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  • Spring Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders

    On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins minor leaguers report to the Twins minor league complex in Ft. Myers. Soon after, the players will have their first full-squad workouts. In between, the players will have to run a mile, and the pitchers will also need to do a shuttle run. After a few days of workouts, the players will start playing some intra-squad games. Eventually theyíll start getting into some games against other teams, and then in early April, most of the players will be put on a roster and head to their Opening Day destinations.

    Starting today, I will start looking at the Twins organizational depth chart, starting with the outfielders. We will consider which players are in line for roster spots with the Twins and each of their minor league affiliates. Iíll try to project which players will start the season with the various teams.

    Please note that this is my educated guess. This information could be altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where each and every player will wind up. The reality is that some players will be placed at a lower level than I project just due to numbers. Some will go on the Disabled List. The unfortunate reality is that some of the players who report to spring training will be released. Hopefully readers will be reminded who is in the organization or see who the team has added since last season.

    Today, we will begin this series with a look at the Outfielders:

    Minnesota Twins

    Josh Willingham (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Chris Parmelee (RF), Darin Mastroianni

    Willingham sure made Target Field look like a regular-sized ballpark, with a career-high in home runs and RBI. We also know that Chris Parmelee will be the primary starter in right field. Centerfield remains the question mark. Itís clear that many with the Twins really want Aaron Hicks to win the job to start the season. Darin Mastroianni is certainly a given to be on the roster and could start, but most likely will be the teamís fourth outfielder.

    Rochester Red Wings

    Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Clete Thomas, Brian Dinkelman, Brandon Boggs, Evan Bigley

    At least a couple of these outfielders could still be with the Twins on Opening Day. Joe Benson is still in the running for the centerfield job, and if the Twins decide to carry a fifth outfielder, he could be that player. The Twins would likely prefer he play every day. That would open the door for the likes of Dinkelman, Ramirez, Thomas and Boggs, all of whom have big league service time under their belts. Dinkelman play for the Twins in 2011 when he hit .301 in two stints with the team. Boggs spent time with the Rangers from 2008 through 2010, and with the Brewers in 2011. Thomas played 142 games with the Tigers between 2008 and 2009. Then he played in three games for Detroit in 2012 before they cut ties with him and the Twins claimed him (and he struckout an impressive 16 times in 29 plate appearances). Ramirez was once a top prospect with the Tigers. He played 15 games for Detroit in 2009 and then 20 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. In 2012, after missing much of the first half of the season with injury, he hit 18 doubles and 15 home runs in just 98 games with the Red Wings. Although he will catch much of the time, expect to see Chris Herrmann playing a bit in left field as well.

    New Britain Rock Cats

    Angel Morales (LF), Antoan Richardson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Lance Ray, Danny Rams

    There was likely a chance that Arcia would have started the 2013 with AAA Rochester, but having missed his time in big league camp with injury may affect where he begins the year. He crushed the ball in the Venezuelan Winter League and was poised to make a strong showing in camp. Unfortunately, he has been completely limited because of the intercostal injury. The key is for him to, first, get healthy, and then, play every day. None of the guys listed in Rochester will block the path of Arciaís tremendous upside to the majors.

    29-year-old Antoan Richardson is a Ben Revere clone. He is about 5-8 and very fast. He was drafted four times before signing with the Giants in 2005. He remained with the Giants organization and reached AA before signing with Schaumburg of the Independent Northern League. He began the 2010 season in Schaumburg before signing with the Braves. In September of 2011, he was promoted to the Braves where he hit .500 in 9 games (just 2-4). In 2012, he was with the Orioles organization. In 90 AA games, he hit .279 and got on base at an incredible .415 clip.

    It is a huge make or break season for Angel Morales. The one-time, top prospect has struggled mightily the last two years. He can become a minor league free agent following the season, so he will either want the Twins to put him on the 40 man roster, or play well enough for another organization to be interested in giving him an opportunity. Lance Ray (23) hit just .234 but hit 13 home runs in Ft. Myers . He will play a lot and likely hit quite a few home runs. He can also play some first base and DH. Danny Rams was a Twins 2nd round pick as a catcher. In 2012, he moved out to the outfield. After struggling immensely early in the season and went on the DL. When he returned, he was much better. Like Morales, he will need to have a solid year and make an impact as he can become a free agent following the season. Primarily a catcher, don't be surprised to see Dan Rohlfing get some time out in the outfield.

    Ft. Myers Miracle

    Drew Leachman (LF), Jhonatan Goncalves (CF), Danny Ortiz (RF), JD Williams, Nate Roberts

    Ortiz had a successful Puerto Rican season. On a team that included Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, Ortiz was the teamís #3 hitter. He spent the first month of 2012 back in Beloit, but he played much better after his promotion to the Miracle. Goncalves could have become a free agent following the 2012 season, but he chose to return by signing with the Twins. Leachman was a late-round pick in 2011 from a Division III school. He began 2012 in Extended Spring Training but after his promotion to Beloit, he became a solid, fairly consistent, middle-of-the-lineup hitter. JD Williams could, and probably should, spend another half-season in the Midwest League before moving up to the Miracle, but as you will see shortly, there are very good outfielders who should head to Cedar Rapids.

    Here We Go Again - After leading the Arizona Fall League in 2012 in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage, many hoped to see Nate Roberts skip Ft. Myers and jump straight to AA New Britain. That may still be possible, but unfortunately, it isn't likely to happen right at the beginning of the season. Twins Daily has learned that while working out this winter, Roberts tore his meniscus and needed surgery. He is rehabbing and may not miss a lot of the season, but it is certainly a set back and likely will keep him in Ft. Myers.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Max Kepler (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Adam Walker (RF), John Murphy, Romy Jimenez, Jeremias Pineda

    Buxton is the big name here. The 2nd overall pick just last season impressed in his professional debut in which he played in the Gulf Coast League and at Elizabethton. It certainly is not unusual for the Twins to send first round high school hitters to the Midwest League the year after their draft. Thatís where players like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Matt Moses, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson went. It has occurred less in recent years, likely due to players signing so late and not debuting in the year that they were drafted. It will certainly be a challenge for the 19-year-old.

    Max Kepler spent the last two years at Elizabethton. In 2012, he was much improved. The young outfielder from Germany can certainly play centerfield. In fact, he played the position in Elizabethton right up until Buxton came to town. He remains a five-tool talent with a lot of power potential. Speaking of power potential, if 2012 3rd round pick Adam Walker can make contact, he has as much power as anyone in the Twins system. Romy (formerly Trinidad) Jimenez was very good in Elizabethton in 2012 until he tore his meniscus. Jeremias Pineda came to the Twins last August in the trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Red Sox. John Murphy is the brother of the Metsí Daniel Murphy. He was a 2012 draft pick.

    Extended Spring Training/Short-Season

    Jake Proctor, Zach Larson, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez

    If not for a hamstring injury, Dereck Rodriguez may have moved up to Elizabethton during the 2012 season. He was hitting very well, showing power even, until the injury. As you recall, he is the son of former big league catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Jake Proctor is said to be a five-tool type of athlete. He was expected to be drafted last year earlier than when the Twins got him (14th round), but he had arthroscopic knee surgery was not cleared to play until after the season. 2013 will be his professional debut. He is listed at 6-2 and 221 pound, but his best tool is said to be tremendous speed. Zach Larson was taken last year in the 19th round out of high school and given $190,000 to sign (because the Twins had extra available to spend). He is a great athlete in high school, having accumulated three varsity letters in football despite not playing his senior season to focus on baseball. Kelvin Mention was JD Williamsí high school teammate in high school. Unfortunately, he has not played much since signing late in 2010. He was hurt for the 2011 season and didnít play a lot at Elizabethton last year, which is probably where he will return in 2013. Ortiz was considered a bit of a prospect while playing in the Dominican Summer League for a couple of season. However, the transition to the States and the GCL have not been easy for Ortiz who will likely need to make the Elizabethon roster.

    TOP PROSPECTS

    1.) Byron Buxton, 2.) Oswaldo Arcia, 3.) Aaron Hicks, 4.) Max Kepler, 5.) Joe Benson, 6.) Adam Walker, 7.) Danny Ortiz

    Buxton is in all of the Top 100 lists, generally in the Top 20. Baseball America his him at #10, one spot behind Miguel Sano. Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the year in 2012 and had a strong Venezuelan Winter League performance. Hicks is generally in the second half of Top 100 lists. Kepler and Benson are generally found in the 10-12 range of Twins top prospect lists but on opposite ends of the prospect range. Kepler is young and raw and still needs to play for a full season team. Benson is now 25, has seen big league team, went through a lost 2012 season due to injury and is now hoping to regain his status as a part of the Twins future. Walker has tremendous power potential, and Ortiz is just a solid all-around player that is often forgotten because of the high-upside guys.

    SUMMARY

    The Twins have long been strong on outfielders throughout the system. They have a knack for finding and developing at this position. They had enough depth throughout the organization that they were able to acquire two hard-throwing pitching prospects (Alex Meyer, Trevor May) and a solid pitcher with over 2 years of solid big league pitching (Vance Worley) for two talented starting big league outfielders (Denard Span and Ben Revere). Josh Willingham was tremendous with the bat in 2012, winning a Silver Slugger Award, but the deals have opened up opportunities for others to show what they can do. Chris Parmelee will get an everyday gig. And Mastroianni, Hicks and Benson will be one of the better storylines to follow throughout spring training.

    There is still talent down below, although the risk is now much higher for outfielders. We will likely see Oswaldo Arcia in 2013, but the rest of the prospects are now in the lower levels. This is not a bad thing, however, as the Twins outfield will be very young by the end of the 2013 season.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!
    This article was originally published in blog: Spring Organizational Depth Chart: The Outfielders started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Do not know how Nate Roberts will do, but feel he is undervalued. An onbase machine can work for any ballclub. With the number of prospects the Twins have, it will be difficult for outfielders to advance. Thomas and Boggs may start here or AAA, but they will soon be pushed from the organization to make room for the prospects to get playing time. TR will have his hands full on evaluation as some of these prospects could be used to add to deals to bring pitching talent here.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I don't really feel that he is undervalued. I just think that each year, he's been hurt and that's cost him development time. But they obviously value him. When Benson couldn't go to the AFL, they believed enough in Roberts to send him there.

      The veterans at AAA are depth. They're allowing the Twins to be wise with the actual prospects, but they also can play ball still and could be ready in a pinch for part-time duties.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      With Roberts out of service for a while - Do you see the Twins promoting one of the Low A guys (Kepler / Walker / Jimenez) and sending them back down (Low A) when Roberts is ready (just for a feel of the level)? They did that with Rory Rhodes last year. He was demoted to Elizabethton from Beloit and started Red hot for E'Town.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Seth, I'm curious why you think Murphy and Pineda will skip Elizabethton and go to Cedar Rapids. Is it simply their ages (both 22)? They certainly didn't light up the GCL last year (tho at least Pineda did well before his trade). With them, it means 6 OFs starting the year in CR and that seems excessive, especially given that the organization is going to want the other 4 to get as many PAs as possible.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by lightfoot789 View Post
      With Roberts out of service for a while - Do you see the Twins promoting one of the Low A guys (Kepler / Walker / Jimenez) and sending them back down (Low A) when Roberts is ready (just for a feel of the level)? They did that with Rory Rhodes last year. He was demoted to Elizabethton from Beloit and started Red hot for E'Town.
      It's possible that Roberts won't be out for very long. A meniscus is generally only a 4-5 week rehab, so he may just miss camp. But I would think they'd keep him in Ft. Myers just to keep him by the rehab facilities for awhile.

      And no, I don't really think they'll push someone just for a temporary fix, though it is possible. It (probably) wasn't the plan to send Rhodes back down to E-Town, but he 'earned' that demotion.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It's possible that Roberts won't be out for very long. A meniscus is generally only a 4-5 week rehab, so he may just miss camp. But I would think they'd keep him in Ft. Myers just to keep him by the rehab facilities for awhile.

      And no, I don't really think they'll push someone just for a temporary fix, though it is possible. It (probably) wasn't the plan to send Rhodes back down to E-Town, but he 'earned' that demotion.
      Roberts has had knee injuries before right? Same knee? Same issues? If meniscus is fixable, it's a longer recovery. If they just clip the cartilage off, it is much quicker.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Great piece of work, Seth!
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Cedar Rapids' outfield looks the most interesting. 3 big names starting, Romy Jimeniz, and maybe even Pineda are must watch players.
    1. LewFordLives's Avatar
      LewFordLives -
      There could be more openings after this year. If the chips don't fall right, both Willingham and Morneau may not be around after the season. Presumably this would force Parmelee to first, leaving the outfield wide open.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Personally, Jim, I wouldn't mind seeing Pineda up there with the hope that he does very well and becomes a tradeable commodity (regift?) to an organization with oufield holes.

      Anyway, this looks pretty good. Roberts, Ortiz, and Morales are the second wave of OF prospects and I hope they do well.

      Also, that Cedar Rapids OF is ridiculous. I want to go to there.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Why is Arcia projected to start in both AAA and AA?
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Why is Arcia projected to start in both AAA and AA?
      One level can't possibly handle him on its own.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Given this write-up of the OF talent in the minor leagues now, does it make any sense to use the #4 selection in the draft on an OF--even if "he is the best player available"?
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Personally, Jim, I wouldn't mind seeing Pineda up there with the hope that he does very well and becomes a tradeable commodity (regift?) to an organization with oufield holes.

      Anyway, this looks pretty good. Roberts, Ortiz, and Morales are the second wave of OF prospects and I hope they do well.

      Also, that Cedar Rapids OF is ridiculous. I want to go to there.
      I keep telling folks down here in CR that they have never seen an OF at this level like they're likely to see on the Kernels this year. I get a lot of chuckles and eyerolls, but I'm obviously anxious to see how it plays out.

      I'll be interested to read Seth's take on the CR pitching staff, too, because I think it could be almost as good as that OF.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Seth, I'm curious why you think Murphy and Pineda will skip Elizabethton and go to Cedar Rapids. Is it simply their ages (both 22)? They certainly didn't light up the GCL last year (tho at least Pineda did well before his trade). With them, it means 6 OFs starting the year in CR and that seems excessive, especially given that the organization is going to want the other 4 to get as many PAs as possible.
      Murphy is a college draft pick and he's 22. What he did statistically in 6 weeks in the GCL last year isn't that important. Now, he might be a guy who, like Leachman last year, starts at EST, but I would be surprised and disappointed if he played at Elizabethton. With Pineda, it's really just age. I guess there's no reason to push him too far. He too could go to EST.

      Also, remember that I'm mentioning all players who are reporting to camp. As we know, a few of them will get released, or hurt and DLd, so we'll see how it plays out.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Roberts has had knee injuries before right? Same knee? Same issues? If meniscus is fixable, it's a longer recovery. If they just clip the cartilage off, it is much quicker.
      i'm told there is a chance he won't miss a lot of time, if any.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Why is Arcia projected to start in both AAA and AA?
      I originally had him going to Rochester, but I figured with the injury and lost time, it may be best to start him back at New Britain. We can assume that he will do very well and get pushed up quickly.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Given this write-up of the OF talent in the minor leagues now, does it make any sense to use the #4 selection in the draft on an OF--even if "he is the best player available"?
      Best Player Available should always be the right thing to draft.
    1. DR_JPK's Avatar
      DR_JPK -
      Seth, Do you think the Twins really want Hicks to start in the big leagues on opening day? If he starts in AAA and moves up to the big league club later (not sure of date) then the Twins won't burn one of his years of service time. Seems like they'd be better served to give Benson a shot during the first couple months of the season and get Hicks some AAA time.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by DR_JPK View Post
      Seth, Do you think the Twins really want Hicks to start in the big leagues on opening day? If he starts in AAA and moves up to the big league club later (not sure of date) then the Twins won't burn one of his years of service time. Seems like they'd be better served to give Benson a shot during the first couple months of the season and get Hicks some AAA time.
      That's a topic that has gone around on this site throughout the forums several times. it seems that about half of the people are on one side and half are on the other. I would want him to go down to Rochester for a month and come up in early May if he's ready. My honest opinion, however, is that the Twins would love for him to win the job this spring and be their opening day centerfielder.
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