Yes, the Twins have outfield depth
by, 09-04-2012 at 12:51 AM (957 Views)
The discussion regarding outfield depth that took place earlier in the season was interesting because it had almost been assumed that the outfield was the brightest spot in the Twins system. In the early-to-mid part of the season, legitimate question marks about the outfield depth were raised. Joe Benson (24, AA/AAA), and Rene Tosoni (26, AA/AAA), the two prospects who had been with the Twins in 2011 for a bit of time, were struggling and struggling with injuries, and the only other prospect to be having a good year at the time was Oswaldo Arcia.
Now at the beginning of September, things have changed dramatically, though it isn't because of a change in Benson or Tosoni. Instead, Oswaldo Arcia (21, AA) and Aaron Hicks (22, AA) have turned in good-to-great seasons at AA. Arcia has not missed a step in his promotion to AA. He posted a .328/.398/.557 line with 10 homers in 299 plate appearances. Hicks emerged with a 286/.384/.460 line that amounted to the highest OPS of his career since the GCL in 2008. He also increased his power (13 homers) and stole 32 bases in 43 attempts. The AAA/AAAA contingent of outfielders (Darin Mastroianni, Matt Carson, Evan Bigley and Wilkin Ramirez) provide good 4th and 5th OF options. Chris Herrmann (24, AA), while mainly a catcher this year, still would provide 5th OF status for the Twins and should be a solid bench player for the Twins in the near future.
Further down the line, Lance Ray (23, A) and Danny Ortiz (22, A) each produced OK seasons, but still show promise and, most importantly, improved overall from 2011. Ray's .234/.327/.403 slash with 13 homers and and improved BB/K rate signals good progress in his development. Ortiz's .269/.313/.424 line with 8 homers is also a step in the right direction, and he was promoted early in the season from low-A.
While Angel Morales (22, A) and JD Williams (21, low-A) are now big question marks, Nate Roberts (23, A) has been excellent once again. He posted a .299/.433/.427 slash in his repeat Beloit season and walked more than he struck out (44/37). If healthy in 2013, he could end the season in New Britain.
Romy Jimenez (21, Rookie) turned in a great year for E-Town and Candido Pimentel (22, Rookie) had a small breakthrough there while also playing some second base. Most importantly, Max Kepler (19, Rookie) had a huge breakout season and is going to move on to Beloit next year with increased power and plate discipline. His statistics were a sight for sore eyes: .297/.387/.539 with 16 doubles, 5 triples, and 10 homers in 269 plate appearances. He is emerging as a top 10 prospect for the Twins. Finally, Byron Buxton (18, Rookie) was promoted from the GCL and actually improved a bit after the promotion.
Dereck Rodriguez (20, Rookie) was very good (.783 OPS) for the GCL Twins and the Danny Valencia trade brought in another quality player in Jeremias Pineda (21, Rookie). While Rodriguez will likely start for E-Town next year, Pineda might move up to Beloit as a 4th OF.
I have not discussed Rory Rhodes (21 A/Rookie)--who was a 3B, then a 1B, and is now a potential corner OF--nor did I mention Zach Larson (18, Rookie) or Kelvin Ortiz (20, Rookie) from the GCL.
With Benson and Tosoni included, I have mentioned 23 outfield candidates from Mastroianni and Carson currently on the Twins 25 man roster to players drafted in 2012.
Surely, these players range from potential stars to never-will-make-it-to-show-players, but they are all valuable contributors and demonstrate, as a whole, that there is significant OF depth in the system, especially up through Beloit.
Only time will tell with these players, but I think it is now safe to say that there really is OF depth in the Twins' system.