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  • 2016

    This year's Twins are better than the 2012 edition, who thankfully were better than the 2011 edition (well, it was hardly possible to be any worse). All signs indicate that the 2014 edition will continue on that track of improvement. The trend is slow. Painfully slow. But the direction is undoubtedly positive.

    I've been thinking a lot recently about when the Twins can next win the AL Central -- not just "compete for it" -- and what their roster might look like. My opinions are mostly based on watching several of the Twins prospects in New Britain: Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, and even "new guys" like Alex Meyer and Trevor May. In the coming months, I'll watch Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. My best guess for the division-winning year is 2016, and what follows is a bunch of crazy roster projections.


    Miguel Sano: Probably a cornerstone to the 2016 Twins

    Keep in mind, many, many prospects don't pan out. Even guys that dominate all levels of the minors routinely fail when they get to the majors. Also keep in mind that my projections don't take into account front office moves that may (I'm cringing typing this) move a few of our best prospects in coming years. I hope Terry Ryan & Company are still in a mindset of collecting, not dealing, prospects, but you never know. With those caveats in mind, here's a position-by-position look at how the Twins are going to win the AL Central in 2016.

    Catcher: Joe Mauer: He's still under contract, still catching some, and is now playing some combination of first base/DH/right field in the 50 percent of games he doesn't catch. He can still hit .300, by the way, because he's awesome at the game of baseball and his knees are getting very routine rest.

    Josmil Pinto: I hope he continues to produce and grow as a catcher. There's no reason he can't be catching half the Twins' games in 2016 and batting .280 with some power while doing so. I've watched him play probably a dozen or so games, and he is a professional hitter.

    Chris Herrmann: He can, at the very least, be a third catcher/outfielder. I have every confidence that he can, in time, be a .270 hitter with a good eye at the plate. An all-star -- probably not. But an affordable back-up that can call a good game, absolutely.

    Third Base: Miguel Sano: He's not a gold glover, but we don't need that. He plays adequate defense and is a force to be reckoned with at the plate. As I'm writing this post, he was just promoted to AA New Britain, so rest assured the Twins are not going to let their top prospects languish in the minors. If Sano cannot hack it at third base, he can always play first. But here's a question -- when was the last time that you heard a legitimate source claim that Sano was a serious question at third? Probably the very beginning of this season or the end of last season. Clearly there has been improvement!

    Centerfield: Aaron Hicks. He will continue to improve, just as he did in 2012 with the Rock Cats, and just as he is slowly doing in Minnesota.

    Byron Buxton: He might be one of the top 2 prospects in baseball right now. It's crazy to type that, but legitimate writers claim that as the truth. Buxton has a long way to go before he pans out, but I have yet to read any report suggesting that he does not have the skill set to become a solid major league player.

    Corner Outfield: Oswaldo Arcia. He's already gotten a taste in Minnesota this year, and I was pretty impressed. Although he slumped at the end, he didn't look in over his head, and he demonstrated why he was named the Twins' minor league hitter of the year last season. He's good now, but he'll be great in a few years.

    Aaron Hicks: If Byron Buxton becomes the player we hope he becomes, he will eventually win the centerfield job, pushing Hicks to a corner position.

    Angel Morales: I honestly don't know much about him, but am looking forward to finding out more. He's 23 and now is in AA.

    Joe Mauer: The guy has a cannon, and is just an all-around great athlete. I predict he'll get a 20-30 games in left field or right field.

    Danny Ortiz: I've really like what I've seen from him in New Britain. I'm not sure what the scouting reports say, but I saw a good arm, and his batting stats have been impressive.

    Middle Infield: Eddie Rosario. Rosario is young, and is still learning to play second, but has demonstrated that he is up to the challenge. By the way, he's probably one of the best offensive second base prospects we have had since Chuck Knoblauch. As with Sano, the reports of Rosario's difficulty learning the position have subsided this season.

    Brian Dozier: 2013 is a little better than 2012. His glove is better, anyway. Will he get it together? Time will tell. In any event, if he does, he'll be an affordable option in 2016.

    Levi Michael: I have yet to see Michael play, so I'm hesitant to judge. I'd love to see him have a breakout second half of 2013 and turn some heads.

    James Beresford: He was just promoted to AAA today. Congratulations, James! He's not a first-tier prospect, but he has an excellent glove. Can he continue to hit .300? We'll see. Beresford, however, could be a great utility infielder, as shortstop is his natural position. If he was called up to the Twins today, the bat would be an issue, but I'd put his glove right up there with anyone in this organization.

    Pitching: In short, pick 5 starters from this list:

    Alex Meyer
    Trevor May
    J.R. Berrios
    Alex Wimmers
    Kohl Stweart
    Kyle Gibson
    Logan Darnell
    D.J. Baxendale
    Sam Deduno
    Scott Diamond
    Ryan Eades

    Now, add a bullpen out of guys that didn't quite make it.

    This list of players, of course, is conjecture. Archives of this post will live on in 2016, and some parts will undoubtedly be laughable. Others, however, I'm willing to bet will be very accurate.

    Here's the best part about this list: Every position player on it is home-grown. Every player on it will be under team control in 2016. In fact, with the exception of Joe Mauer's $23 million, there are few players on this list that would command more than a couple million dollars per season. In short, there's ample room to spend on free agents in an area of weakness. Otherwise stated, there's TONS of money on the table if the Twins want to add an extra power bat as a DH, a top-of-the-line shortstop, or an "ace pitcher" to lead our young rotation.

    The other reason that I listed 2016 as the year to win the AL Central is because of the learning curve of major league baseball. If we can learn anything from watching Aaron Hicks this season, it's that there is a gigantic difference from the minors to the majors. Sano, Rosario, and even Meyer might all have tough rookie seasons. Picking 2016 gives these young guys a chance to make it through the league a couple times, learn from mistakes, and learn to succeed.

    So you've heard it here first: Don't count on the Twins the next couple seasons, but by 2016 this is going to be a dominating team.
    This article was originally published in blog: 2016 started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 53 Comments
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      How is Santana's defense at SS?
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Damn, that is exciting. I don't see Mauer as an asset in the outfield in 2016 but he'll still be able to rake for sure. Also be a little surprised if Dozier is still around as he's a poor man's Alexi Castilla if you ask me but super stoked to see these prospects coming up over the next few years. Sounds like some serious talent.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      How is Santana's defense at SS?
      He's no Beresford there... but he has a very strong arm and tremendous range... he also has a bunch of errors. He's got a ways to go.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Buxton and Sano are going to be All-Stars for years to come.

      Morales has been profiled by Seth Stohs for years now. Knowing is about actually researching. I am not sure what to make of this blog post. There are a bunch of things stated with little support or detail.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Beresford will be the starting SS if he can hit in the majors for a Florimon-esque line. He is a young JJ Hardy defensively. Santana needs to move to second and that is clear to everyone. It will be like Dozier moving there, but better. Guaranteed.

      And we can move away from the offensive obsession with the middle infield. The Twins currently need such offensive production. With Hicks, Arcia, Sano, and Buxton, it isn't going to matter.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      I would put Rosario at 2B and draft a SS with some pop with our 1st pick next year, just in case.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Yeah, Morales has been in the organization for a long time... he becomes a minor league free agent at the end of the season, so the Twins needed to push him. He'll play very good defense in CF. He's a great athlete. He's thin, but he has good power. HE will strike out a lot!! He actually play for the Rock Cats in the playoffs several years ago (maybe 2009?).

      I think Florimon will still be a possibility in 2016. I'd be surprised, but i he plays great defense and is OK offensively, he might be worthwhile.

      Beresford doesn't have Hardy's arm, but he's just a very good glove.

      Santana has actually played quite a bit of 2B in the last couple of years.
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      Exciting writeup, but it's really tough to believe that all of our prospects will develop like we hope. They are just that- prospects- i.e. not a sure bet. I try to temper my expectations because I know that some of these kids are either going to get injured, lose the mental side of the game, or just never put it all together. It's sad but it happens all the time, even to "top prospects." You can't just expect 100% return from these guys. I hope 2016 will be our year and I wish our guys nothing but the best.

      Just be careful- prospects will break your heart, after all.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Morales needs to be protected. As does Danny Ortiz. It will be talent that finally pushes non-talented Butera away.

      Beresford does not have Hardy's arm right now, but he is getting bigger. I am still quite shocked that Beresford is NOT playing short when it is clear that Santana can't handle the position. Santana could be a great second baseman.

      Anyway, with the rise of Rosario, it will be nice to think that instead of Escobar (I was RIGHT about him) and Florimon (this will not last, though I was a defender of him going into this season) the Twins will be able to have Rosario, Santana, Beresford, and Dozier to choose from soon. In legitimate days of 12 or even 11 pitchers (haha) this could be very good.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Morales needs to be protected. As does Danny Ortiz. It will be talent that finally pushes non-talented Butera away.

      Beresford does not have Hardy's arm right now, but he is getting bigger. I am still quite shocked that Beresford is NOT playing short when it is clear that Santana can't handle the position. Santana could be a great second baseman.

      Anyway, with the rise of Rosario, it will be nice to think that instead of Escobar (I was RIGHT about him) and Florimon (this will not last, though I was a defender of him going into this season) the Twins will be able to have Rosario, Santana, Beresford, and Dozier to choose from soon. In legitimate days of 12 or even 11 pitchers (haha) this could be very good.
      Plus a top 10 draft pick in 2014. Seems someone is putting this team together with a great deal of care.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Buxton and Sano are going to be All-Stars for years to come.

      Morales has been profiled by Seth Stohs for years now. Knowing is about actually researching. I am not sure what to make of this blog post. There are a bunch of things stated with little support or detail.
      The goal wasn't so much to fill this post with stats and deep analysis on the guys I mentioned. Rather I was trying to take a really, really broad look at the system as it stands now, at the Twins' roster as it stands now, and then to note who could fill the various slots in a few years if they pan out.

      Not every post on TwinsDaily has to be filled with stats.
      And because prospecting is hardly a science, I figured this would just be a conversation-starter.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Nice group of OFers for sure. And if Sano can stick at 3B, they are set at two of the four IF spots (I assume Rosario works out). Catcher is iffy, not sure on 1B, though there are several candidates. Mauer is probably the 1B in 120+ games, but he will be winding down by then I'd think.

      But man, that starting pitching list makes me nervous.......given injuries and bust rates, I'd like about 4-5 more options by then. Hopefully someone surprises us.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by B Richard View Post
      Exciting writeup, but it's really tough to believe that all of our prospects will develop like we hope. They are just that- prospects- i.e. not a sure bet. I try to temper my expectations because I know that some of these kids are either going to get injured, lose the mental side of the game, or just never put it all together. It's sad but it happens all the time, even to "top prospects." You can't just expect 100% return from these guys. I hope 2016 will be our year and I wish our guys nothing but the best.

      Just be careful- prospects will break your heart, after all.
      I agree but in my eyes Arcia, Buxton, and Sano are just about as close to sure things as you get in baseball. Buxton and Sano have the raw talent, Arcia has done it at a higher level.

      After that, it becomes a pretty mixed bag but the Twins have enough guys in the system where enough of them should pan out and form into a decent, if not spectacular, roster.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Nice group of OFers for sure. And if Sano can stick at 3B, they are set at two of the four IF spots (I assume Rosario works out). Catcher is iffy, not sure on 1B, though there are several candidates. Mauer is probably the 1B in 120+ games, but he will be winding down by then I'd think.

      But man, that starting pitching list makes me nervous.......given injuries and bust rates, I'd like about 4-5 more options by then. Hopefully someone surprises us.
      Completely agree. Starting pitching in the minors is no longer the black hole, but we need to double the number of can't miss prospects to get to where we want to go. Terry Ryan needs to keep performing his magic.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      How is Santana's defense at SS?
      Seth is right. "Rough" is the right word. Great arm, but inaccurate. Many fielding and throwing errors so far this season.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Trying to think through Seth's list, but there are some other pitchers that could help as well. Duffy springs to mind.

      Plus all the great prospects the Twins get in return for Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, etc...
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      The goal wasn't so much to fill this post with stats and deep analysis on the guys I mentioned. Rather I was trying to take a really, really broad look at the system as it stands now, at the Twins' roster as it stands now, and then to note who could fill the various slots in a few years if they pan out.

      Not every post on TwinsDaily has to be filled with stats.
      And because prospecting is hardly a science, I figured this would just be a conversation-starter.
      True. I didn't mean my post to sound that critical. Sorry. I didn't word that too well.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      No offense taken! I just had a back-of-the-napkin idea and threw it up on paper.
      I did leave off first base. No idea who will be our everyday starter there. Any ideas?
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      The goal wasn't so much to fill this post with stats and deep analysis on the guys I mentioned. Rather I was trying to take a really, really broad look at the system as it stands now, at the Twins' roster as it stands now, and then to note who could fill the various slots in a few years if they pan out.

      Not every post on TwinsDaily has to be filled with stats.
      And because prospecting is hardly a science, I figured this would just be a conversation-starter.
      Dear Twin's Fan from Afar, at least 78% of posts on Twins Daily should be filled with stats. And for clarity sake the term "filled with stats" refers to posts whose content is at least 20% actual statistical content and at least 70% direct conclusions based on stated stats or direct references to said stats. The remaining 22% should include a potpourri of Brad Swansonesque humor, medical updates and dreaming on/projecting prospects.
      My calculator and protractor are confirming that your post is valid and acceptable.
      It is nice to take a step beck and admire the broad view. There is a wave of talent that will undoubtedly include some disappointments, but there is ample reason for hope and positivity. I expect Ryan will find ways to accelerate the transition from here to winners, but 2016 is a pretty realistic arrival date for these guys to establish what they can be at the major league level.
      Now, before writing another article, remember that you can't live in that "22%" zone forever. You're going to have to geek-out on numbers at some point if you want this crowd to support you long-term.
      Keep writing, I dig your posts.
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      Seth is right. "Rough" is the right word. Great arm, but inaccurate. Many fielding and throwing errors so far this season.
      My sources have told me that the issue with Santana is focus, in that he doesn't make the routine plays. If so, and if Gardy is still the manager, I GUARANTEE Santana will not start for long, anywhere on the field.
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