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Prospect list in depth, Part Six: 11-15

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This is the sixth part of my detailed prospect list. These five are impressive in various ways with power, plate discipline, and speed that makes the Twins offensive prowess in the system start to seem pretty impressive before even cracking the top 10.

15. Adam Walker (DOB: 10-18-91), RH right fielder: Walkerís .250/.310/.496 line at Elizabethon is impressive, but it doesnít overwhelm. However, he hit 14 homers, 7 doubles, and 4 triples in 254 plate appearances, continues to work hard on his defense and to lower his strikeout numbers, and is the right-handed power bat that the Twins have been sorely lacking. Coupled with Sano and Vargas, the Twins have three big bats in the system. Walker is a player to be a little patient with as he needs to work on his strikeout rate, but he still should move pretty quickly. The big outfielder was a fantastic slugger in college and didnít drop off much in his first partial season of pro ball. I expect the power numbers to jump now that he has had increased instruction and pro ball experience under his belt. Expected start: Cedar Rapids, though he could be a potential quick jump to Fort Myers since the OF in Cedar Rapids is going to be crowded. ETA: 2015-2016.

14. Nate Roberts (DOB: 2-25-89), LH corner outfielder: Roberts has dealt with some injuries and an extremely cautious approach by the Twins in promoting him. That is until the 2012 Arizona Fall League. Roberts was great in limited time in 2010 (.336/.444/.547). In 2011 he was promoted to Beloit and posted an .889 OPS in 283 plate appearances while battling injury. In 2012 he returned to Beloit for some reason and continued to put up impressive numbers (.299/.433/.427), stealing 27 bases, walking (44) more than striking out (37) and continued his bizarre ability to get hit by pitches (23). Roberts was then sent to the Arizona Fall League, which is comprised mostly of good-very good prospects at AA and AAA. Roberts put up a 1.226 OPS in 77 plate appearances, homering three times, and swiping six bags. This dominant performance has many wondering if Roberts is a likely candidate to skip Fort Myers for New Britain to start 2013. I donít like the idea of players skipping levels as I would rather see consistent progression from level to level. The Twins were bizarre with Roberts, however, so he may be an exception. I would probably start him for a bit at Fort Myers and then promote him to New Britain automatically a few months into the season. I think the Twins will be aggressive, though. Expected start: New Britain. ETA: 2014-2015.

13. Chris Herrmann (DOB: 11-24-87), LH catcher/left fielder: Herrmann was impressive in 2011 at New Britain where he showed great plate discipline, slugged OK, stole some places and played solid defense behind the plate and in the OF. In 2012, the Twins stuck with him at AA where he had a slight decline in production, especially early in the season when he was batting lower in the lineup and appeared to be trying to increase his power numbers. This didnít work very well and New Britain eventually wised up and put Hicks and Herrmann at the top of the lineup with Oswaldo Arcia batting behind them. This was a good decision and Herrmann increased his production in the second half. I do think that the Twins have been rather bizarre in holding Herrmann back at AA for almost 1000 plate appearances while posting a .754 OPS. The team did not call him up to big leagues until the middle September after his AA season had been over for several days. It is a shame that terrible offensive players like Drew Butera and Rene Rivera are slowing down the development of Twins prospects and other minor league catchers who deserve more of a chance. Herrmann is not going to be an all-star and will certainly not be a regular with the Twins barring injury to Mauer or Doumit, but time is near when he can be a useful upgrade over Drew Butera and his versatility in LF (potentially RF as well) makes him a nice roster addition sooner rather than later. Expected start: Rochester. ETR (return): 2013.

12. Travis Harrison (DOB: 10-17-92), RH 3B: The Twins drafted Harrison with the 50th pick in the 2011 draft. Harrisonís bat is, without doubt, one of the best pure hitters in the organization and he demonstrated this with a big season for Elizabethon in 2012 as a 19-year-old. In 253 plate appearances, he had 12 doubles, 4 triples, and 5 homers. He walked 24 times and struck out 51 times on his way to a .301/.383/.461 batting line. Harrisonís defense at third base was not good, but there is a chance he will improve (as even Miguel Sano has some). It is likely, though, that first base and DH are in his future down the road. I would not be surprised if Harrison is someoneóif he indeed cannot stick at 3Bówho the Twins will look to trade in a hitting-for-pitching prospect deal. I would not expect that in 2013, however, and it will be interesting to see how Harrison adapts to a full season of baseball. Expected start: Cedar Rapid. ETA: 2016-2017.

11. Joe Benson (DOB: 3-5-88), RH outfielder: Benson was a top five prospect in 2011 and going into 2012. The 2012 season was a disaster for the talented outfielder, however. Benson had been moving through the system with Chris Parmelee and even came up with Parmelee to the Twins in September 2011. People tend to exaggerate Bensonís struggles in September of that year (as though 70+ plate appearances are telling at all in the first place). One could not expect the .883 AA OPS to immediate translate. Benson seems to have been injured for all of 2012, but often played through injury. He struggled mightily in AAA and instead of doing the right thing and making him stick it out at AAA, the Twins actually sent him back to AA in a terrible move. Benson still is a great defender and will just have to calm down and channel his energy and emotions into being a productive player in the very near future. It is a complete mistake to write Benson off as he is only just turning 25 this coming March and the talent is still there. Benson would still be a top 8 prospect if it werenít for the 2012 offseason trades, and the performances of Max Kepler and Jose Berrios in 2012. Expected start: Rochester. ETR (return): Benson will be back at some point in 2013 and it could be sooner than later if Aaron Hicks is not ready by mid-season. The Twins could finish 2013 with both Hicks and Benson in the outfield, and I would welcome that scenario.
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