I composed a countdown of the top hitters in the Twins minor league system for the 2011 season. There were many great performances by hitters in the farm system and it was hard to narrow the list down to just one person. That being said, the three people on my list could all end up being top 15 prospects for the Twins entering next season.
Today the focus shifts to the men on the mound for the affiliated teams of the Twins. Once again there were some great performances throughout the different levels of the farm system. This list was much easier to figure out who should be placed on the top for the season. Who else should be considered for the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year?
Here is the countdown of my list of the top three pitchers in the minor leagues for the 2011 season.
#3 BJ Hermsen (Fort Myers and Beliot)
Stat Summary: (13-8), 3.33 ERA, 1 CG, 151.1 IP, 101 K, 1.335 WHIP
Hermsen was selected by the Twins in the 6th round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of the high school. He spent half of last season and most of this season with the Beliot Snappers. The organization felt comfortable moving him to a higher level in the middle of each of the last two seasons. Each of those transitions has come with some rough patches but for the most part Hermsen has been able to handle the midseason moves. By throwing out his two bad starts with Ft. Myers, his other performances look very good. In each of those three games, he pitched six innings and he allowed a total of three runs in those starts. If the Twins keep Hermsen on the same plan, he will start next season at Fort Myers and be called up to New Britain in the second half of the year.
#2 Adrian Salcedo (Beliot)
Stat Summary: (6-6), 2.93 ERA, 1 CG, 135.0 IP, 92 K, 1.170 WHIP
The Twins signed Salcedo in 2007 as a 16-year old minor league free agent from the Dominican Republic. Salcedo has showed dominant stuff throughout his minor league career and that trend continued in 2011. He was one of the best pitchers for the Beliot Snappers and he was selected as a Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star in June of this year. Along with Liam Hendriks, Salcedo may be the only other pitcher the Twins have in their list of top 10 prospects. He is on track to be a very good pitcher for the Twins but fans will not catch a glimpse of Salcedo for at least a couple of seasons. He will start next season at Fort Myers but the future still looks bright for this right-handed hurler.
#1 Liam Hendriks (Rochester and New Britain)
Stat Summary: (12-6), 3.36 ERA, 2 CG, 139.1 IP, 111 K, 1.134 WHIP
Hendriks has worked his way up the ladder to become the top pitching prospect in the Twins organization. He showed dominant ability at the AA level and he was selected to play in the Futures Game during MLB's All-Star festivities in Arizona. After being promoted to Rochester, his nine games at that level were not as dominant as at the AA level but that can be expected. The rough outings he had at AAA were interspersed with some very strong performances. His last start of the season in the minor leagues was masterful as he pitched eight innings and only allowed one run on three hits.
At the beginning of the season, the consensus was the Kyle Gibson would be the pitching prospect that would be debuting late in the season for the Twins. That story line took a different direction and now Hendriks has shown the organization that he deserves a shot at the MLB level. It will be interesting to see how the team approaches the offseason with the starting rotation. The organization has a log-jam of starting pitchers and Hendriks could be forced to start next season at the AAA level to gain some more experience against that level of competition.