The minor league seasons are all over. The prospects have played their final games (well, I guess officially the September call-ups still have 3 games left, but let’s not get carried away) and the stats and progressions for 2012 are all in the books.
Before the season began, several of the Twins bloggers, myself included, made some prognostications about who we thought would be the best MiLB players in the Twins system. You can see the predictions in full by going here (position players) or here (pitchers). Today I’ll share my picks for the hitters and later in the week we’ll take a look at the pitchers. My predictions are listed below with brief reasoning, followed by who I picked as the winner with a season full of stats and analysis to go on. The astute reader will notice my seemingly complete lack of ability to analyze MiLB players. I’m new to this, but I press on.
Breakout Hitter (Upper Levels)
Pre-Season Pick: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 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.
Boy was I wrong on this one. Last week Nishi requested and was granted his release by the Twins. I fully expected Nishi to rebound in AAA, ultimate FAIL! I harbor no ill-will to the former Japanese All-Star and wish him fair winds and following seas as he embarks on his post MLB career.
Winner: Oswaldo Arcia. Get used to that name, you’ll be hearing it quite a bit in the next couple years, and at least once more in this post. Arcia started the year in high-A Fort Myers and after half a season that saw Oswaldo hitting .309/.376/.517 (BA/OBP/SLG) he was promoted to AA New Britain. Usually there is a natural regression when players are moved up a level, but not for Arcia he moved up and started hitting even better. In 69 games with the Rock Cats Oswaldo hit .328/.398/.557! The Twins have a glut of OF talent in their system, much of it at AA or above, so it’s unclear exactly where Arcia will start in 2013, but AAA wouldn’t be a bad idea. Last week the Twins named Arcia as their minor league player of the year. Congratulations Oswaldo Arcia on a magnificent 2012 Campaign!
Best Hitter (Upper Levels)
Pre-Season Pick: 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.
Another miss for me here. After spending 2011 in AA I expected Dozier to continue to play solid defense and hit will as he adjusted to AAA. The Twins called Dozier up to the bigs and his bat never really got going. In August he was sent back to AAA and was even worse. What will 2013 bring for Brian Dozier? Will he make improvements with his bat and hold off Pedro Florimon for the starting short stop job? Only time will tell.
Winner: Chris Parmelee
After a hot September call-up in 2011 Parmelee started the season with the Twins as insurance on JustinMorneau, but was sent down after a miserable start. In 64 games with the AAA Rochester Red Wings Parmelee hit .338/.457/.645 (1.102 OPS). CP tore up AAA pitching and 35 XBH including 17HR in his half-season of work in AAA to go with 51 walks while only striking out 52 times. In short, he was a superstar.
Breakout Hitter (Lower Levels)
Pre-Season Pick: 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 and working his way up through the Twins system, finishing the season in AA after a successful campaign with the Miracle.
Another miss for the BaseballPirate. Levi struggled early in the season for Ft Myers and finished the year with a slash line of .246/.339/.311 thanks in large part to his second half numbers (.272/.368/.328). While Michael did not break out in his first year of professional baseball, he did settle in late in the season and had a .969 fielding% splitting time between second base and short stop.
Winner: Josmil Pinto. The right-handed catcher really came into his own in 2012 posting his best numbers since 2009 when he was playing with the Elizabethon Twins in extended spring training. On the season Pinto hit .295/.362/.482 in 93 games with Ft Myers and earned himself a late season call up to New Britain and was named both a mid-season and post-season All-Star in the Florida State League. I’d like to throw in an honorable mention to Beloit first basemen Kenny Vargas who hit .318/.419/.610 in limited action this season (41 games).
Best Hitter (Lower Levels)
Pre-Season Pick: Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario. 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 as both are coming off of monster seasons in Elizabethon. I look for Sano to continue to develop his power tool although he may have a slow start playing in colder weather of the Midwest League.
You could probably still make a case for Rosario who had a great year in low-A Beloit (.284/.345/.490), but Sano was a little less impressive than I was hoping going into the season. He still had a great season, but his approach at the plate still needs some work as he appears to be trying to hit the ball out of the park every time at the plate. 2012 was by no means a “lost season” for Sano, but I think I was over estimating the development rate of the young third basemen.
Winner: Oswaldo Arcia. See his accolades above. Hard to argue against Arcia
Breakout Hitter (Extended Spring Training)
Pre-Season Pick: Niko Goodrum. Nko will repeat EST for a second season, but if he can build off of late season success from 2011 Niko’s a name that Twins fans will be talking about as the season progresses. Goodrum is also a twitter fanatic, @nikogoodrumTC, and like Ben Revere he just 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.
Niko didn’t have a bad season in 2012, but he didn’t hit as well as he did in 2011, but looking at numbers alone in EST doesn’t tell the whole story. Goodrum took more walks and hit for more power in his second full season in EST and should start 2013 with the Twins new low-A affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels. Niko has a strong arm and will hopefully be able to stay at short-stop as he continues to progress through the Twins farm system.
Winner: Max Kepler. In his second season with the Elizabethon Twins Max Kepler really came into his own hitting .297/.387/.539. At only 19 Kepler continues to develop into what many believe will be MLB All-Star form. Kepler hit 10HR this season after mashing only 1 in his last 2 seasons combined and cut his strike outs by a third (54 in 2011, only 33 in 2012). He was named a post-season All-Star in the Appalachian League.
Best Hitter (Extended Spring Training)
Pre-Season Pick: 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.
Ooooooo! It looks like I got one correct! Finally. Kepler did exactly what I had called for this spring, and yes, I am gloating. Honorable mention to the GCL Twins’ Aderlin Mejia (SS) who hit .324/.365/.402 and even garnered a late season call up to Ft Myers.
Winner: Max Kepler.
What do you think? Any arguments for other players form the minors? Weigh in with your comments below and make sure to check back later in the week to go over my picks for the Twins minor league pitching stars from the 2012 season.