collateral ligament replaced. He had to have Tommy John Surgery! His season was over. Surprisingly, the Twins were fine without him. The bullpen, led by John Rauch, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier had a solid season and was further augmented by late season trades of Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes. The Twins did a great job of replacing Nathan's impact. While no reliever was as individually as dominant as Joe Nathan, the bullpen as a whole was solid.

The Twins don't have the same bullpen depth in 2011. They lost Crain, Guerrier, Rauch, and Fuentes this off-season and they have not picked up a single free agent reliever. The Twins may not have missed Joe Nathan in 2010, but the Twins could sure use him in 2011.

Ideally, Nathan comes back and takes the closer position from Matt Capps early in the season and dominates as if he'd never left. As a closer, Nathan has been a much more dominant closer than Matt Capps. He's had much better strikeout rates and allowed far less base runners over his career. His WHIP is almost always under 1.00. If Nathan is nearly 100% of his 2009 numbers, he is a much better closing option than Capps. Sliding in a healthy Nathan as the closer and Capps as set-up guy would give the Twins a nice back of the bullpen.

His Tommy John surgery is the great unknown. Many pitchers take about 2 years to come back from the surgery and it should be expected that Nathan might as well. The Twins have examples of guys coming back slowly from Tommy John surgery. Francisco Liriano took 3 years, just to return to 95% of his 2006 self. Pat Neshek wasn't the same pitcher in 2010 as he had been pre-surgery. Looking further back, Joe Mays was never the same after he had the surgery. Three examples of Twins guys coming back slow.

Will Nathan have the same set-backs? Not everyone comes back from the surgery so slow. Many pitchers return at close to 100% after just one year. Tim Hudson returned from Tommy John surgery in 2009 after only 11 months. In the month of September, he'd thrown well enough to earn a new 3 year/$28 million deal. His strikeout rates and walk rates in 2010 were virtually the same as the rest of his career. He was the same pitcher in 2010 as he was in 2008.

The one name that keeps coming up in my mind though is Billy Wagner! Wagner returned from the surgery in 2009, about 10 months after his surgery. His K rate actually went up in 2009/2010 and his walk rate only went up a tad. He was still throwing 98 in 2010. Wagner, like Nathan was a closer near the end of a great career. Wagner wanted to prove that he could be the guy he was before the surgery. He wasn't ready to retire. Nathan could do the same thing!

I'm not saying Nathan can do what Wagner or Hudson did, but why couldn't it happen. Nathan is near the end of his career. He is not a guy who's mechanics are going to be changed. He is not going to be brought back slow or babied in advance of his return, like Liriano and Neshek were. Nathan is owed a lot of money by the Twins in 2011. Then he is a free-agent. The Twins won't hold Nathan back if he feels fine, due to his age and their investment in him. Nathan isn't going to be interested in holding himself back either. Nathan will want to pitch. He's a guy fighting for one last chance at a title, one last chance at a contract. He has an option for 2012 that he'd like the Twins to pick up. He has a lot to prove in 2011 in order to have the option picked up or have an option to close in 2012.

Am I saying Nathan will return to form as quickly as Hudson or Wagner? No. They both pitched well near the end of a season and then had another off-season to rest. What I am saying is, it's not impossible that Nathan will come back at close to 100%, in fact, there is precedent.

Most Twins fans are nervous that Nathan's return won't go well, many aren't even expecting him to do much in 2011 at all. Guessing his effectiveness and his return to closer date has been a popular topic on twitter and other blogs. This just shows how nervous Twins fans are. Neshek, Liriano, and Mays are three Twins that have had difficulty coming back from Tommy John surgery. Though those players had different circumstances than Nathan. All three players were in their prime and the Twins had long term investment in them. Nathan is near the end with a short-term investment. He has something to prove and the Twins could be the beneficiaries. There is reason to be hopeful for Nathan, not just pessimistic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 30-26

For the second time in the last week, my home has been attacked by killer snowmen and the weather they bring. To celebrate this and the Twins giving Matt Capps $7.1 million, we will look at Twins prospects 30-26. If you missed any of the other posts, you can find them here. I have also posted the Twins #8 prospect at today!

30. Rob Delaney Reliever 9/8/1984.
He was signed in 2006 out of St. John's University. He went 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA for Rochester. He struck out 92 and walked 23 in 80 innings. He also made his MLB debut in 2010. He's been a consistently decent reliever since being signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2006. He has a good strikeout and walk rate and should be in the mix for the bullpen in 2011. I ranked him #18 last year.
2011 outlook: He is an option for the Twins wide open bullpen but will probably start the season in Rochester.

29. Anthony Slama Relief Pitcher 1/6/1984.
He was a Twins 39th round draft pick in 2006 out of the University of San Diego. He went 2-2 with 17 saves and a 2.20 ERA in 54 appearance for Rochester. He struck out 74 and walked 32 in 65.1 innings. He made his major league debut in 2010 and will be in the mix for 2011, especially with the free agent losses to the Twins bullpen. He doesn't have outstanding stuff but always manages to get the job done. The success of the 2011 Twins bullpen will in part be based on how well Slama can do for the major league club. I ranked him #31 last year.
2011 outlook: Probably has a leg-up over Delaney for a spot in the Twins bullpen.

28. Daniel Rams Catcher/First Base 12/19/1988.
He was a Twins 2nd round pick out of Miami, FL in 2007. He hit .243/.310/.450 for Beloit. He also struck out an incredible 145 times! He has a good arm as a catcher, throwing out 47% of would be base-stealers. The Twins might see his HR power as a better attribute than his catching. He does split time at first base but is young enough, that, for now, he'll get a chance to catch. A power hitting catcher prospect is always coveted, if his power jumps ahead of his catching ability, he may see a change of position. Rams has to cut his strikeout rate and find a way to get on base more often to have real value away from the catching position.
2011 outlook: He will probably spend all season at Fort Myers, unless catching shortages require him to move up.

27. Anderson Hidalgo Third Base 9/5/1988.
He was signed in 2006 out of Valencia, Venezuela. He hit .316/.375/.443 for Beloit. Hidalgo is a doubles machine, with 25 in only 315 plate appearances. He gets on base and hits for some power, but will have to improve his power to be a major factor at third base. He's only 5'9" but his skills could make him a #2 hitter someday. I ranked him #38 last year.
2011 outlook: He will probably spend most of the season at Fort Myers.

26. Bruce Pugh Starter 7/18/1988.
He was the Twins 19th round draft pick in 2008 out of Hillsborough Community College. He went 7-10 with a 4.03 ERA at Fort Myers with 106 strikeouts and 48 walks in 102.2 innings. He only gave up 81 hits! He's always struck out more than 1 per inning and given up less than a hit per inning, he's also improved his walk rate a little. He could be a good middle rotation starter for the Twins in a couple of years if he continues to lower his walk rate.
2011 outlook: He'll probably spend the season in New Britain.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 35-31

The Twins finally re-signed Jim Thome this week. The 1 year $3 million contract was less than I was willing to give him in August. I guess the Twins could have given him anything they want. It's not my money. anyway, lets look at 5 more prospects. My other prospect write-ups can be found here!

35. Miguel Munoz Starter 8/4/1988.
He was signed out of Caracas, Venezuela in 2005. He went 12-7 with a 4.37 ERA for Beloit. He struck out 121 and walked 48 in 131.2 innings. He throws hard but he walks too many. He had a decent season in his first full minor league season. If he can keep his walk rate down and K rate up, he should move up quickly.
2011 outlook: He will most likely spend the year in Fort Myers.

34. Billy Bullock Reliever 2/27/1988.
He was the Twins second round pick out of the University of Florida in 2009. He went 2-8 with 27 saves in 58 appearances between Fort Myers and New Britain. He could be a Twins closer someday. He stuck out 105 in 74 innings. He allows too many base runners though, giving up 73 hits and 43 walks. I saw him in August, he looked good, hitting 95 on the gun. If he can cut the base runners, he could be in the mix for closer as soon as 2012. 
2011 outlook: He will start the season in New Britain with a probable promotion to AAA.

33. Dakota Watts Reliever 11/16/1987.
He was drafted in the 16th round out of Cal State Stanislaus in 2009. He went 6-3 with 8 saves and a 3.10 ERA mostly at Beloit and Fort Myers. He struck out 89 and walked 44 in 81.1 innings. He throws hard and has a good slider and strikes out guys, but he walks too many. I wrote more about him and Kane Holbrooks last fall. Like Bullock, if he could get his walk rate down, he could be a future set-up guy or closer.
2011 outlook: He will either start the season closing in Fort Myers or in the New Britain bullpen.

32. Paul Bargas Lefty Reliever 10/13/1988.
Bargas was recently acquired in a trade with Colorado for backup catcher Jose Morales. He went 5-4 with 5 saves and a 3.59 ERA in the high A Sally League. He struck out 64 and walked 19 in 67.2 innings while only giving up 57 hits. The Twins have made very few moves so far this off-season, but other than re-signing Jim Thome, trading for a 22 year old lefty with a decent K and BB rate has been their beat move to date. Another future closer candidate?
2011 outlook: Will probably spend all season in New Britain's bullpen.

31. Rene Tosoni Outfield 6/2/1986.
He was a Twins 36th round draft pick in 2005 out of Toronto, Canada. He hit .270/.369/.422 for New Britain before an injury ended his season in early June. He found some HR power in 2009, vaulting him up the prospect rankings. He is a decent outfield prospect, but he has been passed in the system by Joe Benson and Ben Revere, with Angel Morales right behind him. He is a useful prospect, but could get lost in the shuffle at such a deep position in the Twins system. I had him ranked #14 before last season.
2011 outlook: Will probably be manning the Rochester outfield. Could be an injury call-up.

There are questions about the Twins bullpen in 2011, but the 2012 bullpen already looks pretty good with Bullock, Watts, and Bargas in the mix!

Look for a podcast coming soon. Information to follow!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Twins 2011 Prospects 40-36

We're Back! A couple weeks back, I posted Twins prospects 50-46 and 45-41. What have I been doing since then? Well, while I have been counting down the 50th through 16th best Twins prospect here, I have also been helping with the final 15 prospects at TwinsTarget. Please check out the Twins top 15 there. So far, I have posted the 14th, 12th and 10th best Twins prospect. 

40. Brandon Roberts Outfielder 11/9/1984.
He was the Reds 7th round draft pick in 2005 out of Cal Poly State-San Luis Obispo. He hit .327/.404/.417 with 22 stolen bases in 25 attempts mostly in AA and AAA in 374 plate appearances. He has really brought his numbers up in the last couple years and should be in the mix as a 5th outfielder for the Twins, though he has not been invited to major league camp. I really like Roberts. He gets on base and has some speed. I'd like to see him get a chance. Due to his age and higher end outfield prospects, Roberts probably has a better chance to make the majors in a different organization.
2011 Outlook: Will spend the season in AAA, could get a call-up with a couple injuries. 

39. Lance Ray First Base 9/2/1989.
He was a Twins 8th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. He hit .289/.372/.417 for Elizabethtown and Beloit. Ray had awesome numbers at Kentucky before he was drafted, hitting .356/.458/.720. He showed good on base skills once he signed, if he could find the power numbers he had in college, he would rocket up prospect boards.
2011 Outlook: Will start the season in Beloit, potential mid-season promotion to Fort Myers.

38. Daniel Ortiz Outfield 1/5/1990.
He was a Twins 4th round draft pick in 2008 out of Harrison High School in Puerto Rico. He hit .259/.299/.498 for Elizabethtown. He missed all of 2009 but came back with a really nice power year in 2010. His power is nice but he doesn't walk much and he strikes out a ton. The Appalachian League is an offensive league, so it will be interesting to watch his growth and his numbers once he moves up to A ball. He has a long way to go, but will only be 21 in 2011.
2011 Outlook: Will probably spend the whole season in Beloit.

37. Jorge Polanco Shortstop 7/5/1993.
He was signed in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic for $750,000. He hit just .233/.299/.301 in 119 plate appearances for the Gulf Coast League Twins but wasn't even 17 until July. He is known as a glove first guy, some have already dubbed Polanco the best infield defender in the system. A great defensive shortstop is very valuable. If Polanco can bring anything resembling a competent bat to the plate, he could have a very nice major league career. The defense is there, it will be interesting to see if the bat comes.
2011 Outlook: Should spend another season in the GCL.

36. Trevor Plouffe Shortstop 6/15/1986.
He was the 20th overall draft pick by the Twins ins 2004. Plouffe is one of the few middle infield 'prospects" in the Twins system near helping the big league club. His power continued to improve in 2010 and he has put himself in the mix for the everyday shortstop position in 2011. He hit .244/.300/.430 in Rochester. He made his major league debut in 2010. He hit just .146/.143/.317 in 22 major league games. He mostly served as Jim Thome's pinch runner. He has a decent glove and some power and will most likely be on the major league roster when the season begins. If Trevor can improve his on-base skills and he can stay at shortstop, he will have a solid major league career. 
2011 Outlook: Will probably start the season on the Twins bench, may go back to Rochester to play every day.