It has been a tough offseason for many readers of Twins Daily. What started out with great promise, trades involving Span and Revere, has ended with a big thud. In the eyes of many, the Twins failed to shore up their biggest weakness from last year, the rotation. As I read thread after thread on the Twins Talk forum over the past couple of months there was a decided negativity about the direction of the Twins. Twins fans have felt that Terry Ryan did not live up to his pledge to improve the rotation. While I am disappointed that more wasn't done, I think we are in better shape now than we were at the end of the season.
As they say, hope springs eternal. I am encouraged by the positivity displayed on the forum over the past couple of weeks. Maybe it is due to Spring Training. ESPN released a Top 100 Prospects list as well as organizational rankings that gave Twins fans something to be positive about. It's easy to get excited about these prospects, but many are years from contributing for the Twins (Sano, Buxton, Rosario, Kepler).
In that vein, I thought I would put a different spin on the Top 10 Prospects list. I have put together a list of the top 10 players that I think have a chance to break in with the Twins this year. I'm stretching the term "prospect" for some of them, so bear with me. The rankings are based on probability that they can make it to the show as well as their chances of performing well. I have eliminated players who have spent significant time in the majors already such as all of the MI candidates as well as Robertson (40GP). So here goes my first blog attempt:
#10) Alex Meyer
- I don't see it happening this season, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. At best Meyer would be looking at a September callup. Meyer is only 3 months younger that Trevor May, but could use more seasoning. It would take a breakout season for him to get a look.
#9) Chris Colabello
- He will be 29 this season and is too old to truly be a prospect, but I think he stands a chance as a bat off the bench if and only if Morneau and/or Willingham get traded. It would be nice to have a RH bat with some pop to platoon with Parmelee on occasion against tough LHP.
#8) Anthony Slama
- Put me in the "Free Slama" camp. I still don't understand why he hasn't been given a chance. Jeff Gray gets 52 IP last year??? That being said, the Twins don't seem to think he can get big-league hitters out. I think several of Roenicke, Pressley, Swarzak, Burnett and Robertson would have to fail for him to get a chance.
#7) Trevor May
- He threw 100+ innings in AA ball last year. If he can find his command this year, he could push his way up the pecking order fairly quickly. He will be 23 this season and shouldn't be blocked by the retreads sitting in AAA. Meyer seems to have slightly higher upside, but May seems to be higher up the ladder at this point.
#6) Caleb Thielbar
- Following a solid showing in AA and AAA last year, Thielbar was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. It appears as though he has passed Slama up in the eyes of the Twins. Like Slama, it would take some bullpen issues for him to be given a chance this year.
#5 Chris Herrmann
- At this point we start to get to players with a reasonable chance of making it to the show. If either Doumitt or Mauer were to get hurt, Herrmann should be the replacement. If Butera were to get hurt, I would guess the Twins turn to Rivera instead. Signing Doumitt to an extension hurt Herrmann's chances this year. His OF versatility certainly helps.
#4 Oswaldo Arcia
- Arcia had a breakout season at AA last year and is likely close to being ready. If he were called up, he should be playing everyday. A Morneau or Willingham trade/injury or ineffectiveness/injury for Parmelee would be the likely reason. Right now he is probably blocked and should start at AAA.
#3 Joe Benson
- I hesitate putting Benson ahead of Arcia, since I think Arcia is the better prospect. This is more about opportunity. Benson has the ability to play CF which is open for the taking. If he can re-establish his status, he has a decent chance this year. His arm and power also play in RF which helps his cause if Mastroianni grabs the starting CF gig.
#2 Kyle Gibson
- Gibson would have been #1 at the end of the season. By all accounts he threw well at the end of the season, actually throwing harder than he did prior to surgery. The surgery is what will hold him back. He's as near a lock as anybody to play for the Twins this year. He just may not start the season with them to control his innings.
#1 Aaron Hicks
- Ladies and Gentlemen, your next CF and leadoff hitter for the Twins. Barring a major setback in Spring Training, I'd have to say he's nearly a lock to start the season with the Twins. This pick is all about opportunity. The trades made by the Twins indicate they feel he is ready. He finally started showing the potential the Twins felt he had this past summer in New Britain. His minor league numbers compare favorably to Torii Hunter with more plate discipline.