March 30, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• I'll be on 1500-ESPN radio tonight from 7-8 talking Twins and other stuff with Darren Wolfson, so tune in or listen online.

Carl Pavano was targeted in an extortion attempt by a high school classmate who claims to have had a relationship with the Twins pitcher and it gets even crazier from there.

• Who are the Twins' top five prospects? I'm glad you asked.

This conversation, in my mind: "Oh my god, you're so good looking!"

• I decided to buy The Hunger Games book before seeing the movie and it was so good that I read all 374 pages in one sitting. Being labeled a "young adult novel" obscures the fact that it's darker and has more violence than 99 percent of "adult novels."

• On a related note: People, still the worst.

Sarah Hyland seems like fun.

• For anyone interested in advertising on AG.com and supporting the site's free content, click here for the details of my new "sponsor of the week" program.

Stephon Marbury is a huge Sinead O'Connor fan, obviously.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode unwittingly started an odd Twitter feud between two groups of people, so you'll probably want to hear it.

• Never forget, Geraldo Rivera boxed Frank Stallone on Howard Stern's show in 1992:

Rivera got pummeled, which might explain a lot these days.

Michael K. Williams as Ol' Dirty Bastard? Oh, indeed.

• Minnesota native, former Gophers star, and JCC basketball legend Jack Hannahan is the Indians' new starting third baseman.

Joba Chamberlain's gruesome injury made me think back to fifth grade when a classmate got a trampoline and I went to her house about 15 times in a month ... and then never again. Fifth grade was weird, but at least my ankle stayed inside my skin.

Marion Barber was a rookie at 22, a Pro Bowler at 24, and is finished at 28. Being an NFL running back is scary, but I'll never forget that amazing Barber-Laurence Maroney backfield.

• There's actually one profession that ages someone more rapidly than NFL running back.

• I can't believe I never thought of this for my prom.

Joe Morgan liked Adidas before he disliked Moneyball.

• Not only did I lose 150 pounds in one year my cousin-in-law (which might not actually be a thing, but you know what I mean) has lost 110 pounds.

Carnie Wilson, on the other hand, tried to cheat the system and failed. So she did it again.

• Hall of Fame soul singer Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with colon cancer.

• Which one word best describes how Tim Tebow feels about being traded to the Jets?

Tebow and The Pointer Sisters have something in common.

• I was sad to see him go, but congrats to my longtime Rotoworld teammate Gregg Rosenthal for his new gig at NFL.com. Great writer, great guy, and hugely responsible for my career.

• As part of replacing Rosenthal one of my favorite writers from way back, Michael David Smith, is the new managing editor at ProFootballTalk.

Royce White declared for the NBA draft, so the Gophers only missed one really good season.

• I finally saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Another great David Fincher movie and, unlike most foreign remakes, an equal or perhaps even better version than the original. It also gave The Social Network opening breakup scene new meaning.

Josie Long was an exceptionally charming guest on "Stop Podcasting Yourself."

• One of my favorite podcasters, Marc Maron, will soon have his own television show.

• I've always had a phobia of talking on the phone, which is rough because it's needed to set up therapy for the phobia and also because it's really dumb. But after hearing from people on Twitter and reading this I'm surprised to learn it's relatively common. Brains are weird.

• If you watched the season premiere of Mad Men you should read this and then read this.

• Happy birthday to my grandpa, Mel Gallop, who recently turned 89 years old and celebrated by complaining about Drew Butera over lunch with me.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Womack's classic "Across 110th Street":

March 29, 2012

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2012: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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

5. Liam Hendriks | Starter | DOB: 2/89 | Throws: Right | Sign: Australia

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2009     RK+     3      3     3.71      17.0      19      0      13      1
         A-     11     11     3.51      66.2      73      3      62     15
2010     A-      6      6     1.32      34.0      16      0      39      4
         A+     13     12     1.93      74.2      63      2      66      8
2011     AA     16     15     2.70      90.0      85      5      81     18
         AAA     9      9     4.56      49.1      52      0      30      3
         MLB     4      4     6.17      23.1      29      3      16      6

Liam Hendriks signed with the Twins out of Australia as an 18-year-old in 2007, but missed all of 2008 and half of 2009 following knee and back surgeries. He returned in 2010 with a fantastic season between two levels of Single-A, throwing 109 innings with a 1.74 ERA as a 21-year-old, and then thrived between Double-A and Triple-A last season while winning Twins minor league pitcher of the year honors and making his big-league debut in September.

Statistically he was the best pitcher in the Twins' system in both 2010 and 2011, going from low Single-A to the majors during that time despite not turning 23 years old until last month. That includes a 3.36 ERA, 111-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and just five homers allowed in 139 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season, but unfortunately Hendriks' strikeout rate dipped dramatically once he got to Triple-A and his raw stuff isn't quite as impressive.

Hendriks is the prototypical Twins pitcher with excellent control and off-speed pitches that receive positive reviews, but his average fastball clocked in at just 89.9 miles per hour. Toss in an unspectacular, deteriorating strikeout rate with a neutral ground-ball rate and he looks like more of a strike-throwing No. 3 starter than a top-of-the-rotation guy. Kyle Gibson's injury makes Hendriks the top pitching prospect by default, but he should be MLB-ready soon.

4. Eddie Rosario | Second Base | DOB: 9/91 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2010-4

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2010     RK-    213     .294     .343     .438      5     16     16     28
2011     RK+    298     .337     .397     .670     21     39     27     60

Miguel Sano was the biggest name in Elizabethton's lineup, but rookie-ball teammate and 2010 fourth-round pick Eddie Rosario actually led the Appalachian League in homers and slugging percentage while hitting .337. They each topped 20 homers in the 68-game season after a grand total of one Appalachian League hitter had 20 homers in the past 20 years. Rosario can't compete with Sano's raw power, but should have far more defensive value.

At which position is unclear, because after playing Rosario in center field last season the Twins have moved him to second base in the hopes that he can fix their longstanding inability to develop middle infielders. Rod Carew and Chuck Knoblauch are the only second basemen in Twins history with an OPS above .750 in multiple seasons, which along with the organization's strong outfield depth certainly makes Rosario in the infield a worthwhile experiment.

Last year's record-setting slugging probably overstates Rosario's long-term power potential, but the 20-year-old left-handed hitter clearly has plenty of pop and moving up to full-season competition at low Single-A should provide a clearer picture of his all-around upside. So far he's hit .319 with 26 homers and 39 steals in 118 games after Baseball America's pre-draft report called him "the best pure hitter" in Puerto Rico and compared him to Bobby Abreu.

3. Aaron Hicks | Center Field | DOB: 10/89 | Bats: Switch | Draft: 2008-1

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2009     A-     297     .251     .353     .382      4     22     40     55
2010     A-     518     .279     .401     .428      8     41     88    112
2011     A+     528     .242     .354     .368      5     41     78    110

Aaron Hicks' stock has gradually slipped since the Twins drafted him out of high school in 2008 and the expectations of a No. 14 pick shape how he's perceived. On one hand Hicks is a speedy 22-year-old center fielder with good range and a strong arm, led the system with 78 walks last year at high Single-A, and has a .377 career on-base percentage. On the other hand he's a .266 hitter, hasn't developed power, and struggles from the left side of the plate.

His upside certainly looks lower now than two years ago, but it's too early to write Hicks off as a bust. His defense, speed, and patience are all impressive, although it's possible he's actually too passive at the plate. And while the lack of pop is disappointing he's hardly in Ben Revere territory. Hicks had a .126 Isolated Power and 41 extra-base hits in 443 at-bats for Fort Myers. Revere had a .058 Isolated Power and 19 extra-base hits in 466 at-bats there in 2009.

Compared to Revere at the same age and level Hicks hits for twice as much power and draws twice as many walks. Revere is faster and has more range, but Hicks is also considered a strong defensive center fielder and has a vastly superior arm. Revere's flaws were just more easily hidden by lofty batting averages and even now Hicks has more all-around upside, but he absolutely needs more pop or consistency switch-hitting to look like a potential star again.

2. Joe Benson | Center Field | DOB: 3/88 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2006-2

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2009     A+     327     .285     .414     .403      5     18     46     74
2010     A+      96     .294     .375     .588      4     16      8     21
         AA     423     .251     .336     .527     23     50     39    115
2011     AA     472     .285     .388     .495     16     48     56    109
         MLB     74     .239     .270     .352      0      7      3     21

Joe Benson was pressed into major-league duty by the Twins' many injuries and predictably struggled while making the leap from Double-A to the majors at age 23, but prior to an ugly September he was very impressive in New Britain. Whether he should have been essentially repeating Double-A after spending most of 2010 there is a legitimate question, but he showed improvement while hitting .285 with good power, better patience, and fewer strikeouts.

Benson's inability make consistent contact is the biggest red flag in an otherwise well-rounded game, but while he whiffed 21 times in 74 plate appearances for the Twins his Double-A strikeout rate improved from 27 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2011. Overall in 213 games at Double-A he's smacked 39 homers and 98 total extra-base hits for a .241 Isolated Power. By comparison, Harmon Killebrew has the top Isolated Power in Twins history at .258.

Benson isn't the second coming of Killebrew, but should have 25-homer pop with plus speed and center field range with a right field arm. His all-around upside isn't far off from Michael Cuddyer, who manned right field for the Twins from 2006-2011. Cuddyer hit .282/.373/.478 in 279 games at Double-A, compared to .269/.363/.510 for Benson. Cuddyer also crushed Triple-A pitching after that, which Benson will finally get a chance to do this season.

1. Miguel Sano | Third Base | DOB: 5/93 | Bats: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2010     DSL     80     .344     .463     .547      3      6     14     17
         RK-    161     .291     .338     .466      4     18     10     43
2011     RK+    293     .292     .352     .637     20     45     23     77

Miguel Sano has lived up to the hype and then some so far, emerging as one of baseball's elite prospects three years after the Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old for a record $3.15 million bonus. As a soon-to-be 19-year-old who's yet to advance past rookie-ball Sano's odds of going bust are considerably higher than most top prospects, but his upside is incredible and his early production has been jaw-dropping.

Sano was 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds when the Twins signed him and is now at least 240, which is why his remaining at shortstop was a pipe dream and even sticking at third base may be a stretch. It would be nice to have a slugging third baseman instead of a slugging right fielder or first baseman, but if Sano's bat develops as hoped he'll be MVP-caliber anywhere on the diamond and join Justin Morneau as the only Twins with multiple 30-homer years since 1987.

He's struck out 137 times in 127 games and hasn't walked much, but that's expected from a raw teenager and Sano has hit .300/.364/.572 in pitcher-friendly environments. Last year he blasted 20 homers and 45 total extra-base hits in 66 games, slugging .637 in a league that slugged .404. Anyone who sees Sano inevitably comes away saying the same two things: He's massive and the ball explodes off his bat. And he's the best Twins prospect since Joe Mauer.

March 27, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #34: Schmoes, Schlubs, and Schmucks

This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" was recorded at Bunny's in St. Louis Park and we had multiple beers of choice. Topics included the outfield realignment and Ben Revere's role, what Chris Parmelee means for Justin Morneau, returning Rule 5 pick Terry Doyle to the White Sox, why grandparents hate Drew Butera, schmoes vs. schlubs vs. schmucks, drugs of abuse, Delmon Young's claims, The Hunger Games, and the folly of spring training numbers.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 34

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

March 26, 2012

Twins Notes: Outfield realignments, Rule 5 returns, and drugs of abuse

• In signing Josh Willingham to a three-year, $21 million contract in mid-December the Twins indicated that he'd be their everyday right fielder despite playing just 264 career innings there compared to 5,524 innings in left field. Getting a first-hand look at Willingham and the various other outfield options in camp apparently changed those plans, as Ron Gardenhire announced yesterday that Willingham will be the starting left fielder.

Gardenhire also made official what was expected by naming Denard Span the starting center fielder, which leaves right field for ... well, everyone. Depending on how often and at which positions Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are in the lineup right field could potentially be manned by Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, or Ryan Doumit, none of whom have ever played the position on more than a semi-regular basis in the majors or minors.

For years the Twins stressed how valuable Michael Cuddyer's arm was in right field, so their willingness to use Revere there when he might have the majors' worst arm and his range is of better use in the more spacious left field is surprising to say the least. If nothing else it signals that Revere is headed for a part-time role, which along with Gardenhire's stubbornness could lead to his biggest strength being diminished and his biggest weakness being magnified.

If the manager were more willing to make daily shifts he could platoon Revere and Plouffe by using Revere in left field with Willingham in right field against right-handed pitching and Plouffe in right field with Willingham in left field against left-handed pitching. That's something plenty of managers do regularly, but it's something Gardenhire has always avoided with occasionally laughable results. Runners going first-to-third at will with Revere in right field would fit that bill.

Whatever the case, based on Terry Ryan's offseason comments and Gardenhire's outfield announcement yesterday it seems clear that the Twins are less sold on Revere than commonly believed. They're certainly right to be skeptical, as I've been making that case since Revere was in the low minors, but the less he plays the less chance their defense has of being above average and I'm similarly skeptical about Parmelee being ready to thrive offensively.

Terry Doyle seemed like an odd choice for the Twins with the No. 2 pick in the Rule 5 draft. Despite being 26 years old he had just 15 starts above Single-A, including zero at Triple-A, and nothing about his raw stuff or track record suggested more than back-of-the-rotation starter potential. At no point has the Rule 5 draft been a sure-fire way to add useful big leaguers, but when picking so high it seemingly made sense to at least target someone with more upside.

In explaining their reasoning for the pick the Twins talked about how impressed they were by Doyle's performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.98 ERA. However, that consisted of just eight starts and was fueled by an incredibly low batting average on balls in play that screamed fluke. My assumption was that they wouldn't have chosen Doyle if they weren't at least convinced he could stick in the majors as a mop-up man, but apparently not.

Doyle coughed up 10 runs in 5.1 innings this spring and the Twins didn't even keep him around until the end of camp, sending him back to the White Sox. Ultimately it's not a huge deal, as they're out $25,000 and the opportunity to add a higher-upside arm, but it's discouraging for a supposedly scouting-heavy team to take someone atop the Rule 5 draft while citing his fluky, small sample size performance in the AFL as a big factor and then cut him five innings later.

Aaron Thompson, a 25-year-old left-hander the Twins signed to a minor-league contract in December, has been suspended 50 games after violating MLB's drug policy for a "drug of abuse." His track record in the minors is mediocre at best, but Thompson is a former first-round pick and apparently the Twins will keep him in the organization despite the suspension. Once activated he'll likely be a fifth starter or long reliever at Triple-A.

• I'll have a lot more on this subject once my annual series ranking the Twins' top 40 prospects concludes later this week, but Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus recently released their annual organizational talent rankings and the Twins placed 20th and 22nd.

• On a related note, Baseball America crunched the numbers to find that the Twins ranked 15th in international spending last season after ranking 12th in 2010. Miguel Sano alone got a record $3.15 million signing bonus from the Twins in 2009, but in the two years since then they've spent a total of $4.85 million internationally.

• This offseason the Twins sliced $15 million from their payroll, but according to Forbes magazine in 2011 they had baseball's 13th-highest revenue at $213 million and an operating income of $16.6 million, causing the franchise's value to rise four percent to $510 million.

Nick Punto is getting the same treatment from the media in Boston that he got from the media in Minnesota. For instance:

In a game where talent can be measured by precise statistical metrics, Punto is a player whose value is harder to calculate but can’t be denied.

Punto played for $750,000 last year and will make $1.5 million both this season and next season, so teams seem to be in agreement that his value is fairly limited. Then again, I've not experienced his charm in person.

Seth Stohs of Twins Daily reports that the Twins released six minor leaguers: Michael Tarsi, Dan Osterbrock, Kane Holbrooks, Blayne Weller, Matt Schuld, and Derek Christensen. Osterbrock, Tarsi, and Holbrooks each cracked my annual top-40 prospects list at one point, but none were ever considered more than marginal prospects. Christensen was a 2010 draft pick and dominated the low minors, so cutting the 22-year-old right-hander loose seems odd.

• In late 2010 the Twins acquired reliever Brian Fuentes from the Angels for Loek Van Mil, a marginal pitching prospect whose claim to fame was being baseball's tallest player at 7-foot-1. He spent last year at Double-A, throwing 66 innings with a 2.04 ERA and 46-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but the righty from the Netherlands failed to make the Angels this spring and manager Mike Scioscia explained that "he's certainly searching for an out pitch" at age 27.

• Last season the local mainstream media often mocked Kevin Slowey for his intelligence, using it as a way to portray him in a negative light, but a fresh start in Cleveland means the narrative has changed. Jordan Bastian, who covers the Indians for MLB.com, wrote last week:

Always nice as a writer when you find ballplayers who are avid readers on the side ... two in Cleveland's clubhouse include Lonnie Chisenhall and Kevin Slowey.

Funny how that works.

• Last and least, with Opening Day right around the corner I'm restarting the AG.com "sponsor of the week" program. For details about advertising and to reserve your week, click here.

March 23, 2012

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2012: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6

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

10. Brian Dozier | Shortstop | DOB: 5/87 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2009-8

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2009     RK+    248     .353     .417     .431      0     17     23     26
2010     A-     170     .278     .347     .338      0      8     16     16
         A+     410     .274     .352     .354      5     17     44     41
2011     A+     218     .322     .423     .472      2     18     27     20
         AA     351     .318     .384     .502      7     36     28     46

Brian Dozier was the Twins' eighth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in 2009 and had an underwhelming first full season in 2010, hitting .275/.350/.349 in 132 games between two levels of Single-A as a 23-year-old. He entered last year as a marginal prospect, as evidenced by the Twins having him repeat high Single-A at 24, but Dozier hit .322/.423/.472 in 49 games to force a midseason promotion and then batted .318/.384/.502 in 78 games at Double-A.

Overall he batted .320/.399/.491 with nine homers, 54 total extra-base hits, 24 steals, and nearly as many walks (55) as strikeouts (66) in 127 games, which put Dozier squarely on the prospect map and got him named Twins minor league player of the year. That likely overstates Dozier's upside, as he had a very good but not spectacular season as a 24-year-old between Single-A and Double-A, but there's no doubt that he's now in the Twins' plans.

Dozier has shown good on-base skills at every stop with a .307 average, few strikeouts, and a fair number of walks, but his power potential is iffy and his ability to play shortstop in the majors is often questioned. Even as a singles-hitting second baseman Dozier would be plenty useful because of the Twins' longstanding inability to develop middle infielders, but handling shortstop and smacking double-digit homers would make him a long-term building block.

9. Alex Wimmers | Starter | DOB: 11/88 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2010-1

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     A+      4      4     0.57      15.2       6      0      23      5
2011     A+     12      4     4.20      40.2      28      5      39     22

Alex Wimmers won back-to-back Big Ten pitcher of the year awards at Ohio State and was touted as one of the 2010 draft's most advanced pitchers when the Twins selected him 21st overall, but his first full pro season was derailed by extreme control problems. He walked the first six hitters he faced, was immediately removed from the high Single-A rotation, and spent three months trying to avoid going further down the scary Steve Blass/Rick Ankiel path.

He rejoined Fort Myers as a reliever and later moved back into the rotation, pitching well while avoiding any serious control issues. And then in his final start of the season Wimmers threw a seven-inning no-hitter, issuing just two walks while facing the minimum 21 hitters in a 1-0 win. After his disastrous season debut and lengthy stay in extended spring training Wimmers threw 41 innings with a 3.32 ERA, 39-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .189 opponents' average.

He's certainly not out of the woods yet, but Wimmers is back on track and should move quickly through the system if he can throw strikes. He lacks top-notch raw stuff, but the 6-foot-2 right-hander combines a low-90s fastball with an oft-praised changeup and has 62 strikeouts in 56 pro innings. And prior to the extreme wildness Wimmers' control was actually a major strength, so he fits the Twins' preferred pitching mold and projects as a potential mid-rotation starter.

8. Levi Michael | Shortstop | DOB: 2/91 | Bats: Switch | Draft: 2011-1

Not only is Levi Michael the first college middle infielder picked by the Twins in the first round or supplemental first round since LSU second baseman Todd Walker in 1994, they last used a first rounder on a college hitter of any position for Clemson catcher Matthew LeCroy in 1997. As a three-year college starter who figures to move through the system quickly Michael fills an obvious need in an organization that has long struggled to develop middle infielders.

Michael had a disappointing junior year after a monster sophomore campaign, hitting just .289 with five homers in 65 games, but that was partly due to injuries and the switch-hitter still got on base at a .434 clip with more walks (49) than strikeouts (47) and 15 steals in 16 tries. Despite the down year ESPN pegged him as "the top college shortstop in the class" and Baseball America ranked Michael as the draft's 22nd-best prospect.

Defensively there are some questions about Michael's ability to stick at shortstop, but prior to the draft Baseball America noted that "scouts are warming up to the idea" and publicly at least the Twins are optimistic. He signed too late to debut last season, agreeing to a $1.175 million bonus just hours before the August 15 deadline, so Michael will likely spend most of this year in the low minors and hopefully force his way into the Twins' plans by late 2013.

7. Kyle Gibson | Starter | DOB: 10/87 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2009-1

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     A+      7      7     1.87      43.1      33      2      40     12
         AA     16     16     3.68      93.0      91      5      77     22
         AAA     3      3     1.72      15.2      12      0       9      5
2011     AAA    18     18     4.81      95.1     109     11      91     27

By going well beyond the MLB-recommended slot bonus and taking a chance that the stress fracture in Kyle Gibson's forearm would heal the Twins were able to snag a top-10 talent with the 22nd pick in the 2009 draft. He debuted in 2010 by cruising through three levels of the minors with a 3.04 ERA and 118-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 142 innings and got off to a strong start at Triple-A last season, posting a 3.60 ERA and 59 strikeouts through 55 innings.

Gibson began to struggle in June, going 0-5 with a 6.47 ERA over an eight-start stretch, and was eventually diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery in September, which means Gibson is no sure thing to pitch at all this year and is unlikely to reach the majors before mid-2013. It's a shame, because he was looking MLB-ready as a potential No. 2 starter with good control, above-average stuff, and lots of ground balls.

Making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery is a much better bet now than it was even five years ago, but in recent Twins history Francisco Liriano and Pat Neshek have shown that it's still not guaranteed. Gibson's best-case scenario is making a few late-season appearances in the minors and beginning 2013 as a full-time member of the Triple-A rotation at age 25, setting up a possible midseason call-up to Minnesota. Lots of hurdles to clear before then, though.

6. Oswaldo Arcia | Right Field | DOB: 5/91 | Bats: Left | Sign: Venezuela

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2009     RK-    187     .275     .337     .455      5     18     15     18
2010     RK+    283     .375     .424     .672     14     42     19     67
2011     A-      81     .352     .420     .704      5     14      9     16
         A+     227     .263     .300     .460      8     24      9     53

Oswaldo Arcia signed with the Twins out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2007, fared well at low rookie-ball in 2009, and then burst onto the prospect scene by hitting .375 with 14 homers and a .672 slugging percentage in 64 games for rookie-level Elizabethton in 2010. That earned Arcia a promotion to low Single-A last season and he hit .352 with five homers and a .704 slugging percentage in 20 games before being shut down with an elbow injury.

Minor surgery and a stint on the disabled list followed, but instead of Arcia simply rejoining the low Single-A lineup once he got healthy the Twins immediately promoted him to high Single-A. He held his own in Fort Myers, hitting .263 with a .460 slugging percentage, but as you'd expect from a 20-year-old facing much older, more experienced competition Arcia posted a hideous 53-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and ugly .300 on-base percentage in 59 games.

Promoting him so aggressively was very out of character for the Twins, especially considering Arcia was coming back from elbow surgery, but regardless of the wisdom behind the move it certainly shows how highly they think of him. Aside from Miguel Sano he might have the highest-upside bat in the Twins' system, but a 137-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the low minors during the past two seasons should keep expectations somewhat in check for now.

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