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


John said...

Plouffe has some defensive limitations and his batting average problems are concerning. Guerra had his moments this year but he remains a project, and the stuff he's showing right now is not overly impressive.

Otherwise I generally agree, though I'd include Gibson for sure. Bromberg is durable and has a solid assortment of pitches, so I'd probably include him as well.

TT said...

John -

Plouffe struggled in April and May. But after June 1st, he hit .308 and his k/bb ratio went from 54/22 pre allstar break to 14/12 post allstar break. That kind of improvement is what you look for in a prospect. Plouffe was also almost a year younger than any other player on the team.

There was a reason he was the starting shortstop on the World Cup team.

The reason Bromberg isn't on the list is that I suspect that "solid assortment of pitches", most of which are apparently average at best, is what allowed him to get out batters in the FSL. I am not sure that is enough to get big league hitters out. Until he does it above A ball, I wouldn't put him on a top prospect list.

To be honest, Guerra is on the list partially because the Twins traded Santana for him. The fact that he will be 20 when he starts the season at AA next year indicates that may not have been a mistake. He was also the youngest player on the New Britain team by almost 2 years.

Of course age/playing level is not an absolute indicator of a prospects ceiling. But when you have someone who is very young for his level, and still showing improvement, its a pretty good indicator that he will live up to his billing.

Polished players with mediocre tools can succeed int he minor leagues, but its polished players with great tools that contribute the most at the major league level. You often see guys who are old for the level doing well because they are more polished than their competition.

You see young players, who have great potential, struggle against older, more polished competition at a higher level. But the reason they got moved to that higher level is to give them the opportunity to polish their skills.

For anyone not named Joe Mauer, that process usually continues even after they make the major leagues. Look at guys like Morneau, Cuddyer and Kubel who all struggled before they established themselves at the major league level. Its possible we will add Young and Guzman to that list over the next couple years. The best major league players have both tools and skills - so top prospects are guys with tools who are still showing improvement.

TT said...

on Gibson, I just don't even consider the guys from the most recent draft. Sano is a top ten talent as well. Both will likely be on the list next year. There may be other 2009 signings who should be on the list as well. We won't know that until we see players for a full season.

John said...

The reports I've seen on Bromberg (second or third hand of course) are that he has a Major League fastball and curve, which would make him a definite top 10 prospect. I haven't seen him pitch though.

My worry with Plouffe is that he doesn't have the defense for short or the bat for 3rd. If he was a good defensive shortstop the bat wouldn't worry me.

In general its tough to do these lists as fans because there is limited access to scouting information. We can infer some things by looking at how the organization moves players around, but a lot goes into those decisions. I think Guerra is in AA partly because the Mets rushed him to Hi-A and the Twins didn't want to keep him there forever.

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