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Article: Offseason Primer: The Core Seven (?)

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:26 PM
At the All Star break in 2017, I wrote up an article discussing the Twins Core Four. During the Twins recent poor seasons, there was a lo...
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NBA 2018-19 Thread

Minnesota Timberwolves Talk Today, 09:22 PM
You all probably know I’m a Lakers guy by now. But, I like you guys, so I want to keep talking hoops on TD. This season is going to be F...
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Article: Offseason Primer: Who Needs a First Baseman Anyw...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:26 PM
The Twins are still waiting for the official word from Joe Mauer on whether or not he’d like to continue his playing career, but anybody...
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Article: AFL Report - Week 1: Outfielders Come Up Big

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:35 PM
The AFL season’s first week was a little lacking on opportunities for Twins pitchers and the well-known name among their position players...
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Minnesota Wild season 2018-2019

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I figured I would start a new forum for the upcoming season. Most Wild players have been in MN for the past two weeks going through capta...
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Minnesota Twins Minor League Hitter of 2014

Earlier in the week at Twins Daily, we announced the Minor league Relief Pitcher of the Year and the Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year for the Twins. Today, it’s time to point out the hitters who performed very well in the Twins minor league system.
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (photo of Mitch Garver)
There were a lot of solid performances and performers that did not make the top six for various reasons, be it injury, big league time or simply playing in a short-season league. Here are some honorable mentions that I think will illustrate just how good the top 6 are!

Honorable Mention
  • Josmil Pinto – Rochester Red Wings – 77-208 - .279/.376/.457 (.833) – 17-2B, 1-3B, 6-HR, 35-RBI
  • Levi Michael – Ft. Myers Miracle – 76-243 - .313/.389/.387 (.776) – 11-2B, 2-3B, 1-HR, 24-RBI
  • Travis Harrison – Ft. Myers Miracle – 123-458 - .269/.361/.365 (.726) – 33-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 59-RBI
  • Bryan Haar – Cedar Rapids/Ft. Myers – 114-432 - .264/.318/.438 (.755) – 23-2B, 5-3B, 14-HR, 68-RBI
  • Deibinson Romero – Rochester Red Wings – 111-419 - .265/.364/.406 (.770) – 31-2B, 2-3B, 8-HR, 45-RBI
  • Dalton Hicks – Ft. Myers Miracle – 111-423 - .262/.344/.407 (.751) – 24-2B, 2-3B, 11-HR, 76-RBI
  • Mike Gonzales – Ft. Myers/New Britain – 105-387 - .271/.348/.439 (.878) – 29-2B, 0-3B, 12-HR, 71-RBI
  • Alex Swim - Ft. Myers/Cedar Rapids - 74-238 - .311/.352/.349 (.700) - 9-2B, 0-3B, 0-HR, 41 RBI
  • Jorge Polanco – Ft. Myers/New Britain – 124-505 - .288/.353/.395 (.748) – 23-2B, 6-3B, 7-HR, 61-RBI
Hitter of the Year

#6 – Adam Walker – Ft. Myers Miracle (124-505 - .246/.307/.436 (.743), with 19 doubles, 1 triple, 24 HR, 94 RBI)

At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Walker is an intimidating presence in the batter’s box. Fortunately for the Twins, he’s fit the part of powerful, athletic run producer ever since he joined the Twins organization after being selected as the team’s third round draft pick in 2012. In short-season Elizabethton, Walker hit 14 homers and drove in 45 runs in 58 games. Last year in Cedar Rapids, he hit 31 doubles, seven triples and 27 home runs while driving in 109 runs, which was second only to Dalton Hicks in all of minor league baseball. He moved up to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2014 and struggled early. He rarely was able to get his batting average over .250, but he walked eight percent of the time, an improvement. He still has strike zone and contact issues, but there is still so much potential in this 22-year-old.

#5 – Max Murphy – Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels (75-243 - .309/.403/.556 (.958), with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HR, 41 RBI)

Again, these are full-season awards, but Max Murphy put up such incredible numbers in his debut in the Appalachian League that he was named the league’s hitter of the year. That’s despite getting promoted to Cedar Rapids with three weeks left in the Appy League season. In 35 games at E-Town, he hit .378/.483/.723, with seven doubles, two triples and ten home runs. He struggled some when he got to Cedar Rapids, but he still hit seven doubles and four homers in 32 games with the Kernels. A Robbinsdale, Minnesota native, Murphy was the ninth round pick of the Twins in June out of Bradley University.

#4 – Jason Kanzler – Cedar Rapids Kernels / Ft. Myers Miracle (113-401 - .282/.344/.444 (.788), with 11 doubles, 9 triple, 12 HR, 59 RBI)

A Rochester, N.Y. native, the Twins made Kanzler their 20th round pick in 2013 after four years at the University of Buffalo. Almost inexplicably, he began the 2014 season at extended spring training, but about two days later he was summoned to Cedar Rapids. There, he hit .286/.334/.448 with eight doubles, eight triples and nine home runs. He finished the season with 27 games in Ft. Myers where his plate discipline greatly improved. Always known for his defense, he won two Gold Gloves in college and provided great leadership in the outfield. He came through big time for the Miracle in the playoffs. In one game, he had a double, a home run and drove in six runs. In the final game, his two-run, 11th inning homer gave the Miracle their first championship. #FearTheStache



#3 – Reynaldo Rodriguez – New Britain Rock Cats (.278/.337/.495 (.832), with 37 doubles, 2 triples, 22 HR, 70 RBI)

Rodriguez was a powerful force in the middle of the Rock Cats lineup throughout most of the 2014 season. He provided leadership for young Latin players such as Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario. And, he was an extra base machine. He hit 36 doubles and 21 home runs for the Rock Cats. He got to play ten games with Rochester as well and added one homer and one double. At 27-years old, he is a veteran who has been in professional baseball since signing with the Yankees in 2006. In 2014, he moved to the outfield after primarily playing first base in previous seasons.

#2 – Kennys Vargas – New Britain Rock Cats (100-356 - .281/.360/.472 (788), with 17 doubles, 0 triples, 17 HR, 63 RBI)

I think it’s safe to say that Kennys Vargas has made a pretty strong first impression with Twins fans who just got to know him in the second half of this season. For those who have followed him since he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009 out of Puerto Rico, his production throughout 2014 has been a pleasant surprise. Vargas is a large man and carries a big bat. His numbers through the first two months of the minor league season were incredible. He put up the above numbers despite the fact that in his final 29 games in AA this season, he hit just .173/.271/.298 with seven extra base hits. The overall numbers still look pretty good because in his first 68 games with the Rock Cats,he hit .325/.397/.544 with 27 extra base hits. It is going to be interesting to see how Vargas progresses and adjusts in the big leagues going forward, but he has made a great impression this year!

Hitter of the Year – Mitch Garver – Cedar Rapids Kernels (128-430 - .298/.399/.481 (.880), with 29 doubles, 1 triple, 16 HR, 79 RBI)

Mitch Garver was drafted by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2013 draft as a fourth-year senior out of the University of New Mexico. Many teams like to draft fourth-year seniors in the second half of the first ten rounds because they can sign them for well below slot and go over slot on others. Whatever the reason for drafting Garver in the ninth round, the Twins got a very good baseball player who showed his potential in 2014 in Cedar Rapids.

Garver started the season strong by hitting .321 (1.041) with 13 extra base hits in April and was our hitter of the month. He slowed down in May, but he posted an OPS over .870 in each of the final three months.

Garver put up the offensive numbers that he did while playing the most grueling position on the field, catcher. On June 24, he took a foul tip off of his face mask that cut his chin and put him on the 7-day concussion DL. He returned and continued to hit.

He also did a nice job behind the plate. He blocks the ball in the dirt pretty well. He has a strong arm that is usually quite accurate. He threw out 32% of would-be base stealers.

At 6-1 and 220 pounds, Garver has a strong, powerful swing that fits well in the middle of a lineup. He is a line drive hitter who puts together quality at bats with his very good plate discipline. He will advance to Ft. Myers to start 2015, but he could be a guy who moves up to New Britain at some point next season as well.


So there you have it. There were some really terrific offensively performances by Twins minor leaguers in 2014. Please feel free to discuss,

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23 Comments

Outstanding!  Garver was my choice also.

 

Let's see...Garver 9th rd in 2013.  Murphy 9th rd in 2014.  Can't wait to see who we draft next year in round 9!

Maybe the 9th round is the lucky round?

 

Great article.  

Garver, 4th yr college and starts in very low minors?Next year Ft. Meyers? The staircase treatment really doesn't make sense. 

Garver, 4th yr college and starts in very low minors?Next year Ft. Meyers? The staircase treatment really doesn't make sense. 

 

Would it make sense for him to go to Ft. Myers and play about half as much? They wanted him to play a lot. They wanted Stuart Turner to play a lot. It made sense. It was his first full year. Have to play somewhere. They like him enough to want him to play a lot.

    • Monkeypaws likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 11 2014 06:04 AM
 

Garver, 4th yr college and starts in very low minors?Next year Ft. Meyers? The staircase treatment really doesn't make sense.

 

I think it depends on a lot of factors. They did the same thing with Walker, and up until the last couple of months, he really struggled making contact in the FSL. Garver has a better approach, but I wouldn't be shocked if he's working more on the defensive aspects of the game. Eitehr way, this was his first full season. If he keeps producing like he did this season, he'll move up pretty quick.
    • Dantes929 likes this
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Miles Tones
Sep 11 2014 06:49 AM

Based on his combination of offense and defense, is Garver generally accepted as the Twins' top catching prospect?How would the top 4-5 be ranked?Garver/Pinto/Turner/Swim?

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Kirby_waved_at_me
Sep 11 2014 06:54 AM

Great article - love to see that there's a mix of levels represented, something to look forward to.

 

Is Reynaldo Rodriguez a guy that could move up? Does he profile as a career minor leaguer, or is there any chance he would be competing for a job in Left Field for the Twins in Spring Training? Assuming they don't find a ML ready Free agent, that position is pretty wide open in 2015.

    • big dog likes this

Does Garver bat right or left handed?

 

Really interested to see what Walker can do in New Britain.How is his defense?He's a big man so I am wondering if he can stick in the outfield or his a DH in the future?

The 8% walk rate for Walker is very encouraging.If he walks 8-10% of the time, he could have a career even with a .250 to .260 BA.Because we know he has power.

    • diehardtwinsfan and Dantes929 like this

The 8% walk rate for Walker is very encouraging.If he walks 8-10% of the time, he could have a career even with a .250 to .260 BA.Because we know he has power.

Considering that would give him 35 points better OBP than Ben Revere who has no power, then yeah, I would bank that in a minute. Sorry. Can't get off my soapbox that our #9 hitter batting .215 has a much higher OBP than the leadoff hitter Revere who is hitting .308. Walks count!

Great article - love to see that there's a mix of levels represented, something to look forward to.

 

Is Reynaldo Rodriguez a guy that could move up? Does he profile as a career minor leaguer, or is there any chance he would be competing for a job in Left Field for the Twins in Spring Training? Assuming they don't find a ML ready Free agent, that position is pretty wide open in 2015.

He's a career minor leaguer.He could get the Tommy Watkins/ Bernier  treatment someday and get a month or 2 up with the Twins in a few years.

    • Kirby_waved_at_me likes this
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Kirby_waved_at_me
Sep 11 2014 08:46 AM

That's about what I figured given his age. We'll have to just wait another couple years for the Miracle's Outfield to make it up to the Show then.

Considering that would give him 35 points better OBP than Ben Revere who has no power, then yeah, I would bank that in a minute. Sorry. Can't get off my soapbox that our #9 hitter batting .215 has a much higher OBP than the leadoff hitter Revere who is hitting .308. Walks count!

 

Yes they do, so does power.Big Ben has neither.

Kind of a rough year for our hitters.  Vargas might be something but I think the rest of the top 6 are all bench type, avg starters at best and many probably don't get past AA.  Bummer.

Garver bats RH. I'd still put Turner ahead of him but it's close.

@Gunnarthor,

 

Agree. Would have loved to see the order go

 

1. Sano

2. Buxton

3. Rosario

4. Pinto

5. Vargas

6. Kepler

7. Polanco

8. Harrison

 

Garver was the 'choice' in my mind as he was clearly 'better' than what was expected while also being solid. A bit old for his class, but he was good all year.

 

For me, only Vargas and Polanco really hit where we expected them to. Murphy was a pleasant surprise, although a very high K% even in the apply lg.

 

The hope of 2015 is that Buxton has a similar Danny Santana/Aaron Hicks rise/position need and that Sano has a Vargas like appearance. Buxton would have to kill the AFL and have a solid Spring and then the CF is still a need position. A long shot. The more likely shot is Sano being added about the time Vargas is added in 2015.

 

I don't know where Polanco fits in 2015. But he could be ready for some more MLB time. If Escobar proves 2014 is no fluke - that's great. Would allow Santana to stay in CF and Buxton to try to dominate AA/AAA vs be pressed to come up. I'm fine with either. So SS has options next year if our young players can repeat 2014.

 

I have to believe Meyer starts 2015 with the Twins. He'll be 25. Start him or long reliever - but he'll be on the 40-man roster and it would seem the only reason he's not in MLB now is the 40-man roster issue. If he can't stick as an SP he'll fit in with one of the the hardest throwing bullpens in MLB by late 2015 (Burdi, Reed, et al).

 

I hope Mauer would attempt to work on 3B this Fall/Winter. I'd love to see Pinto and Vargas break camp in 2015. Obviously, don't love their defense, but if Mauer can play 3B it means one of them isn't on the field defensively. Pinto, worse case scenario hits .225 AVG 20+ HR .310 OBP - in 500 PA, which isn't bad. Plouffe could provide some value in LF and platoon 3B.

 

I'm getting head of myself and off-topic.

 

Let's hope this is next year's list:

 

1. Sano

2. Buxton

3. Rosario

4. Pinto

5. Vargas

6. Kepler

7. Polanco

8. Harrison

Tough crowd in here. Guess I just don't see how this list can be considered a disappointment. Because there's a lack of presence of "top prospects?" BFD.

 

I choose to be encouraged by this list. I think we all recognize that Buxton and Sano would have been at/near the top, had they played this year. Vargas and Pinto would have been if they hadn't "graduated."

 

So this top 6 is, realistically, a group that constitutes perhaps the bottom half of the top 10 of minor league hitters in the organization right now. To relegate them, as a group, to potential bench player status is a bit myopic, I think.

 

Every good MLB team needs to find and develop good, regular, starting position players from among guys who didn't get huge money signing bonuses and, from what we've seen this year, there are a lot of players who have the potential to be exactly that. Not all of them will, obviously, but I doubt many organizations have this much potential in that area.

 

I wish more of them were knocking on the Target Field clubhouse door, of course. 9 of the 15 spent time in Fort Myers (gosh, wonder if that had anything to do with that FSL championship) and three others didn't get beyond low A.

 

But Sano and Buxton make me feel a little better and you can hope for a better season out of Rosario next year, too, so when you add them to Arcia, Santana, Vargas and Pinto, even the near-term doesn't look as hopeless on the offensive side of the diamond as it has in recent years.

    • ericchri and Tibs like this
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lightfoot789
Sep 11 2014 12:15 PM

Adam Brett Walker's career minor league numbers based on a full 162 (MLB) game schedule would average / reflect like so:

34   HRs per season

135 RBI per season

108 Runs Scored per season

68 Extra Base Hits per season

48Walks / BB per season

176 Ks per season

.259 BA

.484 SLG %

.796 OPS

------------------------------------------

This is minor league numbers based on minor league pitching of course, but that is what all prospects should be based on.The level that they are at!  and The production they distribute at that level.Each level provides new challenges and you never know how those individuals will handle that next level.Look at the success Santana and Vargas are having.Besides their OBP - Nothing predicted they would have this kind of success so early.Sometimes you have to throw kids into the deep end and see if they can swim.We have more than enough life guards on duty.

 

I agree with Seth - "This kid has so much potential and he's only 22". Not many prospects in any system have his power and/or production numbers in their minor league careers. And he wins:

2010Licking County Settlers (Summer ball) 1st ever championship team history

2011Cape Cod Hyannis Harbor Hawks 1st Championship in 23 years

2012Appalachian League Champion - Elizabethton Twins

2013Cedar Rapid Kernels - Best Record in Minor League Baseball (No Buxton)

2014Ft. Myers Miracle 1st FSL Championship in 22 year existence (No Buxton)

 

I'm sure he'll keep proving people wrong and playing with a chip on his shoulder all the way to the Show.He didn't deserve top billing on this list.I'm just glad he made it where he did.

But Sano and Buxton make me feel a little better and you can hope for a better season out of Rosario next year, too, so when you add them to Arcia, Santana, Vargas and Pinto, even the near-term doesn't look as hopeless on the offensive side of the diamond as it has in recent years.

Hate to be a broken record and the offense does seem to be lacking and yet #5 in all baseball in runs scored with Mauer and Willingham's down years. Not a hopeless offense at all and to that you add Buxton, Sano and maybe a matured Hicks and it looks downright cheery.
I agree Seth, Garver was the hands down winner for hitter of the year. He was so consistent. As to defense, both Turner and Garver were the best catchers in college ball in 2013. Twins were smart drafting those two. They also were impressed with Turner, extending him an invite to the MLB side of Spring Training. I saw both in Spring Training and give the defense nod to Turner but felt Garver isn't too far behind.
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Kirby_waved_at_me
Sep 12 2014 08:45 AM

Speaking of Defense - any chance there will be a list of top 10 Twins Minor League Fielders?

 

Or maybe an internal version of Gold Glove awards for the Minor League System?

 

Pitching, rightfully, is emphasized a lot on TD - but the other key component lacking on the ML club is defensive ability. I'm curious if the experts have some insight into the development of gloves in the Twins' system.

    • adjacent likes this
If this were a prospect list, and not just a "best of 2014 milb" list, the rankings would be different. We'd have Buxton, Sano, and possibly Rosario listed. Polanco would be higher. But honestly, wouldn't Garver still be right there? He might even rank in the top 10 overall after the season he had. I still have high hopes for Turner based on his defensive reputation, and reports of power and at least decent hitting potential. But don't forget Garver had the better offensive numbers coming in to the draft, and finished second to Turner for the Johnny Bench award for collegiate defensive catcher, if memory serves. Don't be fooled by playing one level lower. As Seth pointed out, they had and wanted to play both kids daily. You can't do that if they are at the same level. I'm watching both of these kids closely in 2015. I'm still convinced the Twins have something quality to work with in Pinto if they will actually "work with him". But these two kids could be the catching future in a couple of years.

If this were a prospect list, and not just a "best of 2014 milb" list, the rankings would be different. We'd have Buxton, Sano, and possibly Rosario listed. Polanco would be higher. But honestly, wouldn't Garver still be right there? He might even rank in the top 10 overall after the season he had. I still have high hopes for Turner based on his defensive reputation, and reports of power and at least decent hitting potential. But don't forget Garver had the better offensive numbers coming in to the draft, and finished second to Turner for the Johnny Bench award for collegiate defensive catcher, if memory serves. Don't be fooled by playing one level lower. As Seth pointed out, they had and wanted to play both kids daily. You can't do that if they are at the same level. I'm watching both of these kids closely in 2015. I'm still convinced the Twins have something quality to work with in Pinto if they will actually "work with him". But these two kids could be the catching future in a couple of years.

 

When a team has Terry Steinbach, Kurt Suzuki and Joe Mauer available as coaching resources all offseason, and all of whom could have been made available to work with Pinto all in-season, the Twins, by their lack of emphasis on "working with him" coupled with their signing of Suzuki for two more seasons, certainly gives by all appearances the indication that Turner, and possibly Garver, are the Twins catching future.  I'm thinking the Twins will look to move Pinto immediately once Turner appears close to being ready.


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