Looking for something to read? One of my goals with Puckett’s Pond this offseason was to read and review a large selection of Twins-related books and recommend them for fans to read (or not read, depending on quality). Sadly, I got a little behind in my reading and only managed to review three books so far. But today I have a real gem for you: Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012. This is the first book to score a perfect 5 on the TC Bear Scale.
AUTHOR(S): The book is an annual tradition written by Seth Stohs, one of Minnesota’s longest-tenured and most authoritative sports bloggers. Mr. Stohs had a lot of help with this one, though, most notably from fellow Twins bloggers Cody Christie and Josh Johnson.
OVERVIEW: This is the Bible for everything related to the Twins minor league system. The heart of the book is composed of more than 160 profiles of Twins prospects. Some prospects merit only a paragraph, while others have more than a page devoted to them. Dates of birth, draft positions, and 2011 stats are listed for every one. The book also contains several prospect-related articles, including one that profiles 2012 draft candidates and one that discusses the importance (or lack thereof) of Appalachian League stats. At the end of the book are Seth Stoh’s Top 30 Twins prospects and 19 other top 10 lists created by Twins writers, including the staff of Puckett’s Pond (for the record, we do not benefit financially from this book in any way – my glowingly positive review is not inspired by any financial gain).
HIGHLIGHTS: The most striking aspect of this book is that it fills a niche that no other book does (at least, no other book that I’m aware of). You can find plenty of information online and elsewhere about the Twins’ top prospects (Miguel Sano, Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, etc.). But the Twins Prospect Handbook gets much further. Sure, they talk about Sano and Gibson, but where else will you find detailed info on guys like Tony Davis, Steven Gruver, and Josue Montanez? This book is an onslaught of interesting information. Thanks to the 2012 version, I’ve already learned about a handful of intriguing prospects who weren’t on my radar before, including Matt Summers, Michael Gonzales, and Matthew Hauser. I’ll be following their progress this season.
NEGATIVES: Even a five TC Bear book has a negative, but it is very minor. The header to each prospect profile lists the player’s name, position, date of birth, 2011 teams, 2011 stats, and acquisition status, but it does not say whether hitters are right-handed, left-handed, or switch-hitters. For several players I had to look this information up online. It wasn’t a big problem, but it would have been nice to have that information on the page.
CONCLUSION: The prospect handbook is an invaluable research tool for any Twins fan who considers himself/herself a student of the game, and it’s an entertaining piece of light reading for any casual fan who wants to know about the next generation of Twins. As an online writer, I purchased an electronic copy of the book that I keep on my laptop and refer to frequently in the course of my writing. But I also find it pleasant to keep a hard copy of the book next to the bed or on the coffee table to read a little at a time. The point is, whether you’re a hard-core or a casual Twins fan, this is the one book that you should definitely read. And since Spring Training is just starting, we’re going to be hearing a lot of these prospects’ names over the next month or two. You should definitely get this book so you can brush up on them right away.