Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Time at Puckett's Pond

For the last 4 months, I have been writing for Puckett's Pond. Because I only mustered 7 posts for them, I no longer write at Puckett's Pond. Since I want to make sure I always have ease of access to my work and in case anyone missed it, I will review my time there.

I started by predicting the AL Central. I was pretty wrong on the Twins (homerism). The White Sox have also been better than I thought they would be.

I said Goodbye to Luke Hughes. Most of my fond memories of Luke were in 2008 in AA, not his time in the majors. He seems like a really good dude but unfortunetly he has had trouble sticking with a team after he was let go. After spending time at 3 levels of the A's organization he was let go and about to play independent ball but Toronto picked him up and sent him to AAA. Good luck Luke, I wish you nothing but success.

I pondered a promotion to Fort Myers for Miguel Sano. His .271/.407/.614 line through 20 games made me jump the gun and although his 1.3 K's per game was a concern. I wanted to make folks think of realistic promotions (not the knuckleheads that think Sano should be in the majors) and I've grown tired of the Twins taking it so slow with just about every prospect. (Except Joe Mauer) For the season he is hitting .251/.375/.496 for the season and striking out 1.16 times per game. While I jumped the gun, I think he could have turned in similar production in Fort Myers.

I welcomed Cole DeVries to the majors and expressed surprise at seeing him there. Cole has had 9 starts for the Twins, going 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA with strikeout and walk rates similar to his minor league numbers. While Cole would have no place on a strong starting staff, he might just be able to hang on in the majors for a couple years. I do wish him success.

I re-ranked the Twins top 20 after the draft. Top pick Byron Buxton landed at #2.

Inspired by my trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, I wrote about how well Twins fans travel. Unfortunetly, I was too busy to also write a story about the games themselves. Or anything about my trip to New Britain 2 weeks ago.

Finally, I started looking at moves that will shape the 2013 team with Liriano's trade. I will continue that series of stories here.

I enjoyed my time on the Pond, but it lacks a certain inflexibility that an old ass man with a family and a road sales job needs in his blogging life.

The Pond is short of writers though, so if you are a Twins fan and interested in writing, you should apply here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects, The last of the prospects: Top 3

So, it's June 12th and I still have not completed my off-season prospect lists. The excuses are many. I'm married with a child in sports. I have dogs, my house needs work, I have a busy new job, PuckettsPond, etc... The fact remains, I posted prospect #4 on April 24th.... and that is even quite late. Next year, I might be better off not doing individual profiles for each of the top 15. With the Twins recently completing their draft and getting their picks signed, I need to get this done. Guys like Bryon Buxton and J.O. Berrios really belong high on prospect lists, so I better finish my top 50 now.

So, we profile the top 3 in one post.

#3 Joe Benson, Outfield, 24 years old.

2011 stats: .285/.388/.495 with 16 HRs for New Britain in 472 PAs.
Last Year's Rank: 4
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft out of Joliet Catholic Academy.

Joe Benson has always been a great athlete with five tool potential, but until 2010, he really hadn't found his power tool. That changed in 2010, when he hit 27 HRs between Fort Myers and New Britain with a .538 slugging percentage. His .881 OPS combined with 19 stolen bases and great defense as a 22 year old vaulted Benson up to the #100 ranked prospect by Baseball America. He followed that up in 2011 with a .285/.388/.495 line in his return to New Britain. This earned Benson a late season call-up. He hit .239/.270/.352 in 74 plate appearances with the Twins.

Fast forward to 2012. Benson was sent down to Rochester early in spring and he struggled in his first exposure to AAA. He hit .179/.269/.316 in 108 plate appearances before being demoted back to AA New Britain. He wasn't any better there, going .156/.250/.250 in 8 games. ....and now he is injured and out until late July. It's been a tough year for Benson!

Ideal Scenario: Benson is just 24 years old and has all of the tools. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and can resume his climb toward the major leagues. He has to work on his contact rate a little, but coming back strong puts him in the majors by the end of the season.

Path to the majors: He has potential to be a great defensive center fielder in the majors, and with Aaron Hicks not quite ready, Benson should still have the inside track if/when Denard Span gets traded. If Benson brings his bat, he could be similar to what Torii Hunter was.

I've always been a Joe Benson guy, profiling him in here and here in fall 2010.

#2 Oswaldo Arcia, Outfield, 21 years old.

2011 stats: .291/.335/.531 with 13 HRs in 308 PAs for Beloit and Fort Myers.
Last Year's Rank: 7
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela

Arcia has been a solid power prospect for the Twins since he was a 19 year old in Elizabethtown. He ripped through the competition with a .375/.424/.672 line with 14 HRs, 7 triples and 21 doubles in 279 plate appearances. Last year, he followed up with a .291/.335/.531 line while spending most of his 20 year old season at Fort Myers.

So far this year? More of the same. He is hitting .323/.385/.538 with 7 HRs, 3 triples and 15 doubles in 219 plate appearances. While some of us have referenced calling up other guys (cough, Sano, cough), my fearless leader at Puckett's Pond instead insists that It's time to promote Arcia. The way he is hitting while repeating Fort Myers, it's hard to disagree. He could use tougher competition.

Ideal Scenario: Arcia is just 21 and is looking more and more like a solid major league contributor that could add even more power as he fills out. He does need to improve his K rate and there have been some reports of maturity issues, but Arcia has the look of a solid or better corner OF sooner rather than later. I see a lot of his fellow country-man Bobby Abreu in Arcia's numbers. A look at those numbers really seem to validate the argument.

Path to the majors: Arcia is probably 2 years away, A promotion this season and a continuance of his current production could give him a shot at a September call-up next year.

#1 Miguel Sano, Third Base, 19 years old

2011 stats: .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown.
Last Year's Rank: 3
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.

Miguel Sano went into last Monday as the unquestioned Twins #1 prospect. He is hitting .243/.351/.517 with 15 HRs. With the drafting of Byron Buxton, that could come into a little bit of a debate. Keith Law has said he'd rank Buxton ahead of Sano and "that's saying something". To even mention another prospect near Sano's level is a good thing for the future of the Twins. For now, Sano is #1.

We all know about Sano by now. He signed for a Twins ametur free agent record $3.15 million. He started his Twins career with a .344/.463./.547 line in a brief stint with GCL in 2010. He followed this up with a monster .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown as an 18 year old. This season, he started so hot, that I asked if it was too soon to call up Sano to Fort Myers. His .276/.422/.586 in 25 April games while still 18 years old was ridiculous, but he has cooled since. His line of .243/.351/.517 in 63 games is solid, but the reduction since April shows that the league has figured him out some. His high strikeout rate has remained but he has taken less walks. He still leads the league in HRs, is 4th in slugging and 2nd in ISO while ranking near the bottom in BABIP all while being one of the youngest players in the league. He's also second in strikeouts. As good as he's been, he's probably been a little unlucky.

Ideal Scenario: Sano has shown huge power and whether he sees a promotion in 2012 or not, he still has all of the makings of a future force. The strikeouts and defense could be an issue, but, by the time he is major league, those flaws may not even matter, his power is that special. If Sano can improve his weaknesses, he could be a perennial MVP candidate.

Path to the majors: As much as I'd like Sano to move up, it is pretty likely he will spend all year in Beloit. With some aggressive promoting starting next year, Sano could make the majors in 2014.

Prospects in low-A are by no means guarantees, but Sano is the closest the Twins have had since Joe Mauer in 2002.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #4 Liam Hendriks


4. Liam Hendriks, RHP, 23 years old

2011 stats: 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA  in 139.1 innings, with 111/21 K/BB for New Britain & Rochester
Last Year's Rank: 6
Acquired: Signed out of Perth, Australia in February 2007.

Fun fact about Liam Hendriks. He has only walked 60 guys in 375.2 minor league innings. That's 1.4 an inning. That's amazing! He's also struck out 343. That's an incredible 5.72 strikeouts per walk. In a system that preaches throwing strikes, Hendriks fits the Twins mold very well. It seems many Twins prospects fit a similar mold. On #6 Adrian Salcedo I wrote, "His other numbers have remained solid, but it is disturbing how much his K rate has dropped. Has he turned into a typical Twins pitcher". On #16 Tom Stuirbergen I wrote, "Stuifbergen always has a really good walk rate (Twins kind of guy) but his strikeout rate plummeted in 2011". On #32 Pat Dean, "He has four pitches including a low 90s fastball and doesn't walk too many guys. He definitely fits the Twins mold of pitching prospects". It isn't hard writing about Twins pitching prospects, many of them have similar abilities. Having said all of the, Hendriks is the best of the bunch and the most major league ready.

The Australian hurler made his debut in the GCL at 18 years of age, striking out 52 and walking 11 in 44 innings. After back surgery derailed his 2008 season, he came back from injury and made the 2009 Australian roster in the World Baseball Classic. After the WBC, he split the season between Elizabethtown and Beloit. He had a decent year with a 3.55 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 19 walks in 83.2 innings. In 2010, Hendriks returned to Beloit and dominated In 6 starts, (34 innings) striking out 39 and walking 4. He also only gave up 16 hits. This earned him a quick promotion to Fort Myers. In 74.2 innings there, he struck out 66 and walked 8. Hendriks was good again in 2011 going 8-2 with a 2.70 ERA with a 81/18 K/BB ratio in 90 innings for New Britain. The remainder of the year he started 9 games for Rochester, striking out 30 and walking 3 in 49.1 innings and he also made his major league debut.

Hendriks has been good at every level in the minors. He strikes out 8 per 9 innings and walks 1. His WHIP is always around 1.1. He is the Twinsiest of the Twins pitching prospects. Hendriks has 4 pitches, but no single dominating pitch. His fastball touches the low 90s and he also has a decent curve and change-up. He did get roughed up in his major league debut. He went 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA with 16/6 K/BB in 4 starts, but he was only 22 with less than a year above AA. He has looked pretty poised in his 2 starts this year but has had trouble sustaining success throughout the games. Hendriks will be counted on a lot this season. He's only 23 and he is going to have to be fine with his pitches to be successful, but his track record suggests he should be able to do it.

Ideal Scenario: Hendriks will probably spend most of the season in the majors due to injuries and ineffective options. He will take some lumps this year, but if he can maximize his abilities and continue to control his walk rate, he could be a middle rotation starter. He may be the de facto ace going into next season with all of the turnover expected in the off-season.

Path to the majors: Hendriks passed Gibson, Wimmers and Bromberg in the pecking order of Twins pitching due to injury and ineffectiveness. He's a major leaguer.

Hendriks seems like a pretty good dude and always has that "what me worry" look on his face, so I will root for him even more. Check out Hendriks prospect adoption on TwinsDaily and check out his "singing" with James Beresford

Check out the rest of the prospects here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #5 Eddie Rosario (Post 100)


5. Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, 20 years old

2011 stats: .337/.397/.670 with 21 HRs and 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts for Elizabethtown.
Last Year's Rank: 17
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 4th round pick in 2010 June Major League Draft out of Rafael Lopez Landron High School in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

I really liked Rosario coming into the 2011 season. As an 18 year old in GCL, his .294/.343/.438 and 22 stolen bases made him a very decent looking prospect. He was drawing comparisons to Bobby Abreu when he was drafted.What I didn't expect is that Rosario's power would go as crazy as it did in 2011. In 298 plate appearances, Rosario belted 21 HRs as a 19 year old for Elizabethtown. His play upstaged his more heralded team-mate Miguel Sano. Both hit 20 HRs after only one other player had done so in the last 20 years of the Appalachian League. 

Coming into 2012, Rosario is also looking at a position change. With all of the outfield prospects and lack of infield prospects, he is being tried out at second base. If Rosario can play second base, he would definitely have a chance to move quickly through the system. Will Rosario be able to play second base? It will be interesting to see how he does there defensively and how his offense does in A-ball. Some good analysis on Rosario here a lot of it focused on his swing. There also seems to be a pattern of E-town inflating statistics. Rosario has a long way to go, but at 20 years old, I wouldn't dismiss how he did last year or his ability to refine his swing. He struck out in 20% of his plate appearances in rookie ball, so that is a little bit of a concern. A second baseman with power and speed anywhere near what Rosario has shown so far is very hot commodity.

Ideal scenario: Rosario can play second base. If he can stay at second defensively while hitting for good power, he will be on the fast track to Minnesota. He isn't going to be the 1.067 OPS guy we saw last year, but just continuing to show some power will move him quickly.

Path to the majors: If Rosario stays at second and keeps hitting, he could be with the Twins by 2014. If he is destined to be an outfielder, it will take longer. Look for him in 2015.

This is my 100th post at On the Road with Shawn and true to its name, I have been on the road, living in 3 states since my first post on September 7, 2009.

Check out my other work at minor league musings and my latest gig at Pucketts Pond. The rest of the top 50 continues here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #6 Adrian Salcedo

(courtesy of (courtesy of 

6. Adrian Salcedo, Right-Handed Starter, 21 years old.

2011 Stats: 6-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 135 innings, with 92/27 K/BB for Class A Beloit.
Last year's rank: 8
Acquired: Signed out of Mocha, Dominican Republic in December 2007.

What would you say if I told you the Twins had a prospect that has a 2.76 ERA, strikes out 7.1/9 and only walks 1.5/9? He's a pitcher that gives up less than a hit per 9 and has only allowed 12 HRs in 359 minor league innings. This pitcher is only 21 years old and is 6'4". What if I also told you that he has a really good, mid 90s fastball, decent breaking pitch and change up? You'd probably say he is the Twins #1 prospect! He is Adrian Salcedo and his numbers jump off the screen....except that 7.1 K rate.

About that K rate. Salcedo struck out more 8 batters per 9 in rookie ball. In the 162.1 innings above rookie ball, Salcedo only struck out 108 entering this season. His other numbers have remained solid, but it is disturbing how much his K rate has dropped. Has he turned into a typical Twins pitcher?

Salcedo has been in the Twins system for a little while, but he is still only 21 years old. Scouts seem to like his stuff, but his pitches are a little bit inconsistent. Salcedo is still young, has generally been young for his level and he has never really struggled. Salcedo had all of the looks of a potential ace early in his career. He's a tall kid that still has room for a couple pounds and a couple miles on his fastball. It's a little early to dump dirt on his potential ace status, but if his 2011 numbers are more indicative of how his career will play out, he will still be a good pitcher.

Ideal scenario: Salcedo continues to throw strikes, but gets more swings and misses. He is only 21 and if he needs development time, spending all season in Fort Myers will be just fine. If he can get that strikeout rate around 8 per 9 innings in Fort Myers, he could be in-line for a late season promotion to New Britain.

Path to the majors: Salcedo is still a couple of years away and I hope the Twins take their time with him. Given the state of the major league pitching staff, he could be just a year and a half away of making his major league debut if he pitches well.

Check out prospect #7 here and check me out at puckettspond, which will become my primary home soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #7 Aaron Hicks


7. Aaron Hicks, Center field, 22 years old

2011 Stats: .242/.354/.368 with 5 HRs and 17 SB in 26 attempts for Fort Myers.
Last Year's Rank: 2
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins 14th overall in the 2008 June Major League Draft out of Woodrow Wilson HS in Los Angeles.

Twins fans are historically a patient lot. Sure, there are fringe characters out there, but for the most part, the fan base is patient with its team and prospects. Will 2012 be the season that Twins fans run out of patience with Aaron Hicks? Hicks was considered the crown jewel of the system with his 5 tools and projectable frame, but as he begins his 5th year in the system, he isn't progressing the way many thought he would.

Hicks spent 2011 in Fort Myers after spending two years in Beloit. He has established very nice on-base skills and has gap power, but hasn't been able to generate home run power yet. He also gets caught stealing too much and strikes out too much. Hicks is still young. At 22 in AA, he will still be pretty young for the level, but is he slow to develop or are his flaws holding him back?

A great defensive CF with a .265/.375/.407 line and a 67% stolen base rate looks less like a 5 tool star and more like a 4th OF. What happens if Hicks has another year with a low .700s OPS? One argument has been to scrap switch hitting and have Hicks just hit right handed. In 2010 he hit .248/.383/.339 from the left side and .362/.449/.663 from the right side and in 2011 he had a .219/.349/.337 line from the left side and  .259/.342/.391 from the right. His splits were much more pronounced in 2010 but he has a better batting average and more power from the right side. While becoming a strict right handed hitter could improve his numbers, he'd also lose the righty/lefty advantage batting right-handed vs. a right-handed pitcher. He also is not used to hitting right-handed versus right-handed pitchers. He could also be returned to the mound. He was highly thought of as a high school pitcher with a 97 MPH fastball and if he looks to be a mediocre player, a switch to the mound might be in order.

Ideal scenario: Hope Hicks is a late bloomer. Hicks starts to put everything together (he is .250/.273/.550 through 6 games) and starts to develop those potential 20-20 tools in New Britain. Hopefully he can build on his Arizona Fall league .294/.400/.559. Torii Hunter had a .270/.334./417 line and Denard Span had a .286/.355/.356 line in the minors so there is still plenty of hope for Hicks. He's actually been better than both Hunter and Span were at age 22.

Path to the majors: The Twins have a good group of OFs ahead of Hicks right now, so the Twins can take their time with him. Span, Josh Willingham and Ben Revere in the majors and Joe Benson in AAA are all ahead of Hicks. If  Hicks starts to come around this year, it will give the Twins options to trade Denard Span or perhaps Hicks himself. Don't expect to see Hicks until late 2013.

Prospect #8 and the rest start here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #8 Kyle Gibson

8. Kyle Gibson, Right-Handed Starter, 24 years old.

2011 Stats: 3-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 95 innings, with 91/27 K/BB for AAA Rochester.
Last year's rank: 1
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (22) of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft out of University of Missouri.

Going into last season, Gibson was poised. He was our #1 prospect and he'd jumped three levels in 2010. He looked like he was almost ready to make the team. All he would need was a couple of months to fine tune in AAA and anyone of the Twins starters that fans had anointed as worthy replacement, those they felt were beneath Gibson's ability would be banished and Gibson would come in on a white horse to save the day. That didn't happen, then he got hurt.

Gibson had what looks like a rough year based on his record and ERA, but it really wasn't bad at all. He struck out 8.59 a game and only walked 2.55. He was hurt by the 11 HRs he gave up and the .339 BABIP. Gibson's numbers really took a hit in his last 3 starts when his elbow problems started to flare up. He gave up 16 earned runs in 14 innings, spiking his season ending ERA by almost a run. In his last start, he walked 5 (the most walks given up in his career) in 5 innings.

After his July 22nd start Gibson was shut down. The Twins went with their usual route of rehab for his torn ligament, before eventually opting for surgery on Sept 7th. Would having the surgery earlier have made an impact on Gibson's career? Probably not, but getting a little work in this year could help him get a little better feel his pitching and routine going into 2013. 

Ideal scenario: Gibson's rehab goes well and he is ready to go for 2013. The success rate of Tommy John has really increased and that is why he is still worthy of a top 10 ranking. 

Path to the majors: Assuming Gibson is fine, he probably should start the 2013 season in with a cup of coffee in AAA. With Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Jason Marquis and Scott Baker all potentially leaving after the 2012 season (or sooner), Gibson will have to be considered one of the options to go north with the team out of spring in 2013.

Prospect #9 and the rest start here:

Also, check me out at my new gig on PuckettsPond here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #9 Brian Dozier

9. Brian Dozier, Shortstop, 24 years old

2011 stats: .320/.399/.491 with 9 HRs and 24 stolen bases in 35 attempts for Fort Myers & New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: NA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of the draft out of Southern Mississippi in 2009.

Dozier had a quite a year in 2011. After a combined .275/.350/.349 in Beloit and Fort Myers in 2010, Dozier started hot 2011. He put up a .322/.423/.472 line in his return to Fort Myers an early June promotion to New Britain. Dozier wasn't stopping there. He put up a nearly identical .318/.384/.502 line the rest of the season post promotion. His .502 slugging for New Britain was the highest he'd put up in his professional career. He showed a real increase in extra-base power in 2011 with 15 more doubles, 10 more triples and 4 more HRs than he had in 2011. His increase in Ks and decrease in BBs post promotion is a concern, but over-all his AA numbers were strong. He also had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League with a .296/.358/.454 in 125 plate appearances.

Dozier has really established himself as a decent prospect who is close to the majors after a very soft 2010. He led the entire Twins organization in runs scored and triples. He also was a Florida State league mid-season all-star and the Twins minor league player of the year. He was also impressive this spring. He was one of the last cuts today as the Twins set their opening day roster.

Dozier certainly puts himself in the conversation as "next man in" for the Twins. But, similar to Chris Parmelee, Tom Powers has decided to gush uncontrollably over Dozier,
"Everyone seems convinced that Dozier is the next big thing. Of course, spring training is all about hope. If you can't get excited over a prospect in spring training, heck, you should be watching a different sport. But in this case, I really do think that "next" is going to be pretty darn quick."
Really Tom? Dozier certainly has had a nice run since the beginning of last season and has some speed, gap power and plays decent defense, but we're not talking about the second coming. Ron Gardenhire and many Twins fans love Dozier as well, while I see Dozier topping out as a middle of the road middle infielder. A Greg Gagne with a little more speed, a little more on-base skills and a little less defense. Dozier, like Levi Michael both benefit by being in a system with few decent middle infield prospects.

Ideal scenario: Dozier will seize this challenge of being sent to AAA. Continue to put up offensive numbers in the .850+ OPS range and get called up in June. If he's destined to be a plus major league player, I'd like to make sure the he doesn't become a super 2. There is really no need to have Dozier in the majors yet anyway.

Path to the majors: Dozier will be one of the first calls if there is an injury to either Alexi Casilla or Jamey Carroll. Since Dozier is not on the 40 man roster, there is a chance Nishioka could get the first call if he starts the season strong. Avoiding injury, Dozier will see time with the Twins in 2012.

Check out the rest of my top 50 starting here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #10 Chris Parmelee

source: twinkietown
10. Chris Parmelee, First Base/Outfield, 24 years old

2011 stats: .287/.366/.436 with 13 HRs for New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: #18
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (20th overall) out of Chino Hills, CA High School in 2006.

Parmelee was fast-tracked to the majors last season due to injuries to Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. He had a really nice performance in his late season call-up in 2011. His .355/.443/.592 made educated fans and bloggers hopeful that Parmelee was ready to contribute in 2012, but it created some unrealistic expectations of his ability as well.

Friend of the blog "Twins Fan From Afar" tried to temper fans expectations yesterday while also indicating that Parmeless should be fine as a pro. What he did point out is some of the hyperbole surrounding Parmelee since his breakout last season and his hot start this spring. He pointed out the most glaring example of Parmelee hyperbole, this ridiculous post from Tom Powers from the Pioneer Press. Powers was very enamored with his September and the fact that Parmelee hits the ball a long way that he stopped short of calling him the next coming. I wonder if Tom bothered to look at Parmelee's entire resume.

Parmelee had a .287/.366/.436 line as a 23 year old in AA in 2011. Nice numbers, but not star numbers. In fact, he's only broken a .900 in OPS once. With a .273/.369/.532 in 179 plate appearances in rookie ball. Parmelee has always been a decent prospect, but never a guy who made prospect rankings. I don't mean to bad mouth Parmelee. He is my #10 prospect but an .802 OPS in AA as a slow-footed corner is not the makings of a future star.

What Parmelee is, is a solid pro prospect. He's the kind of guy that could eventually top out at an .850-.900 OPS with around 20 HRs. He also plays decent defense at first base. He's a left-handed hitter with some power, some on-base skills who doesn't strike out a ton. If he can maximize his skill-set he will be pretty valuable in the seasons ahead.

Ideal scenario: Parmelee is going to make the team and start the season at 1B with Justin Morneau as DH. The ideal scenario is that Morneau can actually start playing 1B sooner than later and make Parmelee a bench bat and part time 1B/DH/OF. If he plays every day, hopefully he can hit .250/.350/.450 or so and provide decent defense.

Path to the majors: He's made it. He has never played a single game in AAA and unless he struggles mightily, he won't this season. Hopefully for him, and the Twins, he can hit enough at a corner to help them, since he will most likely be there for awhile.

check out the rest of the top 50 starting here.

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #11 Levi Michael

11. Levi Michael, Shortstop, 21 years old

2011 Stats: .289/.434/.434 with 4 HRs and 14 steals in 15 attempts at the University of North Carolina.
Last year's rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round (Number 30) of the 2011 June Major League Draft out of UNC.

Last June, the Twins departed from conventional draft wisdom (at least for the Twins) by drafting a Michael in the first round. You see, Michael was a college shortstop, the Twins don't draft college position players in the first round. They draft college control pitchers or high school position players, mostly toolsy outfielders. The Twins hadn't deviated from this formula since they drafted high school pitchers Kyle Waldrop and Jay Rainville in the first round of the 2004 draft. The Twins hadn't drafted a college position player since Matty Lecroy was drafted as a catcher out of Clemsen way back in 1997.

So, why the change of philosophy? The Twins have a system full of toolsy outfielders and plenty of strike throwing pitchers, but as I pointed out way back in September of 2010, the Twins have a real dearth of middle infielders. I identified there were only 6 SS on the 40 man roster at that time and all 6 of them have moved on. The Twins really need SS depth that can play in the majors soon.

So, the Twins changed their ways and drafted for need. Michael's abilities and polish suggest the got what they needed. From ESPN's Keith Law: "Levi Michael is a 20-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who can run; unless the ankle is somehow worse than I've heard, it makes no sense to me that he fell out of the top 20, and the Twins are very fortunate that they could grab him." and Baseball America had him ranked as there 22nd prospect. So, the Twins got value at #30.

So, what did the Twins get in Michael? As a freshman, he showed decent power with 13 HRs and a .290/.382/.527 line. As a sophomore he had a great numbers with a .346/.484/.575 line including 9 HRs, 20 SBs and only 26 K's in 214 ABsHis junior year he struggled a bit, especially near the end of the season. After his great sophomore season, his .289/.434/.434 line with only 5 HRs and 47 K's looks like a real drop off, but his struggles, especially at the end of the season could be tied to his ankle injury.

Michael is very polish and almost completely developed. He has decent speed and some gap power. He's a switch hitter that can hit from both sides of the plate and he is adept at working walks. He's considered decent defensively but he may have to move to second due to lack of range. He may not have much upside, but the ability he already possesses could be good enough to become a decent major league player.

Ideal scenario: Although he signed late, Michael will most likely start his pro career in Fort Myers. There are very few middle infield prospects in the Twins system and given his ability and polish, Michael move up to New Britain mid-season.

Path to the majors: Michael has the luxury of decent ability and polish at a position of great weakness in the Twins system. If he can play decent defense at the pro level and show any on-base and gap power, Michael could be with the Twins before the end of the 2013 season. He could very well be the Twins starting shortstop or second baseman opening day 2014.

Prospect #12 and the rest of the top 50 starts here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #12 David Bromberg

12. David Bromberg, Right-handed Starter, 24 years old

2011 Stats: 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA 23/15 K/BB in 37 innings for AA New Britain.
Last year's rank: 10
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 32nd round of the 2005 June Major League Draft.

Coming into 2011, David Bromberg was on the verge of making his MLB debut. He'd just been added to the 40-man roster. He'd had a decent 2010 in New Britain and Rochester, had even more impressive numbers at every level prior to 2010 and he had decent stuff. He was right there, ready to make his pro debut, just one problem, he got hurt.

He started the season a little slow. Going 1-1 and giving up 8 earned runs in 17.1 innings with just 4 Ks and 3 BBs. He was doing well in his 4th appearance on April 26th. He had 7 Ks with just 1 BB and 5 hits given up in 5.1 innings when his forearm was broken by a come-backer to the mound. He missed nearly three months and wasn't the same post injury, eventually shutting his season down. As an extra kick to the head, he was removed from the 40 man roster and went unclaimed.

I had high expectations going into last season. I figured he'd start the year in AAA and predicted he'd be one of the first Twins pitchers called up. Well, I missed the boat there, due to his injury. If he can get back to his pre-injury form, he certainly has a chance to be a decent major league starter. He was the 2009 Twins "minor league pitcher of the year" and had 3 years of better than 8.5 K's per 9. He's also only 24 years old and he always had a decent fastball and secondary pitches. The fact that he has lost a lot of weight over the past couple of years shows his commitment and could have positive benefits in his game management and velocity. Hopefully, I am just a year behind on my prediction.

Bromberg is in a similar position as #13 prospect Alex Wimmers. Both have seen their prospect luster dip compared to where it was and like Wimmers, Bromberg will need a good year to get back on track. While, I have him ranked #12 now, another lost season could spell the end of his time in the organization, the way the Twins have been cutting players.

Ideal scenario: Bromberg gets back on track, has a good start in New Britain and Rochester and is a factor for the Twins by the end of the season. Last year, I had him as top choice for a starter prospect call-up, but he is not on the 40 man roster at this time.

Path to the majors: If he pitches well and avoids injury, he will reach the majors in 2012.

Prospect #13, #14, #15, the rest. Only 2 of my top 50 have been cut in the last week. :/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #13 Alex Wimmers

13. Alex Wimmers, Right-handed Starter, 23 years old

2011 stats: 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA 39/22 K/BB in 40.2 innings for Fort Myers.
Last year's rank: 5
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins 21st overall in the 2010 June Major League Draft.

Alex Wimmers was the Twins top pick in the 2010 draft. Wimmers coming out of college was the "stereotypical Twins starting pitcher" or "stereotypical pitching draft pick" as I wrote last year.He was the 2010 National collegiate pitcher of the year and was also the first Big Ten pitcher to win the conference's pitcher of the year in 2 consecutive years, in 2009 and 2010 Wimmers was a strike throwing college pitcher and also had a good start to his pro career, striking out 23 and walking 5 in 15.2 innings in 2011. He looked poised to have a good year something happened. Wimmers lost the strike-zone. 

Wimmers started his season on April 11th by walking the all 6 batters he faced. He also threw three wild pitches and a total of four strikes in 28 pitches. That was very Shooter Hunt like.... in fact it was about as accurate as I am, the first time I throw every spring. The Twins stopped his season right there and he didn't appear in another game until July 1st. "When you see that happening, you better slow a guy down and try to get him on track before he goes out there again," said Eric Rasmussen, Twins minor league pitching coordinator. "So we kind of took some time and worked him through it." Wimmers returned as a reliever and started the last 3 games of the year. His last start, he threw a 7 inning no hitter, walking only 2.

So what to make of Wimmers? Reports are that his control is back. He ended the season pitching a lot like we figured he would all along. I ranked him #5 last year and predicted his ideal scenario; "He could follow the model established by Baker, Slowey, Gibson etc... and pitch in three levels in one season. I see him probably spending the bulk of the season in AA New Britain." That didn't happen. Prospects can be fickle. Last year, we had Kane Holbrooks as our #11 prospect and this year, Holbrooks was cut. Wimmers came to the Twins with the first round pick fanfare, so he will be given more rope. If he goes the way of Shooter Hunt though, he could soon be found elsewhere, like Shooter Hunt. At just 23 years old, I believe he can bounce back enough to rank him #14.

Ideal Scenario: Wimmers will start 2012 back at Fort Myers. Assuming he has regained his control he should end the season in AA New Britain.

Path to the majors: Wimmers needs to establish that he can still throw strikes and that his first start was just a blip and isn't a Rick Ankiel, Shooter Hunt related disaster. Assuming he is the guy we thought he was last year, he should be in the mix to make the Twins out of spring in 2013. If he isn't that guy.... the path could continue to be as bumpy as it was in 2011.

Check out #14, #15, and the rest.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #14 Chris Herrmann

Source: Herrmann's Google Plus page
14. Chris Herrmann, Catcher/OF, 24 years old

2011 Stats: .269/.385/.399 with 8 HRs and 10 steals in 13 attempts between Fort Myers and New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 6th round out of the University of Miami in 2009.

Herrmann had a breakout year for the Twins in 2011 after compiling a .219/.310/.301 line in 408 plate appearances in 2010 for Fort Myers. Even though he had a rough first full professional year at the plate, he did throw out 36% of attempted base-stealer's. Herrmann started 2011 back at Fort Myers, but after a good start, posting a .310/.404/.425 line, he was promoted to New Britain in early May. His batting average dropped at New Britain but overall he had decent numbers, going .258/.380/.392. He also stole 9 bases. To top off his season, he was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League, going .380/.456/.620 in 57 plate appearances.

Herrmann put himself in the conversation as a top Twins prospect in 2011 and finally gave the system some decent catching depth since Wilson Ramos was traded in 2010. With Mauer's injuries in 2011, the lack of  system depth at catcher was really exposed. Herrmann's line at AA as a 23 year old is similar to Ramos' .317/.341/.454 line as a 21 year in New Britain. Herrmann is not the prospect that Ramos was, he is not as big, nor does he have the power or defensive ability but he gets on base and doesn't strikeout too much. He has also shown to be healthier at this stage of his career. 

Herrmann's skill-set will provide the Twins with a good back-up option to Joe Mauer. An option who is athletic enough to play other parts of the field. Herrmann, as a hitter, is a poor man's Joe Mauer. He is left-handed, a doubles machine and he gets on base. He just isn't as good of a hitter, nor is he as big. Herrmann is a better offensive catcher than Drew Butera right now, but given the signing of Ryan Doumit, the Twins can give him another year of seasoning. 2012 will be an important year for Herrmann. Another solid year would give him and the Twins options. He could either be a solid back-up to Mauer or a decent starter to replace Mauer, given Mauer's injury history or that he may have to replace Justin Morneau at first.

Ideal scenario: That Herrmann will spend 2012 in AA or AAA and the Twins won't need him . He will continue to develop his bat and his catching ability and be ready to play in the MLB in 2013.

Path to the majors: Herrmann has enough of a bat at catcher to backup right now in the system right now, but there are several short-term catcher options in front of him for 2012 and he would probably be better served spending the season in the minors. He can debut as a back-up catcher/bench bat/Joe Mauer insurance in 2013.

Check out #15 here and 20-16 and all of the rest here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #15 Carlos Gutierrez

15. Carlos Gutierrez, Right-Handed Reliever, 25 years old

2011 stats: 2-3 4.62 ERA 57/31 K/BB in 62.1 innings for AAA Rochester.
Last year's rank: 43
Acquired: Drafted in the first round out of University of Miami in 2008

Gutierrez has been a highly thought of prospect in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2008, though considered a little bit of a stretch as the 27th pick. (Shooter Hunt drafted 31st was actually considered the better pick) He has steadily climbed the Twins minor league ladder to the point where he was added to the 40 man roster this off-season and is on the cusp of making his MLB debut.

Gutierrez is sometimes ranked as a top 10 prospect in the Twins system but hasn't ever really backed that lofty ranking up. He's generally had high ERAs and he generally gives up more than a hit an inning. His FIP is usually a little lower than his ERA and BABIP is often high, suggesting he's been a little unlucky. As a ground ball pitcher, Gutierrez will need good fielding behind him to maximize his ability.

Gutierrez has been tried as both a starter and a reliever with the Twins. In 2009 and 2010 he was often used as a starter with mixed results. His K/9 innings in 2009-2010 were under 6 per inning while walking nearly 4 per inning. In 2011, he was only used in relief and his K/9 rate shot up to 8.23 per inning, but his BB/9 rate was 4.48. He has a good fastball, I have seen him hit 96 MPH and he can be dominant, but generally he doesn't sustain his dominance for long periods of time. His stuff has been compared to the former Fausto Carmona and I'd like to believe in him more, but unless he can keep that sinker over the plate. If he can walk less and mix his pitches to induce a few more strikeouts, Gutierrez could be a set-up guy or closer. Right now, he looks like a 6th or 7th inning reliever and ranks this high on my list due to probable 2012 major league impact and potential top-end.

Ideal scenario: Gutierrez will start the year hot in Rochester and get a promotion to the Twins sketchy bullpen. Once promoted, if he can strikeout at least 7.5 per/9 and keep his walk rate down, he could be a really solid set-up guy and have a long major league career.

Path to the majors: Gutierrez will make his Twins debut in 2012 assuming he stays healthy and doesn't completely fall apart in Rochester.

Please checkout prospects 50-16 starting here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects 20-16

Spring training is getting going in earnest, the Twins won 7-3 today with contributions from Mauer, Morneau & Span. TwinsDaily is becoming the place to be to check out Twins content, check it out here. It is a good place to find much of the posted Twins content as well as discover new blogs. I recently discovered Twins fan from afar via TwinsDaily.

Recently, I tried to convince Joel Zumaya not to retire, now I will continue my prospect countdown with 20-16. Check out the rest of my top 50 starting here.

20. Madison Boer Right-Handed Pitcher 11/9/1989.
Boer was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Oregon. He went 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 11 saves in 23 appearances with Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out a whopping 43 and walked just 3 in 25.1 innings. Despite his great numbers after as a reliever in 2011, (especially in E-town) the Twins will try him out as a starter. He has a fastball that reaches 95 and a potential plus slider or splitter. As a starter, he looks like a back of the rotation guy but could be a closer as a reliever. He's also a Minnesota kid, which certainly goes a long way for this Twins fan.
2012 Outlook: He'll start the season as a starter for Beloit with a potential mid-season promotion to Fort Myers.

19. Jairo Perez Third Base 6/10/1988.
Perez was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Acarigua, Venezuela. He hit .337/.413/.580 with 15 HRs and 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts in 316 plate appearance for Beloit. Perez missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery and hadn't done much other than a .338/.437/.525 line in the Dominican League in 2009. The Twins started Perez in extended spring training before sending him to Beloit. If his monster 2011 is a pre-cursor of things to come, he should rocket through the system. He is going to turn 24 in 2012 and not a very good defender so, improved competition is needed to see if Perez's bat plays at an elite level. At only 5'10" 160 lbs, it will be interesting to see if Perez can replicate those numbers at his size or if he is indeed a one year wonder. I like a little guy with a big swing and we share a birthday.... so I will definitely be rooting for Perez.
2012 Outlook: Perez will start the year in fort Myers, if he hits like he did in 2011, he'll move up sometime during the season.

18. Nate Roberts Outfield 2/25/1989.
Roberts was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round in the 2010 draft out of High Point University. He hit .302/.443/.446 with 4 HRs in 283 plate appearances for Beloit. He also stole 9 bases in 13 attempts. Roberts missed about half the season due to knee problems but was an on-base machine when he was in the lineup. Roberts had 28 walks and also was hit by a pitch an absurd 29 times. Roberts has a blend of speed, batting average, power and on-base skills that make him a very solid prospect, but he is 23 years old coming out of low A ball. It's time for him to start moving through the system. I ranked him #16 last year.
2012 Outlook: Roberts will start in Fort Myers and could move to New Britain, depending on his play and the organizational depth ahead of him.

17. Angel Morales Outfield 11/24/1989.
Morales was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. He hit .264/.326/.388 with 3 HRs and 3 SB in 5 attempts in 138 plate appearances for Fort Myers. Morales had a breakout season in 2008 with Elizabethtown with a .301/.413/.623 line. He's been pretty decent since but he has fought injuries and inconsistency. Morales has plenty of tools and is just 22, but he still strikes out once a game and his on-base skills have declined as he has leveled up, though reports say he has improved his plate discipline. He only got into 37 total games in 2011 due to an elbow injury. I have been really high on Morales for a long time, ranking him #5 in 2010 and #12 last year and hope to see him play for the first time this year.
2012 Outlook: Hopefully, Morales can have an injury-free season in New Britain and I will get a chance to see him play.

16. Tom Stuifbergen Right Handed Starter 9/26/1988.
Stuifbergen was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Breda, Netherlands. He went 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) for Fort Myers. He struck out 75 and walked 19 in 116.2 innings. He also had a 5 inning win at Rochester. Stuifbergen battled injuries early in his career but it seems to be getting healthier every year since missing all of 2008. Stuifbergen always has a really good walk rate (Twins kind of guy) but his strikeout rate plummeted in 2011. His numbers have him looking more like a back of the rotation starter but I really like his experience and how he has pitched in international play. I see a him as solid middle rotation MLB starter. I ranked him #8 going into 2010 & #14 last year.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend most of the season in New Britain.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Please Joel, don't retire. You may end up like me

On Saturday, new Twins relief pitcher Joel Zumaya tore his UCL after throwing just 13 pitches to live batters. A torn UCL requires Tommy John surgery. Given his injury history and the fact that he hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2010 has Zumaya thinking of retiring.

Zumaya was a sensation as a rookie in 2006. He went 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA and struck out 97 in 83.1 innings for Detroit.  He threw 103 miles an hour. He was going to be a star......

He has never thrown over 38.1 innings again!

Zumaya has had several injuries to his elbow as well as that unfortunate Guitar Hero injury. To pitch again he is looking at his 6th surgery in his young career. It may be perfectly reasonable for Zumaya to think retirement. He has a small child at home and he might not be thrilled to spend a full season rehabbing to come back to an uncertain future. He's made over $4.6 million in his career and assuming he has taken decent care of his money, he shouldn't need immediate work. So should Zumaya retire and become a professional fisherman?

Hell No!

I understand Zumaya looks at his baseball career and sees a potential no-win situation. He's young, he's made some money and he is frustrated. He also would have several months of grueling rehab in front of him and no guarantee of a job on the back end. He also has a flaw in his mechanics that could make an injury-free comeback difficult. So why should he keep trying? Why have another surgery if he doesn't need to?

What the hell else is he going to do?

Zumaya would only be 28 years old when he were to come back next year. Maybe the Tommy John surgery can fix his elbow. Maybe the rehab will allow him to start from scratch with his delivery, producing a more healthy future. Brad Radke retired rather than have shoulder surgery, but he was 34 and shoulder surgery is potentially more difficult to come back from than Tommy John.

What about the money?

Money is not the only thing in life but, where is Zumaya going to make anywhere close to baseball type money? I don't know Zumaya at all, but I know he was drafted straight from high school and doesn't have a lot of education to fall back on. (though 4.6 million could buy plenty of school) Trying to come back is a risk but there is a lot of potential financial upside to even a modestly successful comeback.

Most of my argument for Zumaya to stick around is based on my everyman life. I am a reasonable successful 38 year old businessman that expects even more success in my next 10 years. If the comeback allows Zumaya to pitch again at all, he will earn at least another chance at the league minimum which is over $400,000 a year. At 38 and successful, my life-time earnings are less than $800,000. It will take me at least 5 years to make the veteran major league minimum that Zumaya could earn at 28. Joel, working a real job isn't nearly as fun as hanging out in Florida or Arizona in the winter and then getting a chance to play a kids game for 162 summer days. Real work doesn't pay as well. (unless you are an executive) Real work doesn't provide travel etc.... Assuming that he isn't professional fisherman material, what will he do with himself for the rest of his life? How will he compensate for his lack of income? Look what real work has done to me!

Why give up? Sometimes the injury-prone come back. Carl Pavano is a good Twins example. After 2004 Pavano signed a 4 year, nearly $40 million deal with the Yankees. He started 17 games in 05, 2 in 07 and 7 in 08 due to many injuries. After 08, he was a free-agent and had to sign for $1.5 million plus incentives. Well, Pavano has been healthy since and has had a slight career renaissance. He's also earned at least $28 million since his disaster as a Yankee. Guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Chris Carpenter and many many more have comeback from many years of injury to post great seasons and great careers.

Joel, I understand you are frustrated. I know you have pride and there is a chance a comeback could fail. You are young and what else are you going to do? I don't want you to retire because I'll miss your fastball, but i really don't want you to retire because I don't want you to end up like me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects 25-21

As spring training rolls along, I have been counting down their top 50 prospects. Already looked at 50-46, 45-41, 40-36, 35-31 & 30-26.

25. Tyler Robertson Left-Handed Reliever 12/23/1987.
Robertson was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft out of Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, California. He went 10-3 with 16 saves and a 3.61 ERA in 55 appearances for AA New Britain. He struck out 88 and walked 29 in 89.2 innings. Robertson was considered a solid starting prospect coming into 2010. I had ranked him #20 as a 22 year old starter prospect in Fort Myers and some (more reputable sources) had him even higher. Unfortunately, his 2010 was miserable. He went  4-13 with a 5.40 ERA for New Britain, though his 4.80 FIP  suggests he wasn't quite as bad as his ERA. Even with the bad numbers, he was one of the Twins sent to the Arizona Fall League where he was used as a reliever. My half-assed scouting report on 2010 AFL Twins is here. Robertson had a really nice first year as a late inning reliever and it has jump started his career. He saw his K rate jump up more than 3 strikeouts per 9 innings and his walk rate improved as well. His season was good enough to get his career on track and was added to the 40-man roster. If Robertson can keep it up in his second year as a reliever, he could help the Twins in 2012. Especially in light of Joel Zumaya's latest injury.
2012 Outlook: Will spend the season in Rochester unless the Twins need some extra bullpen arms.

Robertson admiring my "Viva La Stache" shirt in 2010.

24. Tyler Grimes Shortstop 7/3/1990.
Grimes was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round of the 2011 draft out of Wichita St. He hit .225/.316/.406 with 4 HRs and 5 stolen bases in 7 attempts in 159 plate appearances for Beloit. He also had 4 triples. He got on base a ton his junior year of college but he also struck out a lot. The strikeouts carried over to his pro debut but his on-base skills haven't yet. He struck out 53 times and walked just 13 in 159 plate appearances. He may not stick at short, he has a strong arm at SS, but he committed 30 errors his junior year in college. He  also had 6 in 40 games in Beloit. If Grimes can stick at short, he could move up quickly in a system with few middle infield prospects. If he can hit for more average and cut the strikeouts, he will be elite.
2012 Outlook: He should start at Fort Myers and has a chance to move to New Britain, depending on #1 pick Levi Micheal's growth.

23. Niko Goodrum Shortstop 2/28/1992.
Goodrum was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft out of Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Georgia. He hit .275/.352/.382 with 2 HRs in 230 plate appearances plus 8 stolen bases in 9 attempts for Elizabethtown. Goodrum's numbers improved over his disastrous first pro season numbers. He's tall and skinny with a big arm but right now, Goodrum is still mostly tools. Most scouts feel his skill-set and body will eventually lead him to the outfield. Goodrum is predicted to add power as he fills out and he also has some speed. He's an intriguing prospect and it will be interesting to monitor his progress as he grows and plays in full-season leagues.
2012 Outlook: Goodrum may start in Extended spring training but should eventually report to Beloit.

22. Manuel Soliman Right-Handed Starter 8/11/1989.
Soliman was signed by the Twins in 2007 out of La Romana, Dominican Republic. He went 7-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 appearances (25 starts). He struck out 120 and walked 50 in 136 innings. Originally, Soliman was signed as a third baseman with some expectations, but he just couldn't hit. After 2 seasons of not hitting, topping out at a .640 OPS as an 18 year old in the Dominican Summer League, his live arm was converted to pitching. Soliman is a couple years behind in his pitching development and even though he throws hard, he hasn't been able to harnass his secondary pitches. As a 22 year old in High A ball, it will be time for him to start pulling everything together if he to become a good or even great pitcher. I ranked him #13 last year and Andrew Kneeland wrote it here.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend all season starting for Fort Myers.

21. Max Kepler-Rozycki Outfield 2/10/1993.
Kepler was signed by the Twins in 2009 out of Berlin Germany. He hit .262/.347/.366 with 1 HR in 221 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. Max moved up a level of rookie ball and did modestly better than his first season. As an 18 year old, he was still very young for the level and he should continue to improve. He was regarded as one of the greatest prospects signed out of Europe, two years ago when the Twins signed him for $750,000, and there is nothing yet to doubt that. The one worry I have at this stage, is his strikeout rate went up a ton in 2011. I'm looking forward to seeing his continuing development. I had him at #15 last year. Andrew Kneeland wrote about him here.
2012 Outlook: Like Niko Goodrum, Kepler May start in Extended spring training but should eventually report to Beloit.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects 30-26

The Twins pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, which also happened to be my second wedding anniversary. Perhaps you remember the marriage post? I set it up right. Two of my favorite days each year are occasionally going to be on the same day.

Anyway, as the Twins players start to filter down to Fort Myers, let's look at 5 more guys that may be a part of the Twins future. Two exciting draft picks from 2011 are included in this next group. I look forward to seeing their professional debuts. Check out the other posts in the countdown. 50-46, 45-41, 40-3635-31.

30. Lance Ray Outfield/First Baseman 9/2/1989.
Ray was drafted in the 8th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Kentucky. He hit .253/.335/.432 with 16 HRs, 34 doubles and 10 steals in 16 attempts.  Ray's numbers were decent, but it was also a tough year for him in Beloit. His power came a little but he struck out 132 times in 539 plate appearances. Ray has the reputation of being a good hitter with some power, but his huge spike in strikeouts could be a problem if he doesn't get it corrected. His season was decent, just not completely fitting his reputation. I ranked him #39 last year.
2012 Outlook: He'll probably spend a full season at Fort Myers.

29. Daniel Rams Catcher/Outfield. 12/19/1988.
Rams was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft out of Gulliver Prep HS in Miami. He hit .239/.310/.388 with 8 HRs in 342 plate appearances for Fort Myers. He also threw out 33% of would-be base-stealers. Rams came into Fort Myers with a power reputation and a strikeout reputation. Unfortunetly, it was the strikeouts that were more prevelant in 2011. As a catcher, Rams numbers still profile decent enough, but it looks like the Twins will move him to the outfield. If the Twins switch him to outfield, he will have to improve his contact if he has any chance of making the major leagues. His power potential at catcher is the only thing that keeps him ranked in my top 50. 2012 is a make or break year. I ranked him #28 last year.
2012 Outlook: He'll probably move up to New Britain and split time between outfield and catcher.

28. Hudson Boyd Right-Handed Pitcher 10/18/1992.
Boyd was drafted 55th overall in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Bishop Verot High School, in Fort Myers, FL. He signed too late to make his professional debut in 2011. He went 12-0 with a .46 ERA as a senior in high school. He also struck out a Whopping 123 in 73 innings. Being down the road from the Twins facility probably gave the team an advantage while scouting him. It also went against the Twins usual draft strategy. They took a high school power pitcher high in the draft instead of a polished college control guy. Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Kyle Gibson etc.... are the typical high draft pick pitchers the Twins draft. Usually a guy who throws strikes and is 2 years or less from the majors. It was refreshing to see the Twins grab a power arm due to the dearth of powerful starter arms in their minors. There are very few in this list. He has a fastball that can reach 95 with a potential dominant curve ball. Keith Law had him as his 40th best prospect pre-draft.
2012 Outlook: Will start in extended spring training before shipping out to either GCL or Elizabethtown.

27. Travis Harrison Third Base 10/17/1992.
Harrison was drafted 5 spots ahead of Boyd, #50 overall in the 2011 draft out of Tustin California High School. He also signed too late to make his professional debut in 2011. He hit .481/.643/1.130 with 13 HRs as a senior in high school. Harrison was considered "one of the best pure bats in the high school class" by Keith Law. A powerful hitter, Harrison once hit a 504 foot HR. Harrison may eventually out-grow third, or just might not be good enough to play there defensively. If his power progresses, he will still be valuabel at first base. Law had Harrison as his 37th best prospect pre-draft.  Below is video of his swing in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Will start in extended spring training before shipping out to either GCL or Elizabethtown.

26. Jose Gonzalez Left-Handed Reliever 2/3/1990.
Gonzalez was signed out of Tucupita, Venezuela in 2007. He went 5-3 with 13 saves and a 2.47 ERA in 48 appearances for Beloit. He struck out 63 and walked 23 in 62 innings. Gonzalez is pretty small and he doesn't throw super hard, though reports lead me to believe his fastball velocity increased, but he's had incredible numbers at every level. His numbers and ability seem similar to those of Nelvin Fuentes (without having ever seen either pitch), who I ranked 35th, but Gonzalez is 10 months younger and was the closer at Beloit. If he can keep striking out guys and keep his walk rate down, he has a good chance of being a relief option  for the Twins sooner than later. I ranked him #20 last year & #37 in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Probable closer for Fort Myers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects 35-31

It is currently 45 degrees here in New Hampshire and spring is in the air. On the eve of spring training, I continue to count down the Minnesota Twins top 50 prospects. I have already counted down 50-46, 45-41 and 40-36.

Let's take a look at 35-31.

35. Nelvin Fuentes Left-Handed Reliever 4/7/1989.
Fuentes was drafted in the 16th round of the 2007 draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. Fuentes went 3-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 29 appearances for Beloit. He struck out 43 and walked 11 in 28.1 innings. He strikes out a lot of guys, even though his fastball is merely average. He is helped out be a good change up. I ranked him #19 last year and #43 in 2010. It will be interesting to see how he does as he continues to move up. Junk pitchers generally get more exposed as they move up, but he could become a crafty lefty in the vein of his namesake Brian Fuentes.
2012 Outlook: He'll spend most or all of 2012 in Fort Myers.

34. Michael Tonkin Right-Handed Pitcher 11/19/1989.
Tonkin was drafted in the 30th round of the 2008 draft out of Palmdale, California High School. Tonkin went 4-3 with 2 saves and a 3.87 ERA for Beloit in 48 appearances (3 starts). He struck out 69 and walked 24 in 76.2 innings. Tonkin is a big guy with a low 90s fastball and change up. He is probably better suited as a reliever who could use his size to intimidate even if his stuff doesn't fully back it up.
2012 Outlook: He'll start the season in Fort Myers.

33. Matthew Hauser Right-Handed Reliever 3/30/1988.
Hauser was drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego. Hauser went 5-6 with 12 saves and a 1.98 ERA between Beloit and Fort Myers with one appearance in New Britain. He struck out 75 and walked 29 in 63.2 innings. He has a decent fast-ball, slider and also has a split finger. The split is supposed to be his dominant pitch. There aren't many prospects (anymore) that have the split in their arsenal. I look forward to seeing that picth as he moves to AA and AAA. (Where I can watch him pitch live)
2012 Outlook: Will probably start the season in New Britain and may stay there most of the season.

32. Pat Dean Left-Handed Starter 5/25/1989.
Dean was drafted was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft out of Boston College. He went 5-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 starts for Beloit, Fort Myers and New Britain. He struck out 76 and walked 25 in 108 innings. Dean missed some time due to injury in his first full season with the Twins franchise. He dominated in Beloit but struggled when he moved up. He has four pitches including a low 90s fastball and doesn't walk too many guys. He definitely fits the Twins mold of pitching prospects. I ranked him #21 last year.
2012 Outlook: start the season at Fort Myers with a mid-season promotion.

31. JaDamion Williams Outfield 11/20/1990.
Williams was drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate HS in Tampa, FLA. He hit .324/.406/.465 with 4 HRs in 212 plate appearances with 10 stolen bases in 15 attempts for Elizabethtown. Williams has tools! He hit, walked, hit for some power and stole some bases. Reports are, he is lightning quick. He had a great season in E-town hidden beneath Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario's monster seasons. It will be interesting to see how he does when he levels up and plays a full season. He will have to work on reducing his strikeouts as he moves up.
2012 Outlook: He'll move to Beloit where his numbers may very well be hidden under Sano and Rosario's again.