February 3, 2011
35. Kyle Waldrop | Reliever | DOB: 10/85 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2004-1 YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2009 A+ 20 0 3.09 35.0 43 0 20 7 AA 31 0 1.46 55.2 51 2 30 18 2010 AAA 59 0 2.57 87.2 89 5 60 20
Kyle Waldrop was a first-round pick in 2004 who looked less and less impressive as he moved up the minor-league ladder and then missed all of 2008 following shoulder surgery. He shifted to the bullpen full time upon returning in 2009 and has had back-to-back strong seasons as a reliever. Last year Waldrop had a 2.59 ERA and 60-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 88 innings at Triple-A, allowing just five homers while inducing 64 percent ground balls.
His lack of top-notch velocity and mediocre strikeout rates make it unlikely that Waldrop will be a force in the late innings, but the 25-year-old right-hander certainly looks capable of being a solid middle reliever thanks to good control and some serious worm-killing ability. He also looks to be just about MLB-ready, which is why it was surprising when the Twins declined to add him to the 40-man roster and left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft in December.
Waldrop struggling down the stretch at Triple-A and getting knocked around in the Arizona Fall League may have scared teams off, as he went unpicked and the Twins lost no players in the draft. However, the fact that they were willing to lose him and his lack of a spot on the 40-man roster show the Twins' absence of faith in Waldrop despite his success as a reliever and could equal an uphill battle for a call-up in 2011.
34. Deolis Guerra | Starter | DOB: 4/89 | Throws: Right | Trade: Mets YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2008 A+ 26 25 5.47 130.0 138 12 71 71 2009 A+ 16 15 4.69 86.1 95 6 57 25 AA 12 11 5.17 62.2 62 4 49 17 2010 AA 19 19 6.24 102.1 127 14 67 37 AAA 5 4 6.84 25.0 35 5 18 8
Believe it or not, many people considered Deolis Guerra the centerpiece of the four-prospect package the Twins received from the Mets for Johan Santana in February of 2008. At the time he was just 18 years old and had already logged 180 impressive innings at Single-A, and the combination of a 6-foot-5 frame, low-90s fastball, and oft-touted changeup earned Guerra the No. 35 spot in Baseball America's annual ranking. Three years later he barely made this list.
Because the Mets had Guerra pitching at high Single-A as an 18-year-old the Twins have been forced to promote him far more aggressively than his performance has warranted. Even now he's one of the youngest pitchers on this list and younger than the average player at Single-A, but had the Twins assigned and promoted him based strictly on age and performance he'd still be in the Florida State League five years after debuting there.
Instead he's been thrown into the fire at Double-A and in the second half of last year Triple-A, leading to some hideous numbers. Guerra is 8-16 with a 5.97 ERA in 190 innings between the two levels, allowing opponents to hit .300 while managing just 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Guerra's raw stuff has also declined since the deal, as he's struggled to maintain peak velocity and ceased being a ground-baller. He's still young, but that's about all he has left in his favor.
33. Luke Hughes | Third Base | DOB: 8/84 | Bats: Right | Sign: Australia YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2008 AA 319 .319 .385 .551 15 33 28 70 AAA 117 .283 .325 .453 3 11 7 30 2009 AA 229 .250 .320 .445 6 24 19 38 AAA 157 .259 .344 .481 6 16 18 38 2010 AAA 81 .257 .313 .405 1 9 5 18
Luke Hughes made his MLB debut on April 28 and went deep off Max Scherzer to become the 106th player in baseball history to homer in his first at-bat, but the rest of his season wasn't very memorable. Hughes' first taste of the majors lasted only two games and he was limited to just 22 games back at Triple-A because of a sports hernia and groin injury that both required surgery, almost surely costing him at least a September call-up.
Hughes has bounced around a ton defensively since the Twins signed him out of Australia as a teenager in 2002, seeing time at every position except pitcher and catcher. Most of his action has come at third base, where Hughes made his major-league debut, and second base, where he looms as a potential fallback option for the Twins this season should Alexi Casilla struggle after being handed a starting job.
While reviews of Hughes' defense vary a lot most seem to agree that he's unlikely to be more than passable as an infielder, so he'll have to hit his way into a job and is running out of time at age 26. He's hit .282/.348/.473 between Double-A and Triple-A, which isn't enough to cancel out a poor glove and projects to make him a bench bat who draws starts versus lefties. He'll likely be in Minnesota at some point this season and it could be a make-or-break year.
32. Trevor Plouffe | Shortstop | DOB: 6/86 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2004-1 YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2008 AA 249 .269 .325 .410 3 23 16 43 AAA 272 .256 .292 .420 6 26 14 47 2009 AAA 477 .260 .313 .407 10 38 34 68 2010 AAA 445 .244 .300 .430 15 41 27 90
Trevor Plouffe made his major-league debut in mid-May and was called up four different times during the season, but the 2004 first-round pick started a total of just seven games and went 6-for-41 (.146) with 14 strikeouts and zero walks in his first taste of the big leagues at age 24. His performance at Rochester was more encouraging, but only slightly, as Plouffe's third crack at Triple-A involved posting nearly the same poor numbers there as he did in 2008 and 2009.
Plouffe has spent the bulk of three straight seasons at Triple-A, posting batting averages of .256, .260, and .244, on-base percentages of .292, .313, and .300, and slugging percentages of .420, .407, and .430. His overall Triple-A line is .253/.303/.419 in 1,194 plate appearances and his career line in 3,318 total plate appearances in the minors is an equally underwhelming .254/.316/.391. At this point it's pretty safe to conclude that Plouffe simply can't hit.
He's shown 15-homer power, but that doesn't hold much value when it comes along with poor plate discipline, a relatively high strikeout rate, and the inability to hit even .275 at any level in any season since rookie-ball in 2004. Plouffe's value is almost entirely tied to his defense and opinions are mixed on whether he can be an asset at shortstop in the majors, so right now a career as a utility man looks like his most realistic upside.
31. Martire Garcia | Starter | DOB: 3/90 | Throws: Left | Sign: Dominican YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2008 RK- 11 11 3.25 52.2 45 3 53 22 2009 RK+ 13 12 4.42 59.0 61 4 54 31 2010 RK+ 8 8 1.75 46.1 42 2 63 15 A- 6 6 6.00 27.0 27 2 30 23
Martire Garcia was signed by the Twins just before his 17th birthday in 2007 and the skinny, diminutive left-hander from the Dominican Republic spent most of his first three pro seasons in various levels of rookie-ball before a second-half promotion to low Single-A last year. He had a rough time in six starts at Beloit, with 23 walks in 27 innings, but also managed 30 strikeouts and held opponents to a .252 batting average.
Consistently throwing strikes was also an issue for Garcia at rookie-ball in 2008 and 2009, but he began last season by posting a 1.75 ERA and 63-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 46 innings at Elizabethton and aside from that six-start stretch at Beloit his control certainly hasn't been bad enough to stand out as a red flag for a 21-year-old with good raw stuff. He'll likely spend most of this year in Beloit's rotation, but the Twins will probably limit his workload somewhat.
Garcia might have to eat a big breakfast just to weigh in at 160 pounds, but he packs plenty of velocity into a 5-foot-11 frame and has 281 strikeouts in 263 innings. He's one of the leading candidates to make a big jump up this list for 2012 once we see how he handles full-season competition, but for now Garcia's ranking is on the conservative side and based more on his potential than actual performance.