It is difficult for fans to evaluate minor league players. We get to see very few of them play and when we do most of the players on the field are not major league quality. We can look at their statistics and get some idea of their abilities, but adjusting that for their age and the quality of the opponents often make those numbers only vague indicators of their major league potential. For Twins fans its the Appy League syndrome. Every year some player comes out of the Appy league with gaudy statistics that have inexperienced fans excited. Usually they are out of the system in a couple years. That's what happened to Ozzie Lewis this year. He won the MVP in the Appy League a couple years ago was released after this season. Often the age of a player at a certain level tells us more than the results they get. A 21 or 22 year old playing at AAA is usually an indication of a someone with a lot of talent regardless of their numbers. Otherwise the team wouldn't have them playing their at all.
How a team moves a player should be one of the first indicators for fans of how good he is. When Steve Singleton was left off the 40 player roster it was a clear sign that he is not a major league quality defensive shortstop and likely never will be. If he were, he would have been protected given his success with the bat at AA and in the AFL. Instead the Twins reached down into A ball to protect Estarling de Los Santos, a slick fielding shorstop who has struggled to stay healthy. Singleton may still be a prospect, but if he is limited to second base his bat is not anything special.
Clearly the Twins are not completely discouraged by Danny Valencia's season at AAA. His high number of errors and poor hitting over the last half of the season seemed to indicate that he had hit a wall once he faced competition his own age. It will be interesting to see how he does next year. But it will also be interesting to see whether the Twins make a move to shore up third base during the off-season. That will probably tell us more than Valencia's spot on the roster. Otherwise they go into spring training with a competition between Tolbert, Harris, Valencia and Hughes for third base. If the Twins add a second baseman, Punto becomes part of that mix. If the Twins think Valencia is close to being ready, then they may be willing to let Tolbert or Harris keep the seat warm. Otherwise third base looks like a place where there is an opportunity to improve, even if that means resigning Joe Crede.