Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects: 1-5

    It took nearly three weeks, but today our ten-part series on my choices for the Top 50 Minnesota Twins prospects culminates with my picks for the Twins top five prospects. The list has been building, but I don't think anyone will be surprised by the five players. All five of these players could be Top 50 prospects when lists start coming out next spring.

    Prospect lists are about tools and potential. But I do go back and continue to think about something Kyle Gibson told me a couple of years ago. "It's nice to be considered a top prospect, but all that really means is that you haven't done anything yet."

    That's the beauty of these rankings and lists like it. It's great for discussion, but if you look back at rankings from previous years, you find that to be very true. There are occasionally prospects who get the hype and become everything fans could ever hope. There are prospects who no one would consider a prospect who have come up and been major contributors. And most prospects are somewhere in between. It will be fun to see how this group progressed and develops, and how much of an impact they have on the future of the Minnesota Twins.

    Part 10: Prospects 1-5

    Today, we are looking at some pretty impressive prospects. There are two pitchers who are able to work in the mid-to-upper 90s. One may be ready next year while the other could be redshirting behind Johnny Football right now. There are two infielders who have been teammates since their days in the GCL. One is a top prospect who has the potential to hit 40 home runs. The other could hit .300 for years to come. And then there is the guy who has been determined, by experts from respected media, to be the top prospect in all baseball. All five of these guys have a chance to be impact players in the big leagues.

    Photo by Rinaldi Photos

    #5 – Eddie Rosario – 2B (22)

    Rosario was the Twins 4th round pick in 2010 out of high school in Puerto Rico. Since then he has hit every step of the way. He made a name for himself in 2011 with Elizabethton. He was the Appy League Player of the Year when he hit .337/.397/.670 (1.068) with nine doubles, nine triples and a league-leading 21 home runs. He also stole 17 bases and played a terrific centerfield. He went to Instructs where he was moved to second base. At Beloit, he hit .296/.345/.490 (.835) with 32 doubles and 12 homers despite missing about a month after being struck in the mouth by a batting practice line drive. After a strong season in the Puerto Rican Winter League, he played for his country in the WBC. He split the 2013 season between Ft. Myers and New Britain and hit .302/.350/.460 (.810) with 32 doubles, eight triples, and ten home runs. Clearly he is not a big fan of walking, but he has the quickest hands I’ve seen. He is able to watch pitches longer because he can still get the bat through the zone. He also uses the whole field well. He has a lot of pop, particularly for a middle infielder. Of course therein lies the question about Rosario. Can he play second base in the big leagues? There are certainly opinions on both sides. In general, I believe that he could be an adequate big league second baseman because he is such a good athlete. However, he will likely never be a good defensive second baseman. That said, he is already a very good defensive outfielder with a very strong arm. He is getting some good experience in the Arizona Fall League, and will then play in the Puerto Rican Winter League again. He is likely to receive a non-roster invite to spring training with the Twins.

    #4 – Kohl Stewart – RH SP (19)


    The fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, the Twins were thrilled Stewart fell into their lap. The 6-3 right-hander from Houston was best known for having signed to play quarterback at Texas A&M behind Johnny Football. Instead, he signed with the Twins and started his professional baseball career. He is an exceptional athlete with a very strong arm. He has a fastball that sits between 92 and 95, but he has hit 97 mph at times as well. He also has a very good slider in the upper-80s. He has four pitches, but the other two will likely be little better than average. He posted a 1.69 ERA in his 16 innings in the GCL. He then made just one start for the Elizabethton Twins and gave up one hit and one walk while striking out eight in four scoreless innings. In his 20 pro innings in 2013, he walked four and struck out 24. Unfortunately, he was shut down with some shoulder soreness and did not pitch in the Instructional Leagues. It is not believed to be serious and he should be ready by spring training.

    #3 – Alex Meyer – RH SP (23)


    Meyer was the first round pick (23rd overall) of the Washington Nationals in 2011 out of the University of Kentucky. Just about a year ago, he came to the Twins in a one-for-one swap for Denard Span. At 6-9 and 220 pounds, he certainly comes with a mound presence. More important, he has four above average pitches and the ability to be completely dominant. After missing two months this season with a shoulder injury, he returned and after three rehab starts hit 100 mph with a pitch in his first start coming back to New Britain. His fastball sits between 94 and 98 and does hit 100 with some regularity. He also has a terrific slider that could become better as he gains more and more control. He also has a slow curve and a good changeup. With New Britain, he was 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA. In 70 innings, he walked 29 and struck out 84. He is now pitching in the Arizona Fall League to make up some lost innings. He has a chance to be a true ace. He is another guy who should receive an invite to big league spring training. (and, I can't tell you how close I was to moving him up to #2, but I just couldn't pull the trigger.)

    #2 – Miguel Sano – 3B (20)


    The Twins surprised a lot of people in October of 2009 when they were the team that signed the top foreign player, Sano, to a bonus of $3.15 million. He appeared in the pre-2010 Baseball America’s Top 100 at #94. In the years since, he has ranked #60, #18 and was the ninth overall prospect before the 2013 season. When the list comes out next spring, he will certainly be in the top five, if not the top three. His career has been directly tied to that of Eddie Rosario. They played together in the GCL in 2010. In 2011, Rosario was the Appy League Player of the Year, but Sano hit .292/.352/.637 (.988) with 18 doubles, seven triples, and 20 home runs. At Beloit in 2012, he hit .258/.373/.521 (.893) with 28 doubles, four triples, 28 home runs and 100 RBI. Combined, between Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2013, Sano hit .280/.382/.610 (.992) with 30 doubles, five triples, 35 homers and 103 RBI. Those are just the numbers. Sano is more than just the numbers. He is 6-4 and about 225 pounds. He’s as powerful as anyone in baseball. My sense is that he won’t hit for real high average, but he will take walks, he will hit home runs and he will strike out. A lot. He could hit .270, get on base 40% of the time and hit 40 or more home runs. Defense is the other part of the equation. After posting an .884 fielding percentage at Beloit in 2012. In 2013, his fielding percentage jumped to .932. His errors dropped from 42 to 23. His hands have become much softer. He now plays a very deep third base because he has one of the strongest arms in baseball. Will Sano be the Twins third baseman in 2014? Absolutely, yes! When? If you were to put the over/under at the All-Star break, I would be the over (meaning, before), unless the Twins want to keep him eligible for the Futures Game at Target Field. (Hopefully his elbow injury will not affect his timeline in 2014!)

    #1 – Byron Buxton – OF (19)


    Go back and review the profiles of Miguel Sano, or Alex Meyer and possibly Kohl Stewart. In many organizations, each of them could be the number one prospect. However, if you’re in an organization with Byron Buxton, then #2 is the best you can hope for. I went down to Cedar Rapids for their Opening Weekend. I assumed Buxton would be talented and look the part, but in my mind, he wasn’t going to surpass Sano atop my prospect list. About two days later, my mind was changed. Byron Buxton was the best prospect I had ever seen (and I saw Mike Trout in Beloit, playing for Cedar Rapids, three years earlier). Speed may be his most obvious tool. In that initial series, I saw him beat out regular ground balls to shortstop, third base and even second base. He also stole 55 bases (in 74 attempts). Not bad considering it is an area that he can improve. I saw him show remarkable range in centerfield. We also saw his range in the game that appeared on Fox Sports North, and not just on The Play. Despite currently being 6' 2" and a lean 190, he is very strong, very powerful. I saw one of the several home runs that he hit in Cedar Rapids that went out of the stadium and across the street. Most of his home runs were line drives. His approach at the plate is remarkable. He is very patient at the plate. Like Joe Mauer, he often takes the first pitch and isn’t afraid to hit with two strikes. He uses the entire field. I could go on and on, but the things that people with the Twins organization stress are Buxton’s makeup and work ethic, pointing out that he wants to be great. Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he hit .334/.424/.520 (.944) with 19 doubles, 18 triples, 12 homers and 78 RBI. Buxton will likely start 2013 in New Britain. I will be completely shocked if he is not in the big leagues by mid-July.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thank you for reading part Part 10 of my ten-part series highlighting my Top 50 Twins Prospects. Hopefully you have learned something about a few of these guys and have enjoyed reading them. In case you missed any of the previous installments, here are those links:

    Part 1: 46-50
    Part 2: 41-45
    Part 3: 36-40
    Part 4: 31-35
    Part 5: 26-30
    Part 6: 21-25
    Part 7: 16-20
    Part 8: 11-15
    Part 9: 6-10
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. bphat1's Avatar
      bphat1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      2015 can't come fast enough:

      Buxton CF
      Rosario LF/2B
      Mauer DH/C/1B
      Sano 3B
      Arcia 1B/RF
      Dozier 2B/OF
      Pinto C/DH
      Santana SS
      Hicks RF/LF

      man....


      While I love the enthusiasm, I can't tell you how many projected lineups and rotations I've seen over the years that seemed like they were a year or two away, only to end up with with a lineup or rotation with only 2-4 of those guys actually in it. That's also an incredibly young lineup.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      Seth - I'm blown away that you think Buxton will be up with the Twins by July. I totally did not expect that. That makes me super excited. I thought that he wouldn't be with the team until September at the earliest. Wow.

      So, we may eventually have a second base problem to deal with. We have Dozier, Polanco, and Rosario. Obviously, all three are solid but Dozier is the only KNOWN commodity. Do we try and flip Dozier for a starting pitcher this offseason? I hate to do it but I worry he will only regress from here and we need to strike a trade while we can knowing we have reinforcements on the horizon at second base.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      The last Twins "phenom" Joe Mauer made it to the big leagues after 2 full seasons in the minors. However, he was advanced a bit slower than Buxton so far -- Mauer spent his whole first season in low-A, then split his second full season between A+ and AA. Buxton was also 4 months older than Mauer when drafted. Additionally, Mauer was somewhat "blocked" at the MLB level by Pierzynski, and the Twins were contenders so breaking him in during a pennant race was probably less than ideal.

      So, expecting Buxton in MLB sometime next season seems pretty reasonable. Unlike Seth, though, I think I would be shocked if he was up BEFORE July -- remember, this guy still hasn't played above high-A, he's starting in a pitcher's league, and there's that Super-2 cutoff date to think about (not that I think it makes a big deal, but when the guy is a potential superstar and he's beginning the season in AA, it doesn't hurt to wait).

      So I say, July at the earliest.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tibs View Post
      Where is Meyer going to start and realistically how early could he get to the Twins? I will for sure be making multiple trips to Minnesota if Buxton, Sano and Meyer are there. I'm excited for Rosario and Stewart as well.
      I don't know where he'll start. He could get a month in New Britain... either way, I think he's up by July.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      No love for Edgar Ibarra in the top 50, Seth? Ibarra was just added to the 40-Man Roster, he pitched in the Eastern League All Star Game, and finished 2013 with an ERA under 2, while splitting time between New Britain and Rochester, and he's a lefty who has been effective against hitters from both sides of the plate. Edgar Ibarra 2013 Minor League Gamelogs & Splits - Baseball-Reference.com
      He had a very good year, no question. He could be anywhere from 45-55 on such a list.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Seth, I think you under estimate what May can end up being. That said, while I like Meyer, May, and Gibson, counting on all 3 is not smart.... I do hope Ryan recognizes this.
      I am intrigued by what May can become... IF he can drop his walk rate by 1.0, he could be a #2/3 starter. If he can just be a little bit more consistent, I think he can be a #4/5. Even right now, I think that he can be a very good reliever. It'll just be interesting to see what happens over the next year. Regardless, I would bring him up as a starter and give him that opportunity.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Smcginnity View Post
      Seth - I'm blown away that you think Buxton will be up with the Twins by July. I totally did not expect that. That makes me super excited. I thought that he wouldn't be with the team until September at the earliest. Wow.

      So, we may eventually have a second base problem to deal with. We have Dozier, Polanco, and Rosario. Obviously, all three are solid but Dozier is the only KNOWN commodity. Do we try and flip Dozier for a starting pitcher this offseason? I hate to do it but I worry he will only regress from here and we need to strike a trade while we can knowing we have reinforcements on the horizon at second base.
      Regarding Buxton - Maybe "shocked" is a little bit strong. After seeing Buxton early in the year, nothing would surprise me with him. He's as good as I've ever seen, and the Twins have shown in the past they're not afraid to bring up elite talent early. Mauer, Arcia, they certainly fit into that category.

      Regarding 2B - as you point out, Dozier is the known commodity, and yet at the same time, he'll have to prove it again next year. I saw enough to believe that he can be a .750-800 OPS guy with power. We don't know about Rosario or Polanco yet. I wouldn't deal Dozier. I'd rather move Rosario back to LF instead, and that's if both of them prove to be good.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by orangevening View Post
      Line up is bot going to matter unless we get some pitching. If Meyer/May/Gibson don't turn out...
      That is my concern too. I don't have much faith in either May or Gibson to be more than back of the rotation guys (Diamond, Correia types). I am counting on Meyer to be an Ace in 2015 or 6. Pitching seems to be coming--but it is low As--I call it the cavalry--guys like Stewart, Gonsalves, Berrrios, and older guys like Duffey and Rogers and Lee and the others (potentially). This wave may come in 2016 but more likely 2017.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I would trade Dozier (who should bring in more than Doumit or the hammer) this off-season to try to get pitching to bridge the gap until the cavalry gets here and give Rosario a shot.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      But see, I am not so certain that Buxton's long-term is in the lead-off spot. Like Mike Trout, he could start out leading off, but he's a natural #3 hitter (if you believe that a team's best overall hitter should be #3). Ideally Hicks gets back to being great at getting on base, I'd like to see this:

      Hicks RF
      Mauer 1B
      Buxton CF
      Sano 3B
      Arcia DH
      Pinto C
      Rosario LF
      Dozier 2B
      Florimon/Santana SS
      This is closer to what I expect than the others. Arcia should be a full time DH, no doubt in my mind. He doesn't have any fielding ability and we need a DH anyway. I don't think Buxton should bat leadoff because you're wasting his power. Mike Trout batted 2nd for most of this season and I think that is a perfect spot for Buxton because you have Mauer protecting him and not clogging the bases. I would just flip Mauer and Buxton.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Granted I haven't seen Buxton in person but I just don't see him being with the big club in July. I think the Twins will give him a cup of coffee as a September call up next year and based on that performance he we will either make the team out of Spring training or by July 2015. He is so young and we need to make sure we get the best out of him before LA or NY snap him up after his arb years. We shouldn't waste his talent or MLB service time with the 2014 team. Just my two cents.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      If the Twins don't call him up in July or early August, there is no reason to call him up in September because he doesn't have to be added to the 40 man roster for another offseason or two. No need to take up a 40 man spot at that point for someone who doesn't need to be added. He may not be up in July, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is. If they're not in contention (and they won't be), I don't disagree with the sentiment of leaving him down until 2015. And then it's the Sano/Hicks question. Do you bring him up Opening Day, or wait until mid-May? So yeah, I think he'll either be up in mid-July 2014 (after All Star break) or he'll be up in early May of 2015.
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      But see, I am not so certain that Buxton's long-term is in the lead-off spot. Like Mike Trout, he could start out leading off, but he's a natural #3 hitter (if you believe that a team's best overall hitter should be #3). Ideally Hicks gets back to being great at getting on base, I'd like to see this:

      Hicks RF
      Mauer 1B
      Buxton CF
      Sano 3B
      Arcia DH
      Pinto C
      Rosario LF
      Dozier 2B
      Florimon/Santana SS

      Think about that. If you've got an 8 hitter who is playing great middle infield defense and hitting 20 HR a base while getting on base, that's a lineup that now is terrific 1-8. Florimon's lack of offense in the 9-hole suddenly isn't a big deal because you're solid the rest of the way.

      As has been mentioned though, pitching is going to be a big thing too. Meyer 'can' be a 1/2, Gibson 'can' be a solid 3. May 'may' be a solid 4. Couple in a free agent that can be classified as a 2. You're looking pretty good in not too long.
      That would be a very good defensive team also. Athletic outfield with good arms, Mauer would be good at 1b if they leave him there. Dozier Floriman solid. Sano Pinto?
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      But see, I am not so certain that Buxton's long-term is in the lead-off spot. Like Mike Trout, he could start out leading off, but he's a natural #3 hitter (if you believe that a team's best overall hitter should be #3). Ideally Hicks gets back to being great at getting on base, I'd like to see this:

      Hicks RF
      Mauer 1B
      Buxton CF
      Sano 3B
      Arcia DH
      Pinto C
      Rosario LF
      Dozier 2B
      Florimon/Santana SS

      Think about that. If you've got an 8 hitter who is playing great middle infield defense and hitting 20 HR a base while getting on base, that's a lineup that now is terrific 1-8. Florimon's lack of offense in the 9-hole suddenly isn't a big deal because you're solid the rest of the way.

      As has been mentioned though, pitching is going to be a big thing too. Meyer 'can' be a 1/2, Gibson 'can' be a solid 3. May 'may' be a solid 4. Couple in a free agent that can be classified as a 2. You're looking pretty good in not too long.

      I agree that Buxton has the ability to be a 3-hole guy. But Mauer is used best in the 3-hole, IMO. And Eddie can really hit. Why plug up the base-paths with an aging Mauer at #2 and the speeding bullet (Buxton) hitting 3rd? I would rather provide RBI opportunities for Mauer. Maybe HIcks would work in the 2-hole and Rosario could then hit 6-7th?
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      We do agree on Sano and Arcia's spot in the order.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Seth, just caught the "almost moved Meyer to #2" (finally got time to properly read the article than just skim it). That's the most provocative thing you said in the whole series. I'm just wondering why? I thought The top 3 were certain locks in their position. Meyer has been too injured and inconsistent to be even be considered over Sano, atleast in my thinking. Is it ceiling? Or quality pitching over batting?
    1. Gene Larkin Fan Club's Avatar
      Gene Larkin Fan Club -
      I know it's a bit sketchy to mess with a guy who just had a breakthrough season, but given our second base depth, is it impossible to think that Dozier could get another chance at short? I know it's unlikely, but does anyone think it's possible?
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If the Twins don't call him up in July or early August, there is no reason to call him up in September because he doesn't have to be added to the 40 man roster for another offseason or two. No need to take up a 40 man spot at that point for someone who doesn't need to be added. He may not be up in July, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is. If they're not in contention (and they won't be), I don't disagree with the sentiment of leaving him down until 2015. And then it's the Sano/Hicks question. Do you bring him up Opening Day, or wait until mid-May? So yeah, I think he'll either be up in mid-July 2014 (after All Star break) or he'll be up in early May of 2015.
      Good point on the 40 man spot. I wasn't thinking clearly there. You are right it is either July 2014 or 2015 depending on how things play out. I certainly agree with you that he is good enough to play in 2014 but I think a bit more seasoning and spreading out Sano\Hick\Rosario\Buxton as much as we can needs to be thought about as well. I realize if they all as good as we think they will be we won;t be able to hang onto all of them forever but I definitely want them to be truly ready before we bring them up and start using their MLB service time.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gene Larkin Fan Club View Post
      I know it's a bit sketchy to mess with a guy who just had a breakthrough season, but given our second base depth, is it impossible to think that Dozier could get another chance at short? I know it's unlikely, but does anyone think it's possible?
      I'm with you here, but we are in a minority. If the bat is for real, I'd move Dozier to short before I moved Rosario to the OF. That's my 2 cents at least.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gene Larkin Fan Club View Post
      I know it's a bit sketchy to mess with a guy who just had a breakthrough season, but given our second base depth, is it impossible to think that Dozier could get another chance at short? I know it's unlikely, but does anyone think it's possible?
      I do. I just don't think Dozier's rookie campaign is going to mean much to his long-term abilities at any position. Granted he wasn't very good in 2012. But he was excellent in 2013 (or at least the second half), he looked so much more relaxed, he didn't take his at bats into the field, and knew that he belonged. That will work wonders for you, whether you're at 2B or SS.

      In any case, I think it might happen, not necessarily because of Rosario being better than Dozier but because Florimon's bat might open up a spot at short.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.