Top 10 "Under the Radar Prospects"
Its obviously fun to look at and compare lists of top prospects, but over the 20+ years I've been following Twins prospects, I'm always amazed at how many "top" prospects don't make it, and how many that never showed up on any lists, do.For every Jesse Crain, there's a Matt Guerrier, for every Francisco Liriano, there's a Scott Diamond. Under the radar prospects like Drew Butera, Danny Valencia and further back AJ Pierzynski, Eddie G and Jason Bartlett eventually overtook the blue chippers like Matt Moses, Jay Rainville, "Real Deal" JD Durbin and the like.
So with that, I offer my 2012 Top 10 "Under the Radar" prospects that we might see moving up lists over the next year or two.
Dereck Rodriguez - tons of physical tools and dominate GCL early this year, but injury issues brought him back to the pack. Still young and lots of upside.
DJ Baxendale - One of a number of 2012 picks who put up great numbers (along with Duffey, Chargois and Melotakis), Baxendale not only struck out 31 in 18.2 innings, but also walked only 2 while holding batters to a .194 ave. Will almost certainly be back to starting in 2013 after the Twins limited his innings after the college season.
Bruce Pugh - Hard throwing reliever hits the mid-90s. 1.94era between Hi-A and AA this year with 72Ks vs 31BBs in 69.2 IP
Dakota Watts - Another flamethrower who split time between Fort Myers and New Britain, Watts held batteres to a .217 ave. Spent time in the Arizona Fall League in 2011.
Matt Hauser - Continues trend of hard-throwers who moved from Fort Myers to New Britain in 2012. Hauser was stretched out a little this year, being given a chance to start a few games after working exclusively as a reliever the past two years. Will be interesting to see if Twins continue the starting experiment or move him back to the pen.
10. Argenis Silva (P, DSL) - diehards are already familiar with this hard thrower who signed as a 16 year old out of Venezuela. though he struggled with control in his first season in the DSL, Silva did finish 4-0. w
9. Romy Jimenez (OF, Elizabethton)) - as a 21 year old, Jimenez was a little old for the Appy League, but did put up big numbers (.347/.439/.669) with 8 homers with 19 walks v 25 Ks despite missing a third of the season with injury. Coming off an injury plagued 2011, Jimenez needs to show he can stay healthy if he hopes to make the jump.
8. Zack Jones (P, Elizabethton/Beloit) - barely "under the radar", this young man might be the hardest thrower in the organization, regularily hitting the mid-to-upper 90s. Only a lack of history keeps Zack from getting more recognition. Jones put up video-game like numbers in a limited sample size this year, striking out 34 in 20IP while keeping opponents BA at .159. Be intersting to see what he does in a full 2013.
7. Stephen Wickens (SS, Elizabethton/Beloit) - Wickens has now walked more than he has struck out two straight years. Though not as athletic as top SS prospect Niko Goodrum, Wickens seems to have the intangibles to continue to climb this list. Though he doesn't have a ton of pop, he gets on base (.307/.425) and can swipe an occassional bag as well.
6. Levi Michael (SS, Fort Myers) - Had some humbling stats at the plate in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, but he did hit .272 in the 2nd half and drew 56 walks on the year. Still expect him to man a spot in the middle infield for the Twins by 2015.
5. Matt Summers (P, Beloit/Ft. Myers) - Had almost identical numbers in 2011 to Zack Jones' this year before being moved to the rotation this season. Went 11-7 with a 3.88era between his two teams this year. Strikeout numbers dropped dramatically (97 in 148.1IP) along with his velocity after pitching an inning a game in 2011, but still impressed in his first year as a starter.
4. Adam Walker (OF, Elizabethton), - We've seen others put up impressive power numbers in the Appy League before, but this 6'4, 225lb son of a former football player certainly looks to be a legitimate power threat in a system in need of them.
3. Jorge Polanco (SS, Elizabethton) - The lesser known of the two big money Dominican signees from 2009, the twins had hoped Polanco's bat would allow him to progress with Sano, but Polanco batted justi .223 his 1st go round with the GCL Twins in 2010. Polanco returned to the GCL in 2011, improving to .250, while continuing to display a solid glove a short. Polanco took a big step up in 2012, batting .318 (good for 6th in the Appy League) and his OPS+SLG of .903 ranked him third in the league (one behind his more recognized teammate, Max Kepler). Look for Polanco to move to Beloit in 2013, where his bat will determine whether he continues to move up the rankings.
2. Kuo Hua Lo (P, GCL) - This 19 year-old was the top prospect out of Taiwan in 2011. Though I haven't had the chance to see him in person, I've heard he hits up to 95 on the gun despite standing just 5'10. In his debut season, he ptched in teh GCL, putting in 39.2IP with 33Ks vs 7BB and held batters to just .171 A
1. Tyler Jones (P, Beloit) - Arguably the best power arm of any starter in the Twins system, this 2011 draftee pitched in a handful of games at Elizabethon in 2011 before moving up to Beloit for all of 2012. His era was a pedestrian 4.67 while going 5-5, but he did strike out 102 hitters in 86.2 IP with only 35 walks. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, occassionally hitting 96. His slider is a little inconsistent, though a potential plus pitch. The changeup is probably the key pitch for him in his hopes (and/or my hopes!) that he stays in the rotation, as it must become a more reliabel offering.
So there's my two cents on under the radar prospects. I look forward to discussion and other nominees.