Minnesota Twins 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Minnesota Twins 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Al Skorupa: The Twins farms system hasn’t produced much over the last few years and that was perhaps one of the motivations behind Terry Ryan returning to the job. The story of this system has for years been Miguel Sano, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson and a host of similar names. Ben Revere as well, but this author never thought he would hit at all (and he still hasn’t, ever for a center fielder with his .287 career wOBA). Behind those names we’d find a host of soft-tossing, college drafted command arms. The good news is that Ryan has already gone some length towards reinvigorating this system with tools and arm strength. There is still plenty of work to do, though.
As I said, it sure feels like we’ve discussed Miguel Sano for about a decade here but he’s only going to be 20 years old in May. He’s no longer far and away the best talent in the system and its a difficult choice in some ways between Sano and June’s #2 overall pick Byron Buxton. Sano is no sure thing. He has holes in his game (defense, position, athleticism, swing and miss among them) but its pretty rare power that Sano can bring to bear. While he’s no lock to make the adjustments, he has already come a long way and oh yeah, did I mention he’s still 19 years old? Scouts I talked to weren’t sold that Byron Buxton is all that much of a sure thing himself. Mock drafters around the web and other pundits didn’t pick up on it until right before the draft, but baseball people you talked to would often prefer Carlos Correa last Spring. Some sources liked Cubs first rounder Albert Almora as much as Buxton. Make no mistake, though, Buxton is an immense talent. He has exciting, game-changing raw tools. Unlike Sano, there’s going to have to be a whole lot of physical development and adjustments at the plate for Buxton to hit for power. If the power doesn’t come he can still be an above average player. I did like the pick and had Buxton second overall on my draft board.
Oswaldo Arcia can really rake. I had decided that I preferred Arcia to Hicks after seeing them play together a couple times at New Britain, but Hicks kept improving all year long. While I still prefer Arcia right now, its definitely a discussion worth having. I did a full scouting report on Arcia you can find here. I pegged his likely role as:
Fringe average defensive RF who hits 5th in your lineup with a high AVG and 20+ HRs anually.
I feel very comfortable with that assessment. I really believe in his bat. He will need to stay on top of his weight as his body type could lose athleticism quickly as he ages. Aaron Hicks made some excellent (minor) changes to his swing this year. His bat speed is improved and he seemed to grow more comfortable as the year went along. His approach at the plate irks talent evaluators at times. He’ll calmly watch hittable fastballs go by in the stikezone. I suppose its better than swinging at everything he sees, but its difficult to see an impact major league bat in Hicks. The tools are still very good but I thought they weren’t quite as electric as previously advertised. Hicks really needs to get stronger as well. I already discussed Alex Meyer on the Nationals list. I thought acquiring Meyer was an excellent gamble for a team that desperately needs swing and miss pitching prospects. Trevor May was another great addition along those lines. I’m much more confident May will remain in the rotation long term. May does lack the raw stuff that Meyer has, but I like him to be a mid rotation type. I saw J.T. Chargois and Mason Melotakis on the Cape and both guys are going to be tough power relievers if they continue to improve their command and control. Lester Oliveros was a minor hidden gem on the Rock Cats. He could fit as a bulldog middle relief arm. When i saw him he was generally 91-92 (93) with a heavy fb. Very much reliever mechanics but he attacked hitters with a Closer mentality. Oliveros got a good amount of swings and misses even with guys looking for his FB. He snapped one tight, two plane SL, but the others were slurvy and early breakers that he telegraphed. Still… I kind of liked him more than most of the guys I see who fit this mold. He could be slightly useful. Chris Hermann is another guy who I’m fond of who could be useful to a big league club. He’s not going to hit a whole lot but he puts the ball in play and he could fit as an okay backup catcher. On defense, the actions aren’t smooth, but he’s fairly athletic and isn’t afraid to throw himself around back there. His framing and blocking were above average. His throwing could use some cleanup but he’s got a solid arm and I’ve gotten some surprisingly good pop times from him.
This is an organization that has begun the process of turning things around. The 4th overall pick should help immensely. The Twins need to improve the tools and talent level across their minor league affiliates.
Jeff Reese: The Twins have a few player profiles that they typically target: strike throwing, workhorse, mid-rotation starters (the most notorious); athletic, tool-shed outfielders; and power-armed relievers. That doesn’t envelope the entirte corpus of Minnesota’s prospects, but it does seem to be the favored profiles in the system. The second overall selection in June certainly fits the of these categories. Byron Buxton has impact level upside with his 80 grade speed, plus-plus arm, quality defensive work in center field, electric bat speed, and projected power potential. He’s on the raw side of the ledger but not to the extent that Bubba Starling was in the previous class. The Twins slow promotion schedule should work well in this instance. Aaron Hicks is the last prep center fielder that the Twins took with a first round pick (2008); he still has a nice blend of tools that he has not fully been able to utilize on the field. The 2012 season did see him make progress offensively, but he remains a bit too passive at the plate for his own good. Max Kepler is more left field than center, but he fits the profile as well. Born in Germany to a pair of ballet dancers, athleticism runs in the Kepler lineage. European baseball players face an even steeper uphill battle; the development path will continue to be slow but the first signs have been about as positive as could be hoped for. Eddie Rosario was at one point an athletic outfielder in this mold, but a move to second base shortly after entering the organization gives him a better chance at reaching the majors. The final player in this category is Joe Benson; a fixture on Twins prospect lists for the last five years, Benson’s major obstacles to becoming a productive major league player are the copious amount of strikeouts and the propensity for injury.
Miguel Sano and Travis Harrison are the exceptions. Sano has been lauded for his elite power potential since signing for over $3M in 2009; the hit tool remains depressed by his aggressive approach and deficiencies in pitch recognition. Third base still seems like a best case scenario for him defensively, and a move to right field or first base may necessary as he continues to grow. Harrison’s bat is also his ticket to the majors, but the raw upside is not nearly as loud. He’s also a questionable bet to remain at third base.
The only pitcher that truly fits the first category is Kyle Gibson. After missing the majority of 2012 season with Tommy John surgery, his stuff is back to the level it was prior to the injury. He may not make the rotation out of spring training, but he should seize one at some point next season. Alex Meyer and Trevor May were acquired this offseason and more closely resemble the power armed reliever profile than the mid rotation workhorse. Yet, both have a chance to remain in the rotation. A marquee recruit, Alex Meyer struggled with control and command throughout his three seasons at Kentucky; he gained enough control of his giant frame to make it work as a starter as a Junior, but the command profile still made starting questionable at the next level. The improvements in his control continued throughout his first professional season to the point where he’s changed my mind on his future role; the upside is great. Trevor May took a similar step forward a couple of years ago, but his ability to locate remains below average. J.O. Berrios is a different animal. Drafted out of Puerto Rico, he is an athletic prep pitcher with an easy delivery that produces low-to-mid 90s heat and a quality curve ball and changeup.
The Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, JT Chargois trio fits into the final category. All products of the 2012 draft class, Luke Bard is the only one of the bunch with a chance to start. Like his brother, Bard has thrived as a reliever but has enough stuff where starting is at least worth exploring. Chargois played both ways at Rice and was more valuable as their first baseman early in his career; he emerged as a lights out reliever as a junior with a lively fastball that can reach the upper 90s and a power breaking ball. Still inexperienced on the mound, Chargois’s delivery could use some polishing. Mason Melotakis is the left handed version.
You could also create a fourth favored profile: not overly toolsy middle infielders with good instincts, but you won’t find any of them among the Twins top 15 prospects. What the Twins do have is a very good stable of prospects. If the stars align, you may have some redundancy of course, but that also gives them insurance for when some of their prospects inevitably do underwhelm.
3B Miguel Sano (Steve Kuperman)
OF Byron Buxton (Chris Blessing)
OF Oswaldo Arcia (Al Skorupa)
RHP Kyle Gibson (Steve Fiorindo & Peter Wardell)
OF Aaron Hicks (Al Skorupa)
OF Max Kepler (Chris Blessing)
RHP J.T. Chargois (Al Skorupa)
Adam Brett Walker (Al Skorupa & Chris Blessing)
2B Jorge Polanco (Chris Blessing)
SS Niko Goodrum (Chris Blessing)
RHP Lester Oliveros (Al Skorupa)