Without further ado, let’s get to the list. Here are my choices for Twins Top Prospects:
#10 –Hudson Boyd, RHP
Boyd was the Twins second supplemental first round pick a year ago. He was drafted out of his high school in Ft. Myers. The Twins had him come to Hammond Stadium days before the draft and saw him throw 97 mph. Listed at 6-3 and 270 pounds, Boyd is a big man who the Twins will want to slim down. He didn’t play in 2011 until the Instructional League. Boyd throws hard, and he also throws strikes. He is just 19 years old so he will likely start his career in the GCL as a starter. Many believe that he may eventually need to move to the bullpen. It’s way too early to know that. Reports I’m hearing from Ft. Myers say that he is working really hard and more important, he is throwing really hard and has a very good curveball.
#9 – Travis Harrison, 3B
Harrison was selected five picks before the Twins took Boyd in the supplemental round of the 2011 draft. Like Boyd, he signed at the deadline for a little bit above slot. He debuted with the Twins in the Florida Instructional League. The 6-3, 215 pound right-handed hitter is one day younger than Boyd. Reports from Ft. Myers tell me that he is crushing the ball. Of course, like most young hitters, especially power hitters, Harrison still occasionally struggles with hitting a curveball. He can be a solid batting average hitter too if he can make contact, as he does a good job of using the whole field thanks to a very balanced swing. He is best known as a guy who hit a ball 504 feet, well out of Tropicana Field. And again, like Boyd, Harrison could start at Elizabethton but most likely with the GCL Twins.
#8 – Brian Dozier, SS
The Twins drafted Dozier with their 8th round pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi. The four-year senior advanced quickly through the Twins farm system. He split the 2011 season between Ft. Myers and New Britain. He was my choice for 2011 Minor League Hitter of the Year after hitting a combined .320/.399/.491 with 33 doubles, 12 triples, nine home runs and 24 stolen bases. Teammates talk about his poise and leadership. After hitting .276/.339/.371 with seven doubles and a homer in 28 AAA games this spring, he was promoted to the Twins. In 22 games, he has hit .227/.247/.341 with four doubles and two home runs. No one is expecting him to post an .800 OPS, but in time, I think he will be a .720-.750 OPS guy for a few years. He has shown good range and hands, and plenty of arm to play shortstop.
#7 – Joe Benson, OF
The Twins second round pick in 2006 out of his Illinois high school, Benson gave up a football scholarship to Purdue. Since signing, things have not always come easy for Benson. He was the Twins Minor League hitter of the year in 2010, and he was my runner up choice in 2011. He spent each of those seasons in New Britain. Last year, he spent September playing nearly every day with the Twins. In one game against Cleveland, he was 4-4 with a triple and two doubles. He began the 2012 season in Rochester, but through 28 games, he was hitting .179/.269/.316 with seven extra base hits. He was sent down to New Britain where he hit .156 in eight games before having surgery on a broken hamate bone last week. There is no questioning the physical tools that Benson possesses. His competitive and aggressive style can mean good things in many cases. The struggles this year were with the emotional side of the game and being able to handle the negative. If ever the 24-year-old can find a way to slow the game down, he can be a special player.
#6 – Kyle Gibson, RHP
The Twins top pick in the 2009 draft, Gibson came from the University of Missouri. Gibson was the Twins 2010 minor league pitcher of the year when he quickly moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and up to Rochester. He began 2011 with the Red Wings and pitched well the first two months of the season. Unfortunately, he had elbow pain and had to have Tommy John surgery. He is expected to throw his first bullpen off of a mound next Monday and hopes to pitch in games in 2012. The idea would be that he be ready to pitch for the Twins sometime in 2013. The lanky right-hander throws a fastball between 89-91 but can touch 93. He has a great sinker and a slider. He also throws a change up. He gets a lot of ground balls. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season.
#5 – Oswaldo Arcia, OF
The Twins had to add Arcia to the 40 man roster last November because the 21 year old signed in July of 2007 out of Venezuela. He came to the States and put up solid numbers in 2009, but in 2010, he was the Appalachian League Player of the Year. In 2011, he put up huge numbers in Beloit in April, but then had to miss six weeks after having elbow surgery. Instead of returning to Beloit, he was moved up to Ft. Myers. That is where he starts this spring. After a slow April (thanks, in part, to a leg injury), he had a big May. Right now, he is hitting .298/.351/.482 with 13 doubles, three triples and four home runs. The left-handed hitter has major power. He strikes out a lot, and will have to figure out how to hit left-handed pitching at a decent rate, but Arcia does have a high ceiling.
#4 – Aaron Hicks, OF
Hicks was the Twins first-round pick way back in June of 2008 out of high school in California. The 22 year old is getting his first taste of AA this year after posting some impressive numbers in the Arizona Fall League last year. Hicks is not over his head, but he is certainly working through some struggles. Overall this season, he is hitting .246/.335/.392 (.727) with eight doubles, a triple and five home runs. However, he posted an OPS of .824 in April and of just .624 thus far in May. The other question is whether or not Hicks should remain a switch-hitter. Well, this year against left-handers, he is hitting .347/.396/.510 (.906) against left-handers and .205/.313/.344 (.657) against right-handers. I’ve said all along that I would give him this year to work on the switch-hitting, but they do need to think about him just being a right-handed hitter following this season when they add him to the 40 man roster. Hicks is already big-league ready defensively. He has great range and a very strong, accurate arm. He has a lot of strength and is very athletic. If he goes by the same timeline as other athletic high school types like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span, he should make his debut in 2014. It’s possible if he plays well in the second half that Hicks could debut in September.
#3 – Liam Hendriks, RHP
Consider that just about two years ago this month, Hendriks was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers, he has come a long ways very quickly. Signed by the Twins in 2007 from Australia, the 23-year-old has been on a fast-track, especially when considering that he missed all of the 2008 season with a neck surgery. He was my choice for Twins minor pitcher of the year in 2010 (Gibson was chosen by the Twins). He was my repeat choice in 2011 when he went 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 139.1 innings between New Britain and Rochester. He walked just 21 and struck out 111. He pitched in the Futures Game and the Eastern League All-Star game. He then was promoted to the Twins. He began the season in the Twins rotation but April was frustrating for him. He missed his first start due to food poisoning, and then struggled in four starts. He was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 18 innings. The Twins sent him back to Rochester, and in four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA. In 25.2 innings, he has given up 15 hits, walked eight and struck out 23. When on, the 6-0 right-hander has a two-seam fastball between 88-91 with a lot of movement. His four-seamer can hit 93. Although we didn’t see it in April, he has a good curveball at two speed, and a very good changeup. On other thing we didn’t see was his impeccable control of the strike zone. His ceiling is the good, healthy Scott Baker.
#2 – Eddie Rosario, 2B
When the Twins drafted Rosario in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, he was said to be the best hitter from Puerto Rico that year. To this point in his career, he has shown that he can flat-out hit. He posted a solid .781 OPS in the GCL in 2010 and showed a very good all-around game. It was 2011 in Elizabethton where he made his name. He hit .337/.397/.670 (1.068) with nine doubles, nine triples, 21 home runs and 60 RBI in 67 games. He was named the Appalachian League Player of the Year. At Instructs last fall, the decision was made to move Rosario from Centerfield (where he is really good) to second base. He advanced to Beloit and struggled in April with the glove, but he has improved greatly in the last month. He still plays centerfield once every eight to ten games as well. One the season, he is hitting a solid .284/.356/.458 (.814) with 16 doubles, a triple and five home runs. In the two short-season leagues, Rosario stole a lot of bases. In 2010 and 2011 combined, he had 39 steals in 50 chances. This season, he is struggling on the base paths, successful in just nine of 19 attempts. The 20-year-old has a very good swing, very quick and strong hands. He uses the whole field and is a terrific all-around hitter.
#1 – Miguel Sano, 3B
The Twins were the happy winners in the Miguel Sano sweepstakes when, in October of 2009, he signed with the Twins for a $3.15 million signing bonus. Known as the top Dominican talent that year, he was the subject of the movie Peletero (Ball player). After coming to the States for spring training in 2010, he split that season between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. In 2011, he played in Elizabehton and didn’t disappoint. He hit .292/.352/.637 (.988) with 18 doubles, seven triples, 20 home runs and 59 RBI in 66 games. How would he adjust to the full-season Midwest League and life in Wisconsin? He adjusted well. In April, he hit .276/.422/.586 (1.008) with five doubles, two triples and six home runs. However, he has struggled in May. Following his 19th birthday, he went on a run in which he had just one hit in 39 at bats (including an 0-24 stretch). He has homered in his past two games again. Miguel Sano has unbelievable power, and power potential. On the year, he has ten doubles, two triples and 13 home run in 188 at bats. He has the ability to hit for average, but that will largely be dependent upon his ability to put the ball in play. In 216 plate appearances, he has 60 strikeouts. He also has already committed 17 errors at third base. Those that look at his stats want to see him pushed and promoted quickly to Ft Myers. Those (coaches, front office types, fans, bloggers) who have seen him play in person say that he is where he needs to be because there are a lot of things he needs to work on. Sano is a special talent, and the Twins need to be wise with how they handle him. He can be on the Joe Mauer path (which was very fast) and get to the big leagues by early 2014. It shouldn’t be about getting him there quickly. It should be about getting him there when he is ready.
So, there you have my choices for Twins Top 10 Prospects. Later this week, I’ll be back with my choices for Twins Hitter, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher of the Month for May.
If you have any questions or comments on any of these prospects, please feel free to ask.
(Photo Beloit Daily News)
Over at Twins Daily, you have a one-stop shop for all Minnesota Twins topics.
- Minnesotan, former Gopher and current Beloit Snappers infielder AJ Pettersen wrote about Traveling in the Midwest League, specifically the team’s road trip to Kane County.
- Remember Tommy Watkins, the long-time Twins minor leaguer who finally got an opportunity with the Twins in 2007. He’s now in his third season as the hitting coach of the Beloit Snappers. Last night, he was a guest on the SethSpeaks Weekly Twins Podcast and talked about his playing career, but also a lot about coaching the likes of Sano and Rosario in Beloit this year. It was a fun interview, one of guests on the show, so be sure to listen.
- Cody Christie updated the goings on in the Twins minor leagues on Tuesday.
- In the forum, there is a terrific look at how impressive the trio of Scott Diamond, PJ Walters and Cole De Vries have been for the Twins.
- Thrylos continued his look at the top 22 pitchers in the upcoming draft by writing about RHP Michael Wacha. He has just a couple more pitchers to profile before the draft.