What do we really have, and how close are they really?
Isn't that the real question we always ask? After reading Baseball Americ
a and John Sickels and Keith Law, you want to know "how do these guys compare with the hype?" This year, I decided to travel a little bit and see some the Twins prospects for myself. Here are some quick observations based on seeing multiple games. The quick punchline -- the future is bright, but we're not there yet.
Miguel Sano (3b)
Okay, he really is a man-child. Various report here at TwinsDaily say that his stats suggest he may be major-league ready, and is dominating AA. When you see him hit a 90 mph fastball 420 feet, it's hard to argue too much. The young man has outstanding bat speed, and excellent pitch recognition. He takes a fluid, compact path to the ball. Has excellent hips combined with a steady head. He has never looked overmatched in anything I've seen. He has enough raw power that even contact off the end of the bat are line drives. In the field, he has above average range and arm. Moves well on plays, and shows situational awareness in the field.
While he has gaudy power numbers, and has excellent pitch recognition, he still needs to learn to choose pitches better. He seems to love to sit "red" -- even on a 1-0 or 2-0 count with a (lefty's) two-seamer tailing down and away on the low and outside corner. That is all a long way of saying that he sometimes swings at pitcher's pitches in a hitter's count. This is the big transition at AA, and even bigger going to the majors. Right now he is an excellent mistake hitter, with enough power to crush pitchers when he overmatches them. With time and experience, he should refine his approach at the plate, and transfer his AA results to the majors.
After a homerun and double, my wife turns to me and says "Are they even going to pitch to him? It's like watching an adult against little leaguers."
Eddie Rosario (2B)
Excellent hands and hips. Quick bat. Maximum power swing-style for a smaller body. Loves the high fastball, and fast enough to turn on it. Has gap power, but likes to elevate the ball somewhat. Can hit 380 foot homers, but won't blast 400+ feet. Does a decent job on the off-speed stuff. Makes consistent contact. Is able to foul off borderline pitches well. Has good speed. Looks smooth and natural at 2B.
Too aggressive -- but he's young, so what do you expect? Needs to learn to be satisfied with more line drives, and to cut down on elevating the ball. Needs to work on hitting the ball to the opposite field, and staying inside the ball. Has more work on developing an approach at the plate than Sano.
My son, sitting next to me - "Jeez, that's the 5th straight foul ball. Is the pitcher ever going to throw him a fastball so he'll just hit it?"
Trevor May (RHP)
This guy's stuff is as good as advertised. If anything, his movement is too good. Fastball tails 2-4 balls worth. Curve is 11-5 (almost 12-6), and drops 5+ balls worth. He is able to add and subtract on the curve - looping one, and flat-planing a dirt-diver the next time. Change-up is a work in progress, but could be an average pitch. Works 93-94, and touches 96. Generally decent control -- misses weren't by much. Good mound presence, and ability to bounce back.
Control is a work in progress, but this isn't the biggest issue. Loves his fastball, and sometimes gets suckered into throwing it when/where he shouldn't. (Example: #2 hitter, smaller lefty, crowds the plate. Mays tries to bust him inside with a heater; leaves it on the black at belt level, just trying to throw it past him . hitter turns on it = 360 foot HR to RF.)
More growth / experience here, and he'll shoot up to the majors quickly.
"Now that's a hammer!" (referencing his curve)
Danny Santana (SS)
Above average defensive shortstop. Good range to both sides. Pretty good arm. Quick bat. Seems to make good contact. Line-drive singles hitter. Above average speed. Think Florimon with more accurate arm, higher line drive percentage, and better fastball hitter.
Sits "dead red" on the fastball. Hasn't learned to adjust to the off-speed stuff sufficiently well to be anywhere other than where he's at. Hasn't developed a timing mechanism (toe tap, hand set, etc.) to sit on the fastball and adjust to the change. Needs to let the game slow down a little bit.
"Wow, he looked like he swung even before the ball was halfway to the plate." Fan behind us.
Dan Rohlfing (C)
Adequate defensive catcher. Didnt' appear to be getting signs from the dugout. Given that, he called a pretty good game. Switched from fastball / changeup to curves on the 2nd to 3rd time through the lineup. Provided good target.
Not as efficient as possible, especially throwing to 2B. Put the bat on the ball, but not a threat to drive it. Not a terribly big guy -- needs to be as efficient as possible. Seems to have physical limitations. Hard to see how he makes it to the majors as anything other than a short term emergency replacement.
"I don't know how that was a single, but it fell in somehow." Wife talking about Rohlfing's sole hit in one game.
Dakota Watts (RHP)
Good speed (95-97), ball flattens out, below average control, good curve (potential to be above average).
Yes, indeed, the Twins have got a load of talent at AA. While some of these guys are clearly better than the other players at the level (Sano, May, Rosario) and some are quite good on their own (Santana), they each have learning to do before they can take that jump to the majors. In other words, it looks like Twins have good reasons for keeping them where they are at, and not just sitting on service clock timing.
So... that's it. Let me know what you think, and if you'd like more in the future. Going to see the Kernels again this weekend, and may do something similar on them if there is an interest.