Thursday, May 30, 2013

Twins Youth Movement Update

Well, the Twins are who we thought they were.  They're clearly lacking in the pitching department, but the offense that "isn't a problem" has kind of been a problem too.

Rather than go over how much everyone sucks in the majors, let's look at some of the players that make up one of the deeper groups of prospects in major league baseball.

Aaron Hicks

No longer on prospect lists since he made the squad, but I still want to point out a couple of things here.  He continues to show flashes of power and is obviously good in the field.  Striking out 1/3 of the time is awful though.  And he's struck out in 7 of his last 20 ABs, so it's not like that ratio is decreasing.  What is interesting though is that Hicks was a natural right handed hitter that has turned switch-hitter; which isn't all that unusual, but he's hitting much better from the right side than the left.  (.257 vs .138)  He's also hitting better without the pressure of leading off (.258) and a has a nice amount of extra base hits (12).  It's still early and he dug himself a massive hole to get out of so I'd give him more time.  In fact, there's really no problem with giving him the rest of the year since we all know it's a lost cause.  If those splits don't improve though, I wouldn't mind if they considered making him a full time right handed hitter. 

Let's look at players in the minors that are on Jesse Siegel and Nick Shlain's top 200 list. 

#6 Byron Buxton, CF

We knew Buxton was a tools monster when he was drafted.  What we're coming to learn is that he may be in the majors much sooner than initially expected.  He showed power and speed in rookie ball in 2012, but hit just .216 in the Gulf Coast league after hitting .286 at Elizabethton.  In 2013, Buxton is a house on fire.  He's hitting 332/436/556 with 7 homers (23 xbhs) in 187 ABs.  He has a somewhat high K rate at 17.1%, but he has an incredible 15.4% walk rate.  He's also stolen 23 bases.  He's also an elite type defender in the OF with great speed and that mid-90s fastball arm.

Check out this recent quote from former scout Bernie Pleskoff:
Remember the name. Write it down. He's only in Low-A now. He'll fly through the system, even if the Twins want to avoid rushing him. He has a lethal combination of power and speed. He has to cut down on strikeouts to be even more effective, but the man can play. He already has seven home runs and 37 RBI to complement his .316 batting average at Cedar Rapids. He is my third highest ranked outfield prospect behind only Taveras and Yelich.

Keith Law has him #2 overall behind just Taveras. "80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, a very quick bat, a plus arm, the potential for plus-plus defense in center -- is accompanied by more present baseball skill than I realized last spring. He's already 19, so a late-season promotion to high-A wouldn't be too aggressive if he continues to rake."

So, doing the way premature math, if he goes to high A ball this year and does well, we could see him in AA next year at 20 years old.  Anything can happen from there.  Here he is mashing a walk off grand slam:

#7 Miguel Sano, 3B

Sano is in High-A Fort Myers after spending all of last season in Low-A.  Still, he's the youngest player in the Florida State league and is absolutely crushing it.  Did you know Doug Mientkiewicz is managing the Fort Myers team?  Me either until just right now.  He has this to say about Sano, "I don't get the final word, but I think he is ready for Double-A."  Miguel is hitting 343/437/657 with 13 homers (29 xbhs) in 181 ABs. He strikes out a tad more than 25% of the time, but he's showing huge power, so that might be acceptable.  He also walks at a decent rate of 11.7%. 

The biggest thing that could slow down Sano's rocketship to the majors is his defense.  He's currently at 3B still although many have projected him to 1B or a corner OF spot eventually.  He made 42 errors last season in 125 games at third, and so far this year he's made 11 errors in 49 games.   So, he's shown some improvement at least, but he's certainly not major league ready there.

Fast forward to about 1:18 to watch Sano go yahtzee off of something called Jacob Partridge here:

#50 Kyle Gibson, SP

Unless Kyle Gibson injures his shoulder killing and burying a hooker in Rochester, we'll be seing him pitch for the Twins in June.  Waiting until mid-June earns the Twins another year of control by going past the super two deadline.  You can't blame the Twins for this unless you thought they just needed one more arm back when they were a .500 team. 

Gibson is kind of a "flat-brimmer", but I think he pulls it off.
Gibson, 25, is just 4-5 so far this year, but he's sporting a 2.82 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 60.2 innings.  He's also only allowed 2 homeruns and just 48 hits.  And now I'm reading that he got beat up a little in today's start so add 6 runs in 6 innings today to those stats.  

#51 Eddie Rosario, 2B

Rosario is with our guy Sano in High-A ball and continues to hit.  In 2012 he moved from CF to 2B and did well.  This year he's only played 2B and is playing great defensively with just 3 errors in 41 games.  Eddie is hitting 324/365/503 with 4 homers (19 xbhs) in 173 at bats.  This is a slight improvement across the board compared to last year.  His walk rate is low at 6.3%, but he also has a pretty low K rate of 14.6%. 

#57 Alex Meyer, SP

The 6'9" Meyer was acquired in the Denard Span and is playing AA ball in New Brighton.  At 23, he's just two years removed from pitching for Kentucky in college.  He's shown some big time strikeout potential with 63 Ks in 54.2 innings pitched.  He has a mid-90s fastball and a mid 80s slider.  He's still pretty wild, with 4.15 BB/9; that will need to improve for him to take the next step.  This is also the main reason he has a 1.40 WHIP.

#86 Jose Berrios, SP

Jose Berrios was taken 32nd overall last year and pitched 30 innings in rookie ball and struck out basically everyone (49).  He's had 6 starts now in Low-A Cedar Rapids (Team Buxton) and is doing well.  He's thrown 33.1 innings, struck out 40 and walked just 6.  He also hasn't allowed a homer.  He has a 2.70 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. 

He's not super big at 6', 190lbs, so you have to wonder if he can remain a starter throughout the minors.  He has a good fastball that can hit the mid-90s.

#94 Trevor May, SP

Trevor May, like Meyer is also 23, but he came to pro ball right out of high school.  This means we can look at progression and trends as he moves through the ranks.  The big thing that sticks out for May is the walk rate; and not in a good way.  Throughout his minor league it's been around 5 BB/9 and it's right there so far this season as well (4.71).  Despite the free passes, he has a 3.88 ERA and is 4-2 at New Brighton.  

#149 Max Kepler, OF

Poor Max is broken.  He has a left elbow injury that hasn't allowed him to start his 2013.  We like him because he's German, though.

#179 Travis Harrison, 3B

Travis was draft in 2011 (50th overall) and is in his second minor league season.  The 20 year old has 8 homers (23 xbh) in 171 at bats for Low-A Cedar Rapids and has a 275/351/503 line.  In 59 games at 3B in 2012 he commited 24 errors.  So far this year he has 10 errors in 45 games at the hot corner. 

#212 Josmil Pinto, C

Wait, there's more?  Apparently their list of 200 goes beyond 200, so here we are.  24 year old Pinto is in AA and is hitting 337/430/537.  In related news, Drew Butera once hit .337 in a wiffle ball league.  He's also thrown out 32% of would be base-stealer-guys. 

So, no playoffs for the Twins this year, but maybe look for these minor league clubs to make the post-season.  Slap it high?

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