On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins minor leaguers report to the Twins minor league complex in Ft. Myers. Soon after, the players will have their first full-squad workouts. In between, the players will have to run a mile, and the pitchers will also need to do a shuttle run. After a few days of workouts, the players will start playing some intra-squad games. Eventually theyíll start getting into some games against other teams, and then in early April, most of the players will be put on a roster and head to their Opening Day destinations.
Starting today, I will start looking at the Twins organizational depth chart, starting with the outfielders. We will consider which players are in line for roster spots with the Twins and each of their minor league affiliates. Iíll try to project which players will start the season with the various teams.
Please note that this is my educated guess. This information could be altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. This exercise is not so much an attempt to perfectly predict where each and every player will wind up. The reality is that some players will be placed at a lower level than I project just due to numbers. Some will go on the Disabled List. The unfortunate reality is that some of the players who report to spring training will be released. Hopefully readers will be reminded who is in the organization or see who the team has added since last season.
Today, we will begin this series with a look at the Outfielders:
Josh Willingham (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF), Chris Parmelee (RF), Darin Mastroianni
Willingham sure made Target Field look like a regular-sized ballpark, with a career-high in home runs and RBI. We also know that Chris Parmelee will be the primary starter in right field. Centerfield remains the question mark. Itís clear that many with the Twins really want Aaron Hicks to win the job to start the season. Darin Mastroianni is certainly a given to be on the roster and could start, but most likely will be the teamís fourth outfielder.
Rochester Red Wings
Wilkin Ramirez (LF), Joe Benson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Clete Thomas, Brian Dinkelman, Brandon Boggs, Evan Bigley
At least a couple of these outfielders could still be with the Twins on Opening Day. Joe Benson is still in the running for the centerfield job, and if the Twins decide to carry a fifth outfielder, he could be that player. The Twins would likely prefer he play every day. That would open the door for the likes of Dinkelman, Ramirez, Thomas and Boggs, all of whom have big league service time under their belts. Dinkelman play for the Twins in 2011 when he hit .301 in two stints with the team. Boggs spent time with the Rangers from 2008 through 2010, and with the Brewers in 2011. Thomas played 142 games with the Tigers between 2008 and 2009. Then he played in three games for Detroit in 2012 before they cut ties with him and the Twins claimed him (and he struckout an impressive 16 times in 29 plate appearances). Ramirez was once a top prospect with the Tigers. He played 15 games for Detroit in 2009 and then 20 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. In 2012, after missing much of the first half of the season with injury, he hit 18 doubles and 15 home runs in just 98 games with the Red Wings. Although he will catch much of the time, expect to see Chris Herrmann playing a bit in left field as well.
New Britain Rock Cats
Angel Morales (LF), Antoan Richardson (CF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Lance Ray, Danny Rams
There was likely a chance that Arcia would have started the 2013 with AAA Rochester, but having missed his time in big league camp with injury may affect where he begins the year. He crushed the ball in the Venezuelan Winter League and was poised to make a strong showing in camp. Unfortunately, he has been completely limited because of the intercostal injury. The key is for him to, first, get healthy, and then, play every day. None of the guys listed in Rochester will block the path of Arciaís tremendous upside to the majors.
29-year-old Antoan Richardson is a Ben Revere clone. He is about 5-8 and very fast. He was drafted four times before signing with the Giants in 2005. He remained with the Giants organization and reached AA before signing with Schaumburg of the Independent Northern League. He began the 2010 season in Schaumburg before signing with the Braves. In September of 2011, he was promoted to the Braves where he hit .500 in 9 games (just 2-4). In 2012, he was with the Orioles organization. In 90 AA games, he hit .279 and got on base at an incredible .415 clip.
It is a huge make or break season for Angel Morales. The one-time, top prospect has struggled mightily the last two years. He can become a minor league free agent following the season, so he will either want the Twins to put him on the 40 man roster, or play well enough for another organization to be interested in giving him an opportunity. Lance Ray (23) hit just .234 but hit 13 home runs in Ft. Myers . He will play a lot and likely hit quite a few home runs. He can also play some first base and DH. Danny Rams was a Twins 2nd
round pick as a catcher. In 2012, he moved out to the outfield. After struggling immensely early in the season and went on the DL. When he returned, he was much better. Like Morales, he will need to have a solid year and make an impact as he can become a free agent following the season. Primarily a catcher, don't be surprised to see Dan Rohlfing get some time out in the outfield.
Ft. Myers Miracle
Drew Leachman (LF), Jhonatan Goncalves (CF), Danny Ortiz (RF), JD Williams, Nate Roberts
Ortiz had a successful Puerto Rican season. On a team that included Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, Ortiz was the teamís #3 hitter. He spent the first month of 2012 back in Beloit, but he played much better after his promotion to the Miracle. Goncalves could have become a free agent following the 2012 season, but he chose to return by signing with the Twins. Leachman was a late-round pick in 2011 from a Division III school. He began 2012 in Extended Spring Training but after his promotion to Beloit, he became a solid, fairly consistent, middle-of-the-lineup hitter. JD Williams could, and probably should, spend another half-season in the Midwest League before moving up to the Miracle, but as you will see shortly, there are very good outfielders who should head to Cedar Rapids.
Here We Go Again - After leading the Arizona Fall League in 2012 in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage, many hoped to see Nate Roberts skip Ft. Myers and jump straight to AA New Britain. That may still be possible, but unfortunately, it isn't likely to happen right at the beginning of the season. Twins Daily has learned that while working out this winter, Roberts tore his meniscus and needed surgery. He is rehabbing and may not miss a lot of the season, but it is certainly a set back and likely will keep him in Ft. Myers.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
Max Kepler (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Adam Walker (RF), John Murphy, Romy Jimenez, Jeremias Pineda
Buxton is the big name here. The 2nd
overall pick just last season impressed in his professional debut in which he played in the Gulf Coast League and at Elizabethton. It certainly is not unusual for the Twins to send first round high school hitters to the Midwest League the year after their draft. Thatís where players like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Matt Moses, Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson went. It has occurred less in recent years, likely due to players signing so late and not debuting in the year that they were drafted. It will certainly be a challenge for the 19-year-old.
Max Kepler spent the last two years at Elizabethton. In 2012, he was much improved. The young outfielder from Germany can certainly play centerfield. In fact, he played the position in Elizabethton right up until Buxton came to town. He remains a five-tool talent with a lot of power potential. Speaking of power potential, if 2012 3rd
round pick Adam Walker can make contact, he has as much power as anyone in the Twins system. Romy (formerly Trinidad) Jimenez was very good in Elizabethton in 2012 until he tore his meniscus. Jeremias Pineda came to the Twins last August in the trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Red Sox. John Murphy is the brother of the Metsí Daniel Murphy. He was a 2012 draft pick.
Extended Spring Training/Short-Season
Jake Proctor, Zach Larson, Kelvin Mention, Kelvin Ortiz, Dereck Rodriguez
If not for a hamstring injury, Dereck Rodriguez may have moved up to Elizabethton during the 2012 season. He was hitting very well, showing power even, until the injury. As you recall, he is the son of former big league catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Jake Proctor is said to be a five-tool type of athlete. He was expected to be drafted last year earlier than when the Twins got him (14th
round), but he had arthroscopic knee surgery was not cleared to play until after the season. 2013 will be his professional debut. He is listed at 6-2 and 221 pound, but his best tool is said to be tremendous speed. Zach Larson was taken last year in the 19th
round out of high school and given $190,000 to sign (because the Twins had extra available to spend). He is a great athlete in high school, having accumulated three varsity letters in football despite not playing his senior season to focus on baseball. Kelvin Mention was JD Williamsí high school teammate in high school. Unfortunately, he has not played much since signing late in 2010. He was hurt for the 2011 season and didnít play a lot at Elizabethton last year, which is probably where he will return in 2013. Ortiz was considered a bit of a prospect while playing in the Dominican Summer League for a couple of season. However, the transition to the States and the GCL have not been easy for Ortiz who will likely need to make the Elizabethon roster.
1.) Byron Buxton, 2.) Oswaldo Arcia, 3.) Aaron Hicks, 4.) Max Kepler, 5.) Joe Benson, 6.) Adam Walker, 7.) Danny Ortiz
Buxton is in all of the Top 100 lists, generally in the Top 20. Baseball America his him at #10, one spot behind Miguel Sano. Arcia was the Twins minor league hitter of the year in 2012 and had a strong Venezuelan Winter League performance. Hicks is generally in the second half of Top 100 lists. Kepler and Benson are generally found in the 10-12 range of Twins top prospect lists but on opposite ends of the prospect range. Kepler is young and raw and still needs to play for a full season team. Benson is now 25, has seen big league team, went through a lost 2012 season due to injury and is now hoping to regain his status as a part of the Twins future. Walker has tremendous power potential, and Ortiz is just a solid all-around player that is often forgotten because of the high-upside guys.
The Twins have long been strong on outfielders throughout the system. They have a knack for finding and developing at this position. They had enough depth throughout the organization that they were able to acquire two hard-throwing pitching prospects (Alex Meyer, Trevor May) and a solid pitcher with over 2 years of solid big league pitching (Vance Worley) for two talented starting big league outfielders (Denard Span and Ben Revere). Josh Willingham was tremendous with the bat in 2012, winning a Silver Slugger Award, but the deals have opened up opportunities for others to show what they can do. Chris Parmelee will get an everyday gig. And Mastroianni, Hicks and Benson will be one of the better storylines to follow throughout spring training.
There is still talent down below, although the risk is now much higher for outfielders. We will likely see Oswaldo Arcia in 2013, but the rest of the prospects are now in the lower levels. This is not a bad thing, however, as the Twins outfield will be very young by the end of the 2013 season.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments Section!