Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thin at the Top

The other day, Baseball America released their Top 100 Prospects list for the 2008 season. The Twins organization had three representatives: Deolis Guerra at 35, Carlos Gomez at 52 and Nick Blackburn at 56. Only one of those players was actually signed and developed by the Twins.

For a team that emphasizes drafting and player development, having one internally raised prospect in BA's Top 100 (and many have opined that Blackburn's position at No. 56 is overly generous) is downright embarrassing. It certainly does not speak well to the way the Twins have drafted over the past several years. It also doesn't paint a particularly bright future for a team that is amidst a rebuilding process.

This problem can be remedied though. First of all, the Twins need a few guys currently in their low minors to have breakout years. There are plenty of candidates to do so -- some notable ones include Tyler Robertson, Deibinson Romero, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee. For the Twins to return their system to prominence, it is also essential that they do well in the upcoming draft in June. The Twins will have a number of high picks, including three of the first 31 thanks to Torii Hunter's free agent departure. As far under budget as they are, there's absolutely no excuse for the Twins to go cheap like they did last year. Spend the money it takes to get the best players available.

The Twins' system is currently in a state of disrepair, and BA's list serves as a grim reminder of that fact. Fortunately, the organization isn't too far from getting back to where it needs to be. This year should be a big one in that respect.

31 comments:

sploorp said...

I haven't seen the list yet, but I've seen a lot like them this year and I think they can be a bit misleading. The Twins have a lot of great prospects, but so many have moved back and forth from AAA to the majors, that a panel compiling a list like this might tend overlook a lot of our guys. More so if the transition to the majors wasn't quite so smooth. Most of our prospects have been up enough times to see their shortcomings and what they need work on. It's a little hard for somebody putting together a list like that to include a player that's been roughed up a bit at the major league level.

The guys that put these lists together want to be able to pat themselves on the backs down the road and tell everybody how brilliant they are at spotting young talent. Lists like this tend to favor the guys with the great minor league careers that haven't been to the majors or the guys that have made it briefly and had some success. These are very safe picks for people putting together a list like that.

I'm sure the list just loves the Red Sox and Yankees. Bucholtz, Ellsbury, Hughes and Joba are all probably high up on the list. I'm also sure that the Oreoles and the Marlins prospects are all over the place as well (they should be, they traded off everything that wasn't nailed down for prospects).

The main thing that most of those prospects have going for them that ours don't is nobody has had a chance to see them crash and burn at the major league level yet. No matter how good some of these guys have done so far, they're going to hit the majors and get figured out. It's inevitable. There is going to be growing pains with the bloated ERAs and declining batting averages that go with it. I'm looking forward to visiting the Yankee and Red Sox blogs in the second half to see how many of their fans are second guessing not pulling the trigger on Santana when they had the chance.

The Twins have a lot of great prospects, we've just had a chance to watch them have their growing pains and take the lumps that go with the pains.

We have a starting rotation that is on the verge of blossoming into something very special. Not one or two players, but an entire rotation. The nearest comparison I can make is Atlanta's staff in 89 and 90. When they do, the Twins will be the team to beat and they will stay that way for a long time.

TT said...

The Twins currently lack players at the top of the minor leagues who are still eligible for these lists. The Twins system remains strong in pitching. But the players that have the combination of promise and/or development that would put them on a top 100 list have all reached the major leagues.

Most teams would be very happy to have produced Garza, Slowey, Baker and Perkins - along with Crain and Neshek. But those guys aren't eligible as prospects any more. The Twins have a very young team, which would seem to indicate their development system is doing a pretty good job.

I don't think BBA puts too much weight on minor league performance, but they do put a lot of weight on reputations. You can't report that a guy like Ben Revere was over-drafted and then stick him in your top 100 because of a great start in the GCL.

I hope I am wrong, but I think BBA way over-valued Blackburn in the Twins top ten list. He probably doesn't belong on the top 100 prospects list at all. But they can hardly put other Twins players ahead of him on the list.

In any case, three of the top 100 is about average. Which isn't bad given the pitching that has graduated to the big leagues the last couple years.

Nick N. said...

Most teams would be very happy to have produced Garza, Slowey, Baker and Perkins - along with Crain and Neshek. But those guys aren't eligible as prospects any more. The Twins have a very young team, which would seem to indicate their development system is doing a pretty good job.

Not sure I'd agree with that statement. Garza is no longer with the team. Aside from Slowey, all the other guys you mentioned were great prospects at one point, but they're all at least 25. This is the problem that I'm getting at. You and sploorp both basically seem to be making the argument that the Twins would have more players in the Top 100 if they hadn't graduated them all to the majors, but aside from Slowey I don't see any young guys that could still be in the minors and on this list.

Andrew said...

Hey Nick, how much does the issue of the Twins' lack of top-level prospects have to do with the organization's policy towards the draft and latin america? (i.e. not drafting or signing a guy who's demanding a large signing bonus and/or guaranteed money)

If you are not willing to pay the going price to acquire top young talent, then you are going to have a list like the one Baseball America came out with. This has been an issue with the Twins since Griffith owned the team. And when people like me complain about how Pohlad allows the team to be run, part of the problem is the Twins approach to acquiring young talent. If you can't afford to sign major league free agents, then you have to focus on developing young players. The lack of Twins prospects on the top 100 list tells me that somewhere along the line, the organization hasn't done a good enough job, and I suspect it all starts at the top levels of management.

TT said...

aside from Slowey I don't see any young guys that could still be in the minors and on this list.

To put this in perspective the same year a Bucholz, Ellsbury and Lowrey were all drafted in 2005.

That is the same year Garza and Slowey were drafted. Perkins was drafted in 2004. Even for college players, they got the the big leagues pretty quick. Baker was drafted in 2003 and Neshek and Crain in 2002.

To be honest, I don't think Neshek or Crain would be on the top 100 list anyway, since both were relievers.

My larger point, is that the Twins have moved their top prospects, the ones that have been successful, onto the major league roster. They have a bunch of pitchers that have talent, but none that have set themselves apart from the others. Its likely some of them will this year, much as Slowey and Blackburn did last year and Garza, Baker and Perkins did the year before that.

TT said...

part of the problem is the Twins approach to acquiring young talent.

Looking at the Twins roster, I am puzzled how anyone can complain about the Twins approach to acquiring young talent.

Andrew said...

I'm talking about the Baseball America list and I'm also thinking about some of the draft picks that got away. I think one of Nick's points was is that the talent that is in the system has already been seen at the big league level. When I talk about the approach to acquiring talent, management has everything to do with that.

Given that the Twins only developed 1 guy on the top 100 list, I would have to conclude that somewhere in management, something has gone wrong and that something has hindered the Twins in recent years from stockpiling young talent (especially hitters) I know the Twins lost Krivsky to the GM role in Cincy, maybe some of the other guys who were bringing in the talent 6,7,8 years ago have departed or changed roles within the organization. I didn't mean to say the Twins do a bad job at getting good players. They do, but the lack of depth throughout the organization is the bigger point Nick was trying to make (I think) and I was trying address why that might have happened.

Nick N. said...

Hey Nick, how much does the issue of the Twins' lack of top-level prospects have to do with the organization's policy towards the draft and latin america? (i.e. not drafting or signing a guy who's demanding a large signing bonus and/or guaranteed money)

I would say it has everything to do with that. Sometimes you get lucky and get a pitcher like Garza for a relatively modest signing bonus, and then watch him rocket through the minors. That doesn't happen often though. Usually you've got to pay to get guys like that, and the Twins haven't shown a willingness to do so recently. Taking the cheapskate route and drafting a guy like Ben Revere in the first round for an insanely low amount of money is not a very good method of stocking your system with star potential.

I would also argue that the organization's international efforts have been fairly weak. All of the Twins' best foreign-born players (Santana, Liriano, Gomez, Guerra, etc.) came from other organizations.

My larger point, is that the Twins have moved their top prospects, the ones that have been successful, onto the major league roster.

Don't all teams do that? And yet, how many other teams are there with only one homegrown player on that list?

They do, but the lack of depth throughout the organization is the bigger point Nick was trying to make (I think) and I was trying address why that might have happened.

I don't think there's a lack of depth. There's lots of depth -- lots of decent pitchers that project as middle-of-the-rotation starters and hitters that look like they'll develop into useful role players. What this organization lacks is established impact prospects, particularly between the ages of 20-24. That's problematic for a team that is supposed to be in a rebuilding stage.

TT said...

I'm also thinking about some of the draft picks that got away.

Which draft picks were those? The Twins have failed to sign very few of their top picks in recent drafts and have actually signed players like Manship and Kirwan who dropped down in the draft because of signability questions.

I'm talking about the Baseball America list

That list tells you nothing about any team's ability "acquire young talent". If it tells anything its how many players they still have left in the minor leagues.

Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees are always going to have more players still in the minors because they don't give many young players a chance. That only demonstrates their ability to acquire old talent.

TT said...

Taking the cheapskate route and drafting a guy like Ben Revere in the first round for an insanely low amount of money is not a very good method of stocking your system with star potential.

That depends on what you think of Revere as a prospect. How many players drafted after him were in the top 100 this year?

All of the Twins' best foreign-born players (Santana, Liriano, Gomez, Guerra, etc.) came from other organizations.

Morneau is their best "foreign born" player right now and Rincon came out of their system if you are talking about free agent signings.

The Twins are likely to have four offensive players on the team that came out of their system this year - Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer and Kubel. Its likely everyone else will be imports unless someone surprises in spring training. The starting rotation will probably have a couple home grown guys out of the five, but Bonser, Hernandez and Liriano are imports. The bullpen will have Neshek and Rincon, but Nathan, Guerrier and Reyes are imports.

So of 8 home grown players on the team, only Rincon is a foreign free agent signing. Of the other 17 players - its likely Liriano, Hernandez and Gomez will make the team.

That doesn't seem to me to indicate a huge problem with the foreign scouting. Although I am sure the Twins have lost foreign free agents to teams like the Yankees and Red Sox just as they do for major league free agents.

Don't all teams do that?

No, they don't. That is why Garza, Perkins and Slowey weren't eligible to be on the list while players like Ellsbury, Lowrie and Burkholz were.

That's problematic for a team that is supposed to be in a rebuilding stage.

The Twins are clearly not in a "rebuilding stage". They have a core of established young players at the major league level. Their competitiveness this year depends on some young players developing, but that has mostly been true every year.

Nick N. said...

Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees are always going to have more players still in the minors because they don't give many young players a chance. That only demonstrates their ability to acquire old talent.

If that's your argument, then how do you explain the fact that the Rays have seven players on this list (all internally drafted an developed), including four in the top 20? People holding all those guys back? What about the Rockies, who have five players on the list that they drafted/signed? Ditto the Reds. If you want to argue that these teams have been bad and have been racking up high draft picks, please note that many of these players were taken after the first round, or signed from another country.

The Twins simply have not done a good job of acquiring premium young talent over the past several years, there's really no denying that point. Their only home-grown player on the list is a 26-year-old.

Nick N. said...

That depends on what you think of Revere as a prospect. How many players drafted after him were in the top 100 this year?

I'm not saying he can't turn into a good prospect, but you have to agree that IN GENERAL, you're not going to stockpile much star power in your minor league system by spending first-round picks on players that are projected to go in the third round or later simply because you don't want to pay first-round slot money.

Morneau is their best "foreign born" player right now and Rincon came out of their system if you are talking about free agent signings.

Are you really going to nit-pick like that? I mean, I realize there are tons of scouts evaluating talent up in Canada, but I think it's pretty obvious that I was referring to players signed out of Latin countries. Rincon might be a legit case, but that hardly rebuts my point that the Twins have done a poor job of acquiring talent over the past several years -- they signed Rincon 12 years ago. The rest of your comment, where you reference the fact that the Twins have several internally developed players on their current roster, also fails to address my main point here, which is that they have done a poor job of developing impact prospects LATELY. It's great that they have players on their major-league roster that they were able to develop, but the lack of guys with star potential in their system RIGHT NOW speaks to my point that they've done a poor job of accumulating young talent within the past four-five years.

The Twins are clearly not in a "rebuilding stage". They have a core of established young players at the major league level. Their competitiveness this year depends on some young players developing, but that has mostly been true every year.

The term "rebuilding stage" does not necessarily mean that a team can't compete. But when you lose three of your best veteran players during an offseason and go into a season where you're ushering in a bunch of kids with barely any experience, I think you almost have to say you're in the process of rebuilding.

SethSpeaks said...

I agree with TT. The Twins have done just fine. I realize that they are now developed into big leaguers, but guys like Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, Hunter, Slowey, Neshek, Crain, etc. have all been drafted and developed by the Twins.

I'm not saying that the Twins have drafted perfectly, but no one has. The Red Sox and Rays have done very well of late, but they have done well by following the Twins plans.

The Twins developed Garza, and you can say he is elsewhere, but that is because they brought in Delmon Young. That's just a good trade.

The other thing is the Twins have done a nice job of finding other team's talent.

The Twins top level prospects are not the greatest right now. But I think we can all agree that Gomez and Guerra are top level prospects. I think we all agree that Blackburn shoudln't be close to this list. I think there are two parts of prospect development. First, there are top level, impact types of players. Some of those are mentioned above. The Twins have a couple good one. The other part of that is depth. The Twins have a few solid prospects at each minor league level and at all (or at least most) of the positions. The table is far from bare!

TT said...

how do you explain the fact that the Rays have seven players on this list

Because they have never won more than 70 games and have had one of the top choices in the draft for almost their entire franchise history, having "dropped" to the 8th choice once. I'm not sure I would hold them up as a model franchise.

What about the Rockies, who have five players on the list that they drafted/signed? Ditto the Reds.

I hadn't noticed that either one had a lot of young players at the major league level. I don't think that three teams have more players on the list proves your argument the Twins have done badly.

The Twins simply have not done a good job of acquiring premium young talent over the past several years

The Rockies have 5 players drafted since 2003 that have even appeared in the major leagues, only one who wasn't eligible for the top 100. Cincinnati has 1 player in either category. How is that a better record than the Twins? If you go back to 2001-2002, the Twins look even better.

you have to agree that IN GENERAL, you're not going to stockpile much star power in your minor league system by spending first-round picks on players that are projected to go in the third round

Projected by who? The Twins have a lot better track record than Baseball America. Garza wasn't drafted above projections. Neither were Parmalee or Perkins or Span or Moses for that matter. But the Twins haven't had the opportunity to draft any sure things in the first round because they have been winning. The difference between the end of the first round and later choices is not all that large.

where you're ushering in a bunch of kids with barely any experience, I think you almost have to say you're in the process of rebuilding.

Some of those "kids" would likely be on BBA's top 100 if they had a little less experience. The reality is the Twins core is going to be very young this year as it has been for a while. They filled out the roster with some older guys like Everett, Lamb, Hernandez and Redmond that raise the average age. With the exception of Nathan, the stars of this team are all young guys.

ots of decent pitchers that project as middle-of-the-rotation starters and hitters that look like they'll develop into useful role players

I think this misreads things. The Twins have a players with the tools to be core players in the major leagues. But they haven't developed those tools yet so they aren't going to make a top 100 list. Swarzak and Robertson fit that, so do Parmalee, Revere and Benson. So does Casilla for that matter, but like Garz, Slowey and Perkins, he isn't eligible for top prospect lists any more.

Nick N. said...

Because they have never won more than 70 games and have had one of the top choices in the draft for almost their entire franchise history, having "dropped" to the 8th choice once. I'm not sure I would hold them up as a model franchise.

But as I said, high first round picks have not been the entire reason for their success. Sure, their top two prospects -- Evan Longoria and David Price -- were both Top 5 picks. But Jake McGee (No. 15) was a fifth-rounder. Wade Davis, (No. 17) was a third-rounder. Reid Brignac (No. 39) was a second-rounder. Desmond Jennings (No. 59) was a 10th-rounder. And so forth.

I don't think that three teams have more players on the list proves your argument the Twins have done badly.

These are just three teams that I looked at that have a similar situation and philosophy to the Twins, in that they have a medium-to-low payroll and emphasize drafting and player development rather than collecting established players through free agency. I think it's pretty clear that all three teams have done a significantly better job than the Twins of stocking their minor-league systems with high-level prospects over the past several years.

Projected by who?

Everyone? There's a reason he got the lowest signing bonus of any first-round pick since 1997.

The Twins have a lot better track record than Baseball America. Garza wasn't drafted above projections. Neither were Parmalee or Perkins or Span or Moses for that matter. But the Twins haven't had the opportunity to draft any sure things in the first round because they have been winning.

Whether the problem is in the Twins' scouting department or their minor-league coaching staff, I don't know. You're right that guys like Henry Sanchez, Span and Moses (and perhaps Parmelee and Benson) were rated highly coming into the draft, but all of them stagnated in the Twins' system. Whether this exemplifies poor scouting or poor coaching, I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to applaud this system for failing to develop any hitters over the past five years.

Some of those "kids" would likely be on BBA's top 100 if they had a little less experience. The reality is the Twins core is going to be very young this year as it has been for a while.

What are we calling "very young"? Mauer will be 25. Morneau will be 27. Most the pitchers are 25+. The only players on the team whom I would say are really that young are Gomez and Young (both of whom came from other organizations). The Twins aren't as young of a team as some people make them out to be.

Swarzak and Robertson fit that, so do Parmalee, Revere and Benson. So does Casilla for that matter, but like Garz, Slowey and Perkins, he isn't eligible for top prospect lists any more.

Swarzak has the tools to be a middle-rotation starter, but there's a reason he's not on this list. His upside isn't that high. Parmelee and Benson have struggled in the minors so far, Revere hasn't shown the power or patience that he'll need to turn into an impact player, and Casilla wouldn't be on this list even if he was eligible after the year he had in 2007.

I think we Twins fans have a major tendency to overrate our own prospects. An objective list like this knocks things back into perspective, and that was basically the purpose of this post.

TT said...

Everyone?

Except the Twins.

I think it's pretty clear that all three teams have done a significantly better job than the Twins of stocking their minor-league systems with high-level prospects over the past several years.

And the Twins have done a significantly better job of elevating high-level prospects to their major league team.

Mauer will be 25. Morneau will be 27. Most the pitchers are 25+.

Which makes them all younger than the average major league player. And those are the team's veterans.

There's a reason he's not on this list.

I think you are missing the central point. If Swarzak had developed to the point he would be on that list, he would already have been pitching in the major leagues last year. Just like Garza and Slowey.

Whether this exemplifies poor scouting or poor coaching, I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to applaud this system for failing to develop any hitters over the past five years.

Except for Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau and Kubel. All of whom made their major league debut's during that period.

I think we Twins fans have a major tendency to overrate our own prospects.

Fans tend to rate all prospects based on how excited the media is about them.

An objective list like this knocks things back into perspective,

I think you should take another look at BBA's lists over the years. They aren't really scouting lists. They work a lot like gold gloves - reputation is important.

and that was basically the purpose of this post.

If that was the purpose, I would agree with you. Once a player hits the media's radar screen, they start to put those "like Greg Maddux" comparisons out there. People miss that its hyperbole.

But that wasn't the point you have repeatedly made, which is that the Twins haven't done a good job of developing talent. And by any truly "objective" measure that isn't true.

Nick N. said...

And the Twins have done a significantly better job of elevating high-level prospects to their major league team.

Just going off the top of my head here:

Rockies: Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Ryan Spilborghs, Jeff Francis

Rays: Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young (before he was traded), James Shields, Akinori Iwamura

Reds: Aaron Harang, Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, Edwin Encarnacion

These teams all already have a core of internally signed or developed talent, and each of them are pretty comparable to the Twins. So no, I don't think you can argue that the Twins have done a "significantly better job" of promoting their talent to the big leagues.

Which makes them all younger than the average major league player. And those are the team's veterans.

No, the team's veterans are Craig Monroe, Livan Hernandez, Joe Nathan and Dennys Reyes. You seem to have a very convoluted concept of this team's age if you think a 25-year-old is a "veteran" among this group. The only players likely to make the roster who are under 25 are Young, Slowey and Gomez (or whichever center fielder goes north).

I think you should take another look at BBA's lists over the years. They aren't really scouting lists. They work a lot like gold gloves - reputation is important.

I've followed BA's lists for some time. I find that they tend to be pretty accurate. They have detailed scouting reports on all of these prospects. You seem to think that the Twins' front office has earned the benefit of the doubt because they've done such a great job -- I'd agree that they've done well with pitchers but when it comes to drafting/signing and developing position players this organization has been downright atrocious.

But that wasn't the point you have repeatedly made, which is that the Twins haven't done a good job of developing talent. And by any truly "objective" measure that isn't true.

That has never been my point, you just keep acting like it is, and you keep refuting it by bringing up examples like Mauer, Morneau and Kubel.

To reiterate (again): My point has been that within the past five years or so, the Twins have done a poor job of drafting and developing marquis prospects. That is reflected by their lack of players on BA's list. Stating that Kubel, Mauer and Morneau made their debuts during that time is wholly irrelevant, because those players were really developed prior to the timespan I am talking about, and they were certainly drafted LONG before.

TT said...

My point has been that within the past five years or so, the Twins have done a poor job of drafting and developing marquis prospects.

Yet you used the Reds, a team that has exactly one player drafted during that time who has even appeared on a big league roster, as one of your examples of a franchise that is successful. While the Twins have promoted Garza, Slowey, Perkins and Baker from that same period.

when it comes to drafting/signing and developing position players this organization has been downright atrocious.

Where is the evidence for that? Oh, right. BBA's projection of who will be successful major league players in the future. Just to give a Twins-centric appraisal of those lists in the last ten years:

On the BBA top 100 lists since 1998:
Slowey,
Perkins,
Liriano,
Mauer,
Kubel,
Morneau,
Cuddyer,
Crain,
Swarzak,
Moses,
Parmalee,
Bonser,
Garza,
Durbin,
Rivas,
Restovich,
Lecroy,
Johnson,
Garbe,
Guzman,

Eligible but missing:
Neshek,
Baker,
Rincon,
Guerrier,
Santana,
Koskie,
Jacque Jones,
Torii Hunter
Kielty,
Mohr,
Romero,
Lohse,
Mientkiewicz,
Pierzynski,
Casey Blake,
Chad Allen,
Lew Ford,
Joe Mays,
Rob Bowen,
Jason Bartlett

That first list is of players who made the top 100 at least once. With the exceptions of Mauer, Rivas and Cuddyer, I don't think any of them made the list continuously for most of their minor league careers.

Hunter, for instance, bounced on and off the list before my 1998 cut off date. But he wasn't on it after that. Which is actually not untypical of high school players who don't zoom to the majors. Something to remember when talking about guys like Parmalee, Plouffe, Span and Moses. Of course there is Garbe as an example as well and he made the list.

But the central point here is that several players drafted during the last five years made the list in the past but are no longer eligible because they are actually in the major leagues.

Here is one of your points:

"The Twins simply have not done a good job of acquiring premium young talent over the past several years, there's really no denying that point."

Here is another point:

"My point has been that within the past five years or so, the Twins have done a poor job of drafting and developing marquis prospects."

And yet the Twins have several players in the big leagues from those drafts. They also traded Garza, taken during that time, for Delmon Young, also drafted during that period.

If your argument is that the Twins don't have any prospect that really stands out right now, I would agree. I just don't think that means very much. They have a lot of prospects who have the tools to do that. And they have a track record of successfully developing players.

Nick N. said...

And yet the Twins have several players in the big leagues from those drafts. They also traded Garza, taken during that time, for Delmon Young, also drafted during that period.

The Twins have three players likely to be on the team this year that were acquired in the past five drafts: Baker, Slowey and Perkins. You'll notice that all four of those guys are pitchers, and none of them have a real shot at stardom. They have zero players drafted within that five-year frame on BA's Top 100 list. Where are the impact players from this drafts? If you count Garza, you have four. Four players in five drafts. And they are all pitchers.

But the central point here is that several players drafted during the last five years made the list in the past but are no longer eligible because they are actually in the major leagues.

As I've noted, the Twins have a total of four players drafted within the last five years on big-league rosters, and that's counting Garza. Without actually looking it up, I'm fairly certain that most teams around the league have promoted at least three or four players from the past five drafts to the major leagues, so it's hardly a sign that the Twins have been considerably better than any of other organization in that regard.

If your argument is that the Twins don't have any prospect that really stands out right now, I would agree. I just don't think that means very much. They have a lot of prospects who have the tools to do that. And they have a track record of successfully developing players.

Most prospects everywhere have "the tools" to become stand-out players. The problem is that the Twins have failed to develop those tools, particularly with position players. You seem content to give let them off because of their "track record" of developing talent several years ago. I don't think that excuses them for whiffing again and again on recent draft picks. Denard Span, Matt Moses, Henry Sanchez, Trevor Plouffe, and now perhaps Parmelee and Benson (although I'm not nearly ready to write them off). All these high draft picks with plenty of tools failing to get results and develop into impact players. I don't know if that should be blamed on poor scouting or poor coaching, but whatever the case I'm not going to let the organization off the hook for their track record.

TT said...

I don't think there are 10 players on the BBA top ten that fit the criteria you seem to have established for evaluating the Twins:

Non-pitchers drafted in the last five years after the top of the first round out of high school.

Denard Span

Denard Span wasn't drafted in the last five years - which is your criteria. If you want to complain about Span, then you have to add Crain and Neshek as two more players the Twins have moved to the big leagues during the period you are complaining about.

I don't think that excuses them for whiffing again and again on recent draft picks. Denard Span, Matt Moses, Henry Sanchez, Trevor Plouffe, and now perhaps Parmelee and Benson (although I'm not nearly ready to write them off). All these high draft picks with plenty of tools failing to get results and develop into impact players.

You shouldn't be ready to write off any of those players. Just for comparison, Cuddyer was drafted in 1997, he made the BBA list for the first time in 1999. And he was the 8th player drafted that year. Morneau was drafted in 1999, he made the top 100 for the first time in 2002. Kubel was drafted in 2000, he made the top 100 list in 2005. Not every player is Joe Mauer.

More to the point, even if every one of those guys turns out to be a failure, that is hardly unusual. Willie Banks, Johnny Ard, David McCarty, Dan Serafini, Todd Ritchie, BJ Garbe, Ryan Mills, Adam Johnson ... the Twins have always had top prospects fail and, like every other team, they always will. That's just the way player development works.

whatever the case I'm not going to let the organization off the hook for their track record.

I think that this discussion tells me that your expectations are unrealistic, rather than that there is a problem with the Twins organization.

TT said...

Without actually looking it up, I'm fairly certain that most teams around the league have promoted at least three or four players from the past five drafts to the major leagues

I doubt it. At least not if you are talking about players who have used up their rookie eligibility. Even the teams with heavy college drafts would be hard pressed to find four players.

The A's, for instance, have. Their list includes Travis Buck, Kurt Suzuki, Omar Quintenella, Andre Ethier, and Huston Street. I would take Garza, Slowey, Perkins and Baker over that list any day. Especially if you consider Garza=Delmon Young.

Nick N. said...

You shouldn't be ready to write off any of those players. Just for comparison, Cuddyer was drafted in 1997, he made the BBA list for the first time in 1999. And he was the 8th player drafted that year. Morneau was drafted in 1999, he made the top 100 for the first time in 2002. Kubel was drafted in 2000, he made the top 100 list in 2005. Not every player is Joe Mauer.

Morneau, Cuddyer, and Kubel all put up numbers early in their minor-league careers and showed signs that they would develop into legitimate prospects. Span, Moses, Sanchez and Plouffe haven't done that. If any of those four players turn into productive major-league hitters, I'll eat crow, but I'm not overly worried about it.

I don't really think it's unrealistic to expect a few first-round position players to not bust. With the exception of Mauer, who was essentially a can't-miss at No. 1, the Twins haven't turned a first-round position player into anything since Cuddyer in 1997. It's unrealistic for me to expect better than that from a team that is built around scouting and player development?

TT said...

It's unrealistic for me to expect better than that from a team that is built around scouting and player development?

Yes.

TT said...

Michael Cuddyer
age 21 New Britain:
.263 .338 .394
age 20 Fort Myers:
.298 .397 .470

Matt Moses
age 21 New Britain:
.249 .303 .386
age 20 Fort Myers:
.306 .376 .453

Cuddyer at age 22 had a great year in his second full season at AA, Moses got promoted to AAA and struggled.

TT said...

Trevor Plouffe age 21 at New Britain:
.274 .326 .410

Jason Kubel
age 21 at Fort Myers:
.298 .370 .400

Torii Hunter
age 21 at New Britain:
.231 .301 .338

Denard Span
age 21 Fort Myers/New Britain:
.307 .377 .369
(NB .285 .355 .345)

Most players just aren't batting champions (Mauer) or MVP's (Morneau) before they reach age 26 - or ever for that matter. Cuddyer and Hunter are far more typical. Actually Sanchez and Garbe are far more typical. Its not just hitters who fail most of the time in baseball.

Nick N. said...

Well there's just no way I'm going to agree that an organization that prides itself on player development shouldn't be held accountable for failing to develop position players taken with first-round picks at better than a 1-for-6 rate. I guess we'll just have to agree to differ on that one though.

These comparisons you are making just don't work at all. It was way too early in any of those players' careers to make any significant judgments, which is why I have pretty much left Parmelee and Revere out of this discussion (although Parmelee's struggles last year are rather concerning).

Moses has five full minor-league seasons under his belt and he has a .257/.312/.391 hitting line to show for it. In Cuddyer's fifth pro season, he was posting a .973OPS in Triple-A and had 112 at-bats in the major-leagues. Cuddyer put up solid-to-excellent numbers at every minor-league stop with one exception; Moses has put up terrible numbers at every stop with one exception.

In Kubel's fifth season he was the team's minor-league player of the year. Hunter was a bit of a slower developer, but he always had a great set of tools and excellent outfield defense working for him, which is why he was promoted so quickly. Span has one tool (speed) and has not developed any of his skills like the organization hoped he would. Plouffe is the only player of that group that you can really argue might have a future, and a lot of people are high on him after what was deemed to be a successful season at New Britain last year. I just don't like him, personally. He's got a .692 OPS over four minor-league seasons to go along with poor plate discipline, minimal power and shaky defense at SS.

No one is asking these players to turn into MVPs or batting champs. My expectation is that at least some of them develop as hitters in the minor leagues and make some type of positive impact in the majors. I'd bet just about anything that no one from the group of Span, Moses, Sanchez and Plouffe are able to do that. This is troubling, and it has forced the Twins to go out and trade for guys like Young, Gomez and Pridie because they're aren't reasonable options internally.

I will say, though, that the Twins are showing some signs of getting back on track. Hopefully Revere can add some patience and power and develop into a solid prospect. They also signed a third baseman out of the Dominican Republic named Deibinson Romero a couple years ago who looks like he might turn into a valuable player. The upcoming draft in June will be a huge one.

TT said...

failing to develop position players taken with first-round picks at better than a 1-for-6 rate.

With the exception of Garbe, they haven't "failed" yet. They drafted high school players and none of them would be in the big leagues now even if they had progressed one level per year.

Moses has five full minor-league seasons under his belt

No, he doesn't. He has three full seasons. He played 18 games of rookie ball his first year and 30 games of rookie and low A ball his second year at 18.

This is troubling,

No, it isn't. Its no more troubing than hitters not getting a hit more than half the time. That's just the nature of the game.

A lot of first round picks fail. Especially guys taken late in the first round. Cuddyer and Mauer were taken in the first ten picks. So was Garbe.

Plouffe is the only player of that group that you can really argue might have a future

I don't think that is true. All of those guys might have a future. Plouffe is just the one who looks the most likely. I will be surprised if Span doesn't play in the big leagues. Sanchez hasn't been able to stay healthy, so who knows.

Moses is actually the biggest question because his glove looks suspect. But he is still about three years younger than Ford and Bartlett were when they finally got a chance in the big leagues. So some patience might be in order.

But frankly, first round draft choices aren't usually the key to a team's success. As Morneau and Kubel demonstrate. Along with Baker and Neshek and Crain and ...

Nick N. said...

But frankly, first round draft choices aren't usually the key to a team's success. As Morneau and Kubel demonstrate. Along with Baker and Neshek and Crain and ...

All of whom were drafted long ago. Which brings me back to my central point.

The Twins just haven't been turning draft picks into good players very much for the past five years or so. That is exactly what is illustrated by the Twins' lack of presence on BA's list. Say what you want about guys like Moses and Plouffe who are long-shots to make an impact in the major leagues, but most teams that emphasize drafting and developing players like the Twins do have actually been able to stock their farm systems with some marquis prospects who have legit tools and have proven results. The Twins essentially had none before they traded Santana. If you don't think that's a problem, there's really nothing I can do to change your mind. But the problem this organization faces is that even with all the young talent already at the major-league level, there are still several significant holes, and the team lacks ammo in the minor leagues to fill those holes.

In any event, while we may differ, this has been a fun little debate and I do appreciate your consistent contributions.

TT said...

All of whom were drafted long ago. Which brings me back to my central point.

Which seems to be completely ignoring how long it takes for major league players to develop in the minor leagues. Cuddyer was drafted in 1997, he established himself at the major league level in 2006 - nine years later. Hunter was drafted in 1993, he didn't establish himself in the major leagues until 2001, 8 years later. Kubel was drafted in 2000 and he still hasn't established himself 7 years later. You are complaining about players who were drafted four years ago.

most teams that emphasize drafting and developing players like the Twins do have actually been able to stock their farm systems with some marquis prospects

While the Twins have been able to stock their major league team with good players - which is the point of having prospects I would think. But apparently not fast enough for you.

On the one hand you complain about Span who is just now competing for a major league position, on the other you dismiss guys drafted at the same time who have already produced at the major league level as old news.

But the problem this organization faces is that even with all the young talent already at the major-league level, there are still several significant holes, and the team lacks ammo in the minor leagues to fill those holes.

Third base is really the only hole they have where they don't have at least a couple young players who are possibilities. Even at third, you have guys like Moses and Winfree who could still develop.

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