Le Sigh


Rather than reflect on the debacle that was this weekend’s series with Detroit, on this off day I thought it would be nice to take a peek at how some of the youngsters are doing on the farm for the Twins before they get corrupted by Ron Gardenhire and Joe Favra trying to turn everyone into either a slap hitting utility infielder, or Gardy and Rick Anderson trying to turn everyone into a sub-90 mph throwing strike machine. (By the way, the tag firerongardenhireandbillsmith is going to take off on Twitter, I just know it.)

Let’s start off with the man everyone wants to know about, Aaron Hicks. Hicks was held back from single A Beloit for awhile as the Twins are taking a very conservative approach with the raw outfielder. Hicks is hitting just .247, but it is in 154 at-bats, he is young for the level, and he has a .355 OBP. He hasn’t shown much power this year, but has walked almost as many times (26) as he has struck out (31). For someone viewed to be so raw, his control of the strike zone has been very impressive so far.

You can’t talk about Hicks without next going to Ben Revere. The second rated player in the Twins organization (but my personal favorite) has been very good for Fort Meyers, going .307/.368/.375 He has also walked more times (30) than he has struck out (28).He has shown off some gap power and his speed score of 7.0 is very impressive, although it should be noted that minor league numbers can be a bit unreliable. Revere has a terrible outfield arm, but has the speed to play centerfield, so the combo of him and Carlos Gomez (or Hicks) plus Denard Span in right will undoubtedly be the best defensive outfield in baseball in a few years.

One guy who has shown a ton of power is outfielder Angel Morales. He has 11 homers this year and a .451 slugging percentage. But, unlike Hicks and Revere, he seems allergic to plate discipline. He has just 22 walks next to 81 strikeouts this year. Like Hicks and Revere he has a ton of athletic ability, so it’s possible that he can put it together still.

Wilson Ramos is one of the best young catchers in the minors. In the next couple years he will probably serve as a tremendous trade chip for the Twins, or God forbid as our catcher of the future if Mauer leaves after 2010. He is currently in the Gulf Coast League on a rehab assignment, but in New Britain he hit .308/.326/.444. As is the case with Twins prospects, he needs to show some more patience. Fortunately he is good behind the plate and should be an asset defensively, something that should help keep his value up.

Speaking of catchers, Twins 2009 6th round pick Chris Herrmann out of Miami has had an impressive debut with Elizabethton, going .309/.406/.513 in 152 at-bats. He also has 6 homers and 23 walks next to 24 strikeouts. Although I’m much more excited that he has been good in his debut rather than bad, he is a college player in rookie ball, so not doing anything too out of the ordinary.

Pitcher Carlos Gutierrez was wonderful in Fort Meyers, but at New Britain he has been nothing short of a disaster: a 7.11 ERA and a .313 batting average against. Whether he has had just  a bad run of luck lately, or maybe New Britain’s defense is terrible, but clearly his lack of strikeout ability is starting to catch up with him a bit.

The Twins certainly don’t have the best farm system in baseball, but they have a nice mix of intriguing athletic prospects (Morales, Rene Tosoni), some potential good starters (Carlos Gutierrez) and some high upside guys (Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere, who has been compared to Ichiro). The last couple drafts have insured the Twins will have good prospects for the next couple years, but it would get a huge boost from some of the lower round players playing well, and guys like Kyle Gibson and Blake Dean signing.