Minnesota Twins Prospect Octopus: Year-End Review Week 13
By Brad Swanson
March 21, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Drew Butera (41) works out prior to the game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome back to Taylor’s year-end review of the Twins Minor Leaguers. We have written about 96 players thus far and still have 24 to share with you. We’ll give you eight more today including the newest Twins’ first-round pick and the guy that somehow was worth giving up for Drew Butera. Onward!
The Twins signed Schwarz out of Australia in 2012. Schwarz was originally signed as a toolsy, big-bodied infielder, but the Twins appear to have moved him to the outfield, as he split his time in the GCL between left and right field. Schwarz didn’t have a great Twins debut, hitting just .148/.228/.173 in 93 plate appearances. He only had two extra-base hits (both doubles) and he didn’t really demonstrate any speed with just one stolen base. 93 plate appearances could mean next-to-nothing in the long run and Schwarz is still just 19. Although, he wasn’t considered a major prospect when signed.
Soliman made his debut with the Twins organization back in 2009. In five seasons with the Twins, Soliman has started 63 games, posted a 3.86 ERA and struck out just under a batter per nine innings. Of course, he has done nearly all of his damage at low A and below, having had almost no success in his attempts at Fort Myers and high A. In 56 innings with Fort Myers, Soliman has a 5.46 ERA and his K/9 plummets to 6.4. Soliman is now 24 and has not mastered high A. The Twins don’t have to give up on him, but his time is likely running out. Perhaps a shift to relief? Well, he had a 5.28 ERA in 17 relief appearances with Cedar Rapids. Maybe he just needs more time in that role?
Oh yeah, let’s hit it. Stewart was drafted fourth overall out of St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas this past June. Stewart had an impressive pro debut, throwing just 20 innings, but striking out 24 while walking only 4. More important than silly rookie ball stats is Stewart’s polish, repertoire and delivery. He’s described as a relatively safe high school pitcher, due to his clean delivery and four-pitch repertoire. He has two potential plus pitches (fastball and slider) and he could even move through the system quickly! The Twins may have drafted a future number 1 starter, something they have not enjoyed since Johan Santana. Stewart is arguably the most important prospect in the Twins system. If he can develop quickly and blow through the Minors, he could join Alex Meyer and Kyle Gibson as young workhorse core for a lot of years. Meyer and Stewart have the potential to head a good playoff rotation.
Stirewalt was the Twins’ 21st-round pick this past June and I always spell his name incorrectly. A 23-year-old righty out of Cal State-Fresno, Stirewalt had an excellent pro debut in the GCL. He threw 15.2 innings, struck out 20 and walked just 5. He posted a sparkling 0.57 ERA and gave up just 8 hits. Of course, he did have the advantage of having a lot of years of college experience and some guys in the GCL are literally 17-years-old. That said, you can only face those who are put in front of you and Stirewalt dominated them all.
Don’t worry, I always spell his name wrong too. Stuifbergen signed with the Twins out of the Netherlands way back in 2006. He barely played in 2007 and missed all of 2008 with an injury. You may remember Stuifbergen from his 2009 start against the Dominican Republic back in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Honkbal! Stuifbergen has done little with the Twins. He is a low-walk, extremely low-strikeout pitcher. His career Minor League K/9 of 6.4 would likely translate to a number below 4.5 in the Majors. That type of pitcher basically has to walk no one and get mad ground balls to be successful long-term. Oh well, we’ll always have Honkbal!
Seriously, the Twins got a real-life pitcher for Drew Butera! Not only that, but Sulbaran looks like he could eventually reach the Majors. Well, that’s a long way off. He split his 2013 season between two Midwest League teams. He ended the season with a 2.96 ERA, with 101 strikeouts and just 32 walks in 112.2 innings pitched. Oh, he’s just 19 and left-handed too. When you look at all of that, you have to be shocked that the Dodgers wanted Drew Butera instead of him. That said, Sulbaran is just 5′ 10″ and starters at his height have to be really special. Butera isn’t really as bad as some fans think he is. He was really nice to me at a bank one time.
Matthew Summers was once drafted by the New York Yankees! Yeah, the same team with 28 World Series titles! The Twins took him three years later in 2011, in the 4th round. Summers’ 2013 was a tale of two seasons. He started with Fort Myers and was excellent. He was promoted to New Britain in late June and did not impress. He was sent back to Fort Myers and he was excellent again. He was promoted to New Britain once more and he was not good. He was sent back to Fort Myers and made two good starts at the end of the season. Summers proved in 2013 that he can handle high A. He should start 2014 with New Britain, where he can hopefully put a few good starts together. Summers does not strike out a lot of batters, but he has lowered his walk rate as he’s climbed the organizational ladder.
In case you were wondering, the Twins do have some super young, super talented pitching prospects. Tapia signed with the Twins back in 2012 and made his pro debut in 2013. Tapia is a bit of an unknown, as I can’t find a scouting report anywhere. That said, he had a very successful pro debut, posting a 2.13 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched. He struck out 31 and walked only 5. I don’t get too excited about rookie ball numbers, but 5 walks in 42.1 innings is impressive anywhere. If Tapia has that kind of command at 17, he could rise up Twins prospect ranks as he accumulates innings and climbs the organizational ladder.
That’s all we have for this week. Next week, we’ll be back for the penultimate edition of the year-end review. We’ve got two guys with massive power, two guys who could be in the Twins bullpen in 2014, a potential Drew Butera replacement and the fastest rising prospect in the entire Twins system. What a great part of the alphabet! Have a great week, everyone!