Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Twins Top 20 Prospects: 1-10

It is Minor League Appreciation Week here at NoDak Twins Fan. That means the entire week's post will be dedicated to the young players who hope to one day take their place in the line-up at Target Field. These young players work tremendously hard to try and reach the ultimate dream of being a big league player and they should be recognized for efforts on the field. This week I will unveil my Top 20 Prospect List and feature some stories around the players who make their living wearing the jersey's of the Twins farm system.

Here is the schedule of posts that will be featured during the next week:
Tuesday (Today): 2012 Twins Top 20 Prospects, 1-10
Wednesday: Feature story on Miguel Sano
Thursday: Plotting a path through the 2012 Draft
Friday: Minor League Edition of Friday Links-N-Thinks

1. Miguel Sano, 3B (2011 Rank: 1) Level: Rookie
.292/.352/.637, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 18 DBL, 58 R
Sano burst onto the scene in 2011 and showed some of the raw ability that the Twins were looking for when they gave him a signing bonus of over $3 million as a 16-year old back in 2009. He was 18 this past season and he was in a battle for the home run title in the Appalachian League with his teammate, Eddie Rosario. At the end of the year, he would finish second in home runs and third in OPS, slugging, and RBI in the Appalachian League. By most accounts, he is the consensus number one prospect in the Twins organization and fans are looking forward to what he will be able to do with his first year in a full season league in 2012.

When Sano signed with the Twins, he was coming to the organization as a shortstop. With his body continuing to fill-out, the team allowed him to spend most of his time at third base in 2011. There have been some holes in his defense during his first two years in the system but many prospect evaluators are saying that Sano should be able to stick at the hot corner. If defense continues to be a problem, he could start to see time at first base. The Twins will give him every opportunity to stick at third base as he moves through the system. He should spend all of next year in Beliot but the sky is the limit for young Mr. Sano.

2. Joe Benson, OF (2011 Rank: 4) Level: Rookie, AA, MLB
.284/.387/.491, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 29 DBL, 71 R
Benson entered the Twins organization as a second round pick in the 2006 and since he was drafted, he has moved through the system along with first round pick from that year Chris Parmelee. The extreme athleticism of Benson has helped him to rise toward the top of the Twins prospects. He was the organization's minor league hitter of the year in 2010 and he continued to show promise last season. His batting average and OBP both improved but some of his power numbers decreased. Some of this decline could be from the arthroscopic knee surgery he went through in 2011.

The Twins are still hoping he will develop into a five-tool player at the big league level. He has shown the speed, power, and defensive ability to translate into a very good everyday player with the Twins. His strong defensive rapport allows him to play all three outfield positions and his strong arm plays well in all fields. There are questions about his ability to make consistent contact especially when he is facing some offspeed pitches. He made strides in this area last year and starting next year at Rochester should help him to continue improving his offensive approach at the plate.

3. Eddie Rosario, OF (2011 Rank: 19) Level: Rookie
.337/.397/.670, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 9 DBL, 71 R
An entire book might be able to be written about the tremendous season that was put together by Rosario in 2011. Out of all of the Twins prospects, he could be the one that saw his stock rise the most with his combination of power, offensive approach, and defensive ability for the E-Twins. Rosario was part of a batch of high caliber prospects that played in Elizabethton this season. Their season started at the end of June and Rosario wasted little time getting his offensive explosion off of the ground. In ten games in June, he hit five home runs along with two doubles and a triple. The middle months of the season saw some of Rosario's power slow down as he hit six home runs with 11 other extra-base hits between July 1st and August 16th. From there Rosario went on a rampage down the home stretch to help the E-Twins make their way to the playoffs. In the last 17 games of the season, he mashed 10 home runs to go along with four triples, a double, and an eye-popping .477 batting average. 

The Twins have a lot of promising prospects in the outfield and the organization has decided to try and shift Rosario to second base to help fill an area of weakness in the farm system. With Rosario’s extreme athletic ability, the hope is he can continue his powerful approach at the plate and combine that with good defense up the middle as a second baseman. 2011 was a magical year for Rosario and fans will watch closely as he transitions to Beliot next season.

4. Liam Hendriks, RHP (2011 Rank: 8) Level: AA, AAA, MLB
W-L (12-6), 139.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, 111 K, 21 BB
With an injury to Kyle Gibson and an up-and-down season from Alex Wimmers, Liam Hendriks emerged as the top pitching prospect in the farm system of the Twins. He moved from New Britain all the way to Minneapolis in 2011 and he made a strong impression along the way. By the time he made his MLB debut in September, Hendriks had already pitched a career high amount of innings. His strong command of the strike zone and his competitive attitude on the mound give him plenty of potential. 

Hendriks showed an unbelievable ability to avoid walks in 2011 by only allowing three walks in 49.1 innings pitched at Rochester. When he made it to the big leagues, he allowed three walks in two out of his four starts for a total of six walks in 23.1 innings. This tremendous walk rate won't be able to translate to the MLB level but he fits the mold of Twins pitchers by pitching to contact. Hendriks needs more time at Rochester and the Twins have a full starting rotation to start the 2012 season. One injury to a starting arm could bring Hendriks back to the Twin Cities. 

5. Oswaldo Arcia, OF (2011 Rank: 7) Level: Rookie, A, A+
.291/.335/.531, 13 HR, 51 RBI, 23 DBL, 18 BB
During this offseason, the Twins had an easy decision to protect Oswaldo Arcia on the team's 40-man roster. The young outfielder has only made it to Fort Myers but he has too many skills for the Twins not to protect him. His power bat has made him one of the top power prospects in the Twins organization. During last season, he had left elbow surgery which kept him out of action for two months. When he returned, he slid nicely into the outfield for the Miracle with his ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field.

His inability to draw walks is one of his biggest flaws on the offensive side of the ball. In 213 at-bats with the Miracle, he only managed to coax nine base-on-balls from opposing pitchers. He was only 20-years old this past season so there is still time for him to improve some of his discipline at the plate. As he has added more weight to his frame, he is now projecting to be a corner outfielder. He might need a little more time at Ft. Myers to start next season but he should make his way to Beliot in short order.

6. Aaron Hicks, OF (2011 Rank: 3) Level: A+
.242/.354/.368, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 31 DBL, 78 BB
Out of all of the top prospects in the Twins organization, Hicks might have been the biggest disappointment for his play on the field in 2011. He had a career low batting average and OPS with the Miracle but he did show flashes of brilliance during some middle parts of the season. He has the ability to draw walks but this has not helped with his other offensive numbers. When the Twins took Hicks in the first round of the 2008 draft, he projected to be a five-tool star with a very high ceiling. Those dreams have yet to come to fruition.

Hicks continues to work on his swing from both sides of the plate. He has been a much better hitter from the right side of the plate compared to his at-bats from the left side. After his the completion of the Miracle's season, he was asked to compete in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL was a challenge at first for Hicks but he made subtle improvements along the way. His defense continues to be his biggest strength and he will continue to stick in center field for the Miracle at the start of next season.

7. Adrian Salcedo, RHP (2011 Rank: 12) Level: A
W-L (6-6), 135.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.170 WHIP, 92 K, 27 BB
Injuries and inconsistent play by other pitching prospects in the Twins organization have allowed Salcedo to emerge as one of the top starting pitchers in the farm system. In 2011, Salcedo spent the entire season with the Beliot Snappers of the Midwest League. His first start of the year got the season going with a bang as he struck out ten batters over six innings pitched. Throughout the rest of the season, he would pitch five innings or more in all but two starts on the year. At the end of August, Salcedo was closing in on his innings limit and he was transferred to the bullpen. He was outstanding in his relief role by only allowing one earned run in the 13.2 innings he pitched out of the 'pen. 

In his time with the Twins organization, he has struck out 281 batters and only walked 56 with tow of those walks being intentional. The Twins would like Salcedo to add some weight to his tall frame. But even with his lanky build, he continues to be a hard worker and a bulldog on the mound. Salcedo is passing by other pitching prospects in the organization and all of Twins Territory should keep an eye on this young man as he makes his way toward Target Field. 

8. Travis Harrison, 3B (2011 Rank: NR) Level: NA
No Statistics- Did not play after being drafted
With the 50th pick in last June's MLB Draft, the Twins took Travis Harrison for his tremendous offensive ability. A beefy corner infielder that can add some power to the middle of a line-up with the Twins minor league system. In his senior year, he batted .486 with 13 home runs. He has shown the ability of hitting upper deck shots in major league stadiums and he even hit a home run 504 feet in high school. 

In his younger playing career, he was compared to the first pick in the 2010 draft, Bryce Harper. Like Harper, Harrison will most likely be asked to make the transition from third base to another position such as left field or first base. When the Twins took him in the draft, they were more concerned with his bat than his defensive ability. The Twins would be more than happy to have Harrison develop into the kind of talent that Harper has shown in his first minor league season.

9. Chris Parmelee, 1B (2011 Rank: 17) Level: AA, MLB
.287/.366/.436, 13 HR, 83 RBI, 30 DBL, 76 R
In September, Twins fans got a taste of what Parmelee could mean to the organization. The health of Justin Morneau continues to be a question mark and Parmelee is the top first base prospect in the organization. In his brief time with the big league squad, he was very impressive and he seems to have remedied some of his flaws that have followed him during his minor league career. There have been some issues with strikeouts as Parmelee has worked to master his powerful swing. 

A year after struggling out of the gate, Parmelee made sure that was not an issue in 2011 as he came out of the gate hitting .273/.364/.442 during 20 games in April. As the summer heated up, so did Parmelee’s bat, as he was able to hit over .300 in both July and August. This made his call-up at the end of the year an easy decision for the Twins. Mr. Parmelee continues to be an on-base and doubles machine at each level he stops at along the way. Odds are he will start the year in Rochester but he is only a phone call away from being back on the big league roster.

10. Alex Wimmers, RHP (2011 Rank: 5) Level: Rookie, A+
W-L (2-3), 40.2 IP, 4.10 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 40 K, 23 BB
The 2011 season would become a roller coaster ride for Mr. Wimmers and the rocky ride would start in his first outing of the year. In that rough first start, he did not manage to record an out and he walked in three runs. Overall, he faced six batters, walked them all, and was charged with four earned runs. He threw 28 pitches and only four of them were strikes. There was obviously something not quite right in the mind-set of this young pitcher in his first start of the year.  

He would not return to game action until July and the Twins made sure to ease him back onto the field. There were some bumps along the way but Wimmers slowly increased his workload and he made three starts in the last weeks of the season. The most memorable outing came on September 3rd as the Miracle were close to wrapping their 2011 campaign. Wimmers took the mound and was masterful over the course of the seven-inning game. On this day, he would not allow a hit and he faced the minimum 21 batters. This was quite the change from his first trip to the mound back in April. It will be intriguing to watch the progression of Wimmers in 2012.
If you enjoy learning more about the Twins minor league system, make sure to order a copy of the 2012 Twins Prospect Handbook. This book was put together by Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net and it is a great resource for any fan of the Minnesota Twins. There are over 160 prospect profiles, featured articles by Twins writers, and multiple top prospect lists from Twins bloggers. This is the best way to get to know the players who are the future of the Twins franchise. ORDER HERE


Anonymous said...

Sano is a "Dominican" twenty. In reality he is four years older and should be in AAA.

JoeBraga said...

Have you heard of Kyle Gibson?

NoDak Twins Fan said...


Gibson was on my list of prospects in the 11-20 range I posted yesterday. With his elbow surgery, I thought it was too much of a risk to include him in the top 10.

NoDak Twins Fan