How do you think the following lineup would compare against All-Star lineups from other organizations?
CF Byron Buxton
SS Jorge Polanco
2B Eddie Rosario
3B Miguel Sano
DH Chris Colabello
C Josmil Pinto
1B Dalton Hicks
RF Adam Walker
LF JD Williams
From L to R: JD Williams, Byron Buxton, Adam Walker, Romy Jimenez
Byron Buxton is the best prospect in baseball, and he had a tremendous all-around season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Ft. Myers Miracle. His plate discipline, power and speed make him the nearly perfect prospect. All the comparisons to Mike Trout as a prospect are absolutely accurate.
I did take a bit of liberty in putting Jorge Polanco as my shortstop, but he did play the position in 49 games in 2013. He was signed as a defensive infielder, but after a strong short-season at Elizabethton in 2012, he put up some terrific numbers. He hit .308 with 47 extra base hits for the Kernels this year.
Eddie Rosario has been a big prospect since being named the Appy League Player of the Year. However, he has taken his prospect status to a new level. He hit .302 with 50 extra base hits between Ft. Myers and New Britain this year as a 21 year old. He has made himself a decent second baseman and will easily be able to handle a move back to the outfield if necessary.
Miguel Sano can hit cleanup in many lineups, including one made up by me. Like Rosario, Sano played for both Ft. Myers and New Britain, only he did it at the age of 20. He hit .280 with a .992 OPS, and he accounted for 70 extra base hits including 35 home runs.
Chris Colabello may have struggled in his time with the Twins, but what he was doing in Rochester was incredible. The 29-year-old first baseman was named the International League Rookie of the Year and MVP. In 89 games with the Red Wings hit .352 with a 1.066 OPS. He also hit 25 doubles and 24 home runs.
Josmil Pinto has flown under the radar for several years. He's made a strong first big league impression with the Twins, but he was terrific in New Britain and Rochester this year. Combined, he hit .302 with an .882 OPS. He is also known for having great plate discipline. The backstop also has a very strong arm.
Dalton Hicks led the organization in RBI this season with 110. He had 82 RBI in 89 games in Cedar Rapids before driving in another 28 runs in Ft. Myers. He combined to hit .289 with an .826 OPS.
Adam Walker's 109 RBI was second only to Hicks in the organization and led the Midwest League. His 27 home runs also led the league. The 21-year-old hit .278 with an .844 OPS in his first full season of professional baseball. Only Miguel Sano may have more raw power in the organization than does Walker.
JD Williams repeated in the Midwest League for the first half of the 2013 season, and it was beneficial for him. He was a different player. His approach at the plate was vastly improved as evidenced by his .372 on base percentage. His is still raw and very toolsy. He has good speed and some power.
So, the next obvious question is what about the pitching? Here are my choices for the 2013 Twins All Star team:
LH SP - Taylor Rogers
RH SP - Alex Meyer
Taylor Rogers was my choice for Twins starting pitcher of the year. He combined to go 11-7 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He led the organization with three complete games and two shutouts and in his playoff game for the Miracle, he threw nine shutout innings.
Alex Meyer missed nearly three months of the season and yet, in his 16 starts, he posted a 2.99 ERA. In 78.1 innings, he struck out an impressive 11.5 per nine innings. Upon his return from the shoulder issues, he was again hitting triple-digits on the radar gun.
LH RP - Edgar Ibarra
RH RP - Zach Jones
Closer - Tyler Jones
Ibarra posted a 1.93 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP between New Britain and Rochester in 2013. As he heads to the Arizona Fall League, Zach Jones boasts a 1.85 ERA and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. Tyler Jones was my choice for reliever of the year. Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he recorded 13 saves and posted a 2.58 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He walked 3.4 per nine while striking out 11.4 per nine.
All-in-all, it was a tremendous season in the Twins farm system. There were team successes, and most important, prospects (and specifically key prospects) took another step forward in their development. 2014 may be another rough season for the Twins, but it should be a year in which the next core of Twins players debuts.
I'm already envisioning a September 2014 lineup that includes: C - Josmil Pinto, 1B - Joe Mauer, 2B - Brian Dozier, 3B - Miguel Sano, SS - Pedro Florimon, LF - Aaron Hicks, CF - Byron Buxton, RF - Eddie Rosario, and DH - Oswaldo Arcia. I'm envisioning a starting rotation that includes the likes of Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson and Trevor May.
Patience is a virtue, and for the most part, Twins fans have been patient. I'm thinking that patience needs to last one more year as this next core of players starts getting their opportunity.