Jul 26, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Minnesota Twins right fielder Chris Colabello (55) hits a 2-run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the 13th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins Prospect Octopus: August 19, 2013

Welcome back to the Prospect Octopus Eight Pack!  I apologize for the week off, but Taylor and I were recovering from various ailments.  He got in a tussle with a jellyfish and I just had a tummyache.  This week, we have eight important prospect updates to share with you.  We don’t have a theme this week, but we do have delicious prospects to highlight.

Note:  All stats/reports are current as of Saturday, August 17.

Stephen Gonsalves

Gonsalves was recently promoted to Elizabethton, which is considered the higher Twins’ rookie level.  He also outed himself as a bit of a “no one believes in me” type player with a tweet that basically intimated that all the teams that passed on him in the draft will be sorry.  Even the Twins?  They did pass on him three times, after all.  Semantics aside, Gonsalves earned that promotion and then turned in a gem of a debut, going five innings, giving up just one earned run, four hits, and zero walks.  He added seven strikeouts.  One thing is certain to this point, the Twins do not regret taking Gonsalves and his huge upside in the 4th round.  He’s 18, by the way.

Jorge Polanco

Speaking of upside, Jorge Polanco is turning in a breakout season.  The 20-year-old middle infielder has been fantastic in his full-season debut.  His .307/.361/.448 triple slash is outstanding for his position, age and level.  When you look at his 59:40 strikeout to walk ratio, you see a hitter who knows the strike zone.  His 45 extra base hits prove that he has some pop in his bat.  His defense is good, but he does make some errors.  You really have to search for holes in his game.  He’s a fantastic player right now and could turn into a monster if he keeps developing.  Super sleeper; future top 100 prospect in all of baseball (maybe top 50).

Alex Meyer

Alex Meyer’s first season with the Twins organization did not go as planned.  Some thought he would spend a couple months with New Britain, move to Rochester and debut with the Twins late in the season.  I actually thought that would happen.  Instead, he battled some wildness and then missed over two months with a shoulder injury.  The old “rest and rehab” actually worked for Meyer and he returned to the mound just over a week ago.  He’s pitched twice since his return, going 4.2 total innings, with seven strikeouts and three walks.  The missed time hurts because Meyer needs to work on his command.  His stuff is outstanding though.  His timetable has shifted, but he is still a huge part of the future.  He’ll probably start at AA again next season, but should move quickly if all goes to plan.

Miguel Sulbaran

Holy cow, the Twins got a pretty decent prospect for Drew Butera!  I couldn’t believe what I saw when I investigated Sulbaran closely.  First, he’s 19.  I’ll take just about any 19-year-old for a backup (at best) catcher.  Second, he’s pitching in the Midwest League.  He’s somewhat advanced.  Third, he’s pitching well in the Midwest League.  He struggled in his Cedar Rapids debut, but has posted a 3.26 ERA in 17 starts with Great Lakes and Cedar Rapids.  His 3.15 K:BB ratio shows that his stats are real.  Finally, he’s left-handed.  A young lefty with good stats playing at a high level for his age and all the Twins had to give up was Drew Butera?  That’s a win, folks.  He’s short (just 5′ 10″), so his upside as a starter might need to be tempered.  Even if he ends up as a 7th inning reliever, he’s more valuable than a AAA catcher with no upside.  Nice work, Twins.

Josmil Pinto

Pinto was recently promoted to AAA Rochester.  In 107 games with New Britain, Pinto posted a .308/.411/.482 triple slash, which pretty much screamed Ryan Doumit Replacement.  Pinto has only played 12 games with Rochester.  He’s hitting .273 but with no walks and little power.  Some adjustment was to be expected and these “struggles” may indicate that he isn’t ready for a September call-up.  Pinto’s history as a hitter indicates that he will adjust eventually and that putting on a Twins uniform can’t be too far away.  It may be mid-season 2014, but Pinto should replace Ryan Doumit before Doumit’s contract expires.

Levi Michael

I hadn’t given up on Michael prior to this season.  I felt that he could still force his way into the Twins’ middle infield plans.  I thought that he could hit enough to play second base, while his glove would be solid enough to play short when needed.  If nothing else, he looked like a utility player who might be a bit overqualified for that role.  I may have been wrong.  Michael has now played 198 games with Fort Myers and he has posted a .235/.331/.324 triple slash.  His walk rate is nice, but it won’t help a whole lot if he can’t make consistent contact.  He has almost no power as well.  There are some positives though.  He’s still just 22, pretty young for a second-year pro with a college background.  He can play both middle infield positions reasonably well and he has some speed.  However, he may simply get lost in the shuffle of more talented and productive middle infield prospects like the aforementioned Polanco, Danny Santana and Niko Goodrum.  I may have misjudged his future, but I am not ready to write it off either.

Chris Colabello

I’m going to keep this one brief.  You can read how I feel about the Colabello demotion in more detail here.  To summarize, I thought it was the wrong move.  If Colabello earned a promotion back in July, what did he do in August to earn a demotion?  Making room for bad players shows a real lack of foresight.  Colabello can’t prove anything more at AAA.  It’s time to find out if he can consistently hit MLB pitching.  He’ll be 30 when the 2014 season starts.  I don’t see what a few more weeks at Rochester does to help him.

Aaron Hicks

I couldn’t figure out why Hicks wasn’t playing consistently for Rochester, but it turns out that he was injured.  He was placed on the 7-day DL this week, but should only miss those 7 days.  Since being sent to Rochester, Hicks has not hit well.  The Twins probably hoped that he would crush AAA pitching and return as a September call-up.  I hope this is the plan regardless as it would make no sense to completely end his season when Rochester’s season is over.  However, the Twins did that very thing with Brian Dozier last season, so it isn’t unheard of.  I’m sick of watching Clete Thomas flail and fail at the plate.  I’d rather watch Hicks fail and flail because he is at least a part of the future.  My hope is that he returns from the DL this week, mashes, and takes the job in center back come September.  I enjoyed watching the Twins a whole lot more when Hicks was in the lineup and making great catches in center.

That’s all we have this week.  With just a few weeks left in the Minor League season, we’ll make sure to be back every week with a new pack of prospects.  It’s almost like opening a pack of baseball cards but you only get Twins players.  Nice!

Have a great week, everyone!

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