March 21, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins infielder Miguel Sano (97) on third base during the second inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It was an exciting week in Twins Territory, as the Twins added not one, but two starting pitchers to the team. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will make the Twins better in the short-term, but the eight guys I am writing about today could help the Twins in the long-term. Well, maybe a couple could. At least one for sure. Although, he could help in the short-term too. Hmm. This whole first paragraph is a real paradox.
Rohlfing was the Twins’ 14th-round pick waaaaaay back in 2007. Rohlfing is one of those catcher/outfielders that seem to be popular in the Twins’ system. In 1589 Minor League plate appearances, Rohlfing has hit 9 home runs. We got a new Mauer on our hands, right everyone? Right? Rohlfing is a versatile player, as he can catch, play outfield and even play first base if you wanted him to for some reason. His career .248/.321/.329 triple slash inspires little confidence in his future. He’ll be 25 next season and could get a cup of coffee in the Majors at some point.
I know there are a fair amount of fans who want to see Romero get a chance with the Twins in 2014. Romero is a 27-year-old third baseman who has been in the Twins system since 2006. Over the past couple seasons, Romero has started to hit the ball pretty well, and could potentially see time with the Twins if Trevor Plouffe flops and Miguel Sano isn’t ready by mid-season. In 86 games with Rochester last season, Romero hit .266/.369/.421 with 10 home runs, 15 doubles and 47 walks. Romero appears to have good plate discipline and decent power. The Twins have gotten better this past week, but they aren’t a playoff team by any measure. Perhaps seeing what Romero can do would be warranted. He is slightly younger than Plouffe and would make the league-minimum for the next three years. Why not find out if he can hit MLB pitching?
Fernando Romero signed with the Twins in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. Romero is one of about a million young, intriguing starters who haven’t reached full-season ball. In 45 innings in the GCL last season, Romero had a sparkling 1.60 ERA, with 47 strikeouts and just 13 walks. As with all rookie ball stats, these should be taken with a grain of salt. However, as I’ve said before, good stats are always better than poor stats. Romero will be just 19 on Christmas Eve and could see time with Elizabethton in 2014.
Rosario is one of the best prospects in the Twins’ system. The man can hit. His career .307/.358/.510 MiLB triple slash is proof of that. He has struggled in Winter ball, but does have a potential 50-game suspension for a banned substance hanging over his head. That suspension totally sucks and likely will delay his MLB debut. However, he isn’t going away for life and he should resume his great hitting when eligible. The biggest issue is that reports I have read are not sold on his defense at second base. While Rosario is a good hitter, he doesn’t profile as a corner outfielder and he isn’t capable of playing center. If Rosario can’t handle second, he could end up as a very talented, but ill-fitting left fielder. If the Twins can make up for his lack of over-the-fence power elsewhere (perhaps Byron Buxton in center), then it can all even out. Rosario is just 22 and immensely talented. I’m not going to worry about his defensive position too much because guys with good hit tools find their way to the Majors somehow.
Rosario is yet another young, talented starting pitching prospect who hasn’t seen an inning of full-season ball. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 and will be just 20 in May. Rosario started his 2013 season hot, but cooled off as the season went on. He did sprinkle in an impressive seven-inning, nine strikeout, no walk start about halfway through his season. Rosario was pretty inconsistent in 2013, but he was just 19. He finished the season with a 2.82 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 18 walks, in 44.2 innings pitched. He likely needs more time with Elizabethton, but could see time with Cedar Rapids if all goes well early in his 2014 season.
Salcedo was once a top ten prospect in the Twins system. He’s been with the organization since 2008 and profiled as a typical decent-strikeout, low-walk Twins pitcher. His 2011 season with Beloit was excellent. His 2012 season was a disaster. He missed a lot of time due to injuries and he started walking batters, something he hadn’t done before as a pro. In 2013, he repeated Fort Myers, this time as a reliever. He threw 58.1 innings, struck out 54, walked just 15 and posted a 3.70 ERA. I’d say that qualifies as a bounce-back season. However, things have changed dramatically for Salcedo. He’s no longer a top ten or even top thirty prospect. He isn’t a starter anymore and I don’t see any evidence that he will be again. He doesn’t have typical “dominant reliever” stuff either. Salcedo could still make an impact with the Twins, but he’ll be 23 next season and has never pitched above A ball. Remember Salcedo when you start penciling 20-year-olds into future rotation spots.
What more can be said about Sano that hasn’t already been said about bacon? This guy is such a stud prospect. Do you remember his benching back in June? Nope, neither do I. Sano is one of the five best prospects in all of baseball. He has massive power. Unless something crazy happens, he will hit 30 home runs in the Majors one day. I’d bet on 40. He might hit 50. We’re getting silly here. However, Sano is the type of player you can dream big on. Sano is going to put up high walk and strikeout totals, but the power is what really matters. Plus, he is apparently becoming a decent defensive third baseman. He has a cannon for an arm as well. He’s going to be loads of fun to watch and he could make his MLB debut in 2014.
It may seem that the 23-year-old Santana is on the verge of his MLB debut, but looks can be deceiving. Santana hit pretty well for a shortstop in 2013, posting a .297/.333/.386 triple slash with New Britain. He had 22 doubles and 10 triples, and added 30 stolen bases. Santana is also considered a natural shortstop, so all is well, right? Paul Molitor, who worked with Twins Minor League players, stated that Santana could still be two-plus years away. As evidence, Santana made 32 errors in 125 games at short last season. While he has always made his share of errors, that is a pretty jarring total. The Twins won’t put a guy at an important defensive position who makes an error every fourth game, at least not if they don’t have to. With Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar relatively young, good defensively and very cheap, the Twins can afford to wait on Santana and work on his defense. He’s still a great prospect though.
That’s it for this week, Taylor and I will be back with another eight-pack of Prospect Jello next week. Hopefully our favorite team will stay aggressive with the free agents heading into the Winter Meetings. Have a great week, everyone!