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  • Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - April

    It hardly seems like it has been a month; maybe it was the cold weather, some postponements and several doubleheaders. But just because the weather was cold doesn't mean that there weren’t some very hot bats in the Twins farm system. The Twins had the top two teams in the minor leagues in the month of April. The Ft. Myers Miracle went 21-4. The Cedar Rapids Kernels were right behind at 18-5.

    Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton?

    Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano?

    They are two of the top prospects in all of baseball, and in April both of them put up remarkable numbers. Sano has dominated the Florida State League despite being the youngest player in the league. Buxton is one of the youngest players in the Midwest League and is easily the league’s top prospect. A very strong case could be made for either of them being the Twins top prospect. Likewise, in April, a strong case could be made for either of them having been the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month.

    Below, I’ll highlight the Top 5 minor league hitters in the month, and yes, I will pick Sano or Buxton at #1. As is the case when making a Twins prospect list, if you like, you could consider them 1a and 1b.

    Photo by Greg Wagner

    Here are my selections for the Top 5 Twins Minor League hitters in April:

    5 – Cedar Rapids – Adam Brett Walker - (21yo, 23 H- 81 AB) .284/.356/.593 (.948) with three doubles, two triples, six home runs and 26 RBI.
    Walker was the Twins third round pick in 2012 out of Jacksonville U. The first two weeks of the season were a struggle for the 6-4, 225 pound slugger, but in the final week of the month Walker was on fire and named the Midwest League Hitter of the Week. Five of his home runs came over a four-game stretch from April 22nd to April 27th. According to the Kernels hitting coach Tommy Watkins, “It’s about getting a good pitch to hit. It’s about having a rhythm, and knowing what pitches he can drive.” Most say that the 21-year-old’s power potential is as great as any player in the organization, including Miguel Sano.
    4 – Ft. Myers – Eddie Rosario - (21yo, 36 H - 104 AB) .346/.386/.538 (.924) with seven doubles, two triples, 3 home runs and 19 RBI.
    2013 has been an incredible year for the Twins 4th round pick from 2010. It began by him playing well in the Puerto Rico Winter League. He earned a spot on the Puerto Rican WBC team and played well in the tournament. He also hit well in Twins big league camp.

    And now he has had a terrific first month with the Miracle. He continues to hit for average while showing plenty of extra base power. He has solidified himself as a top prospect. His ability to play second base has been a question since he switched to the position just a year ago. The 21-year-old has made great improvements and is statistically the best defensive second baseman in the Florida State League.

    3 - New Britain – Josmil Pinto - (24yo, 32 H - 96 AB) .333/.413/.563 (.975) with five doubles, a triple, five home runs and 21 RBI.
    Pinto had an opportunity to become a free agent after the 2012 season (as a 6-year minor league free agent). Instead, he signed back quickly with the Twins. Soon after, the Twins put him on their 40-man roster. The catcher is off to a fast start. He has shown that 2012 was not a fluke and that he can hit for average and for power. He is 24 years old and could be called up if the Twins find themselves with a catching need. It took some time for him to develop, but Pinto is on the cusp.

    2 – Cedar Rapids – Byron Buxton - (19yo, 31H - 79 AB) .392/.510/.684 (1.194) with five doubles, three triples, four home runs and 21 RBI.
    When you’re the #2 overall pick in the draft, expectations are going to be high. To say that Buxton has exceeded expectations to this point is an understatement. There was some question about whether he would start the season with Kernels or stay in Ft. Myers in Extended Spring Training. I asked his hitting coach Tommy Watkins who a good comp would be for Buxton. “Mike Trout. When he comes to the plate, he has a presence. He can hurt you in so many ways, with power and with his speed.”

    Buxton has all the tools. He has incredible power. Three of his four home runs on the season have exited the stadium in Cedar Rapids. He also has great speed and the ability to beat out many infield hits. He plays great defense and has a very strong arm. He also has a tool not present in many young players; he has great plate discipline as shown by his on-base percentage over .500. He has been on base at least once in every game this season. He is especially proficient as a two-strike hitter. As Watkins told me, “Two strikes doesn’t scare him at all. A lot of young hitters are afraid to hit with two strikes. They start swinging at everything. Buxton’s not afraid at all. He rarely hacks at the first pitch.”

    Despite being incredibly gifted as an athlete, Buxton is said to have a tremendous attitude. Watkins concurred, “He is very coachable. He listens. He wants to get better!”

    The April Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is...

    Ft. Myers Miracle - 3B Miguel Sano (19yo, 35 H - 95 AB) .368/.435/.747 (1.183) with seven doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 24 RBI.
    The Florida State League is a very difficult place for hitters to succeed. Really, it is..... for most. Apparently, Miguel Sano did not get the memo. Deemed one of baseball’s top prospects, Sano had an impressive showing in his first month in the league. His nine home runs are best in all of minor league baseball.

    Tommy Watkins was his hitting coach a year ago in Beloit. Is he surprised at what Sano has been able to do in Ft. Myers? “No. We all know his potential. He has tremendous power.”

    What was the biggest area of improvement for Sano? “He really improved his plate discipline. We knew after his first month last year that he wouldn’t get anything to hit. If they wanted to spin the ball, he needed to lay off the tough ones. It looks like he’s doing that. He knows what he can do, and what pitches he can handle.”

    Sano has a chance to move up pretty quickly. Reports indicate that his defense and footwork have been greatly improved. But it is his bat that will help him move up the ladder and become a star. No question, Sano will find some struggles in the Florida State League and how he handles those moments may best determine how quickly he graduates to the next level. For now, and certainly for April, Sano is putting up the numbers to earn recognition.

    There were several strong performances in April that weren’t included in the Top 5. Here are some Honorable Mentions who, in most months, would easily be in the Top 5.


    • Clete Thomas only had 58 at bats in April, but he hit .362/.456/.621 (1.077) with three doubles, four homers and 13 RBI.
    • Chris Colabello continued to impress and show he belongs. In April, he hit .302/.358/.542 (.899) with five doubles, six homers and 19 RBI.
    • Travis Harrison hit .291/.341/.519 (.860) with nine doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI.
    • Dalton Hicks hit .274/.351/.512 (.863) with eight doubles, four homers and 19 RBI.
    • Jorge Polanco hit .341/.379/.489 (.868) with six doubles, two triples, one home run and 19 RBI.
    • JD Williams hit .250/.446/.522 (.946) with four doubles, three homers and nine home runs. He walked 19 times and stole six bases.


    It was a terrific month for Twins minor league hitting prospects, especially in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. You can tell me that I should have picked Buxton, and I won’t disagree with you too much. Hopefully May will bring some similar statistics.

    Feel free to comment and discuss.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - April started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Too bad most of the big league club didn't get the memo about hot hitting starts!

      Off-topic, but it would be fantastic if articles at this site could link to player's BB-Ref pages, like MLB Trade Rumors and other sites do. I find that I'm always opening new tabs to search BB-Ref, particularly for these minor league write-ups.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      The plate discipline that Sano has showed is awesome. The fielding stats are also no small matter. Last year he had 42 errors in 368 chances and this year he has 5 errors in 77 chances. His % has gone from .884 to .935. If you compare that to the MLB stats that puts at #19 for third basemen so he needs to continue improving but that kind of jump is awesome. If he were to continue on this fielding level and have the same amount of attempts, it will move his totals from 42 errors last year to 24 errors this year. Huge.

      I realize that this article is about batting and not fielding. Additionally, 25 games is a very small sample but this is really promising. I believe it was Keith Law who said last year that he (Sano) looked disinterested in fielding. I don’t enjoy watching a player when they seem to be a diva that is above good fundamentals; no matter how much talent they may have. For him to improve his fielding this way is really great and says something about his character.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Regarding Rosario: "The 21-year-old has made great improvements and is statistically the best defensive second baseman in the Florida State League." Okay, I just moved from excited, to giddy...
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Sano and Rosario sticking at 3B and 2B would be a dramatic development. If neither one needs to move to the OF and Sano doesn't have to move to 1B this means all sorts of possibilities could be opened up. Joe Benson and Adam Walker could have a chance in the OF, Vargas and Harrison at first (or even re-signing Morneau). The Twins would have less pressure to find a good offensive SS and they could go with Beresford.

      With regard to Pinto, it would be nice if Doumit can start producing and be enticing for some AL team looking for a bat and DH/backup catcher for the playoffs. Oh, and the total end of the Drew Butera era.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Pure speculation, but I can't help wondering if the presence of Buxton in the Twins system now isn't good motivation for Sano after a couple years of being the defacto best prospect by a good margin. Regardless, the early returns this year for many of our prospects are certainly exciting.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Pinto: a slower-developing Wilson Ramos? That would help Bill Smith sleep better at night, I think.

      Also, no matter how many times I read "Florida State League" I think Florida State Prison, or at best a prison baseball league...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      The plate discipline that Sano has showed is awesome. The fielding stats are also no small matter. Last year he had 42 errors in 368 chances and this year he has 5 errors in 77 chances. His % has gone from .884 to .935. If you compare that to the MLB stats that puts at #19 for third basemen so he needs to continue improving but that kind of jump is awesome. If he were to continue on this fielding level and have the same amount of attempts, it will move his totals from 42 errors last year to 24 errors this year. Huge.

      I realize that this article is about batting and not fielding. Additionally, 25 games is a very small sample but this is really promising. I believe it was Keith Law who said last year that he (Sano) looked disinterested in fielding. I don’t enjoy watching a player when they seem to be a diva that is above good fundamentals; no matter how much talent they may have. For him to improve his fielding this way is really great and says something about his character.
      I remember Law saying that, but I saw Sano play 6 games for Beloit, two in early June, four in early August. I never saw a lack of effort. I saw mistakes, sure, but not for lack of interest. Sano is confident, no question, and I don't think that's a bad time, but he does work. He's a kid. There were maturity issues earlier, but he's taken a step in that light too.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Wow, those OB+slugging numbers are insane.

      These kids are raking.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I remember Law saying that, but I saw Sano play 6 games for Beloit, two in early June, four in early August. I never saw a lack of effort. I saw mistakes, sure, but not for lack of interest. Sano is confident, no question, and I don't think that's a bad time, but he does work. He's a kid. There were maturity issues earlier, but he's taken a step in that light too.

      Love it. I don't know how Law got that impression. I think he was in Beloit for 1-2 games so likely he meant to imply that it just looked that way during the short observation time he had.

      They have a ways to go but these reports are great. To echo other comments, to have hitters like Sano and Rosario in system is really exciting. Add that to the possibility that they could occupy the 2B and 3B positions for the long-term and exciting turns into ridiculous.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Baseball America had this to say about his defense in a recent article:

      As good as Sano has been offensively, he’s also making strides defensively. Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz and Twins infield coordinator Paul Molitor have worked to get Sano to set up a few steps farther back at third base. By playing deeper, Sano is getting eaten up by in-between hops less often, while his double-plus arm gives him a little extra time to get to a ball and still make a timely throw.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      Baseball America had this to say about his defense in a recent article:

      As good as Sano has been offensively, he’s also making strides defensively. Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz and Twins infield coordinator Paul Molitor have worked to get Sano to set up a few steps farther back at third base. By playing deeper, Sano is getting eaten up by in-between hops less often, while his double-plus arm gives him a little extra time to get to a ball and still make a timely throw.
      Those two might be the best in the business. Mientkiewicz was probably my favorite 1st baseman to watch in the field, and if anyone can teach Sano, it's definitely him. I think the Twins have so far handled Sano's development wonderfully. I think a lot of teams would have given up on him playing in the infield and rushed him through the minors. If Sano can stick at 3rd base, the Twins deserve a ton of credit.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      I'll admit that last year I was one of those guys doing the whole "ZOMG another toolsy HS outfielder we need pitchers aaaarrrgghh!". Holy crap, was I ever wrong.
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      I'll admit that last year I was one of those guys doing the whole "ZOMG another toolsy HS outfielder we need pitchers aaaarrrgghh!". Holy crap, was I ever wrong.
      I was too. Not going to say I was totally wrong because the need for pitching, particularly pitching we can bring along quickly, is still there. But, Buxton's play has certainly made up for that.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Bill Smith, no idea what he was doing acquiring these guys*

      *sorry, couldn't help myself. I feel the guy gets a bad rap (largely deserved) for the state of the MLB club, and I am certain Ryan will get a ton of credit when Smith's best players come up....kind of a gip (jip?), imo.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      I was too. Not going to say I was totally wrong because the need for pitching, particularly pitching we can bring along quickly, is still there. But, Buxton's play has certainly made up for that.
      They definitely still need more high-upside pitchers in the org, I just meant Buxton's talent really looks like it was too much to pass up.

      I've been more critical of the Twins than most fans but I have to praise them on this one. Well done by the scouting dept. and FO for recognizing the talent and taking a long-term view of the system. Even though many thought Buxton was the #1 prospect in the draft, the easy move would've been to go with one of the college pitchers to try to help their pathetic starting staff quickly (had to get a shot in).
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      I'll admit that last year I was one of those guys doing the whole "ZOMG another toolsy HS outfielder we need pitchers aaaarrrgghh!". Holy crap, was I ever wrong.
      I always believe in drafting Best Available... but based on my little knowledge and trying to know some of the players last year, I wanted the Twins to take Kevin Gausman... Buxton's been amazing, but Gausman could be with the Orioles in a month.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      kind of a gip (jip?), imo.
      Gyp. Bit of an offensive term to gypsies.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I always believe in drafting Best Available... but based on my little knowledge and trying to know some of the players last year, I wanted the Twins to take Kevin Gausman... Buxton's been amazing, but Gausman could be with the Orioles in a month.
      Just further proof Seth and i agree more than we realize......
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Gyp. Bit of an offensive term to gypsies.
      To be clear, I liked this because you caused me to ignore my work call, and look up the origins of the word, and you taught me something. I had no idea. Now I'm not sure I can keep using the word......
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I always believe in drafting Best Available... but based on my little knowledge and trying to know some of the players last year, I wanted the Twins to take Kevin Gausman... Buxton's been amazing, but Gausman could be with the Orioles in a month.
      I wanted Gausmann or Zimmer...either one...Gausmann was my first choice.
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