Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects For 2013

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Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects For The 2013 Season

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Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

With 99 and 96 losses over the last two seasons respectively, the Minnesota Twins clearly have plenty of areas of need heading into the 2013 season. Injuries played a role in each of those dismal campaigns, which exposed some real shortcomings in the team’s minor league system in terms of big league-ready talent.

The Twins once had one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball, which helped them compete with the higher payroll teams and win six American League Central titles from 2002-2010.

Having the second overall pick in 2012 put the Twins in position to add one of the top players available for the first time in awhile, and they did so by adding outfielder Byron Buxton. Buxton was a candidate to go number one overall to the Houston Astros, and immediately went toward the top of any prospect list related to the Twins when they selected him.

The Twins have long espoused the notion of “pitch to contact” for their pitchers, to good effect most of the time when the team’s infield defense was better than it has been over the last two seasons. But the 2012 draft and the two trades that have been made so far this offseason suggest a move toward young pitchers that throw hard, which is a refreshing change in philosophy. In any case, an influx of talent was needed to the pitching at all levels of the organization and general manager Terry Ryan has clearly made that his primary priority.

The Twins are not expected to vault back into playoff contention in 2013, but these 10 players could help them be a force in the American League once again fairly soon.

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10. P Luke Bard

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Minnesota used their second compensatory draft pick (42nd overall) in 2012 on Bard, whose brother Daniel pitches for theBoston Red Sox. Much of the younger Bard’s work in college came out of the bullpen, but the Twins think he has the pitch repertoire to become a starter at some point. It will be interesting to see if he makes a significant rise through Minnesota’s minor league system in his first full professional season next year, and how he is used at each level if he is able to do so. At the very least, having some collegiate experience should benefit his development and creates some potential for Bard to have a role in the big leagues in 2014.

ETA: 2014
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9. 2B/OF Eddie Rosario

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Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rosario emerged on the prospect radar in 2011, as he hit .337 with 21 home runs, 60 RBI and a .670 slugging percentage in 67 games for Elizabethton in rookie league play. He missed close to two months last season after being hit in the face during batting practice in June, but he did hit .296 with 12 home runs and 70 RBI in 95 games for Single-A Beloit. Rosario may be a player without a full-time position at this point, as he is a work in progress and second base and may not be perfectly suited for any of the three outfield spots. But at age 21 he still has time to work that area of his game out, and if he continues to hit like he has the Twins will have to make room for him in the lineup down the road.

ETA: 2015
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8. P Jose Berrios

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Berrios was chosen 32nd overall by the Twins in 2012, as the team acquired the pick as compensation for losing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to the Colorado Rockies in free agency. The hard-throwing 18-year old right-hander pitched very well right out of the gate last season, with a 1.17 ERA and four saves along with 49 strikeouts and just four walks over 30.2 combined innings (11 appearances) in rookie ball. Berrios projects to be a future closer at this point in his young career, but as he progresses through Minnesota’s minor league system that could change.

ETA: 2015 or 2016
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7. OF Oswaldo Arcia

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Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Arcia had an excellent 2012 season between High-A and Double-A, hitting .320 with 17 home runs and 98 RBI with a .539 slugging percentage over 534 combined plate appearances. He has made fairly fast progress through Minnesota’s minor league system over the last two seasons, despite missing some time in 2011 with an elbow injury, and he is one of the more promising offensive players in the organization at this point. Arcia still has some progress to make in 2013, but it would not be surprising to see him as the Twins’ Opening Day right fielder in 2014 or 2015.

ETA: 2014 or 2015
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6. SP Alex Meyer

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The Denard Span trade with the Washington Nationals yielded Meyer, who was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by Washington in 2011. His minor league track record is not extensive with just one season under his belt, but a 10-6 record with a 2.86 ERA with a 3.1 K/BB ratio last season suggests continued progress as he gains experience in the upper levels of the Twins’ minor league system. Meyer is unlikely to make it to the big leagues during the 2013 season, but beyond that he is likely to be a candidate to become a long-term fixture in Minnesota’s starting rotation.

ETA: 2014 or 2015
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5. SP Trevor May

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May was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Ben Revere trade as the Twins look to add high-upside pitchers to their minor league pipeline. He certainly fits that bill, despite a disappointing season in Double-A last season (10-13, 4.87 ERA), and his K/9 rate in five minor league seasons (11.1) suggests he could be a future staff ace. Control has been a bit of an issue over the last couple seasons, with 145 walks issued in 301 combined innings (4.3 BB/9), but if he can correct that May has the potential to secure a spot in the Twins’ starting rotation in 2014.

ETA: 2014 or 2015
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4. OF Aaron Hicks

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Hicks was a first-round pick by the Twins in 2008 (14th overall), and despite being highly regarded had the look of an underachiever heading into last season. But he had an excellent campaign at Double-A New Britain (.286, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 32 stolen bases) and is now a candidate to be the Twins’ Opening Day center fielder next season with Denard Span and Ben Revere gone. If he has not clearly earned the starting job out of spring training there is a chance Hicks will open the season at Triple-A so he can play every day, but his major league debut should come some time in 2013 regardless.

ETA: 2013
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3. OF Byron Buxton

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Despite being so highly touted heading into the 2012 draft and being taken second overall, Buxton signed with little fuss virtually immediately and wound up playing 48 games in the Twins’ minor league system last season. In 189 combined plate appearances at the Rookie League level, he hit .248 with five home runs, 20 RBI and 11 stolen bases while playing mostly center field. Buxton is likely at least a few years away from making it to the big leagues to stay, but the soon-to-be 19-year old (December 18) has some time to turn his raw athletic tools into baseball skills. His upside potential is perhaps the highest of any player in the Twins’ system right now.

ETA: 2016
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2. SP Kyle Gibson

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Gibson was sidelined for a large chunk of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November of 2011, but was able to return to action late in the season and emerged healthy. His overall results were not outstanding, as he went 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in 13 combined appearances (11 starts, but his peripheral numbers (33 strikeouts and just six walks) show signs of health and progress heading into 2013. Gibson has a chance to start next season with the Twins, but he is expected to be on an innings limit in his first full season post-surgery and may work out of the bullpen early if he is on the Opening Day roster. Regardless, assuming he is 100 percent healthy, Gibson looks back on the track suggested by his status as a first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2009.

ETA: 2013
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1. 3B Miguel Sano

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Sano had a big season for Single-A Beloit in 2012, leading the Midwest League in home runs (28), RBI (100), extra base hits (60) and total bases (238) over 553 plate appearances. His strikeout total was high (144), but he also drew a lot of walks (80) and has plenty of upside left since he will not turn 20 until next May. Sano may not be able to play third base at the big league level as he continues to fill out physically, but his offensive ability will necessitate making room for him somewhere in the lineup if he continues to hit well at higher levels in the minors. To get an idea of some outside opinions of Sano, he has drawn comparisons to both Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

ETA: 2015

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