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  • Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects (Part 1: 41-50)

    Itís that time of year. The Major League Baseball first-year playersí draft starting in two weeks. That means that we need to get our pre-draft Top 50 Twins Prospects list out. Iíve always done this before the draft to take a look at where the organization is. Over the next week, weíll look at my choices for the Top 50 Twins Prospects. People talk a lot about the Twins farm system being weak. Well, I do need to acknowledge that in the past I generally had no idea coming up with the top 30. This time around, I was struggling after the top 8 or 9. Take that for what itís worth, which may be nothing.

    Today, weíll look at my choices for 41 through 50. There may be an assumption that these ten are not worth knowing or learning about, but I disagree. First, I always believe that minor leaguers deserve to be recognized. Second, as you look through these ten players, you will see a couple of types. There are a couple of potentially dominant bullpen arms working through injuries. There are also a lot of very young, new-to-the-organization types of players who will pay in the short seasons. Some have very good potential but there just isnít enough data points yet to rank them any higher. By seasonís end, they could move up twenty spotsÖ or disappear from the list. Itís the beauty of following the minor leagues.

    Letís get started. Here are my choices for Twins Prospects 41-50:

    #50 Ė Trent Higginbotham, RHP

    Higginbotham was the Twins 26th round draft pick in 2011 out of high school in Alabama. He signed on the last possible day for a well-above-slot $195,000. The right-hander is 6-2 and 195 and has a very projectable frame with room to grow. He turned 20 years old last week and already boasts a fastball that touches 94 mph. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. I would guess that he will pitch in Elizabethton starting in June, but it is possible that he will start in the GCL.

    #49 Ė Tyler Jones, RHP

    Jones is a Milwaukee native who was a top prep baseball player during his high school career during which he was a part of two state titles. He went to Madison Arch Tech Junior College where he helped them to the World Series in 2010. In 2011, he pitched for LSU before the Twins made him their 11th round pick. He signed later in the season and pitched seven innings for Elizabethton, which is where heíll likely return in 2012. Jones is already 22 years old and will turn 23 in September. He is 6-4 and 205 pounds. He throws a 2-seam and a 4-seam fastball and sits 91-94. He has touched 96 mph. His slider is his out-pitch, and he is working on a changeup.

    #48 Ė Hung-yi Chen, RHP

    Chen was signed by the Twins in June of 2010 from Taiwan. The 20 year old has a 5-10 stocky frame. He throws 87-91 mph with a fastball. He also throws a sinker, a slider and a fork ball. Last year in the GCL, he was 0-4 with a 4.33 ERA. In 35.1 innings, he walked just five and struck out 38. He may head back to the GCL for 2012. Although he is able to get hitters out, he will need to add some velocity.

    #47 Ė Kenny Vargas, 1B

    22 year old Vargas was signed as a free agent in 2009 from Puerto Rico. The powerful switch-hitter is listed at 6-5 and 215 pounds, however, he has fought his weight for years. Last year in Elizabethon, he was off to a great start. He hit .322/.377/.489 with 11 doubles, six home runs and 35 RBI. Unfortunately, thatís when his season ended. He was suspended fifty games for using a banned substance (ironically from a weight-loss supplement). He served 18 games of his suspension in 2011. Unfortunately, the rules of such suspensions say that they need to be served with the same team. Thatís why the remaining 32 games of his suspension cannot start until the Elizabethton season starts. When his suspension ends, will he stay in Elizabethton or move up to Beloit?

    #46 Ė Angel Mata, RHP

    Mata signed with the Twins in January 2010 out of Venezuela. In 2011, he went 0-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 12 games with the GCL Twins. In 37 innings, he gave up just 23 hits. He walked 19 and struck out 30 while opponents hit just .184 off of him. He is 6-2 and 190 pounds with room to grow. He will be 19 years old throughout the 2012 season.

    #45 Ė James Beresford, SS/2B

    Beresford signed with the Twins in August of 2005 out of Australia. He has consistently and gradually worked his way up the Twins farm system. He was the Beloit Snappers team MVP in 2009 and 2010. He was solid in Ft. Myers last year. He was pushed up to AA New Britain this season and he is holding his own. He is hitting .267/.350/.286 with two doubles. Beresford has been a mainstay for Australiaís international teams (playing in WBCs and World Cup events). As you have always heard, Beresford needs to add weight and be able to hit more extra base hits if he wants to be a big league regular. In my opinion, he could be a major league utility infielder today because of his terrific middle infield defense.

    #44 Ė Carlos Gutierrez, RHP

    The Twins second first-round draft pick in 2008 had a terrific spring training, but he has had shoulder issues since the season started. He missed significant time in 2011 with injury as well. In 62.1 innings in 2011, he struck out 57, but he walked 31. In spring, we saw that his 96 mph fastball is not easy to hit. However, I donít believe that we saw him throw a secondary pitch for a strike. If he can figure out a second pitch, he could be a quality late-inning reliever. If not, he may be a back-of-the-bullpen option. The 25-year-old will need to get healthy for us to really find out.

    #43 Ė Austin Malinowski, LHP

    Malinowski was the Twins 16th round pick last year. He was Mr. Baseball last year in Minnesota while pitching for Centennial High School in Circle Pines. Days before the signing deadline, it appeared Malinowski was heading to the University of Arizona on a scholarship. Instead, he and the Twins agreed on a deal. The 6-4 left-hander is long and lanky. He has a very projectable frame and should add velocity. He already has good secondary pitches. He will not turn 20 years old until the end of November. He will likely pitch for the GCL Twins in 2012.

    #42 Ė Dakota Watts, RHP

    Watts was the Twins 16th round pick in 2009 out of Cal State-Stanislaus. In 2011, he split the season between Ft. Myers and New Britain. He walked 33 in 65 innings. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and in 14 innings, he gave up 15 hits, walked ten and struck out nine. At 6-5, Watts throws hard. Unfortunately, he is yet to pitch in 2012 due to some shoulder tendonitis. It appears he is close to returning and his velocity is back up into the mid-90s. There are also reports that he has now added a split-finger pitch to his repertoire. It all comes down to strike-throwing with him. That will determine whether heís a late-inning bullpen guy, or if he even gets beyond AA.

    #41 Ė Lance Ray, OF/1B

    Ray was the Twins 8th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. Last year in Beloit, he hit .253/.335/.432 with 34 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs and 74 RBI. At just 6-1 and 195 pounds, he doesnít profile as a power hitter. That said, he has a very nice swing and great power to all fields. Defensively, he is average. He has OK range and a decent, accurate arm. He is playing with the Ft. Myers Miracle. He has had a rough week since being the Florida State Leagueís hitter of the week two weeks ago. Although he is hitting just .213/.297/.404, he already has 11 doubles and five home runs on the season.

    So, there you have my choices for Twins prospects 41-50. In the next day or two, Iíll be back with my next installment which will be prospects 31-40).

    If you have any questions or comments on any of these prospects, please feel free to ask.
    This article was originally published in blog: Minnesota Twins Top 50 Prospects (Part 1: 41-50) started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I like all the positives about these players. They are very reasonably ranked as well. I only think that Beresford should be a little higher, but that's just mumbling and grumbling.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Hard to arque with these lists, esp. at this point and not knowing who was left out . Hope that a certain catcher playing for Beloit and a certain P from Baton Rouge made it before Hung-Yi Chen. Not that I can argue about their placement, but it is sad to see Gutty and Watts drop so low...
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Excited to see what #50 and 43 can do. Happy the Twins went over slot to get them, I love the risk taking that showed. Hope to see that in the 2012 draft as well.
      Why would the Twins have a 22 year old college pitcher at e-town?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Gutteriez dropping that far, that fast is sad. Lots of older players, again, playing in below A ball....meaning they learn almost nothing. Law (i think it was law, it may have been BA, but I'm pretty sure it was Law) has stated several times in chats that it is bad strategy for MN (yes, he's mentioned them by name) to have older players playing below A ball for extended time, or even any time.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Gutteriez dropping that far, that fast is sad. Lots of older players, again, playing in below A ball....meaning they learn almost nothing. Law (i think it was law, it may have been BA, but I'm pretty sure it was Law) has stated several times in chats that it is bad strategy for MN (yes, he's mentioned them by name) to have older players playing below A ball for extended time, or even any time.
      Depends on how you look at it... There are a couple of the EST pitchers that I have no idea why they're there. The other side of the coin is... who at Beloit would you like to see given up on, released, etc.?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Wow, I was just checking AA stats...the Twins don't have a hitter in the top 35 in OPS in the whole league, unless I missed someone. That can't be good.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      I am curious if you can explain a little further what you mean by the rankings. Does it mean value? For example if you as Twins GM were on the verge of a trade, and the other team says "throw in Trent Higginbotham and we're ready to say yes", does his being #50 mean you would immediately agree? And, if instead they said "throw in either Higginbotham or Tyler Jones", you as GM would think a few moments and say "make it Higginbotham" because you have Jones ranked (ever so slightly) the higher of the two on your internal chart?

      Probably the difference in #49 and #50 verges on the nonsensical. But if you say this guy is #10 and this other guy is #50, is it because he is more... has more... does more... what?

      I suppose this summarizes why I have a bit of trouble with the whole idea of ranked lists. Though they are fun of course.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Fair question:

      For me, it's first and foremost about getting Twins minor leaguers recognized.

      You're right, that 49 vs 50 is not a huge difference. But I will say that the difference between #1 and #2 is pretty big, and the difference, for me, between say 8 and 12 is pretty big.

      I look at ceiling first. What could this guy be? A future Hall of Famer? A long-time starter and All-Star? A cup-of-coffee guy? Or a guy who could top out at Hi-A ball?

      You also have to consider likelihood of reaching that ceiling? What level they're at, their age, their build or tools, maybe a little look at the stats to see if the tools are showing up at all yet.

      And, then it's just my opinion... If 50 of us put together our own lists, we might get 50 different responses/lists. So, yes, it should primarily be looked at as fun and informational.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Wow, I was just checking AA stats...the Twins don't have a hitter in the top 35 in OPS in the whole league, unless I missed someone. That can't be good.
      From the qualified, Deibi Romero is leading the squad with .744 OPS (and Hicks, who is slumping, is pretty close.) Risotto and W. Ramirez have higher but they do not qualify. New Britain is one of the teams that I would not complain about. They are leading their division
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Pretty good start to this, though I know so little about most of the guys in EST so I have a hard time weighing players who haven't played in the organization at all or who have played very little.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Vargas had a great short year this year. It is really unfortunate about last season because he is a good hitter.

      Lance Ray is too low.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I jokingly thought that guys that haven't played yet would move up more than guys who are playing... it ends up being kind of true. Very disappointing year so far for Twins prospects. These EST guys all have a very good upside, and like I said, they could move up or down quickly. I had Lance Ray lower, but 16 HR last year in the MWL and already 16 extra base hits this year in the FSL... the BA is so low... he's a tough one to rank for me.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      A list like this takes a lot of work. Thanks Seth.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Very nice Start Seth: I like a lot of them here, there's always going to be a half dozen to a dozen + guys that may deserve to be on but MUST be left off on a top 50.

      --- Not that it matters, but i thought James Beresford would be higher...
      My Prediction of 31-40:::

      31. Daniel Santana SS,2B
      32. Danny Ortiz OF
      33. Matt Summers SP
      34. Lester Oliveros RP
      35. J.D. Williams 2B/ OF
      36. Tyler Robertson -LHRP
      37. Miguel Munoz - RHP
      38. Corey Williams - P
      39. Tyler Grimes - SS
      40. Caleb Theilbar, A.J. Achter, Cole Nelson

      20-30 quickly : Pat Dean, Niko Goodrum, Manuel Soliman, Angel Morales, Tom Stuiffbergen, Madison Boer, Matt Hauser, ...... 1 or 2 others....+ left over relievers.

      ( I think Deolis Guerra, Niko Goodrum will crack the top 30)
      * I'm also very interested to see where B.J. Hermsen will place. top 15?
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Logan Darnell, forgot him

      also Chris Herrmann has to make the top 15-18 or better right?

      I'm interested to see how much Angel Morales falls, also if you keep Levi Michael about the same...
    1. Land Of 10,000 Beasts's Avatar
      Land Of 10,000 Beasts -
      I think you put Lance Ray in the right place. I know his BA is scary low but that is in part because of his high strikeout total. I believe that as he gets more at bats, he will learn to be more selective at the plate and you will see his average go up as a result. And like you said, when he does hit the ball it usually goes far. Hopefully he will bulk up more this next off-season and become even a bigger power threat.

      I do disagree with you saying he is just an average defensive player. Since he has been playing baseball in the minors, he has a .984 fielding percentage. I don't know what the norm is for minor league outfielders, but I think that is pretty darn good. I know his range is sub par, but he makes up for it with his arm.
    1. fslbaseball's Avatar
      fslbaseball -
      I will be interested in seeing the rest of the list and how many players you think will have a meaningful impact in the majors. Looking over the rosters, there are very few that project that way and most of them are at lower levels.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I want to echo the thanks, Seth, your coverage of the minors brought me here....
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