While we patiently wait for actual Twins Baseball, and by proxy, Twins Minor League Baseball, I thought it might be fun to step into my time machine and look at Twins prospect lists from the past. Over the next few weeks, we’ll investigate Baseball America’s Twins top ten lists from 1984, 1994 and 2004, to see who made it, who missed and who had silly names. Won’t you join me? We’ll start in 1984, the year Kirby Puckett made his glorious MLB debut.
10. Mike Giordano
Who was he? Giordano was a 20th-round pick in the 1981 draft. He absolutely dominated hitters until he reached AAA. In 19 AAA innings over 16 relief appearances, Giordano posted a 5.21 ERA, struck out just 10 and walked 14. He only recorded 3 saves, after accumulating 34 prior to that AAA stint. He pitched for the Tigers’ AA team in 1984 (just 3 innings) and then he was gone.
Highest level reached? AAA in 1983
Why was he a prospect? He pitched really well in the low Minors.
Fun Fact! He is not related to current Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, even though I really wanted him to be. Also, according to Baseball Reference, he bats “unknown” which I think would be a huge advantage.
Why didn’t he turn out? It looks like strikeouts and walks were the culprit. As a reliever, he couldn’t top 6 K/9 in a season past Low-A. He walked a lot of batters in AAA too. It was a different era, but those K/BB numbers would not have translated well to the Majors, especially as a reliever.
Who was he? Eufemia was the Twins’ 18th round selection in 1982. He went to Ramapo College, which I mistook for Rambo College, which made me regret my college choice. Eufemia rocketed through the low Minors as a reliever and he earned an MLB call-up in 1985. In that one MLB season with the Twins, Eufemia went 4 and 2 with a 3.79 ERA in 61.2 innings pitched. He never pitched in the Majors after 1985.
Highest level reached? MLB, weren’t you paying attention?
Why was he a prospect? He dominated the low Minors and saved some games at the A and AA levels.
Fun Fact! He started 11 games for the New Jersey Jackals in 1998, at age 38. He was 5 and 1 with a 3.51 ERA.
Why didn’t he turn out? Much like Giordano, he didn’t strike out many batters. In his Minor League career, he struck out just 271 batters in 442.2 innings. That’s not great. He had 30 strikeouts in those 61.2 MLB innings. Also, not great. 115 ERA+ though…
8. Jerry Lomastro
Who was he? The Twins drafted Lomastro in the 22nd round of the 1981 draft. I’m noticing a late-round trend here. Lomastro was a power-hitting outfielder who tore up the low Minors. I’m noticing a low Minors trend here.
Highest level reached? AAA on multiple occasions
Why was he a prospect? Chicks dig the long ball. Lomastro hit 53 home runs from 1981-1983 and added 75 doubles and 16 stolen bases. He nearly slugged .500 and he nearly hit .300.
Fun Fact! Lomastro’s full first name is Gerardo, but he goes by Jerry. Just like Larry in Parks and Rec.
Why didn’t he turn out? He couldn’t hit AAA pitching. He hit .295/.370/.486 in 249 AA games and just .230/.294/.365 in 199 AAA games.
7. Jim Weaver
Who was he? Weaver was the Twins’ second-round pick in the 1980 draft. He didn’t really do much in the Minors, but he did reach the Majors on three non-consecutive occasions. He was also included in the package that helped the Twins acquire Bert Blyleven.
Highest level reached? MLB in 1985, 1987 and 1989
Why was he a prospect? It’s hard to tell. It must have been his second-round pedigree. He didn’t really hit very well as a pro. His best season was in 1982, where he hit .286/.377/.449. I guess that OBP is very solid, but he was 23 and repeating AA.
Why didn’t he turn out? He wasn’t very good? He did amass an impressive 791 career games at AAA. He hit an unimpressive .247/.340/.409 in those games. Of course he hit .161/.235/.290 in tiny parts of three MLB seasons with the Tigers, Mariners and Giants. So, those AAA numbers don’t look too bad in comparison, do they?
Who was he? Oelkers was the Twins’ first-round pick in June of 1982. The lefty starter reached the Majors in his second professional season, getting shellacked in 34.1 innings. He struck out just 13, walked 17, gave up 7 home runs and ended with a 8.65 ERA in his only season with the Twins.
Highest level reached? MLB in 1983 and 1986
Why was he a prospect? Well, he was just 23 in 1984 and he was a former fourth-overall pick. He’d had success prior to the 1983 season.
Fun Fact! Oh man, so many. First, he was born in Spain. So that’s pretty cool. Second, he was drafted in the first round in 1982. But I thought Kirby Puckett was drafted in the first round in 1982? Back then, there were two drafts. The June draft was the real deal and the following January, there was a draft for those who were not drafted in the previous June draft. Puckett came from the leftovers draft, just another piece of lore for you. Third, Oelkers was picked fourth overall. Fifth overall in 1982? Dwight Gooden and he was good.
Why didn’t he turn out? Let’s see. His strikeout and walk rates were nearly identical. He was wild. He wasn’t durable. He wasn’t Doc Gooden. He did have a nice 1984 season with AA Orlando. Of course, he had been in the Majors just one year prior.
5. Rich Yett
Who was he? The Twins drafted Yett in the 26th round of the 1980 draft. He would prove to be their best 26th round pick yett.
Highest level reached? MLB from 1985-1990
Why was he a prospect? He was pretty great in the Minors from 1980-1983. He made all of his starts, kept his ERA around 3.75 and won a bunch of games. His strikeout and walk rates weren’t great, but those just didn’t seem to be that important back then.
Fun Fact! Yett was the player-to-be-named-later in the Bert Blyleven trade that also involved Jim Weaver. Fun! Also, he signed as a free agent with the Twins before the 1990 season, his last in the Majors.
Why didn’t he turn out? Yett pitched 414.1 innings in the Majors, so he wasn’t a complete failure. However, his career ERA was 4.95 and he never made more than 22 starts in a season. His strikeout and walk rates were pretty similar (5.0 to 4.1) and even though that wasn’t as important back then, it was pretty important back then.
4. Tim Teufel
Who was he? Teufel was the Twins’ second-round pick in 1980. He signed as a second baseman and immediately started hitting for good “middle infield power.”
Highest level reached? MLB from 1983-1993
Why was he a prospect? His Minor League stats aren’t outstanding, but he did slug .486 in his Minor League career. He absolutely crushed AAA pitching, to the tune of a .313/.418/.565 line over 181 AAA games. He reached the Majors in 1983, but did not play enough games to fall off the prospect list for 1984.
Fun Fact! The Twins traded Teufel for Billy Beane in 1986, thus inventing Moneyball.
Why did he turn out? Teufel provided 15.3 rWAR over his 11-year career. He had a 104 OPS+, mostly as a utility player. He could play second, third and first. He wasn’t special, but he certainly contributed to some teams, including the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets.
3. Dave Meier
Who was he? The Twins drafted Meier in the 5th round of the 1981 draft. It was the third time Meier had been drafted, and he finally decided that he did want to play baseball professionally. He was mostly an outfielder, but he did play games at short, third and second in his career.
Highest level reached? MLB from 1984-1985 and 1987-1988
Why was he a prospect? The positional versatility probably helped. In addition, he crushed AAA in 1983, hitting .336/.408/.469, adding 21 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs and walking more than he struck out.
Fun Fact! Meier is one of 23 MLB players born in Montana. Just 23. Seems low. Step up your game, MT.
Why didn’t he turn out? Well, he did play 145 games in the Majors, so he turned out to an extent, but he never really got a long look either. In 1985, he posted a 96 OPS+ in 71 games. Of course, the Twins had Kirby Puckett and Tom Brunasky in the outfield, which left just one spot open for Meier, Randy Bush and Mickey Hatcher. The Twins chose Bush and Meier was released at the end of the ’85 season.
2. Jeff Reed
Who was he? Reed was the Twins’ first-round selection in 1980. He was a high school catcher and he made his pro debut with Elizabethton at age 17. He would be in baseball for the next 20+ years.
Highest level reached? MLB from 1984-2000
Why was he a prospect? He was a catcher, so that’s already enough. Plus, he consistently walked more than he struck out. That’s actually underselling him a bit. In his Minor League career, he walked 430 times and struck out just 268 times. Also, he was a catcher.
Fun Fact! Reed played 17 MLB seasons, by far the most of any player on this list.
Why did he turn out? Reed carved out a long career as a backup catcher. He didn’t walk as much as he had in the Minors, but he was able to catch and that’s really all you need from a backup catcher. He produced 4.5 rWAR in those 17 seasons. He only played three seasons in Minnesota, as he was part of the Jeff Reardon trade with the Expos in 1987.
1. Kirby Puckett
Who was he? One of the greatest players in Twins history. Puckett alone makes this top ten list look good, even though the rest of the dregs did little to contribute. Puckett provided the Twins with 50.8 rWAR during his Hall of Fame career.
Highest level reached? Majors, Hall of Fame
Why was he a prospect? He was a first-round pick and he had massive tools. He was a centerfielder who hit .330 in the Minors. He stole 99 bases in 224 Minor League games. He was sublime.
Fun Fact! Puckett skipped AA and played just 21 AAA games before earning a permanent MLB promotion.
Why did he turn out? Because he was awesome. He was a great hitter, great fielder, great runner and great teammate.
Whenever you are feeling down regarding the direction of the Twins organization, just take a look at this list and remember that the Twins won two World Series titles within ten years of this list being published. Granted, Kirby Puckett alone makes this top ten a success and the Twins had a bunch of talented youngsters already in the fold, but not eligible for this list. But still, this list looks terrifying in a vacuum, as I am guessing most lists would. Anyway, we’ll be back next week with the 1994 list. It’s better. Have a great week, everyone!
Tags: Minnesota Twins