Minnesota Twins Prospect Octopus: The Next Wave

Players from the World Team (left to right) Orioles E Rodriguez, Twins Sano, Rays Romero, White Sox Rienzo and the Reds Contreras are photographed by Royals Ventura. (Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Taylor, the Prospect Octopus, and I got in a bit of a scuffle over the weekend.  We were hanging out, talking about food.  I admitted that I don’t like seafood, which totally freaked him out.  So, tensions were higher than usual when the talk turned to prospects.  He admitted that he thinks writing about prospects is silly because lots of these guys will never actualize.  I said that fans enjoy learning about prospects and enjoy the hope they bring.  The argument got more intense and now, here I am covered in ink, about to tell you about the eight prospects closest to making their MLB debut.  Compromise is important in life.

We’re discussing prospects today, not Minor Leaguers.  I apologize to Andrew Albers, who I feel is very close to an MLB debut, but not a prospect in our eyes.  Warning!  All stats as of Saturday, July 13.

1.  Josmil Pinto

Prior to this season, Pinto wasn’t much of a prospect in my eyes.  He had posted a .844 OPS in 2012, but that was by far his best performance since Rookie ball.  However, he has backed up that 2012 performance with an even more impressive 2013 performance.  His .320/.424/.514 triple slash proves that he can hang in AA.  Often times, the Twins will move players from AA to the Majors, especially during September call-ups.  Pinto is on the 40-man roster, so it is pretty easy to make that move.  I expect him to get a promotion this September and potentially replace Ryan Doumit as the backup catcher/DH next season or the following season.

2.  Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano is currently in New York for the Future’s Game.  Apparently his batting practice was a sight to see.  Sano is hitting just over .200 since his AA promotion, but he is also slugging over .500.  He’s in an adjustment period, and that is very normal.  This 28 game stretch doesn’t change much.  I’d still expect Sano to finish the season in AA and then compete for a job with the Twins in Spring Training 2014.  He might be on the Oswaldo Arcia path, where he dominates AAA for a few weeks and forces an early 2014 promotion to Minnesota.

3.  Trevor May

In his second tour of AA, Trevor May has cut down his walk rate while maintaining his strikeout rate.  The figures aren’t massive, but they mark an improvement.  May is also on the 40-man roster, so a September call-up isn’t out of the question.  I’m not sure May is quite ready for MLB hitting, so if he does get a promotion, I’d bet he works out of the bullpen.  I’m predicting the Twins will not throw him into that fire, instead promoting him to AAA next season.  He’ll make his MLB debut around June of 2014.

4.  Alex Meyer

Going into the season, I would have had Meyer’s ETA as sooner than May’s.  In fact, about a month ago, I would have still held that belief.  However, Meyer hasn’t pitched since June 1, and his return is still up in the air.  My prediction for Meyer hinges on whether or not he needs surgery to repair whatever is ailing his shoulder.  His June MRI was clean, so I choose to remain optimistic.  That being said, missing this time sets his timetable back a bit.  He’ll need to prove health before he gets moved to AAA.  I don’t see that happening this season, so he’ll join May in Rochester next season.  I imagine his MLB debut will come shortly after May’s.

5.  A.J. Achter

Achter seemed to be primed for his MLB debut just a couple weeks ago.  He had mastered AA and earned a AAA call-up.  The 6′ 5″ right-hander was dominant as a reliever in AA, but has scuffled a bit since his Rochester promotion.  He got jacked in his first appearance, giving up four earned runs in 1.1 innings.  He pitched a clean inning on Friday night and should right his ship quickly.  Achter isn’t on the 40-man roster and the Twins do not currently need a righty in the bullpen.  Plus, Michael Tonkin is clearly ahead in the pecking order.  Unless the Twins trade two right-handed bullpen arms this season, I don’t see Achter getting the call until mid-2014.

6.  Byron Buxton

This one requires a bit of a leap, but Buxton is the type of player that you can take leaps for.  I see Buxton in a Twins’ uniform in September of 2014.  Buxton hasn’t been superhuman with Fort Myers, posting a .300/.354/.417 triple slash, compared to his .341/.431/.559 at Cedar Rapids.  Ok, that’s true, but my goodness that high A triple slash at age 19 is crazy impressive.  Buxton should start next season with New Britain.  He’ll dominate because he’s dominant and he’ll force his way to Minnesota and his debut will be the most exciting moment in recent Twins’ history.

7.  D.J. Baxendale

We’ve reached the 2015 debut portion of our show.  Baxendale looked like he might be a fast riser who could reach Minnesota by next season.  I’m not so sure.  He doesn’t miss enough bats right now, at least for my liking.  He owned A ball, but more advanced AA hitters can put his stuff in play.  Since he doesn’t get strikeouts, he is prone to more hits and thus, more runs.  I’m sure this is something he can’t iron out, as he has great command of his pitches.  However, it might take more time than initially thought and I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends almost all of 2014 split between New Britain and Rochester.  He would still be making his MLB debut at 24 and could still be a big part of the future at the back of the rotation.

8.  Eddie Rosario

Rosario was promoted with Sano just about a month ago.  In some ways, he’s been a better hitter than Sano, since their joint AA promotion.  However, many reports  state that Rosario is not an MLB level second baseman and he might not be a AA level second baseman.  The only way Rosario continues to move with Sano is if the Twins decide to move him back to an outfield position.  I don’t see this happening, as the Twins would love to have a good hitting second baseman for the next decade.  I think the Twins will play it cool with Rosario and give him a lot more time in the Minors to work on his defense.  How his defense improves will dictate how quickly he reaches the Majors.  I think it will take time, but he’ll be on the Opening Day roster in 2015.

That’s all we have for this week.  If we are right and these players debut in that order, then we will get a cookie.  Next week, we’ll return with eight more prospects to analyze.  Have a nice week, everyone.

What do you think of our list?  Who did we leave out?  Please respond in the comments below.

Topics: Alex Meyer, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Josmil Pinto, Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins, Trevor May

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  • Marc Dannenberg

    It´s ridiculous to say Albers is not a prospect, he´s been drafted 3 times, went through major arm surgery and posted great numbers in his brief professional career. Don´t look at the age with the Canadian WBA star…he´s a 3 pitcher in a good rotation.

    • http://puckettspond.com/ Wally Fish

      It’s hardly “ridiculous” to make that statement. In fact it’s hard to find anyone who would consider Albers as a prospect at this point. He’s been drafted TWICE and was never that highly regarded (relatively speaking) in either draft class (12th round 2004, 10th round 2008).

      He does have fantastic numbers as a professional BUT the bulk of his time has been spent as a reliever where he was already old for his level and given his age and maturity level relative to his competition he SHOULD have terrific numbers. Age IS a factor in evaluating his status and his potential and it is a critical piece when you’re putting his minor league numbers and performance into context.

      He has a chance to carve our a major league career but at best he’s a back of the rotation arm and more likely a guy who will bounce around as a bullpen option and be 11th or 12th member of a pitching staff. His saving grace is that he’s a lefty and that will buy him additional looks along the way.

      Even with his solid performance with New Britain last year and Rochester this season he has still been very hittable and would struggle to retire hitters at the major league level.

      • Marc Dannenberg

        Nope, sorry…it´s ridiculous…a winner is a winner is a winner.

        Drafted twice yet he´s not a prospect? Guy you didn´t read what I said…he missed 2 years. You don´t know more than me about baseball and certainly about prospects…AGE IS NOT A FACTOR…WHAT ABOUT SATCHEL PAIGE? RYAN VOGELSONG? EVAN GATTIS! Ridiculous.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=albers001and

        Not a prospect? 27-9? If nobody thinks this guy is a prospect it´s no wonder the Twins suck.

        • http://puckettspond.com/ Wally Fish

          In referencing win-loss record for a pitcher as support for your stance, I’m assuming that you’re just trolling and don’t really follow baseball all that closely. But in the event I’m off on that …

          I hope you grasp that a pitcher can’t win a game if his offense doesn’t score and his bullpen doesn’t hold the lead for him. Yes I read your comment and yes I am aware he missed time due to injury – it is what it is and those are development years he lost. They don’t get delayed and they can’t be made up – they are gone forever.

          Plenty of guys who are drafted twice don’t wind up as “prospects” but rather organization filler in the minor leagues. The bulk of players taken after the tenth round fall into that category. In 2012, 1,238 players were drafted – the bulk of them are not prospects and never will be.

          Yes there are exceptions to everything but pointing out the few does not erase the reality of the many. How a player is regarded and their tools/stuff play a huge role in whether someone is or is not a prospect. Age, while you can find exceptions to the rule, is also a large piece of the puzzle.

          Satchel Paige doesn’t support your case as he was one of the best pitchers in the world in his early 20s with ridiculous stuff. The fact that he didn’t pitch in the majors until he was 41 had far more to do with obviously extenuating factors. There’s also a reasonable case to make that the Negro Leagues were every bit the equal to the major leagues during the bulk of its existence.

          I’d also hold off on putting Evan Gattis up on a pedestal too quickly. He’s a great story and I’m pulling for him but he’s played in 59 major league games. Hardly long enough to say he bucked the trend to carve out a substantive MLB career.

          Turning back to Albers, the jump from Triple-A to the majors is the biggest that any player can make in their playing career. Baseball history is littered with guys who chewed up AAA only to get spit out in the bigs.

          You can set results, age, draft position, etc. aside and take a look at the simple facts. Andrew Albers is a soft-tossing lefty that pitches to contact and lacks an out pitch. He gets by on delivery deception and the fact he tends to throw strikes. He does not profile to have much success at the major league level.

          That is NOT to say he can’t find some success in the majors and the Twins have absolutely nothing to lose by giving him a shot. The odds are not in his favor but I will agree that he’s earned a look given the dearth of options the team has at the back of their rotation.

          PS – There is no need to link to a player’s B-Ref page in your comments when it was already linked in the article itself.

          • Marc Dannenberg

            How about his last two starts? You guys don´t know a prospect from a prost..tute.

            I guess you are trolling judging by your response…W-L plus a good to great ERA = prospect unless you want to live your life looking for short relievers.

            Albers missed 2 complete years. WHAT DON´T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT?

          • Marc Dannenberg

            And Albers gets the start…that´s why I am who I am and you are not.

          • Marc Dannenberg

            LOLOLOLOLOL…so JD Drew who was drafted twice turned out wrong…how about Matt Harvey?

        • Michael Engel

          Nolan Ryan was a a big leaguer with 100 innings at 21 years old. Satchel Paige debuted at an old age because, well, baseball didn’t allow him to debut at any earlier point.

          27 year old pitchers aren’t prospects. He might get a couple years in the majors and do something out of the bullpen, but if a team’s banking on him to carry 200 innings, they’re gonna be in a tough spot.

      • Marc Dannenberg

        Hey guy…open mouth, insert foot. I will take an apology.

        • http://puckettspond.com/ Wally Fish

          Sorry nothing to apologize for -
          1) he’s still not a prospect
          2) neither Brad nor myself said he’d NEVER have a successful start in the majors
          3) if you read other content on the site you’d know that I personally am skeptical but hopeful Albers will prove everyone wrong
          4) the Royals were the perfect team for him to debut against – they struggle mightily against guys they have no book on and are a woefully undisciplined lineup regardless of who they face

          If Albers rips off 7-8 quality starts in the majors then maybe you have room to start talking. Otherwise sit down, take a chill pill and see what happens.

          Hundreds of mediocre to bad pitchers in MLB history have popped up and thrown a shutout.

          Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint and one game does not make a career.

          • Michael Engel

            Yeah, still not a prospect. He can be a fringe #5 guy in the majors, maybe stick around for a year or two but that’s not a prospect.

            Armando Galarraga nearly had a perfect game once. Dallas Braden DID have one. One start is nothin’. A player’s full profile of stuff, makeup, prior competition, prior results, and room to grow and develop is what makes him a prospect. Not being an older guy in the upper minors finally getting something going. David Lough of the Royals is 27, finally getting a regular shot to play but he’s be no means a prospect on the level of Buxton, Starling, Kris Bryant, or any other hitter just because he did well in Triple A.

            As Wally said, Albers was the ideal Twins starter against the Royals. They’re aggressive and struggle against soft-tossing pitchers. I’d be absolutely shocked if Albers has an ERA below 4.00 in a month. He’s just lacking first and second division stuff as a pitcher.

          • Marc Dannenberg

            You mean the 5 game over Royals who won 17 of their last 21 games? You sit back, you watch, and you contemplate what I already know…a winner is a winner is a winner…especially when you don´t do it with high end stuff.

          • Marc Dannenberg

            Michael…AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA Never try to tell me anything about baseball. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA…Twins fans…AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

          • Marc Dannenberg

            AHAHHAHAHAHAHAAA Guy, NEVER tell me anything about baseball. It´s impossible to know more than I do.
            Albers a 2 hit shutout! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

            Twins fans trying to tell me about baseball…AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

      • Marc Dannenberg

        Sorry, but last time I looked the Royals play in the Major Leagues.