Arguments can be made for more than one of the names below to be named as the top hitter for the organization over the past calendar year. Miguel Sano picked up where he left off last season by belting 28 home runs in his first year in a full season league. Aaron Hicks had the breakout campaign fans have been waiting for since the team drafted him. There were plenty of other stories across the organization and it seems the future of Twins baseball is looking brighter with these players on their way to the major leagues.
Over at Twins Daily, Seth Stohs has been naming his picks for the top awards in the Twins minor league system so make sure you check out his picks after you finish with my selections below. There can be some debate about where some of these players finished so it's fun to see where other writers have them. In reverse order, here are my selections for the 2012 Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year:
5.) Eddie Rosario: Beloit Snappers
Stat Summary: .299/.347/.499, 35 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 74 RBI, 62 R
It was a magical season for Rosario last year as he showed that he could hit for average and power while playing great in the outfield. The Twins decided to switch him to infield before the 2012 campaign so he spent most of this year trying to learn a new defensive position. His home run total dropped but he still had a decent amount of power with 57 extra-base hits. He gets on base at a good clip but a lot of that comes from his high batting average so it would be nice to see him get a few more walks. An injury took a few weeks away from Rosario but he was still productive when he returned to the field. It has been a struggle for the Twins to develop middle infielders so the experiment with moving Rosario to second base will be something for fans to keep an eye on over the next couple seasons.
4.) Chris Parmelee: Rochester Red Wings
Stat Summary: .338/.457/.645, 17 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 49 RBI, 45 R
While Twins fans have seen bits and pieces of Parmelee at the big league level, he was a beast in the International League during his time there. There was no place for him to play when he was called up to the Twins so he made more than one trip back-and-forth between Rochester and the Twin Cities. If he would have spent the entire year in the minor leagues, there is a good chance this award would be his. After the Twins sent him down the first time, he put on a hitting clinic for the rest of May by batting over .450 with six extra-base hits in nine games. Mr. Parmelee couldn't fight his way into the line-up with the Twins but he continued to destroy minor league pitching. Much like Trevor Plouffe last year, Parmelee's breakout season at Triple-A will make it hard for the Twins to not give him a more permanent role in 2012.
3.) Miguel Sano: Beloit Snappers
Stat Summary: .258/.373/.521, 28 2B, 4 3B, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 75 R
Sano went swing for swing with Rosario last season but this year it was a little bit different story. The powerful swing of Sano continued to show but his batting average took a dip. As with most power hitters, he struggles with strikeouts and he compiled 144 of them in 457 trips to the plate. He is only 19-years old and his approach at the plate will continue to develop as he moves through the system for the Twins. Fans see young players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout succeeding at the MLB level and it can be natural to want to push Sano up the ladder. These players are the exception and not the rule so let's give Sano some time to develop. When prospect rankings come out at the end of the year, Sano will most likely be the consensus pick as the team's number one prospect. This doesn't mean there aren't things for him to work on with his approach at the plate and his defense on the field.
2.) Aaron Hicks: New Britain Rock Cats
Stat Summary: .286/.384/.460, 21 2B, 11 3B, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 100 R
For Hicks, it was a record-breaking year with the Rock Cats as he set the franchise record for triples and runs scored in a season. After battling through some ups-and-downs in 2011, Hicks wiped a lot of questions away with his overall performance this year. He combined everything the Twins were looking for when they drafted him. His speed, power, and defensive ability were a force in the line-up at New Britain for the entire year. As the season went on, he seemed to get better at the plate. His average was over .300 in July and August and he combined that with 24 extra-base hits in those months. Hicks was doing his best to keep the Rock Cats in the heart of the race for the playoffs. His ability to draw walks has been one of his strongest assets during his professional career and this continued in 2012 as he was issued a free pass on 79 occasions. This award could easily be his for all of the skills he showed on the offensive side of the ball. Fans have gotten use to hearing about the potential of Hicks and he could be appearing at Target Field sometime next season.
1.) Oswaldo Arcia: Fort Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats
Stat Summary: .320/.388/.539, 36 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR, 98 RBI, 76 R
The big key to the success story of Arcia in 2012 was his ability to stay healthy. After some injuries in 2011, he finished the season with the Fort Myers Miracle and he was sent back there to start 2012. In half a season in Florida, he did well by belting seven home runs and 16 doubles. Arcia's first half performance was recognized and he was asked to participate in the Florida State League All-Star Game. For the second half of the year, he would move on to New Britain and it seemed like his game improved with the tougher competition. His batting average jumped over 20 points, his slugging percentage went up 40 points, and this was over more at-bats than he got with the Miracle. He hit .330 or higher in July, August, and September and it seemed like the end of the season was the only thing that could cool down his bat. With runners on base, Arcia would get locked in as he hit over .400 with other players on ahead of him, which makes him a great fit for the middle of a line-up.
All of these numbers didn't just speak for themselves because Arcia was well noticed during the year. He won player of the week honors twice in the International League and once in the Florida State League. Arica was also the Twins representative in the MLB Futures Game during the All-Star festivities in Kansas City. It seems like the accolades didn't end for him. During last offseason, the Twins had to add him to the 40-man roster so it will be interesting to see how quickly the Twins will move him to the big league level. The 21-year old outfielder stayed healthy for an entire season and he showed why he is one of the top prospects in the organization.