Earlier this week I put together my predictions for the AL Central and Beyond, but today I’ll be taking a look down into the Twins farm system trying to prognosticate and give you my choices for who to watch this year in MiLB.
Every year Seth Stohs (@SethTweets) asks a few members of the Twins blog-o-sphere for their minor league predictions/projections and this year I was lucky enough to be asked to provide my two cents. This post will cover both pitchers and hitters from all levels of the Twins farm system. If, when you get to the end, you’re scratching your head trying to figure out who the heck these guys are, I encourage you to go out and get yourself a copy of Seth’s Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012.
Breakout Hitter (Upper Levels) – Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I know I’m going to take some heat for this prediction, but I think a trip to AAA will pay huge dividends for the Twins Japanese import. While many think that Nishi will find his way back to Japan by the season’s end, the demotion to AAA will give Nishi a chance to learn the American flavor of the game and get the instruction he needs to use the skills he acquired in Japan to become a productive hitter in MLB. With Brian Dozier coming off a great spring and a fantastic 2011, even a breakout season for Nishioka in AAA may not be enough to get him back in the Twins lineup this season.
Breakout Hitter (Lower Levels) - Levi Michael. Levi signed late and will be making his professional debut with the Miracle this season and as a fairly polished college player should perform well hitting for high average for the Ft Myers Miracle. He should find himself working his way up through the Twins system finishing the season in AA New Britain before the dust settles on 2012.
Breakout Hitter (in Extended Spring Training (EST)) - Niko Goodrum. Nko will repeat EST for a second season, but if he can build off of late season success from 2011, Niko Goodrum is a name that die hard Twins fans will be talking about all season long. Goodrum is also a twitter fanatic, @nikogoodrumTC, and like fellow tweeter Ben Revere (
@BenRevere9) he looks like he’s having fun out on the field. He’s still pretty raw, but look for Goodrum to make big strides at the plate this year.
Breakout Pitcher (Upper Levels) - Tyler Robertson. Robertson will be back in Rochester for the first time since getting moved to the bullpen at the beginning of 2011. He made on start for the Red Wings in 2010, but in 2011 he was sent back to AA and moved to the bullpen. Although Robertson doesn’t have any pitch that is outstanding, he commands all of his pitches well and I look forward to the lefty taking big steps forward in his second full season working out of the pen. If he pitches well and the Twins bullpen has issues, which seems to be a giveN. Robertson has an outside chance to get a call up to Minnesota.
Breakout Pitcher (Lower Levels) - Madison Boer. Boer is a hometown kid from Eden Prairie, MN and will be given a chance to start in Beloit this season and with a solid defense behind him and an offense that will impress Boer should put up some eye-popping numbers in his first full season in Beloit.
Breakout Pitcher (in EST) - Hudson Boyd. Boyd was drafted out of HS last season and signed late so he’ll make his professional debut this season in EST. As a high school pitcher he is a raw talent, but he throws hard and has good control. If he can stay healthy and keep his weight under control he should put up good numbers in 2012.
Best Hitter (Upper Levels) – Brian Dozier was impressive last year splitting time between Ft Myers and New Britain. After an impressive spring I look to Dozier to continue to tear things up in Rochester. If there is any disarray with the Twins middle infield, Dozier will be the first guy up to fill the open slot.
Best Hitter (Lower Levels) - Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario are both great bets to be the best hitter in the lower levels of the Twins organization. Both are moving up to Beloit this season and it’s a coin flip as to which will be the best hitter for the Snappers this season after monster seasons in Elizabethon in 2011. I look for Sano to continue to develop his power tool, although he may get off to a slow start playing in colder weather of the Midwest League.
Best Hitter (in EST) - Max Kepler is back in EST for a second year after coming off a 2011 where he hit .262/.347/.366. Look for Kepler to settle in early and build off his season ending six game hit streak in 2011. Kepler should continue to get stronger and should develop power as he progresses through the Twins system.
Best Pitcher (Upper Levels) – Alex Wimmers who moves up to AA New Britain this year after a season at Ft. Myers hopes to build off of the late season success from 2011. Wimmers who started 2011 by walking six batters is hoping that his control issues from last season remain in the past. Wimmers only pitched 40.2 innings in A+ last season in addition to the added competition of AA, Wimmers will need to log a bunch of innings. If Wimmers can get back to his 2010 form it’s not unreasonable to expect him to move up to AAA by the end of the season.
Best Pitcher (Lower Levels) - Adrian Salcedo. Salcedo was outstanding last year and although he’s moving up from Beloit to Ft Myers this season I look for him to continue to be a shining star in the lower levels of the Twins organization. Unlike most “classic” Twins style pitchers Salcedo is not a pitch to contact control guy, and while his control is above average, he also misses a lot of bats, striking out 281 while only giving up 56 walks since singing late in 2007.
Best Pitcher (in EST) – Steven Evans was drafted in the 13th round last year, signed quickly and put up eye popping numbers after he reported to Elizabethon. Coming back for a full season Evans will continue to impress against hitters in the Appy League. Already with an impressive arsenal of pitches, 2012 should be a successful season for the young lefty.
Who do you expect to see perform this season in the minors? Leave your comments below.
To see which players some of the other bloggers chose check out Seth Stohs’s posts over on Twins Daily, for the offensive side head over here and for the pitchers click here.
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