At the end of last week, the Twins added some strong talent to their organization through the MLB Draft. Minnesota's farm system was already considered one of the best in baseball and having another top 5 pick should only improve their high-level talent.
My last prospect ranking came back when I was helping put together the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook
. There have been a few changes to the list as players begin to move closer to the big leagues. Aaron Hicks has graduated off this list (he had been ranked 4th) and Joe Benson is now with another organization after he had been ranked in the top 20.
There was a bit of shifting at the top with new numbers one and two, and new players in the top five. It's an exciting time for the Twins' minor league teams and it starts with the players at the top of this list.
1. Byron Buxton (Previous Rank: 2)- OF - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Buxton has been better than the Twins could have ever thought. He has been tearing up the Midwest League to the tune of batting .350/.444/.578 with seven home runs, eight triples, and 14 doubles. Buxton has also been terrific in the field as many fans saw on FSN earlier this week
. There is a chance for him to be the number one prospect in all baseball by the end of the year. Buxton Fever is hitting Twins Territory and he is still multiple levels away from making his big league debut.
2. Miguel Sano (1) - 3B- New Britain Rock Cats
Since I started writing this blog back in 2010, Sano has been a name that I have routinely penciled in at the top of this list. He might be the best pure power hitter in the minor leagues. He had destroyed the usually pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Over 56 games, he hit .330/424/.655 with 16 home runs and 15 doubles. In the past his defense at third base has been questioned but he continues to improve, with 11 errors so far this year. It's not like Sano is doing anything wrong to have been moved out of the number one spot; Buxton has just been that good.
3. Oswaldo Arcia (5) - OF- Rochester Red Wings
Fans have gotten a little taste of Arcia at the beginning of this year. He has been back and forth between Rochester and the MLB club. This year he is hitting .255/.318/.449 with four home runs and five doubles in 30 big league games. The power is definitely there and he will continue working to raise some of his other numbers. He's played more games at the MLB level than at Triple-A so there is a rookie learning curve affecting his numbers.
4. Eddie Rosario (7) - 2B - New Britain Rock Cats
Rosario continues to be one of the better hitting prospects in the organization. His recent promotion to the Rock Cats will test some of his skills but he has a very advanced swing for his age. With quick wrists he is able to send the ball to all fields and could continue to move quickly through the organization. In 52 games for Fort Myers this year he batted .329/.377/.527 with six home runs, five triples and 13 doubles. This is only the sophomore year playing second base for the former outfielder and there will continue to be bumps along the way; this year he has only four errors in 275 chances at his new position.
5. Kohl Stewart (NR) - RHP
This year's fourth overall pick has yet to sign but he should quickly become the team’s best pitching prospect. It will take him some time to develop in the minor leagues but he could be the ace this team has been searching for since Johan Santana left. Stewart's name will likely be near the top of this list for multiple seasons as he works his way up from the lower levels of the minors. He has a killer fastball, a dominant slider, and fans will have to hope he can develop the rest of his arsenal along the way. For the first time he won't be worrying about the up-coming football season and that could bode ill for opposing batters.
6. Alex Meyer (3) - RHP - New Britain Rock Cats
In his first year in the Twins organization, Meyer has been putting up decent numbers at the Double-A level. The 23-year old righty has posted a 3.69 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 27 walks in 61 innings. His 1.311 WHIP is the highest of his young professional career. He hasn't pitched since June 1st after he felt some discomfort in his throwing shoulder. We hope it is nothing seriously wrong and he just needs to miss a few starts to rest his arm.
7. Jose Berrios (9) - RHP - Cedar Rapids Kernels
A supplemental first round pick in last year's draft, Berrios has settled nicely into the rotation for the Kernels. Over 42.1 innings, he has a 3.61 ERA and 50 strikeouts with 12 walks. He is giving up more than a hit an inning but he has the ability to strike batters out, a skill that has been lacking in the Twins system. If Berrios and Stewart can both make it as starters, they could provide a powerful front end of the rotation.
8. Kyle Gibson (8) - RHP - Rochester Red Wings
It shouldn't be long before Gibson joins the rotation of the Minnesota Twins. The club is looking for more consistency out of him on his way back from Tommy John surgery. In his last ten starts, he has an ERA under 3.00 with a 6-3 record. He has pitched close to 80 innings this season with 69 strikeouts and 26 walks. His walk rate is higher than most would like but this still shouldn't stop him from becoming part of the Twins' rotation for the better part of the next decade.
9. Travis Harrison (11) - 3B - Cedar Rapids Kernels
I have been high on Harrison since the Twins drafted him in the supplemental round of the 2011 Draft. He is beginning to realize some of his power potential this season in Cedar Rapids. He has nine home runs and 17 doubles in 61 games. His defense at third base hasn’t been the greatest with 12 errors in 57 games. He might have to move from the hot corner but his power is legit.
10. Jorge Polanco (14) - 2B - Cedar Rapids Kernels
There are plenty of prospects up and down the roster for the Kernels. Polanco might get lost in the shuffle but this takes nothing away from his results. So far this year, the switch-hitting infielder is hitting .291/.342/.447 with 26 extra-base hits. It has been tough for the Twins to develop middle infielders but Polanco is among a promising crop at multiple levels in the system.
Just Missed: Max Kepler, Kennys Vargas, Trevor May, Adam Walker, Josmil Pinto