June 22, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher D.J. Baxendale (24) throws against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first inning of game thirteen of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Twins Minor League season ended on Sunday, when the Rochester Red Wings lost to the Pawtucket Red Sox in game 5 of the semi-finals of the International League playoffs. As a result, the 2013 Minor League Season recaps can begin! Some players will go on to the Arizona Fall League (as we wrote about last week), some will go to the Florida Instructional League, some will train on their own and others will sit and eat pizza and chips. Regardless of where these players go, their full seasons are over. Taylor, the Prospect Octopus, and I will spend the next 15 weeks wrapping up the most notable Twins Minor Leaguers. We’ll discuss eight each week and cover 120 players! WOWOWOW!
Not all of these players are big-time prospects, future Twins or even all that notable. However, you can be the judge of who to keep an eye on because we’re going to discuss just about everybody. We’ll go alphabetical, just for the sake of fairness. Let’s begin.
Nope, not the Jose Abreu. However, the Twins’ Abreu has put together three fairly impressive seasons between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. In 2013, he threw 28 innings in the States and posted an impressive 1.61 ERA. Only 20-years-old, Abreu posted a 9.6 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9, which adds up to a very sterling 6.0 K/BB ratio. Impressive, but a small sample. The real test may come next season, if Abreu keeps moving up levels. He saved five games for the Twins in the GCL, so it’s possible that he’ll be groomed for a late-inning relief role. However, he’s so young and so far away that role is not really important at this point.
Achter was the Twins 46th-round pick back in 2010. Achter has made the slow climb from Michigan State to Minnesota, and it looks like he might ultimately reach that endpoint. Looking at his stats, I can’t really see how he’s been effective this season, but the results speak for themselves. Despite mediocre strikeout, walk and home run rates, Achter has posted a 2.54 ERA in 60.1 innings between Rochester and New Britain. He may not be a super prospect, but he could end up as a member of the Twins bullpen as soon as 2014.
Twins fans are well aware of who Albers is at this point. He wasn’t a prospect going into the season and he wasn’t a prospect when he was called up. But, he proved that he can be a Major Leaguer, and that is all that really matters. No one cares whether a player was a prospect or not, so long as they produce. Albers had an excellent season with Rochester and earned his promotion to the Majors. With Minnesota, Albers provided a couple of the most exciting starts for the Twins. He is the only Twins starter to throw a pitch in the ninth inning, and he’s done it twice. It might not be smart to rely on Albers for 2014 and beyond, but he’s proved that he can get MLB hitters out if the Twins need him.
A 21st-round pick in 2012, Altobelli is a catcher, so he’s always going to be somewhat interesting. His bat a bit empty, but he has made good contact as a pro. In 2013, he posted a .302/.347/.341 triple slash, splitting time between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. Altobelli only played 26 games this season, after making his pro debut last season. I don’t know what to think of Altobelli, but most 21st-round picks don’t pan out. He’ll probably spend all of 2014 with Cedar Rapids, where we’ll learn quite a bit more about this mystery catcher man.
Arcia was one of the Twins’ top prospects going into 2012 and 2013. He was set to spend most of 2013 with Rochester, but injuries forced the Twins to promote him a little earlier than planned. He played one game with the Twins, then returned to AAA, seemingly for the foreseeable future. Then, more injuries. Arcia returned to Minnesota as a result. He impressed early, then slumped and was sent back to AAA. He raked, as he always did, and he’s been back in Minnesota ever since. He goes through slumps, but he’s only 22. He’s probably the Twins’ second or third best hitter right now. I guess that isn’t saying much, but he still had an impressive rookie season, posting a 103 OPS+ as of today. He’s 22, don’t forget that.
Atherton is an Aussie who re-started his career with the Twins back in 2011. Since coming back to the states, he has been pretty impressive. This year, he split time between the bullpen and the rotation after primarily working out of the bullpen prior to this season. With Cedar Rapids in 2013, Atherton actually pitched better as a starter. His K/BB ratio went from just slightly above 2.0 to nearly 5.0. His strikeout rate decreased, but still hovered around a strikeout per inning. In 11 starts, Atherton posted a 2.42 ERA. The samples are small, and Atherton was 23 in low A, but his conversion to the rotation has to be viewed as successful thus far.
Bard missed most of 2013, after the Twins made him one of their first-round picks in 2012. He was only able to make it through 9.1 innings, so any look at his stats would be viewing a sample that means next to nothing. Most importantly, he returned to action this year. Losing an entire season would have been a disaster. Bard isn’t headed to any structured league this off-season. He’s likely headed toward a strengthening program that will help him transition to the rotation next season. That was the plan when he was drafted and it seems that is still the plan today. We’ll see how well it takes next season, but it seems like a bit of a long-shot at this point.
Baxendale dominated High A for nine starts and earned a promotion to New Britain. Since making his AA debut, he has done anything but dominate. In 92.2 innings with New Britain, he posted a 5.63 ERA, 1.424 WHIP, while seeing his strikeout rate decrease and walk rate increase. Not great signs. Baxendale moved really quickly and will benefit from repeating AA next year. Without overpowering stuff, he needs to rely on command and control. If he can’t develop, he might have a career that mimics B.J. Hermsen‘s: great until AA, but unable to get more advanced hitters to buy into what he’s selling. 2014 will be a huge season for Baxendale.
There we go. 8 down, 112 to go. I hope you join us for the next few months. We’ll unveil eight new youngsters each week until we’ve reached our zenith. Have a nice week, everyone!