Two of the Twins top prospects and a number of players who were competing for jobs in the major league camp will start the year at New Britain. The Twins signed a lot of players in the off-season and now need to find them places to play. You don't want young players you have plans for sitting on the bench at AAA. And given the experience last year where they lacked major league ready players at AAA, they probably aren't interested in letting anyone who might help this year go just to make room for someone on the AAA roster.
Alex Wimmers, the Twins 2010 first round draft choice, leads the starting rotation. I am not sure who the other starters will be. The likely candidates are Dave Bromberg, who was hobbled by injuries is back at AA for a second straight season. Bobby Lanigan, who was a third round choice in 2008, Steve Hirschfield, a ninth round choice in 2007, Logan Darnell, a sixth round choice in 2010 and Luke French, who made appearances in 2009 and 2010.
The bullpen has Delios Guerra, the last guy from the Santana trade, returning. Lester Oliveros, the young pitcher the Twins got from Detroit for Delmon Young. Daniel Turpen, the pitcher they got in return for Kevin Slowey. Andrew Albers, a guy they picked up last year from an indy league. Luis Perdomo, who was signed as a six year free agent.
The catchers are Chris Herrmann and Daniel Lehman. Lehman is a good defender who has bounced around the organization. Herrmann, who can also play the outfield, was in the AFL last fall and the Twins are high on his offense.
The middle infield looks to be shared by Pedro Florimon, who was in camp as a potential major league utility guy, Estarling de los Santos, who was on the roster a couple years ago and James Beresford. I think all three are still prospects as defensive players. Nate Hanson looks like the first baseman with Debinson Romero back at New Britain at third.
The outield will feature Aaron Hicks in center. Hicks is a top Twins prospect with plus skills across the board. He is outstanding defensively in center field. He continues to struggle from the left side as a switch hitter. Darin Mastroianni, claimed on waivers this winter, will play somewhere in the outfield while backing up Hicks in center field. Evan Bigley and Mark Dolenc are both sluggers back for their third season at AA. They will likely take corner outfield spots and DH.
If you were ranking the top ten prospects here they would be Hicks, Wimmers, Herrmann, Guerra, Oliveros, Florimon, Lanigan, Turpen, Bromberg, Mastroianni. All those guys have a legitimate shot at the big leagues. With several other players who are long shots as major league players, this team is loaded with potential. With the exception of the two first round choices, Wimmers and Hicks, almost everyone on the roster has played at this level before. The question is how well they build on that past experience. Its not impossible several of these players will be in the big leagues before the end of the year if they develop.
UPATE: Baseball America is reporting that both Bromberg and Lanigan will start the year in the bullpen and Albers will be in the rotation.