• Twins Organizational Depth Chart - Third Base

    So far weíve reviewed the catchers and the first basemen, and today we will be looking at the third basemen in the Minnesota Twins organization.

    The Twins have had an issue getting consistent third base play since the days of Corey Koskie. Danny Valencia was called up and had a very strong showing as a rookie, but he then struggled in his second season. That opened the door for Trevor Plouffe who had a huge two-month stretch in 2012, showing tremendous power. He struggled in 2013. What will 2014 bring for Plouffe? With one of baseballís top prospects coming up quickly on the horizon, it will be a big year for the incumbent.

    The Big Leaguers


    Trevor Plouffe will begin the 2014 season as the Twins starting third baseman. Though it will be the fifth season that he has seen time with the Twins and his 11th in the organization, he will not turn 28 until mid-June. Thereís no question Plouffe has some talent and the ability to hit the ball a long way. His .254 average in 2013 was his career-high. However, despite playing in a career high 129 games, his home run total dropped from 24 in 2012 to 14 in 2013. He did miss time with a concussion and when he was ready to return, he went right back on the DL with a calf injury.



    Eduardo Escobar is out of options and will most likely be the teamís primary utility infielder in 2014. There is little offensive upside with Escobar, though he can play the infield positions quite well and can provide depth in the outfield too. He also had caught some bullpens and would be the Twins emergency catcher.

    The Non-Roster Invites


    Last week, the Twins announced their non-roster spring training invitees. Three of those invites are primarily third basemen.

    In 2013, Deibinson Romero was supposed to head to the Twins' big league camp for the first time since he was put on the teamís 40-man roster in 2009. Unfortunately, he had problems getting a visa due to MLBís more stringent age reviewing process. He came to the States after the season began and put together a solid year. In 90 games between AA (where he just played in just a handful of games) and AAA, he hit .275/.374/.448 with 17 doubles and 13 homers. A year earlier, in AA, he had 23 doubles and 19 homers. Hopefully the 27-year-old can have a healthy, productive season.

    Brandon Waring (28) came to the Twins early in the offseason as a minor league free agent. After spending more than half the 2012 season with the Orioles AAA team in Norfolk, he spent all but ten days of the 2013 back at AA Bowie. He hit just .213. However, he did post a .102 IsoD with 23 home runs. He primarily played 3B, though he can also play 1B.

    The Crown Jewel


    The third non-roster invitee at the hot corner is someone who would likely be the #1 prospect in about 28 of baseballís organizations. In the Twins system, Miguel Sano is the #2 prospect behind only Byron Buxton, the top prospect in baseball. After hitting 28 home runs and driving in 100 runs in Beloit in 2012, Sano performed even better as he moved up the ladder in 2013. In Ft. Myers, he hit .330/.424/.655 (1.079) with 15 doubles and 16 home runs. The day after the Miracle clinched the first half title, he was promoted to AA where he played in 67 more games. There, he struggled and hit just .236. However, he got on base 34% of the time and hit 15 doubles and 19 home runs. So, combined, he had 30 doubles, 35 homers and 103 RBI. His defense also greatly improved. He reduced his error total from 42 in 2012 to 23 in 2013.

    As exciting as Sanoís power is, he will have to continue to make improvement in his contact rate. When he connects, the ball generally travels. A return to New Britain will be beneficial to his development. However, he could move up quickly as long as his defense remains solid. And, of course, assuming his elbow turns out to be healthy.

    Prospect Rankings


    Miguel Sano is one of baseballís best prospects, and rightfully so, but he was my choice (and most peopleís) as the Twins #2 prospect.

    My #14 Twins prospect, Travis Harrison, put together a solid showing in his first full season. At Cedar Rapids, he hit .253/.366/.416 with 28 doubles and 15 home runs. After committing 24 errors in 59 games in E-Town in 2012, Harrison had 26 errors in 129 games in Cedar Rapids in 2013. The 2011 supplemental first round pick will likely advance to Ft. Myers for the 2014 season.

    Amaurys Minier was my choice as the #16 Twins prospect this year. He was the Twins big international signing in 2012 when the then-16-year-old signed with the team for $1.4 million. He was limited to 31 games in his professional debut with the GCL Twins in 2013 due to injury. He hit just .214 and got on base 25% of the time. However, he hit five doubles, two triples and six home runs. When he made contact, good things typically happened. He has work to do on his defense as well, as you would expect.

    Roster
    Projections

    In each installment, Iíve made my roster projections. Additional signings and injuries would affect all this, and thatís why I sometimes have more than just two or even three at each level. There are also always players put on disabled lists. As a disclaimer, these are my projections and not meant to be used as anything official. This gives an idea of who could be at each affiliate at the start of the season.


    • Minnesota: Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar
    • Rochester: Deibinson Romero, Brandon Waring, Nate Hanson
    • New Britain: Miguel Sano
    • Fort Myers: Travis Harrison, Stephen Wickens
    • Cedar Rapids: Javier Pimentel, Chad Christensen
    • Extended Spring Training: Amaurys Minier, Roni Tapia, Ruar Verkerk


    Feel free to discuss the players and the roster.
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Is a return to New Britain to start out for Sano your gut feeling, or have you gotten some direction from the club? No one behind Sano in New Britain? Does that mean that Travis Harrison can move up quickly should he get off to a hot start in Ft Myers?


      If the Twins decide to make a deal on Plouffe should he get off to a hot start, how close is Romero ready to man the position on an interim basis while waiting for Sano to arrive?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I know the Twins are playing Escobar at third, but it is his worse defensive position. He is about as good a third baseman as Plouffe is... I would love to see Escobar get an opportunity at the starting SS role over Florimon and push Florimon to the utility role.

      Nate Hanson will likely start at New Britain as well withCorey Wimberly being the utility guy at Rochester. I can see them adding more minor leaguers at 3B because that is definitely a thin position in the upper minors.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      I agree with Seth. I think Sano will start (but hopefully not stay very long) at New Britain.
      The problem: aside from the power component of his game, the rest was inconsistent.

      Yes, he had a great year overall, especially for his age and the enormous amount of pressure he's facing. But if I'm the Twins, I'd like to see more consistency.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      I agree with Seth. I think Sano will start (but hopefully not stay very long) at New Britain.
      The problem: aside from the power component of his game, the rest was inconsistent.

      Yes, he had a great year overall, especially for his age and the enormous amount of pressure he's facing. But if I'm the Twins, I'd like to see more consistency.
      Got to love that inconsistent .915 OPS

      Sano's BB% was higher in New Britain than Fort Myers. The only difference between Fort Myers and New Britain was his contact, that dropped his BA about 90 points from Fort Myers. Root cause: BABIP at AA was .265 vs .397 in A+ . His career BABIP has been in the mid-high .300s, so that .265 is artificially low. Add 100 points to his AA BABIP, and you see that BA hitting mid .300s and that OPS climbing close to 1.100 (and home runs are not Balls In Play, btw.) Unlucky. Not inconsistent.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Got to love that inconsistent .915 OPS

      Sano's BB% was higher in New Britain than Fort Myers. The only difference between Fort Myers and New Britain was his contact, that dropped his BA about 90 points from Fort Myers. Root cause: BABIP at AA was .265 vs .397 in A+ . His career BABIP has been in the mid-high .300s, so that .265 is artificially low. Add 100 points to his AA BABIP, and you see that BA hitting mid .300s and that OPS climbing close to 1.100 (and home runs are not Balls In Play, btw.) Unlucky. Not inconsistent.
      Thry, those #s are all correct. But it's also important to note that High A to AA is generally regarded as the largest jump in the minors. I'm not sure it's accurate to say that Sano was simply unlucky with the BAPIP.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      BABIP is more of a function of the pitch than "luck". It shouldn't be a surprise to learn that flat pitches are more soundly struck than pitches with considerable movement or those of a significantly different speed than the preceeding pitch. Ergo, better pitchers often change speed and movement more than lesser pitchers. The result is fewer base-hits.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      It's my guess, but I also think it would be most beneficial for him. I agree that BABIP isn't completely luck. I think they have Sano start there, with Romero and/or others at Rochester. If Sano crushes and makes those little improvements at New Britain, he'll skip AAA. Or, when he moves up, it's not like he will fight for time with Romero.

      Romero is a nice minor league player. he's not a big league regular, but he could be a solid replacement player for short-term.
    1. Lefty74's Avatar
      Lefty74 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It's my guess, but I also think it would be most beneficial for him. I agree that BABIP isn't completely luck. I think they have Sano start there, with Romero and/or others at Rochester. If Sano crushes and makes those little improvements at New Britain, he'll skip AAA. Or, when he moves up, it's not like he will fight for time with Romero.

      Romero is a nice minor league player. he's not a big league regular, but he could be a solid replacement player for short-term.
      I realize Mauer has just made the FT move to 1st base, but why couldn't he be a potential solution at 3rd? There is no question it is hard to switch positions, however, in my opinion, Mauer would be very likely to do a very good/excellent job at 3rd. If Sano continues to struggle defensively isn't this an option? Move him to 1st and let one of the top athletes to ever come out of Minny move to 3rd.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Sano has turned into a solid, adequate defender at 3B. I like Mauer as much as anyway, but I don't think that would be a pretty transition at all (personal opinion).
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Sano has turned into a solid, adequate defender at 3B. I like Mauer as much as anyway, but I don't think that would be a pretty transition at all (personal opinion).
      I agree with Seth here, I don't think Mauer to third would be as beneficial as Mauer to first. At first he'll be able to use his size and ability to scoop and get balls in the dirt from errant throws coming his way from across the diamond. Also, with Sano coming up, why move Mauer to 3rd only to have Sano give up defensive ability so soon?

      I initially thought Mauer to 3rd was a good idea, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought about it, the more 1st base made sense. I wish he could have stayed behind the plate for another few seasons, but wishing and hoping don't get you too far.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Sano has turned into a solid, adequate defender at 3B. I like Mauer as much as anyway, but I don't think that would be a pretty transition at all (personal opinion).
      Hmmm. I think Joe Torre from C to 3B qualifies as a seamless transition.....he won the NL MVP the year he made the switch! And he's nowhere near the athlete that Mauer is. I get the strong suspicion that Mauer would be better than the "solid and adequate" that Sano offers at 3B.

      What's done is done, and I understand the Twins thinking on this, but the Sano elbow injury should at least give them pause to rethink their options.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      It's my guess, but I also think it would be most beneficial for him. I agree that BABIP isn't completely luck. I think they have Sano start there, with Romero and/or others at Rochester. If Sano crushes and makes those little improvements at New Britain, he'll skip AAA. Or, when he moves up, it's not like he will fight for time with Romero.

      Romero is a nice minor league player. he's not a big league regular, but he could be a solid replacement player for short-term.
      Thanks for the info.

      And the Travis Harrison 2014 potential career track? Assuming Sano moves up quickly or is out for TJ, there doesn't appear to be too much blocking him from reaching AA in-season provided he gets off to a good start at Ft Myers. Your thoughts?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Thanks for the info.

      And the Travis Harrison 2014 potential career track? Assuming Sano moves up quickly or is out for TJ, there doesn't appear to be too much blocking him from reaching AA in-season provided he gets off to a good start at Ft Myers. Your thoughts?
      If he has a strong first half, he could move up in AA in the 2nd half. I personally think that he'll spend the full season in Fort Myers. Harrison is a very good prospect, but he's not in that Sano/Rosario class. He's got work to do defensively and offensively. Hopefully he comes out crushing, but i think Harrison is more of a one step at a time guy right now.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Hmmm. I think Joe Torre from C to 3B qualifies as a seamless transition.....he won the NL MVP the year he made the switch! And he's nowhere near the athlete that Mauer is. I get the strong suspicion that Mauer would be better than the "solid and adequate" that Sano offers at 3B.

      What's done is done, and I understand the Twins thinking on this, but the Sano elbow injury should at least give them pause to rethink their options.
      Of course none of us actually know what would happen. Torre and Johnny Bench had each played 3B in their past. It's not an easy position at all. It's reactionary. The play coming in is not easy for a guy who is 6-5. Sano's been a middle infielder his whole life and that play coming in is part of that. My opinion, and that's all it is, is that Sano will be much better at 3B than Mauer would be.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      If he has a strong first half, he could move up in AA in the 2nd half. I personally think that he'll spend the full season in Fort Myers. Harrison is a very good prospect, but he's not in that Sano/Rosario class. He's got work to do defensively and offensively. Hopefully he comes out crushing, but i think Harrison is more of a one step at a time guy right now.
      Thanks for the insights.

      Given that Harrison becomes a Rule 5 guy in 2015, and that Sano is the heir apparent for the next decade at 3B, I hope that they manage Harrison's potential asset value prudently. From the day they drafted him, I imprinted a Corey Koskie-type prospect impression of Harrison in my mind. It turns out, Koskie was a year at a time guy, too. Only, Harrison is 2 years younger while on the same track, with the same power potential, and learning the defensive ropes the same, hard way.

      One more question for you Seth,

      given that the promotion of Sano from New Britain is inevitable, and that Harrison won't be ready, how do the Twins fill the depth need at 3B there? Is there any chance that Mr Everywhere, Aderlin Mejia, could fill the second Third Baseman/UTIL role with the Rock Cats? He certainly had a nice and unexpected year at Ft Myers in 2013.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Mejia could be a utility man long-term, but my guess is they would rather he be playing every day rather than sitting behind Sano, Santana and Rosario.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Mejia could be a utility man long-term, but my guess is they would rather he be playing every day rather than sitting behind Sano, Santana and Rosario.
      Santana starts at Rochester. I cannot see him at AA any more. The guys who can play at SS at Rochester are utility types (yes including Beresford)
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Got to love that inconsistent .915 OPS

      Sano's BB% was higher in New Britain than Fort Myers. The only difference between Fort Myers and New Britain was his contact, that dropped his BA about 90 points from Fort Myers. Root cause: BABIP at AA was .265 vs .397 in A+ . His career BABIP has been in the mid-high .300s, so that .265 is artificially low. Add 100 points to his AA BABIP, and you see that BA hitting mid .300s and that OPS climbing close to 1.100 (and home runs are not Balls In Play, btw.) Unlucky. Not inconsistent.
      I'm uneducated as far as minor league skill/talent goes. My assumption is that higher level equals more skill, both offensive and defensive. Therefore, I would assume that Sano's drop in Babip would be more due to improved defense level over level than luck. Is that not the case? Is the threshold for defensive prowess between AA and AAA?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Santana starts at Rochester. I cannot see him at AA any more. The guys who can play at SS at Rochester are utility types (yes including Beresford)

      You've now set the table for a rather interesting article from Seth regarding the Twins SS depth chart, methinks. Anxiously anticipating it.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Mejia could be a utility man long-term, but my guess is they would rather he be playing every day rather than sitting behind Sano, Santana and Rosario.
      So the alternative is that they go out sign another AAAA guy? Makes sense, I guess.
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