February 28, 2011

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2011: System Overview

Also in this series: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40.

My annual series ranking and profiling the Twins' top prospects concluded last week, so here's the complete list of 40 players along with links to each individual write-up and an overview of the farm system as a whole:

 1. Kyle Gibson, SP               21. Manuel Soliman, SP
 2. Aaron Hicks, CF               22. B.J. Hermsen, SP
 3. Miguel Sano, 3B               23. Niko Goodrum, SS
 4. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS         24. James Beresford, SS
 5. Alex Wimmers, SP              25. Anthony Slama, RP
 6. Joe Benson, CF                26. Eddie Rosario, CF
 7. Ben Revere, CF                27. Kane Holbrooks, RP
 8. Liam Hendriks, SP             28. Anderson Hidalgo, 3B
 9. Adrian Salcedo, SP            29. Dakota Watts, RP
10. Billy Bullock, CF             30. Nate Roberts, LF
11. Angel Morales, CF             31. Martire Garcia, SP
12. Oswaldo Arcia, RF             32. Trevor Plouffe, SS
13. David Bromberg, SP            33. Luke Hughes, 3B
14. Rene Tosoni, RF               34. Deolis Guerra, SP
15. Pat Dean, SP                  35. Kyle Waldrop, RP
16. Max Kepler, CF                36. Scott Diamond, SP
17. Carlos Gutierrez, RP          37. Danny Rams, C
18. Alex Burnett, RP              38. Tyler Robertson, SP
19. Chris Parmelee, 1B            39. Lance Ray, RF
20. Tom Stuifbergen, SP           40. Matthew Bashore, SP

Danny Valencia and Jeff Manship were the only two players to graduate from last year's top 40 by exhausting their Rookie of the Year eligibility with the Twins, but Wilson Ramos, Robert Delaney, Jose Morales, Steve Tolleson, Loek Van Mil, and Joe Testa left the organization via trades or waivers. Joining the system since last year are Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alex Wimmers, Pat Dean, Niko Goodrum, Eddie Rosario, Nate Roberts, Scott Diamond, and Lance Ray.

And other players join the top 40 for this year by virtue of stepping up their performance, chief among them Liam Hendriks and Oswaldo Arcia. In all the system hasn't changed dramatically since last year, but some strong drafts and intriguing international signings have added to the overall prospect depth and there's also more star potential than just a couple seasons ago, albeit largely in the form of players several years from possibly entering the Twins' plans.

It's still not an elite farm system--no Twins prospects cracked the top 25 at Baseball America or MLB.com and only Aaron Hicks ranked among the top 25 at ESPN.com--but they've built it back to solidly above average. Hicks, Kyle Gibson, and Miguel Sano each have strong arguments for being among the top 50 prospects across baseball and Nishioka, Wimmers, Joe Benson, and Ben Revere wouldn't be out of place in anyone's top 100.

For the most part the system's areas of strength haven't changed a ton, as the Twins remain deep in toolsy outfielders, strike-throwing starters, and middle relievers. They also continue to lack in middle infielders, high-upside bats, and power arms, although the additions of Nishioka, Sano, and Billy Bullock have addressed each of those areas somewhat. In both the draft and international market they've taken more chances recently and the results have been positive.

In terms of major-league readiness, Nishioka will be part of the Opening Day lineup, Gibson and Revere are the other members of the top 10 most likely to join him in Minnesota at some point this season, and Alex Burnett, Anthony Slama, and Scott Diamond may begin the year in the Twins' bullpen, with Carlos Gutierrez, Kyle Waldrop, and perhaps even Bullock getting into the relief mix later on. Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes are candidates for bench roles.

For most of the time I've been ranking Twins prospects their farm system has been underrated somewhat by the fact that they typically had multiple young, prospect-aged guys in prominent big-league roles, which eliminates them from "prospect" consideration without really changing their impact on the team's long-term outlook. That is no longer the case, as Delmon Young is the youngest Twins regular to exhaust his Rookie of the Year eligibility and he's 25 years old.

Most of the regulars are still under 30, so the Twins' nucleus is far from elderly, but they're just no longer prospect-aged and for once the top-40 list accurately represents the organization's young talent in a thorough way. With that said, here's how the system would look by blending the prospects in with the young veterans, resulting in the following 29-and-under depth chart for the Twins' entire organization:

CATCHER                  1B/CORNER OF             CENTER FIELD
Joe Mauer, 28            Delmon Young, 25         Denard Span, 27
Drew Butera, 27          Jason Kubel, 29          Aaron Hicks, 21
Danny Rams, 22           Oswaldo Arcia, 20        Joe Benson, 23
                         Rene Tosoni, 24          Ben Revere, 23
                         Chris Parmelee, 23       Angel Morales, 21
                         Nate Roberts, 22         Max Kepler, 18
                         Lance Ray, 21            Eddie Rosario, 19

SECOND BASE              SHORTSTOP                THIRD BASE
Alexi Casilla, 26        T. Nishioka, 27          Danny Valencia, 26
Matt Tolbert, 29         Niko Goodrum, 19         Miguel Sano, 18
Luke Hughes, 26          James Beresford, 22      Anderson Hidalgo, 22
                         Trevor Plouffe, 25

RH STARTER               LH STARTER               RELIEVER
Scott Baker, 29          Fran Liriano, 27         Matt Capps, 27
Kevin Slowey, 27         Brian Duensing, 28       Jose Mijares, 26
Nick Blackburn, 29       Glen Perkins, 28         Jim Hoey, 28
Jeff Manship, 26         Pat Dean, 22             Dusty Hughes, 29
Kyle Gibson, 23          Martire Garcia, 21       Billy Bullock, 23
Alex Wimmers, 22         Scott Diamond, 24        Carlos Gutierrez, 24
Liam Hendriks, 22        Matthew Bashore, 23      Alex Burnett, 23
Adrian Salcedo, 20                                Anthony Slama, 27
David Bromberg, 23                                Kane Holbrooks, 24
Tom Stuifbergen, 22                               Dakota Watts, 23
Manuel Soliman, 21                                Kyle Waldrop, 25
B.J. Hermsen, 21                                  Tyler Robertson, 23
Deolis Guerra, 22
  • Doug

    Forgot Nathan.

    BTW, Plouffe had a higher BA than OBP last year.

  • Sendric

    Nathan is 36, which is not “29 and under”.

  • spoof bonser

    wow, that really illustrates how thin the Twins are at middle infield. A Tolbert-like player is always readily available, so hardly a “prospect,” then you have Hughes and Plouffe at mlb ready, thats it. Behind them just young pups with marginal upside.

  • phil

    Boy, they’re also pretty thin at catcher.

  • mike wants WINS

    Yes, they are super thin at catcher. There really isn’t a league average catcher in their system behind Mauer, I don’t think. LH starter also looks thin…

    Aaron, not sure how much you look across other organizations (maybe I should just pay BA….), but it seems that the minors as a whole are short of SS prospects. Are the Twins that far behind other organization in the MIF/SS?

    OF and pitching still looks pretty deep. If I were the GM, I’d probably deal ptiching and OF prospects (not my only catching prospect) when I decided to make a deal.

  • chris

    morneau..29, until may 15th

  • phil

    I did a bit of digging (beats work!) it looks like the Yanks are the most loaded at catcher in the minors. Washington, Cincinnati, Colorado, Toronto and the White Sox also look to be well stocked.

    Someone else can figure out which of those teams are thin in the outfield and/or RH pitching.

  • toby

    Chris, I assume this is “baseball age”, which is based on age as of July 1.

    But Mike, we didn’t NEED Wilson Ramos, remember? We got the right to pay the super-valuable MATT CAPPS $7 million for a year in return for him. You may be unaware that Mr. Capps plays the super valuable position of CLOSER. Pardon me while I reach for the provided bag in the pocket on the seat back in front of me.

    I hate to deal with the Yanquis, but man oh man would Montero look good here in the future splitting catching and DH duties with Mauer 75/25 or so. The light workload for Montero would minimize the exposure of his defense liabilities and preserve his knees, which are apparently a giant question mark defensive skills aside given what a giant dude he is — while giving him 25%-30% of the starts would obviously help Mauer’s longevity while maintaining the incredible win value the Twins get out of the catching position. Pipe dream, probably, but what if multiple outfield prospects catch fire? Just say it ain’t Liriano.

  • phil

    Hate to think about the yanks too, but they’re the type of team that is willing to deal away top prospects, knowing they’ll just sign a FA to fill the spot anyway. And they’re weak on outfield prospects.

    How often if ever do teams straight up trade minor league players? Seems like it would make sense for the yanks and twins to swap an outfielder for a catcher.

    Oy, that Capps trade looks bad now.

  • http://www.actsoft.com bill

    The Twins have some young middle infield prospects that just haven’t made this list yet. Danny Santana and Nick Lockwood are two that will certainly be considered high ceiling kids shortly. You have Goodrum as a MIF here….no way he stays there, he is an outfield type trying to play shortstop.

  • BC

    just seen on espn :

    With the Minnesota Twins apparently willing to discuss trading left-hander Francisco Liriano at some point, the New York Yankees will keep tabs on the Cy Young contender, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

    When the Twins would pull the trigger on such a trade is unknown, as they are expected to contend in the AL Central. Trading Liriano now would certainly hinder their chances, so it may be more likely that GM Bill Smith looks into dealing his ace after the season, or at least waits to see where his club stands in the race come July.

    A match with the Yankees may be tough to come by, however, as their top prospect is a catcher, Jesus Montero, that would be blocked by Joe Mauer. Montero’s second position is likely first base, which is manned by Justin Morneau. The Yankees have pitching prospects, including Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, that could interest the Twins, but it’s unlikely they’d deal both of them and Liriano isn’t likely to be cheap.

    The speculation regarding Liriano picked up earlier this month when the Star Tribune reported that the Twins were not looking to sign Liriano to a long-term deal.

  • toby

    Like I said, Montero/Mauer DH/Catcher split. SICK production 162 games a year out of the catcher’s spot, DH solved in 2012 with way more defensive flexibility.

  • Daddy

    Thanks for this one!