Twins Organizational Depth Chart: The Infielders
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs (Top L to R: Jermaine Palacios, Travis Blankenhorn, Jorge Munoz, Middle L to R: Trey Cabbage, Nick Gordon, Amaurys Miner/Kolton Kendrick, Bottom L to R: Engelb Vielma, Luis Arraez, Zander Wiel)Minnesota Twins - 1B: Joe Mauer, 2B: Brian Dozier, 3B: Trevor Plouffe, SS: Eduardo Escobar, DH: Byung Ho Park, Utility: Eduardo Nunez
Joe Mauer had a strong April, but then he struggled in May. He has shown more power this year than in the last couple of seasons. Hard to believe that the top performing infielder in the system, and the current favorite to represent the Twins in the All-Star Game in July, has been Eduardo Nunez. Park has expectedly struggled to adjust, while at the same time showing the type of power potential he has. Dozier has struggled since after the 2015 All-Star Game. And, Escobar and Plouffe have each spent time on the disabled list while not performing up to their previous levels.
Rochester Red Wings - 1B: Kenny Vargas, 2B: Jorge Polanco, 3B: James Beresford, SS: Wilfredo Tovar, Utility: Stephen Wickens, Buck Britton, Tommy Field, Heiker Meneses (DL), Reynaldo Rodriguez (Suspended)
Polanco is clearly the prospect in this group, though as mentioned above, he has not played shortstop with the Red Wings this year. He has spent plenty of time in the big leagues already, though rarely played when he was up there. Beresford is continuing where he left off in 2015, building off an All-Star season. Vargas got off to a very slow start, and is still not hitting for average, but in recent weeks, he has shown off his power. Tovar has been the everyday shortstop for the Red Wings. He’s always been known for his defense and has helped his pitchers many times already. Wickens, Britton and Field are all veteran minor leaguers who have played around the field, in the infield and outfield.
Chattanooga Lookouts - 1B: Dalton Hicks, 2B: Ryan Walker, 3B: TJ White, SS: Leonardo Reginnato, Utility: Levi Michael, Engelb Vielma (DL), Niko Goodrum (DL)
Engelb Vielma began the season with the Lookouts, but he has been on the disabled list twice. He was activated last week and sent to Ft. Myers where he and Nick Gordon are flip-flopping in the middle infield positions. TJ White came up early in the season, and he has certainly struggled at the plate, but he is a terrific athlete and hopefully will take off soon. Hicks is back after missing several months last year. His batting average is low, but he continues to show power and drive in runs. Leonardo Reginnato was a minor league free agent signing and he’s done a nice job offensively and defensively. Ryan Walker came up in early May and has played very well. Always a good glove, he has hit well for the Lookouts. Levi Michael has played well the last couple of seasons in AA when healthy but this year he is losing time to Walker and Reginnato and playing more of a utility role. Goodrum had a stress fracture in his foot.
Ft. Myers Miracle - 1B: Trey Vavra, 2B: Tanner Witt, 3B: Chris Paul, SS: Nick Gordon, Utility: Logan Wade, Alex Real
Gordon is one of the organization’s top prospects, and he’s a Top 100 prospect in baseball. He’s had a strong start to his 2016 season as well. Trey Vavra is healthy after missing half of the 2015 season after ankle surgery. TJ White was supposed to spend the season in Ft. Myers, but injury pushed him to Chattanooga. That pushed Chris Paul up to Ft. Myers a little earlier than anticipated, but he’s been solid, hitting a lot of doubles. Alex Real has been the primary DH and played some first base. Tanner Witt was signed a month ago from independent ball and played well. Logan Wade can play all over the infield and in the corners of the outfield.
Cedar Rapids Kernels - 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Jermaine Palacios, Utility: Sean Miller, Alex Perez, Manuel Guzman (DL), Rafael Valera (DL)
19-year-olds Jermaine Palacios and Luis Arraez have been in the lineup most games. Arraez has hit well over .300 and is a catalyst at the top of the Kernels lineup. Palacios hasn’t hit like he did last year in the two rookie leagues. They’re so young but gaining really valuable experience. Wiel played three years at Vanderbilt. After a slow start, he had a real solid, productive May, including an increase in power. Sean Miller has been on-fire since he had a week in Ft. Myers as an injury replacement. Nelson Molina has not hit in his three seasons in the rookie leagues. He began in EST and has since being recalled in early May has hit over .300 and played well at third base. Perez also started in EST, and when he plays, he hits at the top of the order and gets on base at a strong clip. Rafael Valera was off to a strong start but he’ll be out for awhile with a labrum injury.
Extended Spring Training - 1B: Lewin Diaz, Amaurys Minier, Kolton Kendrick, 2B: Emmanuel Morel, Travis Blankenhorn, Jorge Andrade, 3B: Trey Cabbage, Ruar Verkerk, Roni Tapia, SS: Ariel Montesino, Jorge Munoz.
We have already seen several infielders moved up from extended spring to Cedar Rapids, but there is still a ton of big talent. Top international signings in recent years, Lewin Diaz and Amaurys Minier have huge power potential. Diaz had a hip injury that cost him most of spring training. I thought Minier would be in Cedar Rapids by now. Travis Blankenhorn (3rd), Trey Cabbage (4th) and Kolton Kendrick (8th) all have big potential as well. While Kendrick’s tool is his power, Blankenhorn and Cabbage are both gifted, well-rounded athletes who will be known for their bats, but who have worked around the field defensively.Speed is the name of the game for Emmanuel Morel, Ariel Montesino and Jorge Munoz. Munoz is a gifted shortstop with the glove. All three fit into the classic mold of a middle infielder; speed, defense, slappy, line drive hitters. Andrade, Verkerk and Tapia are looking to take a step forward in 2016.
Top Prospects Corner Infielders: 1.) Travis Blankenhorn, 2.) Trey Cabbage, 3.) Lewin Diaz, 4.) Amaurys Minier, 5.) Zander Wiel.
Top Prospects Middle Infielders: 1.) Nick Gordon, 2.) Jorge Polanco, 3.) Jermaine Palacios, 4.) Luis Arraez, 5.) Jorge Munoz.
Draft Thoughts: There is a lot of depth and talent here at the various levels.They have a lot of middle infielders who have a chance to stick at shortstop. They also have several big boppers - particularly at the lower levels. However, as it relates to the draft selecting shortstop make a ton of sense. Why? Because generally they are some of the best athletes. As you recall, even Miguel Sano was signed as an athletic shortstop. Obviously it was well known that he wasn’t going to stick at shortstop and was immediately moved to third base. Same thing with Cabbage and Blankenhorn from last year’s draft. They played a lot of shortstop in high school but were drafted as third basemen and played various positions last year in the rookie leagues. Because of their athleticism, it’s easier for them to move to other positions of need. And it is important to draft a couple of guys that you think have the potential to stick at shortstop too.