January 31, 2010
Other entries in Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2010 series: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35.
40. Joe Testa | Reliever | DOB: 12/85 | Throws: Left | Sign: America YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB
2008 RK- 8 0 1.32 13.2 9 0 17 1
A+ 4 2 4.91 14.2 14 1 13 7
2009 A- 25 1 2.56 45.2 26 1 63 23
A+ 21 0 1.22 37.0 29 2 53 18
Joe Testa set school records for career starts, innings, strikeouts, and wins during his four seasons at Wagner College, but the diminutive left-hander went undrafted in 2008, signed with the Twins as a free agent, and shifted to the bullpen as a pro. Two years later he cracks this list because his numbers are simply too good to ignore. Testa has racked up 146 strikeouts in 111 pro innings, posting a 2.26 ERA while holding opponents to a .195 batting average.
Undrafted free agents who put up great numbers as relievers in the low minors generally don't warrant getting all that excited, but certainly Testa is at least worth keeping tabs on as he moves up the ladder. Poor control makes him an even worse bet, as Testa walked 41 in 82.2 innings between low Single-A and high Single-A last year, but a 1.96 ERA, 116 strikeouts, and just three homers allowed still made him the most effective pitcher in the entire Twins system based on Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).
Testa's raw stuff definitely doesn't match those amazing numbers, but he's not a total junk-baller either. He gets plenty of movement on a wide assortment of off-speed pitches, but his fastball also tops out in the low-90s. Obviously moving beyond the low minors and facing more experienced hitters will show if Testa is the real deal or not, but if Wagner College can produce the reigning AL Rookie of the Year in Andrew Bailey why can't that same small-college pitching staff have been home to another solid arm?
39. Loek Van Mil | Reliever | DOB: 9/84 | Throws: Right | Sign: Netherlands YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB
2007 RK 13 0 2.62 24.0 14 0 23 17
2008 A- 28 0 3.22 44.2 36 5 42 25
2009 A+ 25 0 2.86 34.2 29 3 23 17
AA 8 0 2.45 7.1 7 0 5 6
Loek Van Mil has logged a grand total of just 154 innings in four pro seasons since the Twins signed him out of the Netherlands, but as a 7-foot-1 pitcher whose given name is "Ludovicus" his intrigue as a prospect goes well beyond the raw numbers. If he reaches the big leagues Van Mil would be the tallest player in MLB history and the Twins significantly increased the odds of that happening by adding him to the 40-man roster this offseason.
Van Mil's raw stuff certainly doesn't match his gargantuan presence on the mound, mostly because he doesn't throw 110 miles per hour, but he's added velocity since transitioning to the bullpen full time and is far from a novelty act. His command is spotty and Van Mil hasn't missed a ton of bats, yet opponents have hit just .233, .221, and .169 off him in the past three years. It remains to be seen if he can stay that tough to hit without more strikeouts, but it's possible normal ball-in-play rules won't apply to a giant.
Despite his limited workload as a pro Van Mil is already 25 years old, but the Twins have promoted him somewhat aggressively. He reached Double-A in his fourth pro campaign and figures to start this year back at New Britain, with a second-half promotion to Rochester and perhaps even a September call-up to Minnesota in the cards if he fares well. His prospect status has always been based more on intrigue than performance, but the scale is starting to tip in the other direction and he has a 3.03 career ERA.
38. Anderson Hidalgo | Third Base | DOB: 9/88 | Bats: Right | Sign: Venezuela YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2008 RK- 107 .364 .453 .466 1 7 15 13
2009 RK 205 .291 .379 .469 6 19 25 38
Signed out of Venezuela as a 17-year-old in 2006, Anderson Hidalgo batted over .300 in back-to-back seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League before making his American minor-league debut in 2008 with a .364 batting average in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He rose to rookie-level Elizabethton last season and batted below .300 for the first time as a pro, but .291/.379/.469 from a 20-year-old in a pitcher-friendly environment was still plenty impressive.
In fact, his .848 OPS was 20 percent above the Appalachian League average and Hidalgo has now hit .316/.405/.468 in 76 rookie-ball games after batting .308/.384/.417 over 121 games in Venezuela. He's a very long way from the majors and the flameout rate for guys who knock around rookie-level pitching is incredibly high, but Hidalgo has shown some definite upside offensively while hitting .311 with gap power and a 101-to-90 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He's played second base and some outfield previously, but Hidalgo has spent the past two seasons strictly as a third baseman despite being very small for the position at just 5-foot-9. Deibinson Romero cracked this list in both 2008 and 2009 thanks to his Hidalgo-like production in rookie-ball only to see his prospect stock plummet after being exposed to full-season competition, so hopefully this story is a bit different. The early numbers suggest plenty of upside, but we'll find out a lot more this season.
37. Steven Tolleson | Second Base | DOB: 11/83 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2005-5 YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2007 A+ 571 .285 .388 .382 5 33 79 97
2008 AA 397 .300 .382 .466 9 38 44 74
2009 AA 173 .258 .343 .391 2 14 16 20
AAA 394 .270 .338 .375 6 24 36 52
The son of former major leaguer Wayne Tolleson, Steven Tolleson was picked by the Twins in the fifth round of the 2005 draft after a three-year career at the University of South Carolina. Despite being a fifth rounder with college experience Tolleson moved slowly through the Twins' system, reaching Double-A for the first time as a 24-year-old in his fourth pro campaign. He had a breakout year there, displaying his usual strong on-base skills while adding power to the mix, but took a step backward last season.
Despite being a 25-year-old who spent all of 2008 at Double-A while hitting .300/.382/.466 he was sent back to New Britain to repeat the level and batted just .258/.343/.391 in 38 games before a promotion to Rochester. He didn't fare any better at Triple-A, batting .270/.338/.375 in 92 games, but did maintain good strike-zone control while seeing action everywhere except first base and catcher. Versatility is key for Tolleson, because he doesn't have the glove to be a regular shortstop and his bat is backup caliber.
Tolleson makes solid contact, draws a fair number of walks, and has some gap power, but he's hit just .276 with a .400 slugging percentage in 500 games as a minor leaguer despite a very deliberate climb up the organizational ladder. Toss in modest speed with a good but not great glove and Tolleson now looks destined to be a utility man at best, so at 26 years old this is a make-or-break time for his odds of reaching the majors. UPDATE: Just hours after posting this, Tolleson was lost to Oakland on waivers.
36. Josmil Pinto | Catcher | DOB: 3/89 | Bats: Right | Sign: Venezuela YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO
2008 RK- 94 .329 .394 .541 1 13 9 14
2009 RK 230 .332 .387 .610 13 29 19 39
Signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Josmil Pinto's best position defensively is likely designated hitter and he's yet to advance past rookie-ball. But he's here because batting .330/.390/.590 through 77 pro games is just really impressive. Pinto topped the Appalachian League in home runs and slugging percentage last year, hitting .332/.387/.610 while knocking in 55 runs in 53 games. Those numbers are obviously fantastic in any context, but consider that the league as a whole hit just .257/.328/.384.
Pinto's overall production was 34 percent above par, including an Isolated Power that was 118 percent better than the league as a whole. He fails to rank any higher because smashing rookie-ball pitching hardly guarantees future success and regardless of competition we're talking about just a few hundred plate appearances. Plus, if reports of Pinto's lacking defensive ability prove accurate he'll have to keep hitting like that to have any chance at big-time value.
In fairness Pinto split time between designated hitter and catcher at Elizabethton and actually threw out 46 percent of steal attempts without making a ton of errors. The only thing less predictive than offensive numbers at rookie-ball are defensive numbers at rookie-ball, but there's at least reason to believe that Pinto isn't a complete disaster behind the plate. Assuming that the Twins promote him to full-season competition at low Single-A this year we should get a much clearer picture of Pinto's bat and glove.