• Prospect Rundown: Minor Miracles

    I can still vividly recall writing this Prospect Rundown late in the 2011 season. The article recapped the campaigns of each of my Top 10 Twins prospects, and the results were... depressing. While the big-league club was wrapping up one of its worst seasons ever, the farm system was in a state of disarray, with the top name fresh off Tommy John surgery and many of the other prominent prospects saddled with poor performance or injury.

    With few exceptions (most notably Miguel Sano's explosive season in Elizabethton), finding glimmers of positivity anywhere within the system around this time was a challenge. It was about the lowest I had ever been on the franchise in my years as a writer.

    What a difference a couple years can make.

    Today, Minnesota's system stands out as the finest in the game. Not only does it shine at the top end, where Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano were recently ranked by Baseball America as two of the three best prospects in baseball, but the depth of this organization's minor-league talent is pretty incredible. I've been even more struck by this after researching the systems of other teams for our Trade Talk series; when you look through the top 10-20 prospects of other organizations, invariably you find numerous cases where stocks have dropped. That is, of course, the volatile nature of prospects.

    But that hasn't been true for the Twins this year. Checking in on Twins Daily's preseason Top 10 Prospects, we find that -- from top to bottom -- almost everything is pointing in the right direction. With the club in Minnesota on its way to a third straight 90-plus loss season, the unrivaled success of this group could not be more important.

    10. Max Kepler, OF
    2013 Stats (A): 81 PA, .288/.358/.521, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 9 R, 0/0 SB

    Kepler missed most of the first half with an elbow injury, but since joining the Cedar Rapids Kernels in mid-June he has made up for lost time with a red-hot start. After flashing minimal power in his first two seasons at rookie ball, the athletic German exploded with 31 extra-base hits in 59 games at Elizabethton last year and he has carried that forward with 10 XBH through his first 18 contests at Low-A.

    9. Trevor May, RHP

    2013 Stats (AA): 95 IP, 3.98 ERA, 93/41 K/BB, 1.42 WHIP

    May led the Eastern League in strikeouts last year, and has unsurprisingly racked up the whiffs at a similar rate this year. The biggest hurdle for the right-hander is always going to be improving his spotty command and he's made progress in that department. His 3.9 BB/9 rate -- while far from great -- is the lowest of his career, and he's been getting better of late with only nine walks in 37 innings (2.2 BB/9) since the start of June.

    8. J.O. Berrios, RHP
    2013 Stats (A): 63.2 IP, 3.53 ERA, 72/20 K/BB, 1.41 WHIP

    There are only a handful of teenagers pitching in the Midwest League, and the 19-year-old Berrios stands out from that group with a 10.2 K/9 rate that ranks in the top five overall. He's given up a few more hits than you'd like to see thanks to a .374 BABIP, but the shiny K/BB ratio demonstrates that the kid's filthy stuff is playing well against more advanced hitters.

    7. Eddie Rosario, 2B
    2013 Stats (A+/AA): 333 PA, .312/.369/.493, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 59 R, 4/13 SB

    With all the buzz surrounding Miguel Sano, Rosario's midseason promotion to New Britain slipped under the radar to some degree, but he certainly deserves plenty of recognition. He's the third-youngest second baseman to play in the Eastern League this year and is holding his own (.275/.353/.418); he dominated in the Florida State League, where his .903 OPS led his position by nearly 100 points. In an organization that has really struggled to produce middle infielders, Rosario's continued success is hugely encouraging.

    6. Kyle Gibson, RHP
    2013 Stats (AAA/MLB): 104.1 IP, 3.54 ERA, 86/29 K/BB, 1.21 WHIP

    Gibson pitched extremely well in Triple-A over the first half before finally getting the call to Minnesota in late June. Since joining the Twins, he has had his ups and downs. So it goes for a rookie getting his first exposure to big-league sluggers. Overall, it's been an extremely positive campaign for the 25-year-old, who has allowed just four home runs in 104 innings while consistently flashing mid-90s velocity.

    5. Alex Meyer, RHP
    2013 Stats (AA): 61 IP, 3.69 ERA, 73/27 K/BB, 1.31 WHIP

    Acquired in exchange for Denard Span during the offseason, Meyer has lived up to his "power pitcher" billing by racking up 73 strikeouts in 61 innings at Double-A. His 10.8 K/9 rate ranks second among pitchers in the Eastern League with 60 or more innings. Meyer has also been extremely stingy with the hits, holding the opposition to a .225 average with only three home runs. Unfortunately, Meyer has been sidelined for more than a month due to a shoulder injury, so he's the biggest question mark on this list at the moment.

    4. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
    2013 Stats (AAA/MLB): 312 PA, .283/.362/.475, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 37 R, 3/4 SB

    During his brief time in Triple-A Arcia raked, posting a .930 OPS as a 22-year-old with no prior experience at the level. His time there was short because he's been busy building a Rookie of the Year case in the majors, where his powerful swing has provided an unexpected jolt for the Twins lineup.

    3. Aaron Hicks, OF

    2013 Stats (MLB): 238 PA, .205/.271/.372, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 32 R, 6/8 SB

    After a breakout season in Double-A last year, Hicks made the jump straight to the majors out of spring training. His first few weeks on the job were as brutal as could be, but the 23-year-old has shown steady progress over the course of the season, which is exactly what you hope to see. Since the beginning of May, he has a .787 OPS with seven homers and 18 total extra-base hits in 41 games. Solid production for a rookie center fielder with strong defensive skills.

    2. Byron Buxton, OF
    2013 Stats (A/A+): 370 PA, .341/.422/.543, 9 HR, 62 RBI, 75 R, 33/45 SB

    What more is there to say at this point? Buxton has firmly established himself as the best prospect in baseball, displaying elite skills across the board while posting monster numbers as a teenager facing more experienced competition. Average, power, discipline, speed, defense... it's all there. Buxton is the total package.

    1. Miguel Sano, 3B
    2013 Stats (A+/AA): 340 PA, .292/.385/.611, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 64 R, 9/12 SB

    Not to be outdone, Sano has put up some pretty incredible numbers of his own. He made a mockery of the Florida State League before earning a promotion to Double-A, where he has had some contact issues but is continuing to crush the ball. Sano is the best power-hitting prospect in the minors, and he's backing that up with a full-season home run pace approaching 40.
    This article was originally published in blog: Prospect Rundown: Minor Miracles started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. MichiganTwins's Avatar
      MichiganTwins -
      Is there any chance Buxton gets promoted again this year?
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      My guess would be no.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Any idea who the next 10 are? Of course, Stewart would probably crack the top 10, as good as it is. Other top performers this year include Polanco, Harrison, Walker, Vargas, Baxendale, Tonkin, Minier, Duffey and Pinto.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      cmathewson - Lewis Thorpe has looked like a top 20 guy as well. Along with Felix Jorge, Randy Rosario, and Yorman Landa. Plus, there are tons of other fringe guys that could blow up the next couple years like Nate Roberts, Alex Wimmers, Zach Jones, Taylor Rogers, Aderlin Mejia, Niko Goodrum, DJ Hicks, Logan Darnell, and JD Williams. Our minors are ridiculous!
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      Worth underscoring is that as recently as this spring, we still had questions about whether Rosario would stick at 2B. His promotion seems to eliminate those concerns, as I assume the Twins would have held him at high A if they felt he had clear defensive issues to work out.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      My guess would be no.
      Radcliffe teased that another promotion for Buxton was on the table in Jeremy's article. He's currently batting 3rd in the Ft Myers order in front of Vargas, let's see if that gets him more pitches to choose from over the next month. I'd like to see Buxton make the decision to promote an easy one.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      After reading all the box scores for E-Town and GCL Twins, I am sad to say that, although a few players are hitting well, no pitchers appear to be standouts.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Where is Lewin Diaz going to stack in this list? And how about Goncalves?
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      So what changed within the Twins organization? Why are they having success drafting the last couple of years vs. the failures that they had previously? Those failures has led to the current losing state of the Twins.

    1. Pitz's Avatar
      Pitz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      After reading all the box scores for E-Town and GCL Twins, I am sad to say that, although a few players are hitting well, no pitchers appear to be standouts.
      ???

      If this is a serious statement, I suggest checking out the stats pages for
      E-Town - Individual Stats (Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, and Felix Jorge)
      and
      GCL Twins - Stats (Lewis Thorpe)

      On top of that, recent draftees Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades, and Stephen Gonsalves have all just recently made their debuts.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
      So what changed within the Twins organization? Why are they having success drafting the last couple of years vs. the failures that they had previously? Those failures has led to the current losing state of the Twins.
      TR has been busy not only drafting quality prospects, but making quality trades for prospects, vs. making trades for pros. Our current state is as much from poor trade and FA signings as anything.
    1. Kirby Puckett's Avatar
      Kirby Puckett -
      All 10 of those guys should be up by 2016, but after that the next 10 really won't amount to much. Throw in Kohl Stewart and you have a solid ball club though
    1. Boone's Avatar
      Boone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pitz View Post
      ???

      If this is a serious statement, I suggest checking out the stats pages for
      E-Town - Individual Stats (Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, and Felix Jorge)
      and
      GCL Twins - Stats (Lewis Thorpe)

      On top of that, recent draftees Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades, and Stephen Gonsalves have all just recently made their debuts.

      It will be interesting to see how the Twins handle these guys this summer and next spring. Cedar Rapids could potentially have a rotation with Jorge, Rosario, Landa, and Stewart early next year.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kirby Puckett View Post
      All 10 of those guys should be up by 2016, but after that the next 10 really won't amount to much. Throw in Kohl Stewart and you have a solid ball club though
      I actually would be surprised if multiple guys in the 10+ range don't turn out to be servicable ball players. Polanco, Walker, Zack Jones, Baxendale, Tonkin, Wimmers and Pinto would all likely be in consideration for most teams top 10 list.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pitz View Post
      ???

      If this is a serious statement, I suggest checking out the stats pages for
      E-Town - Individual Stats (Randy Rosario, Yorman Landa, and Felix Jorge)
      and
      GCL Twins - Stats (Lewis Thorpe)

      On top of that, recent draftees Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades, and Stephen Gonsalves have all just recently made their debuts.
      I'm going to enthusiastically watch these guys as well, but I think it's wise to temper the expectations for the guys in the rookie leagues. Look no further than last year's draft class. There were about 8 pitchers putting up eye-popping K/9 numbers with strong ERA's. Most of them have come back to earth in both departments once they got to full season ball.

      To be fair though, the guys you are beating the drum for have all put up pretty decent BB/9 numbers, which even in rookie leagues can often be high despite other impressive numbers. It may be a good indicator that they have positive control and will succeed at higher levels.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      About 3 or 4 of those players listed above are in the majors or soon will be in the majors. That will give more top 10 room to for some of the players knocking on the door(Pinto for 1).
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
      So what changed within the Twins organization? Why are they having success drafting the last couple of years vs. the failures that they had previously? Those failures has led to the current losing state of the Twins.
      They changed draft coordinators from Radcliff to Johnson in 2008. That's when the current wave started with Hicks. More recently, the league changed rules around signing, so we can draft the best player available and not worry about signability. Finally, we built a better DR academy and started spending money there.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      They changed draft coordinators from Radcliff to Johnson in 2008. That's when the current wave started with Hicks. More recently, the league changed rules around signing, so we can draft the best player available and not worry about signability. Finally, we built a better DR academy and started spending money there.
      I'd add another finally: the major league team has been abysmal. Draft position does indeed help especially when it comes to the high end.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      I'd add another finally: the major league team has been abysmal. Draft position does indeed help especially when it comes to the high end.
      Adding Buxton, J.O., Stewart, and Eades (the forgotten guy) with high picks definitely helps. While you don't need a high pick to get a great player studies have show it significantly helps!
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