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My 10 minor league players to watch

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Last year's crew didn't do so well overall, especially the pitchers. This year only one of the 10 players returns to the list. These are guys under the radar a bit, but could have breakout or breakthrough seasons (from bottom to top of system):

1. Dereck Rodriguez (EST, E-Town or CR): Rodriguez had a solid 2012 season when healthy. He is turning 21 in June and has been moved very cautiously in the Twins system (much like Nate Roberts). I have to imagine that he ends 2013 with Cedar Rapids, especially if Buxton and/or Kepler are promoted to Fort Myers. Rodriguez needs to cut out the strike outs to be successful.

J.D. Williams (CR): Williams is the only one to return to the list this year. After an excellent 2011 season he turned in a bad one in low-A ball in 2012. He is off to a fast start in 2013. Speaking of fast, Williams is the one guy who might be able to take Byron Buxton in a foot race. Anyway, Williams is 22.5 years old and repeating at low-A is hopefully not a year-long process. He could be one of three OF for Cedar Rapids promoted to Fort Myers this year.

Dalton Hicks (CR): The 23-year-old had a solid season in 2012 and is pounding the ball in 18 at bats this year. Could be a fast-riser and be another player challenging to make a move up to Fort Myers this season.

Michael Gonzales (FM): Speaking of Fort Myers and first base, I have been pleased with Gonzales early numbers after an OK performance in 2012. He will finish the season in New Britain, undoubtedly. He turns 25 in June and has tremendous power, but he needs to make contact.

Tom Stuifbergen (FM): Stuifbergen was a bright spot in the system a few years ago and in the 2009 WBC. He has battled injuries the past few seasons and the K/rate is falling. If he gets that back up this year, he could be ending the season in AAA. He turns 25 in September.

Daniel Ortiz (NB): Twins fans may now know who Ortiz is after this spring's extended stay with the Twins in spring training. Ortiz has been consistent in his minor league career and the Twins have rewarded him with promotions. He really probably has fourth outfielder potential, but he can play all three positions out there and could develop some pop. In any event, he has more upside than Boggs, Ramirez, and Mastroianni.

A.J. Achter (NB): Achter put up ridiculous numbers in 2012 in Fort Myers. He may be less well-known than Michael Tonkin, but he should rise with Tonkin in the system this year. He is part of a class of relievers (Tonkin, Watts, Pugh, Thielbar) who will challenge for spots in the bullpen this year and next.

Dakota Watts (NB): Watts was solid in 2012 and in winter ball. He has some good velocity and will be knocking on the door this year for a promotion to AAA after he gets off the DL. He could likely be in the bullpen for the Twins in 2014.

Bruce Pugh (R): Pugh was great in 2012 and will be up with the Twins at some point in 2013. He whiffs a lot of batters and could be a viable setup man down the road.

Andrew Albers (R): Albers is the elder statesman of this group and I hope he gets a chance to make the big leagues soon. He is a crafty, command lefty who has been very good the past two seasons in the system. Likely long relief down the road. I wanted him to pair with Gibson too keep Gibson's inning load down, but Albers was forced into the rotation.
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  1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    I'd be shocked if Dereck Rodriguez plays in CR this year. He's a raw, toolsy type. He'll spend the year at E-Town. There are several other OF who will likely go to CR before him, like Murphy and Proctor at least. (but i do like Rodriguez's potential)

    From what I saw, JD Williams looked good, and looked much more confident.
  2. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    One then has to wonder what the projection is like for Rodriguez. He will be 21 soon and you think he will stay in rookie ball after two seasons with the GC Twins? Yikes. E-Town is a small step for him.
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