The Minnesota Twins front office should feel somewhat vindicated by all of the recent draft picks, international signings and savvy trades which have brought the organization closer to sustainable relevancy – at least by MLB.com’s standards. On Tuesday night, MLB.com revealed their Top 100 prospects
and six Twins prospects graced the list.
Joining front-running Miguel Sano (12th), Minnesota sent 2012 draftee Byron Buxton (19th), recently acquired Alex Meyer (40th), Kyle Gibson (49th), Oswaldo Arcia (93rd) and Aaron Hicks (98th), into the top 100. Only Boston, Miami, St Louis and Texas equaled that total.
The Twins added two additional prospects to that list over the prior year – mainly due to the return of Gibson from Tommy John surgery, the acquisition of Meyer, and the rebound of Arcia, who was added after he missed a substantial part of 2011. Both Sano and Buxton moved up in the rankings while Hicks dropped from 59th to 98th Eddie Rosario, who was ranked 80th in 2012 but was injured for a portion of 2012, was bumped off completely. Overall, based on the prospect points rankings (i.e. 100 equals 1 point, 99 equals 2 points, etc) the Twins’ scored 295, good for fourth behind Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa – three very good organizations when it comes to developing in-house talent.
Earlier this month, Baseball America’s Jim Callis released their preliminary top ten list
for farm systems in baseball. According to Callis, the Twins ranked seventh. Ahead of them included the Cardinals, Mariners, Marlins, Rangers, Red Sox and Rays. Once again, they ranked among the game’s best and – with the exception of the Mariners and Marlins – regular contenders. This was a sizable jump in BA’s standings considering that Baseball America viewed 19 other organizations to be better than the Twins a
year ago. The climb was similar at prospect guru John Sickels’s site MinorLeagueBall.com. Last year, he placed them at 17th overall
but moved them up to seventh as well
Of course, it should be noted how quickly teams can swing from top to bottom of Baseball America’s list. For instance, in 2010, the Cardinals were ranked as 29th, after being rated eighth the previous year. Two years later, they are the number one team. Likewise Cleveland who was in the seventh spot in 2011 dropped to 29th heading into last year. Several trades or solid draft picks can do wonders for an organization.
Outside of the aforementioned big-ticket guys on the list, players like Rosario, newly acquired pitcher Trevor May and outfielder Max Kepler are drawing plenty of attention. Arms like J.O. Barrios and Luke Bard are also leaving strong impressions and could contribute quickly in Minnesota.
Team president Dave St. Peter’s remarks on the recent Gleeman and the Geek podcast
over the TwinsFest weekend revealed the team’s intentions. “We’re trying to do this right,” St. Peter said in regards to the team’s strategy. “We’re trying to do it the only way we know how to do it, which is to build this thing through our farm system and for the long term.”
While many fans may be disheartened by the moves (or lack of moves) made at the major league level, building a solid foundation is imperative for the long-term success of any team.
Having a strong minor league system does not necessarily mean waiting until 2021 and Hover Board Giveaway Day
at the ballpark to be competitive either. Having a strong system also gives teams the luxury of trading for parts to help immediately. This offseason the Toronto Blue Jays, who were rated fourth in 2012, unleashed a flurry of prospects to land starters Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and shortstop Jose Reyes. The Royals sent the number three overall prospects Wil Myers to Tampa for starter James Shields (for better or worse). If the 2014 roster – with an aging core of Mauer and Willingham – appear poised to compete, the team could trade from the depth to provide immediate reinforcements if deemed appropriate.
Even if the rest of the 2013 season doe not quite go as schedule, rest assured that the team is laying the right groundwork to build upon.