A lot of the buzz coming out of Target Field this weekend surrounded top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The lines for autographs from these two players was very extensive and neither of them has an at-bat at higher than the Double-A level. This is a lot of hype surrounding two men who are a few months removed from being teenagers.
If Minnesota is going to get out of the rut of the last three seasons, top prospects like Buxton and Sano will have to come up and perform at a high level. These men are supposed to provide the light at the end of the tunnel but how much is riding on these top prospects panning out?
I've given each of the top five prospects in the organization a "Franchise Future Ranking" between 1-10. A ranking of one would mean the franchise should be able to survive without this prospect making a huge impact at the big league level. A ranking of 10 would mean the franchise is going to continue to lose unless this player comes up and lives up to his potential.
Byron Buxton, OF
Considered by many to be the best prospect in baseball. He is closer to being ready than Mike Trout was at the same age but it's tough to compare anyone to what Trout has done at the big league level. Buxton should be a perennial All-Star with his name in the MVP discussion. In a couple years, the AL MVP race could be decided between Trout and Buxton instead of Cabrera versus Trout. The Twins need Buxton to turn into the face of the franchise as Joe Mauer's career starts to wind down. If the Twins had a weaker system, he would like get a 10 ranking but for now he gets a nine.
Franchise Future Ranking: 9
Miguel Sano, 3B
Before Buxton entered the Twins system, Sano had a lot of pressure on him to be the cornerstone of the Twins franchise. The emergence of Buxton has taken some pressure off of Sano but he is still arguably the best power-hitting prospect in the minor leagues. Some compare him to Miguel Cabrera but he probably won't develop the ability to hit for a higher of average. His power swing hasn't stopped at any level in the minors and his defense is passable enough at third to stay there. Minnesota's line-up could be one of the top offensive threats with Sano and Buxton batting in the middle of the order.
Franchise Future Ranking: 8
Alex Meyer, RHP
When Terry Ryan took back over as Minnesota's GM, there was clearly a lack of power arms in the system. Ryan did his best to help the future of the franchise by trading for Meyer. A few injury issues marked his first year in the organization but he still managed to pitch a significant amount of innings between the regular season and the Arizona Fall League. The Twins need Meyer to be a top of the rotation pitcher so he can pave the way for younger arms like Kohl Stewart, JO Berrios, and Lewis Thorpe. He might not be a Cy Young candidate but his importance can't be understated.
Franchise Future Ranking: 8
Kohl Stewart, RHP
The list of homegrown pitching prospects that will compete for a starting rotation spot with the Twins next year is short. In fact, Kyle Gibson is the only man on that list. Stewart is one of a few younger pitchers in the lower levels of the Twins system trying to help change the future of the franchise. He is multiple years away from the big leagues but the three men above him on this list should already be at Target Field by the time he arrives. There are a lot of variables that could hold Stewart back from being a front of the rotation starter. He's got the potential but the Twins have insurance policies with some of the younger arms in the system.
Franchise Future Ranking: 7
Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF
Brian Dozier seemed to handle himself pretty well at second base last season so this could make it difficult for Rosario to break into the big leagues. Rosario is widely touted as one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. He probably doesn't project to have enough power to fit into a corner outfield spot so a switch back to the outfield doesn't seem likely. His suspension to start the year is going to hurt some of his development time but the franchise could likely survive without him being an All-Star level player. If Dozier continues to shine, it would be nice to see a Rosario trade for more pitching depth.
Franchise Future Ranking: 5
Obliviously, these are five of the best prospects for the organization. This means they are going to rank higher than some of the other players in the system.
Now it's your turn. How would you rank these players in relation to their importance for getting the team out of their recent losing ways? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.