Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Minor League Players to Watch: Position Players

The Twins have a few full squad workouts under their belt and the team's first spring training game will be this weekend. Spring has sprung in Fort Myers even if the 40-degree weather this weekend didn't agree. Baseball season is back and there are plenty of things to be excited about for the Twins.

Last week, I looked at some of the story lines for pitchers and catchers since they were the first to report. Later in the week, I dissected some of the headlines for position players as they got ready for their first practice. These stories are important for the 2013 roster but there are some other stories worth watching in the minor league system for the Twins.

When it came to pitchers and catchers, there were a few names to keep an eye on in the minor leagues. The Twins have a couple of young catchers working their way up the ladder and they could both play important roles for the future of the club. There are also some pitchers that could be looking to have even more of a breakout year.

Here are some position players to watch in the minor leagues in 2013. These might not be the biggest names in the farm system but they are players that could surprise during the coming season.

Infielders: The Twins are trying to patch together a middle infield for this season after some dreadful play at those spots. High-ranking prospect Eddie Rosario has switched from the outfield to the infield in an attempt for the organization to get more depth at these spots. Miguel Sano will certainly be a name to watch for the future but here are a couple other candidates.

Danny Santana: He is already on the 40-man roster and he put together a very productive year at Fort Myers last season. As a 22-year old, he should be given a starting middle infield job at the Double-A level. This would mean that he is getting closer to making his big league debut.

Santana, a switch-hitter, does better from the left side of the plate, which is good since that is where he will get the majority of his at-bats. He hit nearly .300 versus right-handed pitchers last season. There is a little pop in his bat as he hit 38 extra-base hits last season including 21 doubles.

His fielding has made small improvements since he was a 17-year old shortstop in the Dominican Summer League. He had 13 errors in 35 games at that position in 2008. Last year, Santana had 18 errors over 85 games at shortstop so there is still work to be done on the defensive side of the ball.

Levi Michael: Usually, a first round pick wouldn't be too much of a surprise on a list like this but Michael is coming off a rough season. The Twins first pick in the 2011 draft was suppose to be a fast riser after his college experience at the University of North Carolina. He struggled in his first full season of professional ball.

Most of his offensive struggles came against right-handed pitchers. He only hit .212/.306/.271 over 288 at-bats versus righties. After posting a .216 batting average before the All-Star Game, he hit .272 down the stretch. He was able to make some adjustments and it showed on the field.

On the defensive side of the ball, Baseball America ranks him as the best defensive infielder in the Twins farm system. He split time between shortstop and second base last year and his path to the big leagues might come from his strong defense. Michael and Santana could form the middle infield duo for the Rock Cats.

Outfielders: There are plenty of eyes on the battle for center field in big league camp. Can Joe Benson or Aaron Hicks beat out the competition and win the Opening Day gig? There is another other name in the organization to watch this year.

Daniel Ortiz: As a 22-year old Oritz played at two different levels last season. Most of his playing time came with the Fort Myers Miracle but he did play a little with the Beloit Snappers. The former fourth round pick has been slowly working his way through the Twins system and he has made some improvements along the way.

After struggling to make constant contact in 2011 at Beloit, the Twins sent him back there to start last season. He gained some confidence and hit close to .300 in his 22 games with that club. When he was promoted to Fort Myers, his average dropped a little to .269 but he showed some power with 37 extra-base hits.

Ortiz can be used at all three outfield positions but most of his games in the minor leagues have been at a corner outfield spot. The Twins have plenty of other center fielders ahead of him so he will likely settle into a corner spot as he moves up the ladder.


Marv said...

Michael's better numbers after the All-Star break are encouraging.
It would be great to see him have a breakout year. We so badly need MI help.

NoDak Twins Fan said...

Yeah, I'm excited to see what Michael can do this year.