I am very high on Eddie Rosario. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball America, one of the best organizations in the Prospect game, puts out their top 10 lists each Winter. This is not all that uncommon, but Baseball America adds a little extra wrinkle to their lists. They include a projected lineup for a few seasons down the line. Many would argue that this is a completely futile exercise. How is anyone to know what will happen over the next few seasons?
Looking at the Twins, it seems they are almost bound to add players to either their MLB team or farm system in the coming years. If nothing else, there will be MLB drafts in the coming years, which will change the complexion of the farm system. Trades, free agents, rule 5 draft, international signings… There are just too many things that can change between now and 2016!
All that being said, I’m going to project the Twins 2016 team. The Twins franchise might be one of the easier franchises to project. First, they don’t sign a lot of free agents. Second, they tend to let their prospects develop into MLB players without trading them first. Finally, they don’t rush prospects, so it should be easy to figure out who will be around in 2016 and who will be a year or two away.
Okay fine, but why bother? If so many things can happen between now and 2016, what is the point?
Simple, it’s fun.
So, here is my projected 2016 Minnesota Twins team. I only used players currently in the organization. I also made notes where I think the Twins might try to upgrade the position in the years between now and then.
Lineup (in order)
Aaron Hicks – CF – His extremely hot Spring Training doesn’t even factor in for me. I liked what I saw of Hicks going into Spring Training. He is a true center fielder, with a right field arm. He has good plate discipline, great speed and good power potential. I could see him settling in as a pre-Yankees Curtis Granderson, with better defense. He won’t hit 40 bombs like current Granderson, but he could be a 25/25 player at some point. I am a big fan.
Eddie Rosario – 2B – I think he sticks. I watch him play and he just looks so smooth. He runs well, he has a nice glove and he plays hard. He’ll have growing pains at second, but he’ll figure it out. I don’t see a lot of power from him, but he’ll get on base and provide the requisite skills for the 2-hole.
Joe Mauer – 1B – I’d bet Mauer is either at first or a full-time DH by 2016. He’ll be 34 and he’ll still be hitting. I don’t think this will be a case of an albatross former star staying in the lineup because of his contract. I think Mauer will continue to be a productive hitter as he ages.
Oswaldo Arcia – LF – He’s hitting cleanup out of necessity, not because I think he becomes a huge power hitter. He might hit 25-30 home runs at his peak, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than that. He has the arm for right, but I’ve got someone else in that spot.
Trevor Plouffe – DH – Plouffe will be only 30 and will still be under team control. I don’t expect him to be so productive that he gets pricey, but I think he will be productive enough to stay in the teams’ plans.
Joe Benson – RF – I’m a sucker for Benson. I love his defense and arm. I love his speed and power. I hate his plate discipline. This placement suggests that he gets it figured out to some extent. He might strike out 150 times a year, but it could be worth it, if he puts everything else together.
Miguel Sano – 3B – I’m guessing this will be his rookie season. He’ll get a taste in 2015, and then start 2016 with the Twins. He’ll likely struggle at first, but eventually, he’ll hit a bunch of home runs and become an extremely popular player. I don’t think he busts. I’m really excited for Sano.
Chris Herrmann – C – I’d bet the Twins work very hard to ensure that Herrmann is not the full-time catcher in 2016. Considering the options in the system right now, he might be the best choice. It is possible that Mauer is still behind the plate at 34, so Herrmann might not be needed at all.
Daniel Santana – SS – Santana looks like he could develop into something very useful. He has a good defensive profile and good skills at the plate. If he can turn into someone like Greg Gagne, I’d be very satisfied.
Notable Bench Player – Levi Michael – It starts in 2013. I think he starts to turn things around and ends up as a good utility player. He won’t be what the Twins hoped he could become, when they drafted him in the first round, but he can still contribute.
Alex Meyer – I’m geeked for Meyer. The size, the stuff, the power, it just all adds up in my head. He has a long way to go and he might struggle a lot when he first gets to Minnesota, but his upside is as high as any starter the Twins have had in years. Since I’m just guessing anyway, I’ll guess that he gets there.
Kyle Gibson – Gibson seems to still be working to get the feel for hit pitches back. However, his stuff looks sharper than it did before his surgery. If he can get his command back, he’ll be great. He might be the only Radke-clone who actually eclipses Radke.
Vance Worley – Worley seems to be the forgotten man. There has been a lot of focus on the bad starters that were signed in the off-season and the two prospects acquired for Denard Span and Ben Revere. Worley has good stuff, has had a good MLB season and is still very young. I think he can slide in as a number 3/4 starter for the foreseeable future.
Scott Diamond – I believe in Diamond. He might not be as good as he was last season, but if he can keep his walks down, he’ll be a 3/4 starter as well.
B.J. Hermsen – Hermsen seems like the most likely of the young, number 5 starter types, to reach MLB and stick. His minor league walk rate is so good that if it translates to the bigs, he can get by. Adrian Salcedo and Alex Wimmers are possibilities here too.
Closer – Trevor May – Odds are either May or Meyer will fail. Pitching prospects are volatile. If I am going to project (guess) that Meyer will become an ace, it only seems fair to project (guess) that May will end up in the bullpen. If that happens, he has the stuff to close and he could be really good in that role.
J.O. Berrios might not be here in 2016, but perhaps not long after. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Remaining Top Prospects
All of these players will likely be on the cusp of joining the Twins at this point. In fact, 2016 could end up being the rookie year for a few of these players. Some may debut before 2016, but I’d be very surprised. A few will never make it at all. I do see possible bright futures for each of these players, so I did not want to leave them out altogether.
We obviously do not know who these players will be. The 2013 first-round pick could be an absolute stud. I am working on a preview of the draft and there are 8-10 really great players who the Twins could take. I expect the 2014 selection to be a top five pick as well. Thus, the Twins could be adding two more top 10 prospects in the coming drafts. Not bad.
Kevin Correia – Just kidding!
There is nothing scientific about this exercise. This is basically just a whole mess of wild guesses. But, that doesn’t make it any less fun. Plus, how crazy would it be if I was right?
What do you think the lineup will look like in 2016? Who am I missing and who do you agree with? Respond in the comments below?
From the unlikely to the strange, I invented a new game that blends music and baseball. Take a look and let me know that I should never do this again. What band did I hide in these player names?