Every baseball website comes out with a top 10 or top 50 or even a top 100 prospects list. Usually, the players on these lists are ranked by a combination of how much potential they have and how close they are to the Major Leagues. That is why, for example, most sources had Kyle Gibson as the Twins #1 prospect before this season. Gibson probably profiles as a middle of the rotation starter in the Majors, but the fact that he looked ready to debut with the Twins in 2010 put him at the top of the rankings.
The list below is different. This is not a list of the best prospect in the Twins system. It’s a list of the most exciting prospects, the guys with impressive skills and high ceilings. Some of them are incredibly raw, and if their skills never develop they might not ever even reach the Majors for a cup of coffee. But if they do, and if everything goes just right, they could be All Stars.
We’ve heard all year that the Twins farm system is weak. And it is true that the top levels lack talent, especially the AAA Rochester Red Wings, who lost 90 games for the second consecutive season. But the lower levels actually boast some impressive names, especially in the outfield. Here are a few of the highlights:
10. Jairo Perez, 3B
Perez put up some impressive numbers at Beloit in 2010. It was the first extended playing time he has seen in the United States, because an injury destroyed his 2009 season. Perez hit .337/.413/.580 with 15 homers in just 276 at bats. The numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, since he’s already 23 year old and just at Low A ball, but if he can thrive next year at Ft. Myers, the Twins will take notice. Another concern is defense. In 49 games at third base, Perez committed 17 errors. Interestingly, he was error free in 12 games at second.
9. Manuel Soliman, SP
One of the few exciting pitchers in the Twins system, Soliman was actually signed as a third baseman. He was a terrible hitter, so the Twins sensibly stationed him on the mound instead. In 2010 with Elizabethton, he showed his ability to hold opposing hitters down by taking two no-hitters into the seventh inning. In 2010 he posted a 3.97 ERA and struck out 120 in 136 innings. Not bad for a 22 year old who did not throw a pitch until three years ago.
8. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
Arcia is a lefy with power. He hit .375/.424/.672 at Elizabethton in 2010 and began 2011 punishing pitchers in Beloit, too (.352/420/.704 in 20 games). But then an elbow injury stuck, and he missed two months. Arcia returned in June and went directly to Ft. Myers, where he hit just .263, but managed eight homers in 213 at bats – no mean feat in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. If Arcia returns healthy in 2012 and proves that 2010 was no fluke, he could be hitting homers for the Twins some time in 2013.
7. Madison Boer, SP
Boer looked like another one of the Twins’ patented unexciting college pitcher draft picks. The Minnesota native turned Oregon star throws the ball in the low to mid 90s with good control. But he put on a show in Rookie Ball this year. in just 17.1 innings at Elizabethton, the righty struck out 31 opposing hitters.
6. Adrian Salcedo, SP
Salcedo teamed up with Solimon in Beloit’s rotation in 2010. He was arguably the most effective starter in the entire organization, with a 2.93 ERA. His strikeout totals were lower than expected, though, with just 92 in 135 innings after averaging nearly a K per inning in previous minor league seasons. Salcedo is tall and scrawny at 6’4″ and just 175 pounds. He’s also only 20 years old, so it stands to reason that he’ll get a little bigger and add some muscle in the next couple of years. If so, perhaps he can add some velocity to his fastball and pump up those strikeout totals a bit.
5. Brian Dozier
Dozier came out of nowhere in 2011 to punish pitchers at Ft. Myers and New Britain. Between the two levels he hit .320/.399/.491. Though he isn’t a big power threat, he is an accomplished extra base hitter, with 33 doubles and 12 triples. He even stole 24 bases (though he was caught 11 times, which means either he’s not as fast as he thinks he is, or else he needs to work on his timing). He played both shortstop and second base for the Rock Cats, and while he’s not Ozzie Smith in the field, he’s no Trevor Plouffe, either. The Twins need a good hitting middle infielder even more than Elmer Fudd needs a good speech therapist, so if Dozier can keep this up, he might see some Major League action next year.
4. Joe Benson
Benson’s month with the Twins has probably proven that he needs to spend some time at AAA, but this guy is a five tool talent. He hasn’t hit for a high average in the minors, but he has put up some impressive on-base percentages (.414 in 2009 and .383 in 2011). He also has power (27 homers in 2010 and 16 despite missing almost two months of 2011), he is incredibly fast, and he can cover a lot of ground in center field. Once he figures out how to cut down on the strikeouts, he could be a right handed Bobby Abreu for the Twins.
3. Travis Harrison, 3B
Harrison didn’t playRookie ball this year, but we know one thing for certain: this guy has power. Not many people in the Twins’ organization have hit a 500 foot homer in a Major Leauge park, but Harrison has. In the field, he has been compared to “a sloth,” so it sounds like his future in pro ball is at first base or DH. But if his power develops the way the scouts say it will, the Twins will be happy to make room for him.
2. Eddie Rosario, OF
Eddie Rosario upstaged Miguel Sano this season, and that is not an easy thing to do. Engaged with Sano in a season-long home run derby, Rosario came out on top with 21 longballs, one shy of Elizabethton’s single season record. He hit for average as well as power, finishing the short season with a .337/.397/.670 line. What more could you ask for in an outfield prospect? No, that’s not a rhetorical question. You can ask for speed, which Rosario seems to have, given his 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts. To top it off, Rosario held down center field quite well for the E-Town Twins. Barring a setback, Rosario should skyrocket through the Twins system.
1. Miguel Sano, 3B
If you have ever read any article that exists on the internet about Sano, you probably know that he’s the second coming of Babe Ruth (or Mike Schmidt, since he’s a third baseman). Rosario may have won the home run contest, but Sano is the crown jewel of Twins prospects. He’s already earned comparisons to Miguel Cabrera, and since the Twins get knocked around by Cabrera 18 times per season, they know how high that praise is. This year, Sano hit .292/.352/.637 at Elizabethton, and he figures to spend the entire year pounding out long homers next year. If he can mash 20 in a short season… well, let’s just say that Beloit’s fans are in for quite a treat!