Every year, analysts and baseball writers get together to formulate what they believe to be the top prospects in all of baseball’s minor leagues. In reality, there are many prospects who show up on this list that never make much of a career for themselves, unable to turn hype into reality.
For every Bryce Harper and Mike Trout on the top 100 list who end up becoming All-Stars, you have an even greater number of Lastings Milledge and Billy Beane type players who never amount to much of anything during their professional careers. In any case, these lists give fans hope for the future when their present team lacks talent or direction. The 2013 edition of the top 100 prospects includes six Minnesota Twins players: Miguel Sano (No. 12), Byron Buxton (No. 19), Alex Meyer (No. 40), Kyle Gibson (No. 49), Oswaldo Arcia (No. 93) and Aaron Hicks (No. 98).
It is Sano and Buxton that will receive the most attention in this seemingly optimistic minor league system that the Twins have been assembling over the past few seasons, but I would argue that it will be Sano and Meyer that will have the greatest impact, with Meyer being the most valuable to the Twins.
The Twins have been starved of a consistent right handed power hitter since the days of Kirby Puckett and Gary Gaetti. Josh Willingham has provided some pop from the right side as of last year, but it remains to be seen if his production can carry over into successive seasons. Sano is currently the top rated third base prospect in all of baseball and at 6’3 and 195 lbs. there is little wondering why. Sano hit .258 with 28 HR and drove in 100 RBIs at Single-A Beloit last season and looks to have another big year wherever the Twins assign the young third basemen, likely high Single-A.
Sano definitely passes the eye test in terms of talent and potential, however, his defensive short comings may facilitate a move to the outfield by the time he reaches the majors. Sano also provides the closest option to a bona fide superstar that the Twins have had in some time with his raw power and offensive ability, but if Sano is so great, how then is Meyer the most valuable?
What Sano is to the Twins offense and hitting, Meyer is to their pitching. The pitcher acquired in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Washington Nationals, has the type of front line stuff from a pitcher that is rarely seen in a Twins uniform. Meyer went 7-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 90 innings pitched for Single-A Hagerstown last season for the Nationals.
His fastball is said to reach upper 90s mph and has great sinking action to go along with it. In addition to his power fastball, he also possesses an above average changeup and a big slider that gets hitters out and makes them miss more often than not. It is this dominant, front-of-the-rotation type of starter that can give the Twins hope for the future.
I commend Ryan for taking the initiative to acquire this type of young talent like Meyer and Trevor May because without it, the organization would not have hope for turning this losing situation around and returning to annual contention.
Meyer’s development is crucial for the Twins’ future as playoff contenders because it is pitchers like him who win ballgames in October and there aren’t many like him available. A pitcher can dictate the success of a team every time he pitches, whereas an everyday hitter can be avoided and pitched around. It is pitchers like Meyer that will directly affect the Twins’ hopes of returning to contention and hopefully, making a deep run in the playoffs.
While Sano may be talented, Meyer’s development and future is most valuable to the Twins. While it may seem far away at this moment, the Twins do have reason for hope as they approach the upcoming season and seasons beyond. The first wave of new prospects that will hopefully form the core of the next contending team such as Hicks will emerge this year to go along with Joe Mauer. It is only a matter of time before its “Meyer and May puttin’ them away” and “Mauer and Sano bringing them home”. Sounds like a slogan that needs trademarked if you ask me.