Week 9. Let’s rock.
I was a fervent defender of the Levi Michael selection in 2011. I knew that he wasn’t going to be a superstar, but I like college infielders. I figure that they usually have a utility man floor and a regular contributor ceiling. Plus, the Twins have needed middle infield help since the days of Greg Gagne. I figured if Michael could pass as a shortstop and hit like he had in college, he would be great value. I don’t know if he can hit though. In 887 plate appearances with Fort Myers, he has a .239/.336/.323 triple slash, or an OPS+ of “gross.” If Michael can’t hit, then I’m not sure he’s a prospect at all. He doesn’t excel as a fielder and certainly doesn’t have the upside of other middle infielders in the system (Jorge Polanco, Niko Goodrum, Danny Santana). He’ll probably be back in Fort Myers for the third straight season. He’s given the Twins no reasons to move him up.
Sounds like a fake name to me, like one of those computer-generated players on MLB 13: The Show. He’s very real though. The Twins’ 12th round selection this past June, Mildren is a big righty out of the University of Pittsburgh. He’s got a low 90s fastball and a chance to be a starter. In the 12th round, you can’t really go wrong. He had a 1.65 ERA in his 16.1 inning pro debut, with 13 Ks and 7 BBs. Nothing eye-popping, but 16.1 innings in rookie ball might as well be a video of a monkey throwing popcorn at gawking zoo folk.
Yeah, so this guy’s 17. 17! I was working at a convenience store about 15 hours per week and going to school most of the time at 17. Minier slugged .455 in 119 plate appearances in the GCL at 17. Who’s more impressive? Minier has huge power potential. He’s a switch-hitter with power from both sides. He was signed as a shortstop, but is already a big dude, so he’s playing third right now. He hit six home runs, five doubles and two triples in those 119 plate appearances last season. He’s a major breakout candidate in 2014. If he doesn’t break out in 2014, he’s a major breakout candidate in 2015. He’ll be just 19. Crazy.
Catcher! I love catching prospects. Wait, he’s not a Molina brother? Bummer. Nelson Molina is actually a shortstop prospect, which is almost equally thrilling. Molina is as all-glove as they get. To say he is raw offensively would be offensive to the word raw. See what I… Molina posted a .110/.178/.119 triple slash in 120 GCL plate appearances. 12 hits, 6 walks, 1 extra-base hit. Yikes. Luckily, Molina appears to be a pure shortstop with good range and a strong arm. The Twins like his swing, so maybe they can develop his offense. He’s only 18, so there’s plenty of time.
The Twins’ 15th round selection back in 2011, Montanez has thrown 127.2 professional innings and made his full-season debut in 2013. In 90.2 innings, Montanez posted a decent 3.97 ERA mixed between 14 relief appearances and 12 starts. His strikeout rate is not pleasant, sitting right around 14%. That rate nudged ever so slightly upwards while starting, showing that his stuff isn’t any more suited for relief. However, we’re just talking about 90ish innings and he did miss more bats in rookie ball. Tons of pitchers see precipitous declines in K rate after rookie ball, but maybe Montanez can right his ship a bit in 2014.
If I had to guess, I’d say Morales is 59. Let me check. Nope, still just 23 (24 on the 24th, happy early b-day, Angel). He’s been in the Twins system since 2007 and was once considered a pretty promising prospect. He has not mastered the art of high A baseball. In 1093 plate appearances (yes, 1093!), he has a .257/.334/.383 triple slash. That’s quite a sample. Those aren’t terrible figures, but not the type of line you expect from a good prospect. He finally got some AA experience in 2013, but pretty much flopped, hitting .169/.230/.307. I imagine he’ll be back at AA in 2014, but I can’t really see a situation where he gets much further than that. At 23 (24 on the 24th, golden birthday!), he pretty much is who he is.
A real catcher! Navarreto was drafted in the 6th round this past June, although based on talent, he may have been a higher pick. There were some questions about his character. Rightly so, as he apparently instigated or escalated a fight on his high school team. Kids. As a baseball player, he could be a power-hitting catcher and that’s pretty cool. His pro debut was nothing special, but he’s just 18. He’ll probably go to Elizabethton next season and could make his full-season debut in 2015.
Ortiz has exactly 2000 plate appearances since joining the Twins organization in 2008. As a fan of super round numbers, I hope he remains at that number forever. As a fan of having a livelihood, I would bet that Ortiz hopes to build on that number. Ortiz reached AA for the first time in 2013 and hit .258/.301/.405 in 521 plate appearances. As a corner outfielder, he’ll need to either boost his plate discipline or see a power spike to have future value for the Twins. He’s never really been a big walks guy, but his contact isn’t bad.
That’s enough! I hope you enjoyed these eight prospects. Of the eight, Minier really stands out to me. There’s a chance that he becomes one of the top prospects in the system within the next few years. He’s got massive power, he’s a third baseman and he’s from the Dominican Republic. People will literally fall down trying to compare him to Miguel Sano in the future. Let him be his own man. It’s only fair. See you next week!