Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Reviewing Top Ten Prospects

Last November I posted a list  of top ten prospects. My list actually had eleven players and with the minor league season over now is a good time to review that list. I am not going to create an alternative list just yet, but simply evaluate how the 11 players on my list last year progressed.

Major Leagues

Jose Mijares progressed as expected, taking a key role in the Twins bullpen after some struggles in spring training had him sent to Rochester.

Phil Humber failed in a couple chances with the Twins and is probably gone as a free agent after the season. He still has the talent to be a productive major league pitcher, but he has yet to harness his control and the Twins have a lot of competition from younger pitchers who are in similar spots.

Anthony Swarzak had some moments as a big league pitcher, but he still needs work on his control. Nothing he did this year changed the outlook for him to be either in the rotation or a key part of the bullpen in the future.

Kevin Mulvey actually moved faster than expected. But that was more desperation on the Twins part than him being ready. He got shipped off at the end of the season for Jon Rauch.


Trevor Plouffe struggled to start the year and then progressed, hitting over .300 in August and being named to the World Cup team. He looks ready to make a run at the Twins starting shortstop position next spring, but his errors are still a concern.


Given his youth, Wilson Ramos assignment to AA was a surprise. He got hurt and saw limited play. But he also showed he has the bat and glove to be a starting catcher with star potential at the major league level. Of course there is a large roadblock named Joe Mauer at that position right now.

Delios Guerra started the year at Fort Myers and was promoted to AA. He struggled and then improved. He continues to look like he has the potential for stardom, but he is probably still a couple years away from the big leagues.

Rene Tosoni was another surprise assignment to AA. He showed it was not a mistake batting over .300 in May and June after a slow April start. That won him a position on the Futures Game world team. But his performance slipped post allstar break. He is now playing in the World Cup. It may be he ends up back at New Britain, but more likely he will start next year at Rochester. Given the Twins outfield surplus, he probably is at least a year away from being ready to take a major league spot.

A Ball

Ben Revere demonstrated again that the angst over his first round selection appears to be ill-founded. He finished second in hitting in the FSL with more walks than strikeouts and 45 stolen bases. He will advance to New Britain next year.

Tyler Robertson stayed on track. Fort Myers is a pitchers park in a pitchers league, but Robertson showed he is ready to move up to the next level.

Angel Morales started out struggling, but he ended the year showing the same combination of average, speed and power that makes him an exciting player. He also continued to strike out a lot. He is now playing in the playoffs for New Britain, but it is likely he will start next year at Fort Myers.

As I said when I created this list, I did not consider any of the players from the 2008 draft. Gutierrez and Hicks progressed and are clearly top prospects at this point.  Hunt has showed he definitely isn't.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Next Season

There are a bunch of people who are writing off the Twins a month early. But this post is not about the Twins, its about the Twins minor league prospects. Rochester, Beloit, Elizabethton and the Gulf Coast teams have finished up their seasons. New Britain and Fort Myers are in the playoffs. But it is time to review the progress of prospects this year and look at where they might start next year. This list is limited to players who are "real" prospects. That is players who project to play in the big leagues. There are other players in the system who may develop into regular major league players, but they are all long shots even by the usual standards of prospects' chances. I also did not include players coming out of the Dominican Summer League or the youngest undrafted players in the GCL. Most of these players will start next season in the rookie leagues.

2009 Draft:
Kyle Gibson, Matt Bashore, Williams Bullock, Ben Tootle

Its hard to say that we have learned anything about the 2009 draftees based on performance in the short season leagues. Of course, this year the Twins first round choice, Kyle Gibson, didn't play at all. Matt Bashore, the supplemental choice from the loss of Dennis Reyes, and Ben Tootle, the 101st overall pick in the draft, threw only a few  innings at Elizabethton. The other high draft choice, William Bullock, pitched well at Beloit, Elizabethton seems to produce a few "false starts" every year with outstanding performances by college players playing against younger competition. This always produces excitement in the blogsphere which is followed by disappointment as players fail to develop any further.

Looking ahead, you would expect all four of these pitchers to start next year at either Beloit or Fort Myers. My guess is that Gibson starts at Fort Myers unless he seriously disappoints. Where the other three start probably depends on their performances in instructional league and spring training.

2008 Draft:
Aaron Hicks, Shooter Hunt, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Ladendorf, Bobby Lanigan, BJ Hermsen

Carlos Gutierrez is the most advanced of all the  players drafted in 2008. He  hit a wall for a while when he got to New Britain. But after being moved from the rotation to the bullpen he seemed to right himself and finish the season strong. He will likely start next year at New Britain, but may be ready for the major leagues by the end of the season. Aaron Hicks struggled a bit at Beloit, not really a surprise for a young player. He remains an exciting player and will likely start next year back at Beloit with a promotion to Fort Myers possible based on spring training. Ladendorf was traded for Cabrera after a somewhat disappointing start. He may turn out to be a loss, but probably not. Shooter Hunt looks like he is done, unable to find the plate at all. There are not a lot of examples of recovery from Steve Blass disease. Bobby Lanigan pitched decently and looks to start next year at Fort Myers.

BJ Hermsen looks like the best find in the lower rounds of the 2008 draft right now. He was a guy who may have dropped because of signability issues and his performance in the Gulf Coast League was encouraging. But, like the college kids at Elizabethton, he may just have been more polished than the competition.

2007 Draft

Ben Revere, Daniel Rams, Angel Morales

Revere is showing why the Twins were excited when they drafted him in the first round as he finished second in battinf in the Florida State League. He will start next year at New Britain and could be ready for the big leagues by the end of the season. Given the Twins crowded outfield, it is doubtful he will get the opportunity to show his skills at that level until at least 2011. Danny Rams started the year back at Elizabethton and moved up to Beloit where he has struggled. He will likely be back at Beloit to start the season. Angel Morales spent the year at Beloit. He struggled to start and improved as the year went along, hitting .317 post allstar break. He will likely start next year at Fort Myers.

Several college pitchers from this draft did well at Fort Myers, but they are all a little old for their level pitching in the pitchers park in a pitchers league.

2006 Draft

Jeff Manship started the year at New Britain and is ending it in the Twins rotation. Whether he can hold down a roster spot next year will depend on spring training performances. It looks like there will be a stiff competition for any pitching spot next spring with five established starters and a full bullpen.

Chris Parmelee still strikes out too much, but his power display was impressive for the Florida State League. He will start next year at New Britain.  Joe (William) Benson is probably a step behind Ben Revere, although they are the same age. Like Revere, he will likely start 2010 at New Britain. Tyler Robertson spent his second season at Fort Myers, he will also start next year in New Britain. All three of these guys look like future major league players. Parmelee will like develop more slowly than the other two, but his outstanding power could make him a bigger factor at the major league level once he arrives.

Two lower draftees stand out at this point. Steve Singleton started at Fort Myers but his bat caught fire when he moved up to New Britain. If his defense stands up to playing the middle infield, he is someone to watch. He will likely start next year back at New Britain but he could move up quickly if the continues to hit the way he has.  Danny Valencia started the year at New Britain and moved to Rochester. Because he would fill the Twins need at third base, he got a lot of attention. Unfortunately, after a hot start, he struggled at AAA and his defense continues to be a work in progress with a large number of errors. He may get a look in spring training, but he is likely to start the year back at Rochester. Valencia, at least, appears to be a likely addition to the major league roster this winter. Anthony Slama ended the year at Rochester. He may be added to the major league roster, but his success is tempored by his age at each level.

Robert Delaney signed as a free agent in 2006. He will likely start next year at Rochester where he finished this year. Like Slama, he has a shot at being added to the roster this winter, but will face a crowded competition for a bullpen spot at the major league level.

2005 Draft 

Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing have all reached the major leagues. Its likely they will all be there again next year.

Henry Sanchez,  Andrew Thompson and Paul Kelly all have been fighting injuries that look like they will cut their careers short. Sanchez is now out of the system.

Rene Tosoni is the best of the lower draft choices. He spent the year at New Britain and should move up to Rochester next year. If not for the Twins crowded outfield, he would have a shot at the major league roster next year. Dave Bromberg was named the top pitcher in the Florida State League by Baseball America. He will move up to New Britain next year where he will have to show he can match the better competition.  Both are likely to be added to the major league roster this winter. Alex Burnett also has a shot at a roster spot after making it to New Britain.

Steve Tolleson was on the roster last winter. He started the season well at Rochester, but his defense is questionable and he hit only .244 over the second half of the season. He will likely be back at AAA next season. He  may even lose his roster spot as the Twins are loaded with guys who need to be protected this winter.

2005 Free Agents
Loek Van Mil started at Fort Myers and moved up to New Britain. His height has made him somewhat of a celebrity, but his pitching also stands out. He will likely start next year at New Britain and if he can harness his control he has a shot at a major leagues in 2011.

2004 Draft

Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, Kyle Waldrop, Matt Fox, Jay Rainville, Alan Swarzak, Eduardo Morlan

Perkins and Tolbert have been on the big league roster. Both will likely play similar roles next year depending on their performance at the major league level.

Trevor Plouffe started the year at Rochester and improved throughout the year. His errors remain a concern, but he should be ready to help at the major league level next year. He will likely be given the chance to claim the shortstop position in spring training, but will likely start the year back at Rochester. He will almost certainly be added to the major league roster this winter. Steven Waldrop is coming back from injury and made it to New Britain in the bullpen. He will likely start next year back at New Britain. He may be added to the roster as well. Matt Fox was in the rotation at New Britain. He will compete for a rotation roster spot at Rochester next year. He is someone a team may take a flyer on in the Rule 5 draft. Alan Swarzak made it to the major league rotation this year, he will compete in spring training for a major league roster spot. Rainville retires and Morlan was part of the Young-Garza trade.

2004 Free Agents

Wilson Ramos played at New Britain. He may be the Twins top prospect and will likely be promoted to Rochester next year assuming there is room for him to catch regularly. He has an outside chance at winning the backup catcher spot in spring training.  Deibinson Romero was added to the roster last year. He struggled at Fort Myers and may end up back there.

2003 Draft

Scott Baker is in the Twins major league rotation. Matt Moses will likely leave the organization after struggling again at New Britain.

David Winfree reached Rochester and hit well. He faces tough competition for an outfield spot and will likely be back at Rochester next year if the Twins add him to the roster. Otherwise, he will probably try to hook up with an organization with more opportunities.

2002 Free Agent

Luke Hughes struggled at Rochester, got hurt. They sent him back to New Britain where he continued to struggle. He may keep his major league roster spot, but even that is a bit doubtful.

2001 Draft

Joe Mauer is in the big leagues to stay. Nick Blackburn is ikely to keep his rotation spot next year.

Jose Morales will compete for the backup catcher postion at the major league level. He is out of options, so he will likely catch on with another team if he fails to make the Twins.

Phil Humber is likely gone as a six-year free agent.  Drew Butera will compete for the backup catcher spot and end up at Rochester if not successul. Jason Pridie has a shot at a fourth outfield spot or will likely be claimed by some other team on waivers.  Deolis Guerra made it to New Britain. He will likely be back there to start next year. He has the talent that when he is ready, they will make room for him in the major league rotation.

Waivers/Rule 5
Justin Jones and Juan Morillo are both players who don't appear ready to help at the major league level. It is doubtful the Twins will be able to hang onto them, although Morillo's arm may win him a roster spot and one more shot at being part of the major league bullpen.

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