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  • Twin Terrors in the Twins System

    After it was announced on Sunday that he'd been promoted to Double-A, 20-year-old Miguel Sano became the center of attention in the Twins' farm system. That lasted less than 24 hours.

    On Monday afternoon, the Cedar Rapids Kernels -- Minnesota's Low-A Midwest League affiliate -- had their game televised on Fox Sports North. Although it was an off day for the Twins and the Kernels have numerous quality prospects on their roster, the real reason for this unusual occurrence was obvious. This was all about Byron Buxton, who was the topic of conversation for nearly the entire three-hour broadcast.


    Playing under the brightest spotlight of his life, Buxton lived up to the hype and then some. He did so many incredible things in this one game that it's difficult to pick a highlight.

    There was the bases-loaded double, crushed off the wall in left-center, that plated three runs and broke the game open early on.

    Then there was the triple a few innings later, where Buxton reached out and -- seemingly without exerting much effort -- stroked a ball about 350 feet into right-center field, then sped around to third base in roughly half a second. Buxton's quickness between bags made it easy to see why the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan remarked, after studying the meteoric prospect last month for a column, "He goes from first to third like he knows a shortcut."

    Overshadowing Buxton's heroics at the plate and on the base paths were his efforts in center field -- particularly one diving catch at the warning track that was legitimately one of the finest you will see on a baseball field all year.

    On this particular day, all the outfielder's vaunted five tools were on display. The ease with which he, as a teenager, is handling his first hack at full-season ball nearly defies belief. Buxton appeared to be on another level from his competition Monday and his overall numbers reflect that. He leads the Midwest League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. He's among the top five in walks, stolen bases and RBI. He has scored 60 runs; the next highest total in the league is 42. We haven't seen this kind of utterly dominant performance in the minors since…

    Oh yeah, that Sano guy. He's no stranger to the spotlight, having been the subject of a popular documentary before taking American baseball by storm. Sano put forth an incredible performance in the Midwest League last year, bashing 28 homers with 100 RBI in 129 games. Now he has followed that up with a ridiculous showing over the first two months at Ft. Myers. Not only did his 1.079 OPS lead the Florida State League by more than 100 points, it was also higher than any mark that's been posted in the FSL since 1999.

    The prodigious Dominican was labeled a Top 10 prospect in the game prior to the season by Baseball America, and has only raised his stock with an historically amazing first half at High-A; now he becomes baseball's youngest player at the Double-A level. Yet, there seems to be a consensus that the more well-rounded Buxton has surpassed him as a prospect. When Buck inevitably gets the call to Ft. Myers -- probably a matter of days, not weeks -- he'll once again steal all the buzz.

    That doesn't exactly seem fair for Sano, who's doing everything right, but it's a sign of the times. The Twins currently feature two of the game's most spectacular young talents. In fact, rarely has any organization ever had two such players rising through its system simultaneously. By the end of the year Buxton and Sano have a legitimate chance to rank No. 1 and 2 on many national prospect lists.

    A rebuilding franchise could hardly ask for a better one-two punch than that.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twin Terrors in the Twins System started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Two outstanding talents, no question. The Twins look like they will have very good talent very soon at most positions. I hope some of the pitching prospects can develop!
    1. Ozziedavisfan's Avatar
      Ozziedavisfan -
      here is a big question buxton and sano are the two best prospects in the system, who is the most overlooked?
    1. nmoline's Avatar
      nmoline -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ozziedavisfan View Post
      here is a big question buxton and sano are the two best prospects in the system, who is the most overlooked?
      Rosario or Berrios
    1. boney's Avatar
      boney -
      Pretty sure Sano and Buxton will be in the futures game this year but will anyone else from the Twins? Meyer and Rosario possibly?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ozziedavisfan View Post
      here is a big question buxton and sano are the two best prospects in the system, who is the most overlooked?
      Maybe Arcia, who I rank third... I don't think that Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, JO Berrios and Eddie Rosario are overlooked. I rank Kennys Vargas higher than every, so I think he is overlooked. My other two top ten are Jorge Polanco and Travis Harrison.

      But the guy that I have overlooked for far too long is Josmil (Hose-meal) Pinto, who continues to rake and play solid enough defense.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I think Rosario gets overlooked since others have considered his numbers to be good/very good. He has awesome numbers for someone his age playing in the FSL that has a good chance to stay at 2B.

      Kepler has recently been overlooked based on him being injured and not playing while so many have had great 1st halves.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      I really think Buxton has a shot at getting to the show as fast now as Sano. Can you imagine all three of Buxton, Sano, and Rosario getting the call on June 20, 2014 (arbitrary date that should delay the financials)?
    1. Ncgo4's Avatar
      Ncgo4 -
      Someone else posted somewhere, I couldn't find it, that the twins will space Sano & Buxton to avoid them arriving at free agency at the same time.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Maybe Arcia, who I rank third... I don't think that Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, JO Berrios and Eddie Rosario are overlooked. I rank Kennys Vargas higher than every, so I think he is overlooked. My other two top ten are Jorge Polanco and Travis Harrison.

      But the guy that I have overlooked for far too long is Josmil (Hose-meal) Pinto, who continues to rake and play solid enough defense.
      Are the Twins themselves overlooking Pinto? The guy is an Eastern League top player, hitting for both average and power. And....There's not exactly a lot of blockage at AAA.

      Over the last few years the FO has never been real comfortable with long-term relationships with Latin catchers. Are their language and cultural barriers that give the Twins pause on Pinto?
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Judging by age. numbers and players in front of him, one would think that the Twins would definitely promote Pinto at the minor league All-Star break. He has to be an EL All-Star, although I've heard no word about that.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Honestly, I think almost the entire Kernels roster outside of Buxton gets overlooked to some degree. If there's a silver lining for local fans in Cedar Rapids in Buxton getting promoted soon, it might be that some of the other guys will start to get more opportunities to get a little more well-deserved attention.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ncgo4 View Post
      Someone else posted somewhere, I couldn't find it, that the twins will space Sano & Buxton to avoid them arriving at free agency at the same time.
      I don't think so. I think Ryan has been very clear that we worry about that way more than he does. I think they'll both be up when Ryan thinks they are ready, money being no real factor. I take Ryan at his word on this.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I don't think so. I think Ryan has been very clear that we worry about that way more than he does. I think they'll both be up when Ryan thinks they are ready, money being no real factor. I take Ryan at his word on this.
      I totally agree with Mike. If these two guys perform at expected levels once they're in the show, the Twins are going to try to lock them up long term way before they have to worry about arbitration clocks and free agency. They'll both get Mauer-like contracts and whether those contracts start the same year or are staggered by one year hardly matters over the long haul. Let's just hope the Twins have a little more team-friendly local broadcast rights deal by then.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Good article, summing up the situation. After this season, we are looking at 2 top 5-6 prospects in all of baseball.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      Judging by age. numbers and players in front of him, one would think that the Twins would definitely promote Pinto at the minor league All-Star break. He has to be an EL All-Star, although I've heard no word about that.
      I don't think it's a big deal that Pinto stays in AA since AA and AAA are not that far apart. The biggest problem with promoting Pinto (and Koch) is that it further wipes out the lower minors catching depth. If Turner can make the jump to at least low A once he signs it would help.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      RE: SD Buhr (team friendly broadcast rights)

      What is the current broadcast rights situation?

      Obviously I know it's FSN, but what's contract duration? Are we actually in the lower tier of the league or do we just assume that?

      I wonder what effect Fox Sports One (coming in August) will have on negociated contracts moving forward.

      This probably deserves it's own thread... or heck, even an article written by one of the talented writers here at TD.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      I don't know what the Twins' TV broadcast rights deal with FSN is. For whatever reason, it seems like there's been almost nothing written about the actual terms. Maybe it's because the local media writers don't ask or maybe it's that the Twins aren't forthcoming with information when they do get asked. In the absence of information to the contrary, I guess many of us just assume that the Twins are sharing in the broadcast rights bonanza that the largest market teams are reportedly getting in their newest deals.I do think that people generally underestimate the Twins media market size. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the Twins are a "small market" team, when in fact the MSP market is at least "middle market."You're right, tho, this probably warrants its own thread at some point.
    1. Ozziedavisfan's Avatar
      Ozziedavisfan -
      Oddly enough I'm going to with angel Moreles just based on the fact that , A he's been injured B the twins seem to have a surplus of outfielders. C. he seems to have been in the twins organization forever. i think that he just get's overlooked for that fact. seth the other guys you mention we seem to talk about allot. but it is True if you aren't in the first five to ten prospects or drafted in the first five rounds you tend to get overlooked, don't know if that is right or wrong though.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Eddie Rosario is definitely the most overlooked prospect, relative to his value. While his numbers might be slightly skewed by the fact that he's still in High-A ball and will be 22 in September, a left-handed 2B who hits for power and average?! Middle infield prospects are rare, and even some of the good ones pan out, but while other teams are bringing up Jason Kipnis (pretty good) and Dustin Ackley (struggled, sent down), Rosario is the only guy of his kind in the organization for some time.

      Sano and Buxton go to show how just a few elite prospects can change the whole perception of the farm system.
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      I spent some time studying the impact of TV contracts on MLB franchises for my Sports Business class when I was in undergrad. You can message me if you'd like me to send you my final paper from the class on this issue (that felt narcissistic). Here's what I can say off the top of my head.

      The current TV contract between Fox Sports North and the Twins is estimated to be worth between $27-29M annually. That's a lot of money, but it's also abysmal in comparison to other teams' deals. To put this comment into perspective, the Dodgers' recent TV contract (the largest driving force behind their sale price) was worth $7 Billion over 25 years, or about $280M annually. That number should put the Dodgers' recent spending spree into context. Teams like the Yankees have TV deals that are or will be well into the hundreds of millions annually by the end of the contract. The Tigers make somewhere around $40M a year annually.

      This is probably the most overlooked facet of professional baseball, and arguably the most potent in terms of allowing teams to spend freely, especially without a salary cap.

      The Twins are ranked 15th in terms of market size (Nielson rating), but should probably rank much lower due to remarkably low cable/satellite subscriber numbers. Is there anyone to blame here? Not really. Hopefully whenever the Twins can opt-out/the deal ends they can get a better deal and try to funnel some of that revenue stream into FA signings/retaining talent.
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