Sunday, August 19, 2012

Twins Prospect Update

With the Twins having been completely out of it since the second week of the season your thoughts end up turning to the future.  Then, when you realize all those guys suck too, you dig a little deeper into the younger prospects.  With that in mind, here are the first 10 guys I thought of to check on in the Twins' system.  They might not be the top 10 guys, but they're all definitely guys who, at one point or another, were well thought of in the system and most still all are.  I didn't look up Alex Wimmers because he blew out his arm and is thus dead to me because, much like the Twins' brass, I don't believe in that sissy shit like surgery.  If it can't be fixed with spit, dirt, or leeches then I'm not interested.
Twins training staff in action

1.  Miguel Sano, 3B, Beloit (A).  You probably know who this guy is because he's universally hailed as the Twins top prospect with Baseball America ranking him #18 in all of baseball and ESPN slotting him at #28.  And in a season full of disappointment, Sano has delivered once again with a .262/.382/.526 line with 25 dingers in single-A.  His average and power have dipped a bit from previous years and the .262 might not look that impressive, but considering he's only 19 (or so they say) it's nothing to get too worked up about especially considering his incredible power and plate discipline for that age.  He may end up out-growing 3B and end up at 1B or OF, but wherever he plays he can hit.  Plus he's built like an absolute monster.  I seriously can't wait for this guy to get to the bigs.  I might just get a Beloit jersey.  Also this,
Sano stood in the batter's box awhile to watch his homer against relief pitcher Carmine Giardiana. He trotted the bases, but virtually stopped a few feet before touching the plate, taking off his batting helmet as Kernels catcher Abel Baker barked at him.
Sano glared at the Kernels dugout after finally touching the plate, with Kernels players continuing to give him significant grief. He took a step toward Baker, and the dugouts began to empty, with umpires Fernando Rodriguez and Paul Clemons, as well as both teams' coaching staffs, doing a good job of squelching what could have been an ugly scene.
2.  Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Beloit (A).  Sano's teammate with the Snappers, Rosario also saw his numbers dip a bit with the promotion to A ball but also like Sano he's young (20) and the change isn't so drastic there's need to worry.  He's still hitting over .300 this year and although his slugging has dropped from high .600s to around .500 this season that's from a drop in homers as his doubles remain around the same.  Additionally, the move this year to second base means his offense is less important as long as he can field his position, so keep an eye on that.  Rosario was ranked #50 in the majors by ESPN and with the slight drop in production canceled out by the move to middle infield I'd expect him in about the same range next year.

3.  Byron Buxton, OF, Elizabethton (Rookie).  Buxton is the guy the Twins took #2 overall in this year's draft, and I'm interested to see what the early scouting on him is.  He hasn't exactly set the world on fire, hitting just .211 between two rookies leagues this year, but his OBP is impressive for such a low average and the biggest question on his was his power and he knocked out 4 homers in 102 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League.  His production won't matter for a couple of years - he'll continue to be highly rated based on potential and "toolsy-ness" - and he's just 18 and right out of high school afterall, but keep an eye on how he does repeating rookie ball next year.  My biggest fear is we have another Ndudi Ebi here.  And sure, I could have gone with Brien Taylor or Adam Johnson (go Twins) but come on, how many chances to you get bring up Ndudi Ebi in a conversation?

4.  Aaron Hicks, OF, New Britain (AA).  Buxton before Buxton was Buxton, Hicks was picked fourteenth by the Twins out of high school in 2008 as a toolsy guy and found himself ranked in the top 45 prospects by Baseball America each of the next three years, before being unranked this season due to diminishing returns.  Not that it's time to give up on him.  Athleticism doesn't just disappear unless you're Shawn Kemp or Willie Mays Hayes and there's no indication anything has happened to Hicks, he's just seen his numbers dip but this year has been a nice rebound in AA with basically his entire slash line going up (from .242/.354/.368 to .281/.381/.453) and a career high in homers with 12.  He's still just 22 and he's made a steady progression from Rookie ball to AA in his career thus far so there's no need to panic just yet, but next year is a big one for Hicks.

5.  Kyle Gibson, P, Fort Myers (A+).  If you're like me Gibson is one of the guys you care about the most, simply because he's a power pitcher with filthy stuff who struck guys out like it was his job (which it is) before getting hurt and needing Tommy John surgery (which I assume made the Twins' upper management happy since they'd probably hope he'd stop striking people out all the time).  He had made it all the way to AAA before he blew out the arm and although his numbers weren't great at Rochester they'd been stellar all the way through the system prior to that.  In his rehab so far this year (through 10 games between Rookie and A ball) he's put up an ERA of 2.55 with a 0.96 WHIP and 17 Ks in 17.2 innings vs. just 5 walks.  Good stuff.  Here's to hoping Gibson is in the rotation next season.  No, seriously, here's to hoping.  I have a vodka & tonic in my hand right now and I'm totally drinking it.

6.  Levi Michael, SS, Fort Myers (A+).  You probably remember Michael because he was the Twins' first round pick last season at #30, the 21-year old shortstop from North Carolina who everyone said like hurry up and get up to the majors because this SS situation blows.  Well don't hold your breath.  Despite Brian Dozier getting booted back to Rochester for some weird reason with two weeks left in the minor league season I don't think Michael will be there next year unless he gets some of those sweet Melky Cabrera roids.  He hit just .236/.327/.299 this year, and although the walk rate is nice pretty much everything else is awful, particularly he's Punto-ian lack of power.  Since he's a shortstop I'd make a comment on his fielding here, but I have to admit I have no idea what a .962 fielding percentage or 4.33 range factor mean, so instead look boobs:
Classic distraction technique
7.  Oswaldo Arcia, OF, New Britain (AA).  Arcia is an interesting case because he may have the best numbers of anybody on this list (possibly outside Sano) but he's never appeared on Baseball America's top prospects lists.  He hit .375 at Elizabethton in 2010, is hitting .315 this year between Fort Myers and New Britian, and has never hit below .290 once in five minor league seasons (.275 in 2009).   And he's done it the whole way with good power (more gap power, but he's still hit double-digits homers three times) and the last two seasons he's even learned to mix in some walks.  He's been so steady throughout his career I kind of think he's probably the most sure thing in the system.  He's still just 21 but in five seasons his career line between rookie ball and AA is .315/.371/.533.  Dude's a pure pimp, and he's finally starting to get recognized-getting a spot in the futures game this year (and going 1-2 with a double).  I'd bet he shows up on some lists somewhere this year.  CALLED IT.

8.  Jose Berrios, P, Elizabethton (Rookie).  This is the guy the Twins took at #32 this year with the draft pick they were awarded for losing husky camera whore Mike Cuddyer as an 18-year old out of Puerto Rico and he has been flat-out unhittable in rookie ball.  Between Elizabethton and the Gulf Coast League Berrios has thrown 25.2 innings with a combined ERA of 0.70 and WHIP of 0.55, striking out a staggering 43 while walking just 4.  Guys.  That's a 10-1 K-to-BB ratio.  Since hitting E-Town he's made two starts, going a total of 9 innings and allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs, and striking out 16.  I mean holy F.  Small sample size and all yes, but, like the Shermanator, confidence is high.
Don't act like you didn't know exactly what I was talking about.
9.  Joe Benson, OF, New Britian (AA).  Benson's the one guy on this list we've already seen in the majors, putting up a .239/.270/.352 line in 21 games last season which was apparently enough to get Baseball America to name him the #99 prospect in baseball and for the Twins to assign him to AAA to start this year even though he'd never played there before.  And it was a disaster.  Benson hit just .179 in 28 games at Rochester before getting busted back to AA and then injured his wrist, required surgery.  The good news is that he completely tore up Rookie and A ball pitching upon his return.  The bad news is he's failed to break a .190 average at either AAA or AA this year with a Revere-esque slugging percentage and he's struck out nearly 30% of his at-bats through his minor league career.  I don't want to say he's a lost cause just yet, but at 24 it's time to shit or get off the pot.  Definitely the most disappointing guy on this list.  Like Cooper Manning.  Also this:
Look at this hair.  LOOK AT IT!
10.  Deolis Guerra, P, Rochester (AAA).   Although everyone on the list is more important to the future of the Twins, Guerra is someone I keep following because he's important to the past - the last link to the Johan Santana trade.   Humber is gone and threw a perfect game, Mulvey is dead or something I don't know, and Carlos Gomez was traded for J.J. Hardy (GOOD!) who was then traded for two shithead relievers (BAD!).  So Guerra is it.   There's good news and bad news here.  GOOD:  Dominated AA this year.  BAD:  Sucked at AAA, career ERA of 6 with a 5.55 this year.  BAD:  Basically has been given up on as a starter, not starting a game in 2012 and only 10 of 37 in 2011.  GOOD:  Has struck out more than a batter per inning since being turned into a full time reliever.  BAD:  Sucks.  GOOD:  Could maybe be a decent reliever.

So yeah.  The entire haul for Johan Santana has been 20 relief innings out of Humber where he got completely rocked, one+ inning out of Kevin Mulvey (that's it, really?) where he gave up 6 hits and 4 runs, two shitty fucking years of Jon Rauch who would later go on to fuck me over, two sometimes exciting but ultimately frustrating years of Carlos Gomez, an injury-plagued and mediocre year from J.J. Hardy (who would go on to become one of the best shortstops in the league the year after they traded him), and 24 absolutely crappy innings from one of the relievers they traded Hardy for, releasing the other one (or whatever) without getting a single major league inning out of him.  So yeah, you could say Guerra is pretty important even if his absolute upside is a decent set-up man.  Let's get 2-3 years out of him and call it a day.  Yes?  We all agree?  Sweet.  Time for some punch and pie.

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