• Twins Organizational Depth Chart - Middle Infielders

    In the last two weeks, weíve reviewed the catchers, the first basemen and third basemen so far, and today we will be looking at the middle infielders in the Minnesota Twins organization. As much as I would like to separate the shortstops and the second basemen, so many of them can (or will or have) played both positions that I will consider them as one group of players.

    As it sits today, it appears that the Twins may start the same middle infield combination for the first time in a decade, when Cristian Guzman and Luis Rivas were roaming the center of the diamond together.

    Pedro Florimon is magic with his glove, and maybe more.
    Photo by Betsy Bissen

    The Big Leaguers

    Unless something happens over the next month or so, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier will be the Twins keystone combo to start the season. Both spent time as the Twins starting shortstop during the 2012 season and didnít perform very well. In 2013, Dozier made the transition to second base, and at least defensively, the Twins were strong up the middle.

    Offensively, you all know that Dozier got off to a slow start, but at the end of May, he made an adjustment and started producing with the bat. Dozier provided the Twins with 33 doubles and 18 home runs while committing just six errors. Can he keep up his second-half success, maybe even hit for more power?

    As expected, Florimon struggled with the bat. He hit just .221/.281/.330 (.611), though he had 17 doubles and nine home runs. Florimon makes his money with his glove. Defensively, his reputation of having great range and a strong arm both proved true. Can the defense overcome the offensive struggles? Can he make some adjustments with the bat?

    Eduardo Escobar is out of options, so he is all but assured of being on the Twins roster to start the season. As in 2012, he will most likely be the Twins utility infielder as he can play all three spots pretty well.

    The Twins have typically preferred having a second utility infielder. Doug Bernier surfaced last year after last playing in the big leagues in 2008. The Twins also brought back Jason Bartlett, who has not played since May 14, 2012. At 34, he is attempting a comeback. For defensive purposed, James Beresford may be the best option. He just turned 25 and between AA and AAA in 2013 he hit .306/.363/.346 while primarily playing 2B. If I had to pick a favorite of that group to start the season, I would lean toward Beresford, though Bartlett at 100% could make things interesting.

    2013 Draft Picks


    The Twins drafted four middle infielders in the 2013 draft. Three of those players came from the college ranks. Their first middle infielder they took was in the 11th round, and he came from the prep ranks.

    Nelson Molina
    was the Twins 11th round pick, coming from high school in Puerto Rico. He played for the GCL Twins and it would be fair to say he struggled to start the season. In his first 19 games, he had just one hit in 52 at bats (.019 BA). He hit .193 over the final 17 games. At 6-3 and 175 pounds, there is some confidence his offense will come around. There is more confidence about his glove, and they believe he will be able to stay at shortstop.

    In the 18th round, the Twins took Ryan Walker out of UT-Arlington. He hit .267 in 42 games with Elizabethton; he also played in six games with Cedar Rapids. He is a speed player who plays very solid defense, with good range and a strong arm.

    In the 30th round, the Twins went with a player they know well. They drafted second baseman Tanner Vavra. The son of Twins 3B coach, Joe, Tanner went to Valparaiso where he hit very well. No surprise with a coachís kid, but he is a grinder. He hit just .246 in E-Town, but got on base about 36% of the time.

    Two rounds later, the Twins went to Cal State-Dominguez Hills shortstop Carlos Avila. He hit just .206 in Elizabethton, and is known more for his glove than his bat.

    Prospect Rankings


    The Twins top middle infield prospect certainly affects the opening day roster. Eddie Rosario (My Twins Prospect #5) will begin the season with a 50-game suspension. That said, Rosario remains a top prospect because he can hit. After hitting .329/.377/.527 (.903) in 57 games with the Miracle, he hit .284/.330/.412 (.742) in 70 games in New Britain. Brian Dozierís level of success with the Twins in 2014 may determine whether the Twins keep Rosario at second base or move him back to the outfield.

    Jorge Polanco
    (#6) struggled his first two years of pro ball, but in 2013 in Cedar Rapids, he showed that his 2012 stats an Elizabethton werenít a fluke. In fact, in a loaded Kernels lineup, he hit third most of the season. Overall, he hit .308/.362/.452 (.813) with 32 doubles, ten triples and five home runs. Polanco split his time between shortstop and second base, though he really only played shortstop when Niko Goodrum was hurt.

    Goodrum (#20) had a solid first full season with the Kernels. He plays a very solid shortstop with good range, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. Offensively, he hit .260/.364/.369 with 30 extra base hits. He has never hit for average, but his career IsoD is .096. He is long and lanky and still growing. He has a nice swing from both sides of the plate and could add some power.

    Danny Santana
    (#15) has shown the ability to hit for average (.297) and steal a lot of bases (30). He is allergic to walking, but heís got the pop to hit a lot of doubles and triples. Defensively, he has the tools (great range, rocket arm) to be a great shortstop but to this point he has been very inconsistent on the routine plays.

    Levi Michael
    was not in my Top 30 prospects and barely makes the Top 50 after the former first-round pick has struggled two straight years in Fort Myers. In two seasons with the Miracle, he has hit .239/.336/.323. The Rosario suspension could mean he gets pushed to New Britain to start the season. He will be 23 throughout the season.

    Aderlin Mejia
    is another guy who isnít a Top 30 prospect, but he came out of nowhere to be a likely Top 50 guy. He was supposed to go to Elizabethton, but while at Extended Spring Training, the Miracle had a need. It was supposed to be short-term, but he hit so well (.308 in 75 games), they couldnít take his bat out of the lineup until a late-season injury.

    Roster
    Projections

    In each installment, Iíll make my roster projections. Obviously additional signings or injuries will affect all this, and thatís why it is important to have more than just two or even three at each level. There are also always players put on the disabled lists. So again, most likely there wonít be four catchers at Cedar Rapids, but this gives an idea of who could be at each affiliate at the start of the season.


    • Minnesota: Pedro Florimon (SS), Brian Dozier (2B), Eduardo Escobar (UT)
    • Rochester: Doug Bernier (SS), James Beresford (2B), Eric Farris (UT), Jason Bartlett (UT), Nate Hanson (UT)
    • New Britain: Danny Santana (SS), Levi Michael (2B), Eddie Rosario (2B-SUSP), AJ Pettersen (UT), Brad Boyer (UT), Corey Wimberly (UT)
    • Fort Myers: Niko Goodrum (SS), Jorge Polanco (2B), Aderlin Mejia (UT),Stephen Wickens (UT)
    • Cedar Rapids: Ryan Walker (SS), Logan Wade (2B), Carlos Avila (UT), Joel Licon (UT), Tanner Vavra (UT)
    • Extended Spring Training: Jonatan Hinojosa, Engelb Vielma, Nelson Molina, Will Hurt


    Feel free to discuss the players and the roster.
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Seth, didn't LaVelle write something earlier this offseason about being told by the Twins that they intended to give Polanco all of 2014 to show he can play shortstop? Or did I imagine that?
    1. Spth's Avatar
      Spth -
      Could Joe Mauer play shortstop?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Polanco will be a shortstop until something happens. I suspect that at Fort Myers you will see Polanco at SS and Pimenter at 2B with Goodrum moving around third, short and second. Harrison will likely do the third/first shuffle as well. Mejia will likely be the utility guy there. I would be really surprised if Santana is not the starting SS at Rochester and Michael the starting SS at New Britain with Beresford keeping the AAA 2B job warm for Rosario to take over the end of May. Those older guys are just filler at this point...
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Pimenter?
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Agreed the older guys should be, hopefully will be, filler players. Really like the future prospects of both Goodrum and Polanco. Polanco just seems to have that "it" factor of an all around good player who may not have much HR power, but the ability to hit, take some walks, hit in the clutch, drive the ball, take an extra base and steal a few, etc. The only negative I've ever heard, not seeing him in person, is pure arm strength. Could anyone shed some light on this matter?

      I have tasted before that while a strong arm is a quality asset for a SS at any level is important, there is more to the position than simply that. There is positioning, soft hands, accuracy, body control and a quick release.

      Goodrum really intrigues me! He's a young man still gaining experience, growing as a ball player, but also seemingly growing and maturing physically. In an earlier thread, he was one of my milb players I picked to click this season. I see a gifted athlete, who when his light bulb snaps on, could really impress.

      Always liked and rooted for Beresford, though it seems he's just never going to muscle up any. But another Jeff Reboulet for us perhaps?

      And no question Santana has a great deal of athleticism to develop in to at least a versatile, helpful INF even if he never fully approaches his ceiling. Lots of unknowns here, but compared to our INF situation just a couple years ago, plus the emergence of Dozier and potential of Rosario, it is so very refreshing to see we at least have some real talented possibilities over the next few seasons.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Seth, didn't LaVelle write something earlier this offseason about being told by the Twins that they intended to give Polanco all of 2014 to show he can play shortstop? Or did I imagine that?
      I think you imagined that. From what I recall, he wrote that they would let him stay at SS for another year. We all thought it was strange because he pretty much only played SS in 2013 when Niko was hurt.

      I guess I took it more as saying, he'll continue to get time there, but probably not full time. I could be wrong, depending on what they do with other guys.
    1. goulik's Avatar
      goulik -
      You did not put Aderlin mejia on the depth chart...
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by goulik View Post
      You did not put Aderlin mejia on the depth chart...
      Yep. After our discussion on the Third Base thread the other night, the main things that were going to pique my curiosity with this list was where Santana and Mejia are likely to land.

      Is there any chance that the Twins decide to start Santana out in Roc. and Mejia and Michael then become front and center in New Britain? (And then when Rosario comes back in late May, at that point, Mejia could possibly take over for Sano at Third....?)
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Thanks Seth for doing these position reviews!!!! Very informative!!
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      I'm not worried about Dozier's power. Its his OBP that I want to see improved. His minor league numbers in this regard were WAY better than his major league numbers so far, so I am somewhat optimistic he can do it. I still think the possibility exists that he could be adequate at shortstop if Rosario earns his way to the bigs. Of course that only makes sense if there are 3 good guys in the outfield. For 2015 I have Buxton and Arcia penciled in to the outfield. Whether Hicks or someone else emerges in 2014 will probably impact where Rosario plays
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quick note - I just added Mejia where I think he'll start the season, Ft. Myers. He was supposed to play for ETown last year, not Ft. Myers. He only played about 70-80 games there, so I can't see him jumping up to New Britain to start the season. I also put him as a UT (utility) guy, but I think he, and Wickens, will play a lot, most days. Wickens getting some time in the OF, Mejia all around the infield.

      This exercise of trying to figure out where players are going to go for this reason, it's hard to account for playing time. Will Harrison, Goodrum and Polanco all move up? If not, Mejia could play more in FM. If they decided Goodrum would be a 3B (which could, but likely later, he's a solid SS), he could stay in CR to start the season and play 3B while Harrison plays in FM. Mejia and Polanco could play a lot of SS and 2B.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      I'm not worried about Dozier's power. Its his OBP that I want to see improved. His minor league numbers in this regard were WAY better than his major league numbers so far, so I am somewhat optimistic he can do it. I still think the possibility exists that he could be adequate at shortstop if Rosario earns his way to the bigs. Of course that only makes sense if there are 3 good guys in the outfield. For 2015 I have Buxton and Arcia penciled in to the outfield. Whether Hicks or someone else emerges in 2014 will probably impact where Rosario plays
      Regarding Dozier's OBP... if his BA goes from .245 to .275 (which is very realistic), his OBP should got from .310 to .345. Still not great, but pretty solid IsoD.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Regarding Dozier's OBP... if his BA goes from .245 to .275 (which is very realistic), his OBP should got from .310 to .345. Still not great, but pretty solid IsoD.
      .345 would be better than any of the last 4 seasons for Denard Span. I would take that from my leadoff hitter in a heartbeat. The main free agent I want us to get is Stephen Drew who has a .331 OBP which also isn't great but is still 50 points higher than Florimon's. .345 from Dozier, .331 from Drew, .400 from Mauer and .350 from Willingham and at least we are on the right track.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      .345 would be better than any of the last 4 seasons for Denard Span. I would take that from my leadoff hitter in a heartbeat. The main free agent I want us to get is Stephen Drew who has a .331 OBP which also isn't great but is still 50 points higher than Florimon's. .345 from Dozier, .331 from Drew, .400 from Mauer and .350 from Willingham and at least we are on the right track.
      Isn't great? It is great when broken down by position. Drew's .333 OBP in 2013 would have beaten every other team OBP from SS except for four. Having Drew at the bottom of the batting order would be a huge upgrade. I also possibly like Drew batting 2nd against some RHP (.343 career OBP)- especially if the Twins don't mind occasionally changing up on the potential R-L-R-L-R-L-R configuration with Mauer batting in the 2-hole and farther down, Arcia, Plouffe, Kubel, Drew- 4-7 in the order.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Do you really think the Twins would keep players like Bernier & Bartlett at AAA over Santana?!?!
      God I hope not. That would be a terrible signal.
      Bernier has no future with this club. He does not deserve to block a quality prospect who is on the 40 man roster and is wasting service time repeating a level he did respectable in last year.
      Santana is the best chance this organization has at developing a quality inhouse SS for the next 3 years.

    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Do you really think the Twins would keep players like Bernier & Bartlett at AAA over Santana?!?!
      God I hope not. That would be a terrible signal.
      Bernier has no future with this club. He does not deserve to block a quality prospect who is on the 40 man roster and is wasting service time repeating a level he did respectable in last year.
      Santana is the best chance this organization has at developing a quality inhouse SS for the next 3 years.

      +1
      Unless they think Bartlett needs 30-50 games to dust the rust off before joining the major league roster as a legitimate contributor, anyone else playing SS to start out the season at Rochester sure seems like a fool's errand.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Santana needs to be in AAA. There isn't a great fit at AA but that should not hold back Santana.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      "Tanner Vavra... hit just .246 in E-Town, but got on base about 36% of the time."

      Sounds like Tanner Vavra has a good eye.



      Anybody get it? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      "Tanner Vavra... hit just .246 in E-Town, but got on base about 36% of the time."

      Sounds like Tanner Vavra has a good eye.



      Anybody get it? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
      Yes. Funny. He only has one good eye. It's amazing he has been able to play as long as he has.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      It's nice to see he got off to a solid start. I will be rooting for him.
      I need to have more trust in Twins Daily readers to pick up on my dumb jokes.
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