We have reached the swan song of our tour through the top prospects in the Twins system. It is time to celebrate with some truly blue chip prospects. The Twins have built a quality farm system. Even one year ago, that statement would have been a stretch at best and a lie at worst. Now, it is hard not to see a system with good depth and a couple of potential superstars. On Saturday, I am going to be posting an addendum to my prospect list. It will include a few bonus lists, a bunch of resources for prospective prospect wonks and some great Twitter accounts to follow. It seems like an apt way to finish this series. For now, let’s enjoy reading about some extremely exciting players. These players are the building blocks of future Twins teams and names that everyone should become very familiar with, if you aren’t already. Enjoy.
5. Alex Meyer
Meyer was acquired in exchange for Denard Span back in November. He immediately became the Twins’ best pitching prospect and quite possibly their most intriguing prospect. Meyer has true number 1 starter potential. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and can touch 98. He throws a hard slider and gets really good movement on the pitch. His giant frame (6′ 10″ and 230 lbs) helps him generate a lot of velocity and could bode well for his durability. The track record for really tall pitchers isn’t super high, but at the same time, super tall people aren’t super common.
Meyer spent his 2012 season between low and high A ball. Considering it was his pro debut, he had a really great season. His strikeout rate dipped after his promotion to high A, but his walk rate dipped as well. He only threw 39 innings at high A, but still seems destined for AA next season. His size, stuff and college experience are an equation that could lead the Twins to give him a look in the big leagues this coming season. It might be best to be a bit more cautious than that. Allowing him to log some quality innings at AA or even AAA will give him time to work on his secondary pitches and his command. If he can command his pitches and harness his arsenal, he has a chance to be the pitcher that Twins fans have been begging for the past few seasons.
Arcia gets compared to Jason Kubel pretty frequently. I’m not fully sure that is a fair comparison, beyond the corner outfield profile. Prior to Kubel’s knee injury, he was a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. Kubel made great contact, showed excellent power and had fantastic on-base skills. In addition, he was a competent fielder. Pre-injury Kubel was something. Arcia could provide post-injury Kubel production. He strikes out a bit more, but is also just a bit younger by level compared with Kubel. He doesn’t have elite on-base skills or power, but those skills are present and impressive. He can handle a corner outfield spot as well. There is a lot to like about Arcia. He seems like a very safe bet to contribute down the road. It is also easy to forget that he is still very young, and could join the Twins at age 22. He could easily replace Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham’s lineup spot late in 2013, although peak Morneau/Willingham production would be far too much to ask from Arcia or any prospect. He’s going to be good though.
Our own Michael Longoria wrote a detailed piece on Arcia; it is great, and everyone should read it.
Baseball Prospect Nation’s and Baseball Prospectus’s Mark Anderson seems to agree with me about Arcia, and he has scouting reports to back it up. You should read this scouting report of Arcia, then bookmark Anderson’s site because it is fantastic.
3. Aaron Hicks
What a difference a year makes. I remember asking the Baseball America podcast folks if they felt that Aaron Hicks was a candidate to completely fall of the prospect radar with a bad 2012. They pretty much said yes. Nearly one year later, Hicks is primed to take over the Twins’ center field and lead-off hitter roles. I think he is going to be great in those roles. Hicks will be great in the field. He has excellent instincts, great speed and an extremely strong arm. He has range like Twins fans are used to and any flaws with the overall outfield defense would not be Hicks’s fault. He may take a bit longer to adjust to the lead-off hitter role, but offense usually manifests a bit slower than defense.
Hicks has been slow to adjust to new levels, but he really exploded last year. He’ll strike out a fair share, but he’ll walk enough to make up for it. He had a label as a passive rather than patient hitter, but his ability to take a walk will help him be productive even if he has some early contact issues. So, while he may not put up Denard Span batting averages right away, he could still post good OBPs. He showed great power last year and stole some bases too. If it all comes together, he could develop into a solid leadoff hitter, with good power, and superb defense at a premium position. He is a really exciting player. I think he might end up being the biggest bright spot of the Twins’ 2013 season.
2. Miguel Sano
If you haven’t seen Ballplayer: Pelotero yet, you really should go watch it. Besides being a really great documentary, it helps you get to know Sano better as a player and person. Seeing that documentary really opened my eyes to the charismatic presence that is Miguel Sano. He is confident, but doesn’t come off as cocky. He has natural abilities, but works hard as well. He is easy-going, but takes baseball seriously and wants to be the best player in baseball. On the field, he has awesome raw power. He might not be the most graceful fielder, but I have read a lot of experts who are starting to think he can adjust enough to stay at third base. He definitely has the arm for it. He’ll be 20 next season and could still be a few years from Minnesota. He’s as close to a can’t miss 20 year old as you’ll find. His massive power plays, even if it doesn’t always play consistently. If he really hammers down his approach, then there is really no limit to his potential at the plate.
1. Byron Buxton
Take everything I wrote about Aaron Hicks, double it and then take 5 years off his life. Although, Buxton has a more aggressive approach than Hicks, so the comparison is not completely accurate. Like Hicks, Buxton truly has all five tools. I have seen him compared to both Upton brothers, Matt Kemp, Eric Davis and even Willie Mays. I mean, those are crazy and somewhat unrealistic comps, but people don’t generally speak in hyperbole about ordinary players. There isn’t a huge statistical track record to look at just yet, but he certainly did not embarrass himself in his pro debut in 2012. He’ll probably start 2013 back in the Appy league and his health and development will dictate his next move. At his peak, we could be looking at a power-speed center fielder with excellent range, a hose for an arm and a winning smile. It would not shock me if he was considered the top prospect in baseball down the road. He’s that talented.
And with that, the list is complete. If you disagree with everything I said, then I have no idea how you read this far. I hope this helps everyone get to know our future Twins a lot better. Prospect lists are just lists, but each of these players will be a lot of fun to keep tabs on. I ask everyone reading, now that we all know the players to watch, who are you most excited to see in a Twins uniform? Also, who did I miss? Please share with us in the comments below.
Also, and unrelated, I analyzed the Phillies signing of Delmon Young. If you want to relive some Delmon moments, you can click here.