Here are the top ten Twins prospects following the 2012 season. Players taken in this year's amateur draft are NOT included in this list. They simply haven't played a full professional season and until they do we are relying on a very small sample size against suspect competition, both as amateurs and as pros. Guys like taken this season like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios will likely be on this list next year.
This list is in no particular order - although it isn't really random either. I just don't have enough information to make fine distinctions. The better guys are toward the top and the lesser prospects toward the bottom. In other words, Hicks is a better prospect than Gutierrez, but there isn't much to choose between Hicks and Sano.
Hicks is finally showing why he has been a highly touted prospect since he was drafted in 2008. He is one of a crew of athletic outfielders the Twins have drafted that includes this year's first choice Buxton and Twins outfielder Ben Revere.
Sano's power makes him special, but he is still raw and strikes out a lot. He also lacks a clear defensive position. If he can learn to play third base well he will be in the big leagues in a hurry. But even if he ends up at first base, his bat will play anywhere.
Gibson is coming of Tommy John surgery. The reports are that he is throwing harder than he was before he went down last year. He is projected as a number two starter and could be in the rotation next spring. He will pitch this fall in the Arizona League.
Arcia showed the bat at AA that makes him an exciting prospect. He was New Britain's best hitter, ahead of Aaron Hicks, and its youngest player. He lacks Hicks speed but he has the arm to play right field, but he got most of his at bats as a DH at New Britain.
Harrison was the 50th player taken in the 2011 draft. Playing in the Appalachian league he showed good average with decent power for a 19 year old. He will likely need to stay at third base to have a real impact at the big league level. His bat may play at first, but not the way it does at third.
Rosario got moved from the outfield to second base this season. Like Harrison, his major league future depends on being able to stick as an infielder. As an outfielder his bat may not be enough for a corner spot and his defense may not hold up in center, although he played there some this year.
Kepler showed even more power than Harrison at Elizabethton and is the same age. He has the range and arm to play center field.
Palanco was signed at the same time as Sano, but projected as a slick fielding shortstop rather than a big bat. This was a break out year with the bat for him at Elizabethton. A year younger than his teammates Harrison and Kepler he hit just as well and his defense projects as a plus at either shortstop or second base.
Boyd was the 55th player taken in the draft last year. He pitched well at Elizabethton in his professional debut. He is still a long way from the big leagues, but projects as a number 2 starter.
Gutierrez has an outstanding sinker but lacks other pitches and has yet to reach his potential. He projects as a late inning reliever or closer. He was on the minor league DL for most of the year after struggling at the start of the season. If he can stay healthy and harness his fastball he could be a future closer. But this time is running out.
Others considered: Madison Boer, Niko Goodrum, Lester Oliveros, Joe Benson, BJ Hermsen, Chris Hermann, Alex Wimmers
Looking at those ten prospects it is striking how many of them are in the lower half of the system. Gutierrez and Gibson are the only ones who have even reached AAA. Hicks and Arcia are at AA. And four guys were in rookie ball at Elizabethton this year and two in low A ball.
Of course part of that is the Twins have pulled up a lot of the talent in the top levels of the system the last couple years. Guys like Plouffe, Revere, Parmelee and Diamond are no longer prospects. You can add Hendricks and Dozier to that list. The best talent at the top of the system is past the prospect stage to trying to prove themselves at the major league level.