Friday, September 10, 2010

Top Ten Twins Prospects

This is a top ten list for 2010-2011.

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. I look out 8 years in terms of expected contributions, 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. That time frame even may be a little longer this year for some of the international signings who will still be in their mid-20's eight years from now. 

I don't rank prospects because frankly just choosing the "best" prospects is at best a rough guess. Deciding whether Max Kepler or Miguel Sano will produce more at the major league level between now and 2018 is way beyond what is reasonable with the information available to the average fan like me. It is probably way beyond the ability of professional scouts who get paid to do this and have both the opportunity and experience to evaluate them first hand.   

As always, I am not considering players drafted this summer for the list. I also leave off the international signings from this year.

Ben Revere (OF)
The last couple years, I have said the question was whether Revere will develop the power the Twins saw when they drafted him. It appears the answer is no.  Even without home run power, he has speed and  high batting average that will allow him to contribute at the major league level. Perhaps even next year. 

Kyle Gibson

Gibson ran through three levels in his first professional season. He struggled a bit to start at both AA and AAA, but then settled in and pitched very well. He looks like he will be ready to join the rotation next season if there is an opening. 

Aaron Hicks

Nothing much changed with Hicks this year. He has shown himself to be exactly what the Twins expected, a highly athletic outfielder whose bat is also going to be special. He showed some progress with a good finish at Beloit. He may develop later than Revere. He is likely going up the ladder one level at a time, so he is still several years away.  But like the tortoise and the hare, Hicks is likely to surpass Revere at the major league level. 

Carlos Gutierrez

Gutierrez lacks the secondary pitches to still be on track to be a starter. It appears the Twins are ready to  settle for the late inning bullpen role many projected for Gutierrez when he was drafted. He will pitch in the AFL this fall and may compete for a bullpen spot next spring. He will likely start next year at AAA. 

Chris Parmelee

Parmelee was demoted from AA to Fort Myers, but then had a second half breakout after returning to AA. His bat started to display the potential the Twins saw when he was drafted. The power still hasn't fully developed, but that is a matter of time if he continues to hit like he did the last half at New Britain. He will play in the AFL again this fall.  He has been playing the outfield, but he may end up at first base.

David Bromberg

I have been a skeptic on  Bromberg. But he pitched well this year at Rochester after a mis-season promotion from New Britain. He is only 22 and clearly held his own against the older competition. He projects as a mid-rotation starter or setup guy in the major leagues. Despite being at AAA, he is likely a ways away from being ready to pitch in the big leagues. Gibson, Gutierez and Bullock are all ahead of him

Billy Bullock

Bullock struck out 105 batters in 74 innings at two levels in his first full year in professional ball. He actually got more strike outs after being promoted to New Britain. Unfortunately, he also walked 43 hitters. If he can refine his control, he looks like a guy who will be a major factor in the Twins future bullpen. That could happen next year, but he is probably a couple years away.

Miguel Sano

Sano was a highly touted international signing. At 17, he showed why in his professional debut. He already hits for average and power. He played a little shortstop, but his future is probably at third base. His bat will play there if it develops as projected.

Max Kepler-Rozycki

Like Sano, Kepler was a highly touted international prospect, but from baseball poor Europe rather than the baseball rich Dominican. Kepler did not show Sano's power, but he has a solid bat combined with speed. Because he plays the outfield, he is probably not in Sano's class. But  he showed why some people saw him as the best prospect to ever come out of Europe even if that is a pretty low bar. 

Angel Morales (OF)

Morales still has outstanding speed and power, although his power numbers were down at Fort Myers. This is a guy who could be as a superstar or a super bust. Morales continued problems making contact are a bad sign but he is still very young. He will likely play winter ball so we should see continued improvement next spring. It will be interesting to see whether he moves up to AA to start next season.

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

Trevor Plouffe (SS)

Last year: "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"

Of course, once the Hardy trade was made, Plouffe's chance was gone. Its important to remember Plouffe remains a young player. He did not look like he has star potential in his major league debut. He could still be the Twins shortstop if and when Hardy leaves. But he is looking a bit like Brendan Harris, enough bat and glove to play in the big leagues, but not enough of either to be a major contributor. 

Deolis Guerra (P)

Last year: "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."

Guerra faded at AA as the season progressed. His inability to keep up with the league is a bad sign.  

Wilson Ramos (C)

Last year: "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."

Ramos was traded. He still has the tools to be a major league regular catcher, but there were some comments indicating the Twins had questions about his weight. Even if his weight problems reduce his mobility behind the plate, his bat and arm should still keep him in the major leagues. But it might be more as a backup catcher, DH and bat off the bench, rather than an allstar.

Rene Tosoni (OF)

Last year: "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."

Tosoni was injured most of this year. He still has potential, but its not clear that he will stay healthy long enough to ever develop that potential. And he didn't show much at AA before he was hurt.

Tyler Robertson (P)

Last year: "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"

Robertson remains a prospect. But he really struggled at New Britain this year. He will pitch in the Arizona Fall League and that may determine whether he is protected on the roster.  He has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter but he is looking more like a bust right now. And he is likely at least a couple years away.

As I said above, I left last summer's Twins draft choices off the list just as I did last year. Shooter Hunt continued to give a good demonstration of why waiting for players to get a full year as a professional under their belt is a good idea. Sometimes players just don't make the transition to the professional game. Alex Wimmer may be great, but it would be a good idea to see how he does pitching every five days before making any decisions beyond what we knew when he was drafted. I have yet to see a first round choice who would not project as a top ten prospect in the fall after they were drafted, so you can just stick him on the end of this list if you are so inclined.

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