By Brad Swanson
Kyle Gibson, my favorite safe prospect. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
With the conclusion of my epic top 25 prospect list, I thought I would share just a few more prospect related items. As I stated up at the beginning of my list, I am not a scout. I haven’t seen the vast majority of the Twins top prospects and I likely will not see any of them until they get to Minnesota. I read about prospects a lot, and that is how I developed my opinions and list. Before I get to the resources, I have 3 more top ten lists to share, just because I think they are fun. You can skip past them if you want.
Top 10 Based on Ceiling
1. Byron Buxton
2. Miguel Sano
3. Alex Meyer
4. Aaron Hicks
5. Max Kepler
6. Niko Goodrum
7. Jose Berrios
10. Adam Walker
Obviously, the top 10 changes a bit when you are just looking at ceiling. To me, ceiling basically means “what the player could become if everything clicks.” Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer have award-winning ceilings. Niko Goodrum and Max Kepler jump up this list significantly because they both have crazy tools. Oswaldo Arcia drops a bit, but he will appear higher on the next list. Adam Walker has huge power and could really be something if he develops his hit tool.
Top 10 Based on Floor
1. Kyle Gibson
2. Oswaldo Arcia
3. Aaron Hicks
4. B.J. Hermsen
7. Joe Benson
8. Alex Meyer
10. Luke Bard
Floor obviously refers to where they will be if nothing really changes much. Some realistic development might be added in, but these players are safe where they are at right now. I feel Arcia and Gibson are nearly sure things. Arcia can hit and Gibson has a great feel for his pitches. Hicks is safe as well, although maybe not as much. His defense will play regardless. Herrmann and Hernandez did not make my top 25, but land here because each has already played in MLB games. Hermsen hasn’t played for the Twins, but he will. He has that Anthony Swarzak/Jeff Manship thing going, and likely will be called upon at some point in 2013. He could be better than that though. Benson is safe, I guess. He can at least say he played for the Twins. The bottom three guys have crazy stuff and should be able to contribute in the bullpen regardless of how their careers develop.
Alex Meyer has a high ceiling. And he needs one!!!!!! Because he’s tall. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Top 10 Next Year – 2014
1. Byron Buxton
2. Miguel Sano
3. Alex Meyer
5. Max Kepler
6. Jose Berrios
7. Trevor May
9. Jorge Polanco
10. Niko Goodrum
Next year’s list is basically this year’s list with a few players removed/added. Obviously this means I think Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson are going to exhaust their prospect eligibility during the 2013 season. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Oswaldo Arcia will be replacing Josh Willingham in August. Finally, I have a feeling Niko Goodrum breaks out in 2013. However, the 2013 draft throws a wrench in this list, as the Twins have the 4th overall pick. The player they draft will almost certainly be in the top 10. If the Twins draft Clint Frazier, like I hope they do, he’d slot in right below Meyer. But that is projecting way too far.
If you want to learn more about prospects, I have a wealth of resources that I can suggest for you. I used all of these resources as I worked on my top 25 list.
Seth Stohs is the go-to resource when it comes to Twins prospects. I have good knowledge of the top 50 or so and he knows everybody. He creates an annual handbook that outlines each prospect in great detail. It is the most comprehensive prospect resource that I am aware of. I know other teams have handbooks, but I don’t think any are this detailed and exhaustive. If you like Twins prospects, you absolutely have to own that handbook. Plus, our very own Paul Pleiss contributed to the handbook this year, so even more reason to run out and get it.
Staying local, Aaron Gleeman releases a top 40 prospect list each off-season as well. He just started his list and each year he provides detailed analysis of each prospect. His analysis is extremely valuable and really helps with a statistical overview of these players. Here is the very first part of his list. Locally, Twins Daily has excellent prospect coverage and a great community that has strong interest in prospects, even if they do want to rush them a bit :). Finally, Puckett’s Pond loves prospects and you can obviously read my coverage, along with Paul’s, Chris’s and Michael’s. Great analysis all around!
Keeping with a local flavor, SBNation’s John Sickels is a noted Twins fan. He is also a minor league expert, on a national level. His top 20 (really top 23) list has a greating scouting flair and excellent information. He grades each prospects on a school (A-F) scale and gives excellent bite-sized analysis. Sickels creates lists for all teams, so if you have interest in potential trade targets, he’ll have them covered.
Keeping with the national prospect game, Baseball America offers great prospect coverage at the pro, college and high school level. A subscription is about 65 bucks a year, but you get access to crazy coverage. If you are interested in the MLB draft, BA has you covered. The create their own top 30 lists, which you can access as a subscriber, but you can get top 10s for free. They rank their players based more on how the teams view their own players. Their lists are fascinating because they might not always match other writers who rank based on ceiling or potential. BA also offers a prospect mailing list which will appear in your inbox daily, filled with stats from top prospects in each system. It is outstanding and it is free.
If you are really interested in the scouting side of the prospect world, Perfect Game USA is a great resource. If you are just loaded with stacks of cash, you can get their scout membership for 38 bucks a month, or an insider membership for 8 bucks a month. The scout membership comes with player contact info and you should never abuse that. Even if you can’t swing a membership, they have enough free content to make you wish you had a paid membership, if you don’t. They focus a lot more on amateur scouting, but with their new partnership with Baseball Prospectus, they are expanding into more pro coverage as well. If you want to know who the future Twins are, before they are future Twins, this is an excellent resource.
Speaking of BP, if you don’t have a BP subscription then you are doing baseball fan all wrong. I’m not even sure how much it costs anymore, as I just renew automatically every year, but whatever it costs, it is worth it. BP’s prospect coverage is insane. They rank their prospects more on ceiling and #want, so you can really get an idea of which prospects have explosive tools and big futures. Their writers are really colorful as well. Jason Parks runs their coverage and he is a Texan. He is unique, but he is a fantastic writer. His articles are really entertaining and his knowledge is top notch. Their team of writers is truly impressive and I really enjoy their analysis.
Twitter is a great way to engage with prospect experts. I will categorize those that I follow based on their affiliation. If you don’t follow them, you really should consider it. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have another name to add, please add them in the comments. I’m not going to link to each handle, but just copy each into Twitter and you’ll be on your way!
Seth Stohs – @SethTweets
Aaron Gleeman – @AaronGleeman
Jonathan Mayo – @JonathanMayoB3 – MLB.com prospect guru
Kiley McDaniel – @Kileymcd – FanGraphs.com and ESPN.com – He wrote those awesome write-ups of Twins prospects from instructs.
John Sickels – @MinorLeagueBall
Perfect Game USA
Perfect Game updates – @PerfectGameUSA
Kendall Rogers – @KendallRogersPG
Baseball America – @BaseballAmerica
Will Lingo – @willingo
John Manuel – @johnmanuelba
Jim Callis – @jimcallisBA
Ben Badler – @BenBadler
JJ Cooper – @jjcoop36
Matt Eddy – @eddymk
Aaron Fitt – @aaronfitt
Conor Glassey – @conorglassey
Josh Leventhal – @joshlev44
Nathan Rode – @BAHighSchool
Jim Shonerd – @jimshonerdBA
Jason Parks – @ProfessorParks
Jason Cole – @LoneStarDugout
Joe Hamrahi – @JHamrahi
Dan Evans – @DanEvans108
Nick J. Faleris – @NickJFaleris
Chris Mellen – @ChrisMellen
Jason A. Churchill – @ProspectInsider
Mark Anderson – @ProspectMark – Special mention here, as I find him to be very engaging on Twitter. He’ll hold random prospect chats and his answers are so quick that you can just tell he has an encyclopedic knowledge of prospects in all systems. His website, Baseball Prospect Nation, is another outstanding resource. He provides his own top 15 lists and detailed scouting reports of many players. Here is his Top 15 Twins list. He is the final resource on my list. He should have millions of Twitter followers and probably will one day.
This ran a bit long, but it was meant to be exhaustive. If you really want to dive into prospects, this is a great way to start. A year ago, I was just learning about the minor league world. Now, I feel like an informed citizen, ready to monitor prospects from afar with the best of them. If you want to join the prospect community, there is plenty of room for everyone!