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Prospect list in depth, Part Eight: 1-5

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This concludes my 1-60 prospect list in depth. I hope it is helpful for everyone to get a grasp of the depth of the system and to help in formulating one's own top 20 or 30 prospects lists.

Note: yes, neither Randy Rosario nor Anthony Slama appear in this top 60, and for entirely different reasons. Rosario needs to have a good 2013, and Slama appears to be done in the system, or it doesn't even matter to include him anywhere.

Also, note: I am going to analyze the prospect movement trends from 2012 to 2013 in an upcoming blog. It will not be as cumbersome as the 2011 to 2012 version. I think it will be fairly illuminating, so stay tuned.

5. Alex Meyer (DOB: 1-3-90), RH starter: Meyer was the return that the Nationals sent over for Denard Span. Meyer is 6í 9Ē and throws in the mid-upper 90s with a fantastic slider. He was the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. He pitched 129 innings last year between low and high-A ball. After the promotion, he compiled a 2.31 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks in 39 innings. His H/9 dropped minimally, but his walk rate dropped by a quarter, so that might make up for his K/9 drop in the move. Meyer is ranked as the 59th best prospect by Baseball America and 40th by MLB.com (after it ranked him 83rd going in to last season). Meyer was a beast in high school and the Red Sox drafted him in the 20th round in 2008, but he opted to go to Kentucky which increased his stock immensely. Meyer and Gibson really could give the 1-2 punch the Twins need going forward, but Meyer is going to take a bit of time still. Expected start: New Britain. ETA: 2014-2015.

4. Byron Buxton (DOB: 12-18-93), RH center fielder: The Twins took Buxton with the second pick in the 2012 draft because his tools are off the charts (speed, arm, defense) or great (average, power). He performed well in the Gulf Coast League even though he struck out a lot and did not hit for average. The key was that he found his power against some fresh-out-of-high-school pitching. He was promoted to Elizabethon and actually improved. The slugging dropped, but his average and OBP climbed and he ended with a combined .792 OPS in his first season of pro baseball as an 18-year-old. My placement at the fourth spot on this list is almost certainly as low as he is on any Twins prospect list. This is simply due to the three ahead of him and the fact that I want to see more plate appearances from Buxton. When Sano was signed, I thought of him in the 3rd spot back then. The Twins are going to be patient from here on out with him, but they very smartly broke character and are moving him up from the very low levels to the middle quickly. Expected start: Cedar Rapids. ETA: September 2015-September 2016.

3. Oswaldo Arcia (DOB: 5-9-91), LH right fielder: Arcia is another player who the Twins have been smart about in pushing him through the system. He went ballistic in 2010 in Elizabethon, posting a 1.096 OPS. He followed that up with a combined .866 OPS in 2011 where he faced high-A pitching for almost ĺ of the season. In 2012, Arcia started out much better in Fort Myers than where he ended it in 2011 and had a great second half with New Britain. There he had a .328/.398/.557 (.955) slash with 20 doubles, 5 triples, and 10 homers in 299 plate appearances. Those numbers are obviously excellent and he should, in my view, serve as a example for how certain high prospects should be treated by the Twins. That is, players should be promoted in season instead of playing a whole season at one stop. This way players may be a bit over their heads like Arcia was in 2011 in Fort Myers, but they get the taste of the level and can dominate like Arcia did the next year. Arcia is comparable to Jason Kubel pre-injury, so that means that would project him out to be an actual outfielder with an impressive bat who can turn some singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Expected start: short time in New Britain first. ETA: September 2013-2014.

2. Aaron Hicks (DOB: 10-2-89), SH center field: People started to scoff at my pre-2012 ranking of Hicks as my number two prospect. Thatís fine, and certainly he would have dropped if he would not have been so good in 2012. His .844 OPS comes with MLB-ready defense in center field. That is something remarkable in itself, but both his power numbers and his stolen bases went up significantly in 2012. Hicks strikes out a lot, but he also walks a lot and that is something that isnít going to go away since plate discipline doesnít just disappear. Itís an advanced skill and that is one big reason (coupled with the defense) that made it impossible for me to move Hicks down the prospect list for the past three seasons. Hicks has been up and down, and some of that I blame on the Twins organization, but there is consistent improvement along the way. His bat is not fully ready, but with the trading of Span and Revere, the door was opened for Hicks to step in. And after all has been said and done, I think he will step in right out of the gates in 2013. Expected start: Minnesota. ETA: 2013, even if he doesnít start out the season with the Twins.

1. Miguel Sano (DOB: 5-11-93), RH third baseman: Sano has more than lived up to expectations
heaped upon him as he made his move into professional baseball after a hellacious bunch of scrutiny coming out of the Dominican Republic. He has moved up national prospect lists at a consistent pace to where he is ranked 9th by Baseball America and 12th by MLB.com. The absolute power is there and the amount of walks he drew in 2012 was a major improvement over 2012. As he moves up, the walks might drop but that may mean he gets more pitches to annihilate, so I donít anticipate any real drop in power numbers even while moving in the Florida State League. The question is going to be eventually about where he will end up playing defensively, but it is certainly the case that third base is his position for 2013. If he can improve there, it is a huge gain for the Twins. If he has to move elsewhere, it hardly matters. His arm is spectacular, but first base may end up being his position. He certainly is growing into the position and might be 6í 6Ē, 260 when all is said and done. Think a slightly smaller Frank Thomas and you get the idea. And Sano is still very young with immense talent. Expected start: Fort Myers. ETA: September 2014, or June 2015.
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