Thursday, January 7, 2016

Where Are They Now? 2011 Twins Top-10 Prospects

Ranking prospects within an organization is no easy task. The internet has opened up a wave of new information for writers as they can analyze video, sort through higher-level statistics, and prioritize scouting reports from a plethora of experts. This level of information can be overwhelming at times but it helps to separate prospects at different levels.

One of my favorite parts of working on the 2016 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is looking at the old prospect lists from yesteryear. It's entertaining to see some of the players that were once thought of as being near the top of the Twins organization. Seth's lists go further back than Jeremy and I and that can be even more entertaining. His 2008 Top-4 Twins prospects included Deolis Guerra, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, and Kevin Mulvey.

I started my blog in the spring of 2010 so my first prospect list was for the 2011 season. There are some very familiar names on the list and some other names that have disappeared from the baseball world. "Where Are They Now?" will help to find out how these top prospects are doing at this point in their careers.

1. Miguel Sano, 3B
2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Entering the 2011 season, Sano was just coming off his first professional action in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. I already had high hopes for the young slugger even though he only had just over 200 ABs under his belt. In 2015, Sano made his big league debut and finished in third place in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He was named the Minnesota Twins team MVP even though he only played half of a season. Next season will be his first full season at the big leagues and his future looks bright.

2. Kyle Gibson
2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB)
The Twins had been aggressive with Gibson back in 2010. He pitched at three different levels from High-A all the way up to Triple-A. Using his college experience, Gibson had pitched well with an ERA under 3.00 and most Twins prospect lists had him as one of the top choices entering the 2011 campaign. This past season Gibson was named the team's best starting pitcher after he lead the team in most statistical categories. He had to overcome Tommy John surgery and some struggles at the big league level but he has established himself as one of the Twins best pitchers before his 28th birthday.

3. Aaron Hicks
2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Hopes were still high for Hicks following the 2010 season as he had established himself as one of the best prospects in the game. Baseball America had Hicks as the 19th best prospect in baseball and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 26th. Since that time, Hicks would put together other strong seasons in the minor but his MLB time was a little underwhelming. For the 2015 campaign, he made subtle strides on the offensive side of the ball and his defense continues to be strong. The Twins traded Hicks to the New York Yankees this offseason for catcher John Ryan Murphy.

4. Joe Benson
2015 Team (Level): Gwinnett Braves (AAA), Binghamton Mets (AA)
After the Twins took Benson with their second round pick in 2006, he had established himself as one of the team's top prospects. He had hit 27 home runs between Double-A and High-A before being asked to play in the Arizona Fall League. Benson would debut with the Twins in 2011 but he has yet to be back to the big league level. He's bounced around from organization to organization including the Rangers, Marlins, Mets, and Braves. Last year, he played the entire season at Triple-A with the Braves and he hit .248/.351/.361. Minnesota signed Benson as a minor league free agent so he will be back in the organization for the 2016 campaign.

5. Alex Wimmers
2015 Team (Level): Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Wimmers and Gibson were both first round draft picks with similar college experience. This gave Twins fans some great expectations for Wimmers especially after a some strong numbers with Fort Myers in his professional debut (1 ER, 0.70 WHIP, 23 K, 15.2 IP). His trip through the Twins organization has been rocky at best. There have been some high moments but his issues with control have deterred him from living up to his first round draft status. The last two seasons he has been over a year and a half older than the competition at his level while splitting time as a starter and reliever.2016 will be big if he wants to stay in the Twins organization.

6. Ben Revere
2015 Team (Level): Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
At the end of the 2010 season, Revere would make his big league debut before becoming an MLB regular in 2011. Revere, another first round pick on this list, showed the ability to make consistent contact in the minors while stealing bases and playing strong outfield defense. He would become a fan favorite during his couple years playing in Minnesota before being dealt to the Phillies for Trevor May. He's stolen 30 bases or more in four of his last five seasons and he lead the NL in hits back in 2014. Philadelphia dealt him to the Blue Jays at the end of last season to help with their playoff run.

7. Oswaldo Arcia
2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Arcia was already showing his power potential in 2010 as he finished the season with a 1.096 OPS for Elizabethton in the Appalachian League. He wouldn't debut with the Twins until 2013 and he would crank 20 home runs at the big league level in 2014. Arcia is still in the Twins organization but he struggled through 2015 to the point where he wasn't given a call-up last September. With the emergence of Miguel Sano and the addition of Byung Ho Park, it will be interesting to see what kind of role Arcia will have in 2016. He could be a good power option off the bench.

8. Liam Hendriks
2015 Team (Level): Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
Hendriks played at both Low- and High-A for the Twins in 2010 before getting on the fast track to the big leagues in 2011. He'd debut as 22-year old and win nine games as a 23-year old but he'd be out of the Twins organization following the 2014 season. Since then, he has pitched in the Royals and Blue Jays systems. Last year, he was a very effective relief pitcher for the Blue Jays as they went on to win the AL East. This offseason he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Athletics for pitcher Jesse Sanchez.

9. Kyle Waldrop
2015 Team (Level): None
Waldrop had just made his debut during the 2011 campaign following back-to-back seasons pitching at Triple-A. He'd appear in 24 games for the Twins between 2011 and 2012. He'd pitch one more season professionally in the Pirates organization but he never made it back to the big leagues. Waldrop hasn't pitched at any level since 2013.

10. Max Kepler
2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
Kepler was coming off his professional debut back in 2010 but he was part of a strong international signing class that included the aforementioned Sano. Kepler seemed to have all the tools necessary to be a five-tool prospect but there were a lot of unknowns surrounding a young player that spent time developing in Europe. He would spend most of his minor league years around the edge of the Twins top-10 prospects before a magical 2015. Kepler was outstanding this season on the way to making his big league debut. He was named Southern League MVP and he helped the Lookouts to win the league's championship.

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