Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ranking the Rule 5 Eligible Twins Prospects

I decided to rank the minor league players who are Rule 5 eligible and might be candidates to be added to the Twins 40 player major league roster. Roughly, these are college players drafted in 2006 and earlier and high school players taken in 2005 and earlier, as well as free agents signed at the same time. If they aren't on the roster, they can be taken by any other team in the rule 5 draft for $50,000. The hitch is that they would have to stay on that team's active roster for the full season or be returned to the Twins for $25,000. 

The list of all possibilities is long, but here are the players who will at least get some serious consideration

High school players from 2005:
Alex Burnett
Rene Tosoni
Ryan Mullins (correction Mullins was a college player when drafted)

College players from 2006:
Danny Valencia
Anthony Slama
Steven Singleton

Juan Morillo (Waiver Claim)
Rob Delaney (FA)

New Britain
Wilson Ramos (FA)
Kyle Waldrop (2004 HS)
Deolis Guerra (Santana Trade)
Matt Fox (2004 College)
Ludovicus VanMil (FA)

Here is how I would rate that list:

Certain to be protected: 
Wilson Ramos - (correction Ramos is already on the roster)  
Rene Tosoni
Delios Guerra

Those three are all top prospects who may be ready to play in the major leagues next year. Given their potential, a team would carry them on their roster for a year even if they aren't quite yet ready.

The remaining candidates in order of how likely they are to be taken in the Rule 5 draft:
Van Mil

I place a premium on pitching because pitchers are most tempting to teams since there is more flexibility in letting a pitcher develop at the major league level than a position player. Waldrop was a high draft choice coming back from injury, which will put him on other teams' radars. Burnett looks like he could be a closer candidate. I may be overrating Van Mil, but his height and his fastball make him a tempting target. Mullins is a lefty who looks like he may just about be ready to help at the major league level. Morillo is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. If he ever harnesses that talent he will be special.

Singleton and Valencia are both college position players. Neither one has a huge upside, but both may be close enough to major league ready to hold a roster spot on a team that is building for the future.  I suspect that the Twins will protect Valencia since they have a hole at third base to fill. 

Fox, Slama and Delaney are all longshots to be protected.  Fox is the most interesting. A high draft choice who has come back from injury, he has been a consistent performer. The question is whether he has enough upside. Slama and Delaney have performed well as older players pitching against younger competition. The question is whether they can make the leap to the big leagues. My guess is not, but there may be teams that will take the risk.

After all their free agents leave, the Twins will have only two openings on the 40 player roster. So one consideration is going to be who the Twins are willing to give up to provide room for even the top three players on this list. That is a topic for another day.(see correction - with Ramos already on the Twins roster, there are only two players on the certain to be protected list.) 

* Morillo may be a 6 year minor league free agent if he isn't added to the roster.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Every year at this time people start coming out with top ten or top 50 lists of Twins prospects. Here is a list of players who are definite sleepers. Most at one time were considered top talent, but have fallen off the lists do to injury or poor play. Others were afterthoughts whose skills have grown to where they may get a chance.  They are almost all long shots to appear in a Twins uniform, but so are most of the players on a top 50 list. Here are my ten sleepers whose progress is still worth noting:

Andrew Thompson
Paul Kelly
Both Kelly and Thompson have been plagued by injuries. But if they can stay healthy for a few years and polish their skills, they have the tools to be major league players. But time is running out.

Toby Gardenhire
Nepotism. Pure and simple. But Gardenhire has shown he is a versatile minor league player and his family background and comfort around a major league clubhouse may give him a shot as a AAAA player who provides depth in the system.

Juan Portes
Portes was on a list of exciting prospects at some point. He has continued to develop, but not as fast as people would have liked. He was 23 at AA last year and did just fine. His bat will probably be major league quality, but he doesn't really have a defensive position.

Matthew Fox
Fox was a high draft choice before his injury. He has worked his way back and may yet make it to the big leagues. He was a starter at New Britain last year, but his major league role is probably as a middle reliever.

Steve Waldrop
Like Fox, Waldrop was highly touted when drafted and then got hurt. He was moved to the bullpen when he came back. Its not clear if that switch to the bullpen is permanent, but he certainly projects an upside of at least a decent middle reliever.

Brian Kirwan
Kirwan was considered a tough sign when drafted. He has moved slowly in the system and is not likely to ever be a star. More a middle reliever or back of the rotation starter. And still at least a couple years away from that.

Drew Butera
Butera is a major league defensive catcher. His bat is not.  But catching is a defensive position and Butera projects as a catch and throw backup. He may even win the Twins backup spot next year.

Ryan Mullins
Mullins has struggled but he is still a lefty with a good arm. If he can harness that he will at least get a shot as LOOGY in the big leagues.

Allan de San Miguel
See Drew Butera, only younger with even less bat. But if they gave Gold Gloves for fielding, he would have a shot at being a gold glove major league catcher.

Bobby Lanigan
I think Lanigan has yet to attract much attention because he is from a small college and he didn't do particularly well as a starter at Beloit this year. But he  projects as a fastball/slider reliever with a chance to start if he can develop his changeup.

You could also add some older "failed" prospects to this list like Juan Morillo, Jason Pridie and Jason Jones but its not clear if they are even still in the Twins plans. All three will likely see the major leagues again, but maybe not for the Twins.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Top Ten Twins Prospects

This is a top ten list for 2009-2010.

Once again, they are in no particular order, but simply the players I think are likely to contribute the most at the major league level at some point in the next 8 years. Like last year, I am not considering players drafted this summer for the list. I am also leaving off the international signings from this year.

As I said last year, I look out 8 years, because most players have reached their peak by the time they are 27. While talented young players sometimes get to the major leagues quickly, it also sometimes takes several more years before they show their full talent.

Ben Revere (OF)
Last year, I said the question was whether Revere will develop the power the Twins saw when they drafted him. That is still a question. But even if the home run power never shows up. his speed and gap power will allow him to contribute at the major league level.

Angel Morales (OF)
Morales has outstanding speed and power, this is a guy who could be as a superstar or a super bust. The question last year was whether he will make enough contact at higher levels to make use of either one. Again, this season didn't answer that question. But that is a good thing. The first half of the season it looked like the answer was no. He still strikes out a lot, but he improved dramatically the second half of the season. That is a good sign.

Deolis Guerra (P)

Guerra was a touted part of the Santana deal but the Twins turned him into a project, working to improve his delivery. He has made progress this year, finishing the year at AA. Next year he will likely start the season at AA again. But if he develops as expected, he will likely have the opportunity to show his stuff in the major leagues at sometime next year..

Wilson Ramos (C)
A power hitting catcher with a plus arm and defensive skills. You can't get much better than that. I am just repeating what I said last year. If he can stay healthy for a full season, this kid has star written all over him.

Rene Tosoni (OF)
Tosoni is in the Arizona League. was injured this year. He hits for both average and with enough power to take a corner outfield spot. He is almost ready to contribute at the major league level. The question is how the Twins find a spot for him.

Tyler Robertson (P)

Robertson remains one of the Twins top young prospects. He is still a couple years away but he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter.

Trevor Plouffe (SS)
Last year, I said Plouffe is probably still a year away from taking over as the Twins shortstop. That still may be true, but he came on the second half of the season at AAA. His errors remain a worry, but it is apparent his bat is just about ready. He will get a chance to win the shortstop position in spring training, but is likely to end up back at AAA.

Aaron Hicks

Hicks has shown himself to be exactly what the Twins expected, a highly athletic outfielder whose bat is also going to be special. He may develop more slowly than Revere. But like the tortoise and the hare, Hicks is likely to surpass Revere at the major league level, if not before.

Carlos Gutierrez

Gutierrez is may still be on track to be a starter, but he wore down after begin promoted to New Britain this summer. He looks to be a middle of rotation starter or a late inning bullpen option as early as next year.

Chris Parmelee

Parmelee lead the FSL in home runs and most of the other competition were a lot older than him. Parmelee projects to have tremendous power but, like Morales, he will need to make enough contact to make use of that power. He has been playing the outfield, but he may end up at first base.

Dropped out of top ten - what I said last year with comment:

Anthony Swarzak (P)
Swarzak struggled some at AA but did better once promoted. He is probably still at least one full year away from the major leagues. Like Robertson, he has the stuff to take a spot toward the top of the rotation. He also has a curve ball that would work well out of the bullpen.

Comment: If Swarzak were still a rookie (I assume he isn't - but I didn't check) he would probably still be part of the top ten. Despite his struggles this year, its likely he will eventually be a solid major league starter.

Jose Mijares (P)
Mijares almost had a wasted season last year that he turned to his advantage. He recovered from an auto accident and then showed enough to get a late season callup. Better yet, he showed that he is probably ready to be a key part of a major league bullpen.

Comment: Has been a key member of this year's bullpen and looks to hold that role for a while.

Phillip Humber (P)
Humber started out struggling at AAA. But he came back the last half of the season. He is out of options, so he is very likely going to on a major league roster next year. He has potential as a starter, but is blocked on the Twins. It may take him another year, but if he doesn't win a place in the rotation, he will likely end up an 8th inning guy.

Comment: Humber is not ready for the big leagues, but he may leave as a minor league free agent after this year. He still has talent, but he may never have enough control of the strike zone to dominate.

Kevin Mulvey (P) Mulvey is younger than Humber and will likely get another year at AAA. He is probably a notch below Robertson and Swarzak in terms of his potential at the major league level. But he has all the tools to be a solid major league starter.

Comment: Mulvey was essentially traded for Jon Rauch. He still projects as a middle of the rotation starter, but it may be a couple years before he settles into that role in the big leagues.

As I said above, I left recent Twins draft choices off the list just as I did last year. Shooter Hunt gave a good demonstration of why. Sometimes players just don't make the transition to the professional game. So I won't consider

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Its NOT Cheating

There are some people who are accusing Joe Mauer of "cheating" by stealing signs and signaling the information to Twins batter. But there is no rule against stealing signs. (There was recent direction from Sandy Alderson that using electronic devices to get an advantage of any kind is prohibited. That rules out a clubhouse guy sitting in the stands and radioing signs to the dugout, which it is rumored to have happened during the Twins 1987 season.) Players and coaches are supposed to try to steal signs - that is why signs are used in the first place. If the catcher had caught on to what Mauer was doing by stealing HIS signs to the batter, he would have used that information to cross up the hitter with an unexpected pitch If there is a runner on second and the catcher is not switching his signs, he deservers to have them stolen.. Its all part of the game.

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