Friday, January 16, 2009

My Top Ten Prospects

Wednesday's plea for some ideas on topics to write about yielded numerous emails and comments with intriguing suggestions. Thanks to everyone who wrote in. A few of your requests might be a little beyond my level of capability, being that I don't have access to the Twins clubhouse that would be required to delve into some of the subjects readers inquired about, but I'll certainly try to touch on every topic that was brought up in some form.

One request that I received from a few people was that I put together a top prospects list. Indeed, in the four years that this blog has existed I have never put compiled such a list despite the fact that I follow the team's minor-league system pretty closely. Mainly this is because there are is a sizable group of other experts, bloggers and fans out there who put together such rankings and I didn't feel there was much need for me to add my own list to the fray, being that it likely wouldn't differ a whole lot from the other ones.

But, your wish is my command. I don't have the time or wherewithal to put together a Top 40 list or anything that expansive right now, but I will write up my take on the organization's Top 10 prospects, along with a brief explanation for each. I'll also add a few guys who didn't make my Top 10 cut (but probably did for a lot of other people), with a brief explanation as to why they're not quite amongst my elite.

Listed next to each player his position and the level at which he finished the 2008 season.

10. Steve Tolleson - 2B - New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Tolleson had displayed an ability to hit for average and get on base during his first three seasons in the Twins' system, but last year for the first time flashed some legitimate power, socking 38 extra-base hits and slugging .466 in his first stint at Double-A. His glove will be what makes or breaks Tolleson as a prospect -- I've heard varying reports, most indicating that he won't make it as a shortstop but is more than passable at second. A middle infielder with a big OBP and some pop would be a big help to the Twins.

9. Angel Morales - CF - Elizabethton Twins (rookie)
Morales has fanned in a ridiculous 116 of his 361 plate appearances (32 percent) since being drafted in June of '07, but you've got to love the power -- he batted .301/.413/.623 as an 18-year-old in advanced rookie ball last season, ripping 15 homers while also covering significant ground in the outfield. He'll have a hard time reaching the majors unless he can improve his ability to make contact, but rangy outfielders with top-notch speed and power always raise eyebrows.

8. Shooter Hunt - SP - Beloit Snappers (A)
Hunt shredded up rookie-level competition after being drafted last June, but struggled mightily with his control while finishing up the season in Low-A Beloit. In 31 innings for the Snappers, Hunt issued 27 walks and threw six wild pitches. His devastating arsenal and youth secure his spot in the Top 10, but Hunt's control problems and physically exerting delivery raise serious concerns.

7. Anthony Slama - RP - Ft. Myers Miracle (A+)
He was doing it against a level of competition that was clearly beneath him, but Slama's incredible 2008 numbers are still impossible to ignore. In 71 innings, the right-hander struck out 110 batters while allowing only 43 hits and zero home runs. Slama's ability to miss bats, combined with good control and strong ground ball tendencies, makes him a very good bet to keep plowing through hitters as he moves up.

6. Kevin Mulvey - SP - Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Mulvey doesn't wow you with his gaudy numbers or his youth, but he's a very solid pitcher who could help the Twins as soon as this year. Mulvey isn't a dominator -- he gives up hits, lets the occasional ball fly out of the park and doesn't pump strikes like Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey. Still, Mulvey is a 23-year-old with a 3.36 ERA in two-and-a-half pro seasons who has already established himself at the highest level of the minors. He also posted the best strikeout rate of his career in his first real stint at the Triple-A level last year, indicating that he's growing along with the level of competition.

5. Danny Valencia - 3B - New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
You won't find Valencia this high on many other lists. He isn't spectacular in any aspect of the game, but he also lacks huge flaws, which makes him a relatively safe bet to succeed as he moves up. Valencia hails from a respected college program, possesses the ability to hit for very good average and power from the right side of the plate (much needed assets in this organization), and has reportedly made significant strides defensively since being drafted. Valencia has moved through four levels in two-and-a-half years as a pro and has had success at each one. I'm going to keep liking him until he gives me something not to like.

4. Jose Mijares - RP - Minnesota Twins (MLB)
There's a good chance Mijares is finished with the minor leagues, but he retains his prospect status and certainly ranks as the best outside of the "Big Three." I think some people are a little too high on Mijares after his brief successful stint with the Twins last September, and the control issues that have haunted his career will probably resurface at some point, but he's got electric stuff and should have a nice career as a quality setup man.

3. Ben Revere - CF - Beloit Snappers (A)
I ran through several reasons why I think Revere is a movable asset last week, but that doesn't mean I don't think he's a great ball player. Through one-and-a-half pro seasons, Revere holds a .360/.416/.484 hitting line. He gets on base and becomes a great weapon once he's there thanks to his lightning speed. It'd be lovely if Revere could develop some power as he ages, but his base skill set already gives him star potential as long as he can continue to hit for big averages.

2. Wilson Ramos - C - Ft. Myers Miracle (High-A)
Ramos first started garnering attention in 2007 when he hit .291 and belted eight homers in Low-A as a 19-year-old. He continued to progress in '08, when he batted .288/.346/.434 with 13 homers and 73 RBI for Ft. Myers. The numbers might not seem all that impressive, but that perception changes when you consider that he was younger than most the competition and is reportedly an exceptional defensive catcher. Backstops who can field their position and hit with power are tough to come by, making Ramos a premium player. If he continues to grow, the Mauer-to-third conversation might be one worth having in a few years.

1. Aaron Hicks - CF - GCL Twins (rookie)
A highly regarded high school star, Hicks quickly made good on his first-round selection by hitting .318/.402/.491 as an 18-year-old in rookie ball. Hicks displayed discipline (32/28 K/BB ratio), power (18 XBH in 173 AB) and speed (12-for-14 on SB attempts) while reportedly playing excellent defense. This kid's got a lot of different skills that can help move him toward the majors, and if they all progress together he could blossom into an elite player. Plus, if he never makes it as a position player, he can always fall back on his arm, which tempted some teams to consider drafting him as a pitcher.

JUST MISSING THE CUT...

Anthony Swarzak - SP - Rochester Red Wings
He was hammered in New Britain last year before receiving an unexpected promition to Rochester and finishing the year with a 5-0 record and 1.80 ERA there. I'm not convinced his success at the end of the year was real, though.

Carlos Gutierrez - RP - Ft. Myers Miracle
Widely considered a reach when the Twins picked him up in the first round of last June's draft, Gutierrez jumped straight to High-A and pitched well there in a 25-inning bullpen stint. I need to see more from him before I'm willing to call him a Top 10 prospect, though, particularly in light of reports that he lacks secondary pitches to complement his sinker.

Luke Hughes - 3B - Rochester Red Wings
Hughes had a great power season last year, hitting 18 homers over 99 games between Double-A and Triple-A, but most reports I've seen indicate that his defense isn't palatable at third base, and maybe not even at second. Hughes' offense isn't nearly as intriguing if he can't play in the infield.

Chris Parmelee - 1B - Beloit Snappers
Love the patience and power, but I find his terrible batting averages deeply concerning. Parmelee has hit .246 over his three-year career and has hit .239 for two straight seasons in Beloit. People point to guys like Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell and Jack Cust as examples of successful low-average/high-OPS hitters, but those players batted .300 in the minors.

Tyler Robertson - SP - Ft. Myers Miracle
There are a lot of things to like about Robertson -- he's a young, tall left-hander who has posted excellent numbers. He was shut down midway through last season due to shoulder problems and late in the year was reportedly topping out in the 80s with his fastball. That's disconcerting. If he can prove his shoulder is healthy this year, he can easily hop right back into the Top 10... perhaps even the Top 5.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi

Anonymous said...

yes

Marv said...

A great quick look at some of the players coming up. Sure wish there were more promising players at SS & 3B.
Thanks

Frozented9 said...

That's pretty close to my personal list nick. I don't have mulvey as high but I see the argument for him

SethSpeaks said...

"Sure wish there were more promising players at SS & 3B."

Hughes, Valencia, Plouffe...

Anonymous said...

Seth, he said promising...

Good list. But I wouldn't count on much (or any) power from Revere's frame.

Nick N. said...

Good list. But I wouldn't count on much (or any) power from Revere's frame.

People said the same thing about Span but he seems to have developed a little bit of power. And of course there's Puckett...

Frozented9 said...

Hey Nick is Battleyourtailoff down for you too?

Nick N. said...

Hey Nick is Battleyourtailoff down for you too?

Yep.

Killebrew said...

Nick and FT9 - I posted a topic on Yahoo Answers re: BYTO. My name above should link to it. Hopefully, it can serve as a hub for status updates/regrouping/whatever.

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