January 31, 2013

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2013: 35, 34, 33, 32, 31

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

35. Pedro Hernandez | Starter | DOB: 4/89 | Throws: Left | Trade: White Sox

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     A-     29     13     4.04     100.1     122      6      79     17
2011     A+     15      6     2.70      56.2      52      3      44      6
         AA      9      8     3.48      41.1      39      4      43     10
         AAA     4      4     6.00      18.0      28      3       7      6
2012     AA     12     12     2.75      68.2      68      6      37     18
         AAA     7      6     4.46      34.1      43      2      28      4
         MLB     1      1    18.00       4.0      12      3       2      1

Pedro Hernandez was signed by the Padres out of Venezuela as a 17-year-old in 2006, traded to the White Sox as part of the package for Carlos Quentin in 2011, and acquired by the Twins along with Eduardo Escobar in the Francisco Liriano deal. He appeared in one game for the White Sox last season, getting clobbered for eight runs in four innings on July 18 against the Red Sox, and spent the rest of the year at Double-A and Triple-A.

He throws in the low-90s with more fly balls than ground balls and struggled to miss bats after advancing beyond Single-A, producing just 65 strikeouts in 103 innings last season. In the minors at least he's been able to offset all that somewhat with very good control, walking just 1.6 batters per nine innings for his career, but the left-hander has limited upside despite not yet turning 24 years old.

Hernandez has little chance to make the team out of spring training, but he has a spot on the 40-man roster and that means when the Twins need pitching reinforcements during the season he'll jump to the front of the line with any sort of decent work in Rochester. If things go well he could wind up as a useful back-of-the-rotation starter, but Hernandez struggled against right-handed hitters last year and a shift to the bullpen may be his best path to the majors.

34. Jason Wheeler | Starter | DOB: 10/90 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2011-8

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2012     A-     27     27     3.45     156.2     170     12     115     43

Jason Wheeler was a mess in his first two college seasons, but put together a solid junior year at Loyola Marymount in 2011 and was drafted by the Twins in the eighth round. He signed too late to debut, so the 6-foot-8, 250-pound left-hander began his pro career last season at low Single-A by going 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 27 starts. Meanwhile his brother, third base prospect and 2009 fifth-round pick Ryan Wheeler, made his MLB debut for the Diamondbacks.

Wheeler's nice-looking ERA and win-loss record overstate how well he pitched for Beloit, as he got a ton of run support from a stacked, Miguel Sano-led lineup and managed just 115 strikeouts in 157 innings. He did a decent job limiting homers, but Wheeler induced a modest number of ground balls, allowed opponents to hit .281 off him, and showed mediocre control with 2.5 walks per nine innings.

Physically he's among the largest pitchers in baseball, minors or majors, but Wheeler works in the high-80s and low-90s with his fastball. If the Twins' coaches can somehow figure out how to turn his massive frame into added velocity at age 22 he could be a breakout candidate, but short of that Wheeler looks like a potential back-of-the-rotation starter who does most things reasonably well without any standout skill.

33. Adrian Salcedo | Starter | DOB: 4/91 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     RK+    16      8     3.27      66.0      55      3      65     10
         A+      6      6     6.26      27.1      42      3      16      8
2011     A-     29     20     2.93     135.0     131      4      92     27
2012     A+      8      7     6.39      25.1      33      1      14     15

In the low minors Adrian Salcedo looked like a high-upside prospect, but his stock dropped along with his strikeout rate against more experienced competition and he missed most of last season after being hit in the face by a line drive. He threw just 31 ineffective innings, wasn't picked in the Rule 5 draft after being left off the 40-man roster, and will be 22 years old by the time he throws his first pitch above Single-A.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007 as a 16-year-old, Salcedo has just 72 walks in 386 innings for a rate of 1.7 per nine frames. Brad Radke's career walk rate was 1.6 per nine innings, so for Salcedo to show that type of pinpoint control so early in his career is extremely impressive. Unfortunately his strikeouts per nine innings fell from 8.6 in rookie-ball to 6.1 at low Single-A to 5.1 at high Single-A, where Salcedo has a 6.32 ERA in 53 innings.

Salcedo's low-90s fastball and overall raw stuff have always gotten positive reviews, but even before the injury the 6-foot-4 right-hander was trending in the wrong direction. Being a control artist in the majors is one thing, but most successful low-strikeout, low-walk starters actually managed decent strikeout rates in the minors. He's still young enough to bounce back from the lost year of development time, but Salcedo's status as a quality prospect is shaky.

32. Tyler Robertson | Reliever | DOB: 12/87 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2006-3

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     AA     27     27     5.41     144.2     181     17      91     57
2011     AA     55      0     3.61      89.2      87      6      88     29
2012     AAA    33      0     3.77      28.2      26      2      33     13
         MLB    40      0     5.40      25.0      21      4      26     14

Once upon a time Tyler Robertson ranked among the Twins' best pitching prospects, but his strikeout rate deteriorated as his climbed the organizational ladder and injuries kept him from maintaining peak velocity. After an ugly 2010 season at Double-A the Twins decided they'd seen enough of Robertson as a starter, shifting the 6-foot-5 left-hander to the bullpen. He fared well there with a 3.65 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 118 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

That earned him a June call-up and Robertson struck out the first four big leaguers he faced, but he struggled to consistently throw strikes and finished with a 5.40 ERA in 25 innings. He actually dominated lefties with a .190 batting average and 22-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but righties hit .290 with more walks than strikeouts. His splits were similarly extreme at Triple-A, so Robertson needs to show that he can avoid being a liability against righties.

His high-80s fastball is reason for skepticism in that area, although the off-speed repertoire from his days as a starter should come in handy. If he can improve versus righties Robertson has a chance to be a ground ball-getting setup man, but if not he'll likely be limited to a southpaw specialist role. Either way, this season will be key for Robertson because at age 25 he may not get a particularly long leash.

31. Madison Boer | Starter | DOB: 12/89 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2011-2

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2011     RK+    15      0     2.60      17.1      13      1      31      2
         A-      8      0     6.75       8.0      12      0      12      1
2012     A-      5      5     3.58      27.2      26      1      20     10
         A+     22     19     6.41     111.0     147     15      66     32

Picked out of Oregon in the second round of the 2011 draft, Madison Boer posted a ridiculous 43-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his 25-inning debut that year. Unfortunately none of that carried over to his first full season, as the 6-foot-4 right-hander from Eden Prairie got knocked around for a 5.84 ERA in 139 innings between two levels of Single-A, allowing opponents to hit .309 while managing just 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

Boer's lack of missed bats isn't a total shock after he struck out just 74 batters in 99 innings during his final college season and Baseball America noted before the draft that his velocity fell from the mid-90s as a reliever to the low-90s as a starter. Still, there's no way a 22-year-old top-100 pick with big-time college experience should struggle that much at Single-A, particularly after toying with rookie-ball hitters.

Boer is already 23 years old, so if he continues to struggle as a starter it'll be interesting to see how long the Twins wait to shift him to the bullpen. That's certainly not a guaranteed fix, but it would allow him to focus on the fastball-slider combo that drew pre-draft praise and would likely provide a much quicker path to the majors. At this point, though, Boer simply needs to get back to pitching well again regardless of the role.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Peter David Benson's book "All Babies Suck," which is available on Amazon.com as a free Kindle download. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

May 2, 2012

Twins Notes: Butera, Burroughs, Mauer, Morneau, Pavano, and Guerra

• I was on KFAN this morning, sitting in for a couple segments on Paul Allen's show to talk Twins and blogging and all sorts of other stuff. You can listen to my full appearance here.

• After playing every inning of the first 21 games Joe Mauer took a foul ball off his knee and sat out Monday. He returned last night as designated hitter, but the Twins felt the need to add Drew Butera as a third catcher while designating Sean Burroughs for assignment to make room on the roster. Butera was hitting .279/.319/.419 in 15 games for Rochester, which is simultaneously terrible for a 28-year-old at Triple-A and the best numbers of his career.

Burroughs was signed to a minor-league deal in December and the 30-year-old former top prospect impressed the Twins during spring training, winning an Opening Day bench spot. In theory he was a nice fit, offering a left-handed bat and solid glove at third base to complement and perhaps even push Danny Valencia, but in practice he got three starts and 17 at-bats in a month. He's barely played since 2005, let alone had any success, so he may clear waivers.

Justin Morneau gave everyone a scare when he exited Monday's game with soreness in his surgically repaired left wrist and immediately flew from California to Minnesota to be examined by team doctors. Now he's on the way back to the West Coast after an MRI exam showed no structural damage, but Morneau revealed that the wrist was bothering him before Monday and the Twins have said that Friday is the best-case scenario for being back in the lineup.

Thursday is a scheduled off day, so that absence isn't quite as long as it sounds, but giving him 15 days to heal up on the disabled list would seemingly be worthwhile. Instead the Twins will keep Morneau on the active roster, which is something they've done too often with injured players in recent years and becomes particularly problematic when combined with a 13-man pitching staff and Butera. Last night's bench was literally only Butera and Trevor Plouffe.

Carl Pavano managed zero strikeouts Friday for the third time in his last 33 starts and his average fastball has clocked in at just 86.6 miles per hour this season, down from 89.0 mph in 2011 and 90.1 mph in 2010. Pavano signed a two-year, $16.5 million contract with the Twins after throwing 221 innings with a 3.75 ERA in 2010, but since then he's logged 255 innings with a 4.38 ERA and just 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings. At age 36 he's running on fumes.

Deolis Guerra's overall numbers at Double-A last year were ugly, but his success shifting to the bullpen in the second half earned him the No. 27 spot in my Twins prospect rankings. He picked up where he left off at New Britain with a 0.71 ERA and 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 innings, at which point the Twins promoted the last remaining piece of the Johan Santana trade to Rochester and he debuted there with three scoreless innings Saturday.

• Another potential bullpen option, Kyle Waldrop, is on the comeback trail after an elbow injury cost him a spot on the Opening Day roster. I'm skeptical of Waldrop's ability to be more than a decent middle reliever because he's already 26 years old and his strong ground-ball rate comes along with underwhelming velocity and few strikeouts, but he certainly warrants more of an extended opportunity than Jeff Gray.

• As has too often been the case recently Twins management subtlety cast some doubt on the legitimacy of Scott Baker's elbow injury before a second opinion from outside the organization led to Tommy John surgery. In speaking to the local media following surgery Baker addressed what Jon Krawcynski of the Associated Press described as "whispers both inside and outside Target Field":

I knew I wasn't crazy. I knew there was some speculation that maybe I was babying it or taking it easy, but good grief. I did everything I possibly could to get better and to try to pitch with it. But that just wasn't going to happen.

When an injured player has to defend himself amid speculation that his injury isn't as serious as he claims and that speculation is fueled at least in part by the team that's obviously not a good situation. Toss in the ongoing questions about the competency of the Twins' medical staff and it gets even worse. On the other hand, Baker also admitted injured pitchers "are not always completely forthright with the staff" and made it clear that he doesn't hold a grudge.

• As expected Ben Revere's return to Minnesota was brief, with the end of Josh Willingham's paternity leave sending him back to Triple-A. Revere is still better off playing in Rochester than mostly sitting in Minnesota, although Sunday being "Ben Revere bat day" at Target Field perhaps wasn't the best timing (or planning) by the Twins.

• In an effort to beef up the Double-A and Triple-A teams the Twins signed a bunch of veteran minor leaguers during the offseason, yet some reinforcements were still needed a month into the season. Joe Thurston is the latest veteran to join Rochester, although once upon a time he was a promising prospect in the Dodgers' system. Now he's 32 years old with 184 games in the majors and 1,485 games in the minors, including 5,000 plate appearances at Triple-A.

Ron Gardenhire will be away from the team for this weekend's Mariners series, missing all three games to attend his daughter's college graduation from Southwest Minnesota State. Bench coach Scott Ullger will fill in as manager, as he's done on a few other occasions.

Luke Hughes' time as Oakland's starting third baseman was short-lived, as he went 1-for-13 with three errors in four games and the A's signed a washed-up, recently released Brandon Inge to replace him. Hughes was designated for assignment, so he's back on the waiver wire.

• Congratulations to Delmon Young for making the front page of the New York Post. MLB suspended Young for seven days following his arrest on assault and hate crime charges, presumably because an eight-day suspension would have made Hanukkah jokes too easy.

• Willingham was a smart free agent signing and has been amazing at the plate so far, but his defense in left field has been just short of Delmon-esque.

Interesting note from Twins media communications manager Dustin Morse: Saturday was the ninth time weather caused a delay or postponement in 174 total games at Target Field.

• Compared to this same time last year MLB-wide attendance is up 1,700 fans per game overall, but the Twins' attendance is down an MLB-worst 5,000 fans per game.

• For his career Valencia has hit .328/.378/.491 versus left-handers and .243/.282/.369 versus right-handers, which is one of the more extreme platoon splits you'll see and along with iffy defense makes him a poor fit in an everyday role. By the way, that play was ruled a "double."

• After last night Denard Span has 76 career steals and has been picked off 26 times.

No. 11 prospect Adrian Salcedo was hit in the face by a comebacker while pitching Monday at high Single-A and suffered a broken nose.

This week's blog content is sponsored by One Stop Insurance, which helps Minnesotans find the best value and protection in an insurance company. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 19, 2012

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2012: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

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

15. Madison Boer | Reliever | DOB: 12/89 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2011-2

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2011     RK+    15      0     2.60      17.1      13      1      31      2
         A-      8      0     6.75       8.0      12      0      12      1

During the previous 11 drafts the Twins used a first-round pick or supplemental first-round pick on a college pitcher 10 times and took at least one college pitcher within the first 75 picks each year but 2001, 2006, and 2007. Last year Madison Boer was their first college pitcher at No. 87 overall after the 6-foot-4 right-hander from Eden Prairie had a 2.27 ERA, .234 opponents' batting average, and 74-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 99 innings as a junior at Oregon.

Baseball America's pre-draft scouting report noted that Boer worked in the low-90s as a starter, but also spent time in the bullpen and was clocked as high as 96 miles per hour as a reliever. After signing for $405,000 he debuted at rookie-level Elizabethon and was quickly promoted to low Single-A Beloit, working exclusively as a reliever while combining to throw 25 innings with a 3.91 ERA and absurd 43-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Experienced college pitchers dominating low-level competition is par for the course in the Twins' farm system, so Boer's performance this year will be much more telling. For now the Twins plan to give him an opportunity as a starter, where Boer projects as a potential mid-rotation option, but his early success and increased velocity as a reliever suggest his fastball-slider combo might find a more impactful long-term home in the bullpen.

14. Hudson Boyd | Starter | DOB: 10/92 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2011-1

Selected out of a Florida high school with the No. 55 overall pick in last year's draft that the Twins received as compensation for losing Jesse Crain as a free agent and signed away from the University of Florida for a $1 million bonus just before the deadline, Hudson Boyd was the first high school pitcher taken by the Twins with a first-round pick or supplemental first-round pick since Kyle Waldrop in 2004.

Boyd was part of the Twins' ongoing but thus far very inconsistent effort to add "power arms" to the organization, as Baseball America's pre-draft scouting report compared him to Jonathan Broxton and Bartolo Colon for mid-90s heat as much as a 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame. He signed too late to debut last season and figures to begin his professional career as a rookie-ball starter.

Without even throwing a professional pitch yet Boyd immediately becomes one of the highest-upside pitchers in the Twins' entire organization and his path to the big leagues could speed up considerably if he's eventually shifted to the bullpen. Whatever the case, he's certainly an against-type pick by the Twins and a prospect who could be much higher on this same list next year.

13. Travis Harrison | Third Base | DOB: 10/92 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2011-1

Last year the Twins used the supplemental first-round pick they received as compensation for losing Orlando Hudson as a free agent to select high school slugger Travis Harrison, a third baseman who became the first high school position player they've taken in the first round for his bat more than his tools since Chris Parmelee in 2006. Baseball America's pre-draft scouting report noted that Harrison "easily rates as the best high school bat" in California.

He was already 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds at age 18, so while Harrison was a third baseman in high school he could wind up shifting across the diamond or to an outfield corner. Jonathan Mayo said during MLB Network's draft coverage that Harrison has impressive power potential, but there are questions about his approach at the plate. Baseball America's take was similar, noting his "above-average power potential" but also his difficulty "adjusting to breaking balls."

For an organization largely devoid of power-hitting prospects after years of focusing on speed and athleticism in the draft a right-handed-hitting corner infielder with plenty of pop in his bat was certainly a welcome addition. Twins scouting director Deron Johnson called Harrison "the best bat left on the board" with the 50th pick and they signed him away from USC for a $1.05 million bonus shortly before the August 15 deadline, meaning he'll debut this season.

12. Chris Parmelee | First Base | DOB: 2/88 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2006-1

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2009     A+     501     .258     .359     .441     16     44     65    109
2010     A+      93     .338     .430     .463      2      5     13     11
         AA     463     .275     .341     .389      6     33     43     70
2011     AA     610     .287     .366     .436     13     48     68     94
         MLB     88     .355     .443     .592      4     10     12     13

Chris Parmelee was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft and through his first four seasons was a rare Twins prospect with power and plate discipline. He also struck out a ton and batted just .250, so two years ago the Twins overhauled his approach at the plate to sacrifice homers and walks for contact and singles. He went from hitting .250 with a .200 Isolated Power and 26 percent strikeouts to hitting .285 with a .135 Isolated Power and 15 percent strikeouts.

That change is dramatic and no doubt raised his stock within the organization, but Parmelee's overall production remained mediocre and a first baseman slugging just .416 with 19 homers in 253 games at Double-A isn't encouraging. However, when pressed into action by the Twins' numerous injuries and promoted from Double-A to the big leagues in September he hit .355 with four homers, six doubles, and nearly as many walks (12) as strikeouts (13) in 21 games.

Parmelee looked great in September, showing power and patience and just about everything else you'd want to see from a 23-year-old, but 21 impressive games in the majors don't wipe away 653 underwhelming games in the minors and there are plenty of questions about him being more than an adequate regular. Parmelee has yet to play at Triple-A, so he'll likely begin this season in Rochester while the Twins find out if Justin Morneau can stay in the lineup.

11. Adrian Salcedo | Starter | DOB: 4/91 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2009     RK-    11     10     1.46      61.2      60      1      58      3
2010     RK+    16      8     3.27      66.0      55      3      65     10
         A+      6      6     6.26      27.1      42      3      16      8
2011     A-     29     20     2.93     135.0     131      4      92     27

Adrian Salcedo has been pounding the strike zone since the Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2007, walking just 56 batters in 355 innings despite generally being young for the level of competition. That alone is enough to make him a solid prospect, particularly since his raw stuff features a low-90s fastball, but Salcedo's upside is in question because his strikeouts have vanished.

He had 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings in rookie-ball, but has managed just 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings at Single-A. That includes 92 strikeouts in 135 innings at low Single-A last season, which is the only thing that keeps his 2.93 ERA for Beloit as a 20-year-old from being extremely impressive. Salcedo didn't miss many bats, but he issued just 1.8 walks per nine innings and served up only four homers in 562 plate appearances.

Salcedo is 6-foot-4 and skinny, throws relatively hard already, and gets praise for his solid off-speed stuff, so there's reason to be optimistic about him adding a couple more miles per hour while upping his strikeout rate. If that happens he has No. 2 starter potential, but barring that he looks like a future mid-rotation starter who fits the Twins' preferred pitching mold perfectly.

February 21, 2011

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2011: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6

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

10. Billy Bullock | Reliever | DOB: 2/88 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2009-2

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2009     RK      7      0     1.23       7.1       3      0      10      1
         A-     26      0     2.73      26.1      25      0      35     12
2010     A+     28      0     3.62      37.1      39      2      45     19
         AA     30      0     3.44      36.2      34      3      60     24

Rarely have the Twins averted from drafting pitchers with superior command and control than raw stuff, but 2009 second rounder Billy Bullock was an obvious exception and so far at least the former University of Florida closer has lived up to his pre-draft billing as one of the highest-upside arms in the class. Bullock has a legitimate mid-90s fastball and even without much of an off-speed repertoire he's racked up an incredible 150 strikeouts in 108 pro innings.

All those missed bats have also come with 4.7 walks per nine innings, so his control will have to improve when Bullocks starts to face more advanced competition not so easily overpowered with pure velocity. On the other hand he had no trouble dominating Double-A hitters following a midseason promotion last year, striking out 60 batters in 37 innings and posting a 3.44 ERA despite 5.9 walks per nine frames. He doesn't know where it's going but it's getting there fast.

Bullock has been used as a closer in the minors, accumulating 38 saves and finishing 79 games in 91 total appearances, and with a bit more refinement he certainly projects as a ninth-inning possibility in Minnesota some day. He's been promoted aggressively by the Twins despite the awful control, reaching low Single-A shortly after signing for $533,000 and finishing his first full season in Double-A at age 22, so with a few more strikes Bullock could arrive in a hurry.

9. Adrian Salcedo | Starter | DOB: 4/91 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2008     DSL    12     12     1.65      65.1      47      1      50      8
2009     RK-    11     10     1.46      61.2      60      1      58      3
2010     RK+    16      8     3.27      66.0      55      3      65     10
         A+      6      6     6.26      27.1      42      3      16      8

Adrian Salcedo signed with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2007 and made his pro debut in 2008 by dominating the Dominican summer league with a 1.65 ERA, .198 opponents' batting average, and 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65 innings. He moved up to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009 and the skinny, 6-foot-4 right-hander posted more video game-like numbers with a 1.46 ERA and 58/3 K/BB ratio in 62 innings.

Like many very young prospects Salcedo began last year in extended spring training and was slated for rookie-level Elizabethton once the short-season Appalachian League started up, but when injuries depleted Fort Myers' pitching staff the Twins surprisingly sent him all the way up to high Single-A. Not surprisingly for a 19-year-old facing Florida State League hitters 3-4 years his senior, Salcedo struggled with a 6.26 ERA in six starts before heading to Elizabethton.

Obviously the rough stretch at Fort Myers isn't a positive thing, but it's tough to blame Salcedo much for a poor 2010 performance at a level he may not have reached until 2012 under normal circumstances. And once he was back to facing guys his own age Salcedo resumed dominating with a 3.27 ERA and 65/10 K/BB ratio in 66 innings to finish the year on a high note. He'll likely begin this season at low Single-A and perhaps return to Fort Myers in the second half.

8. 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

Liam Hendriks signed with the Twins out of Australia as an 18-year-old in 2007 and fared well at rookie-ball, but then missed all of 2008 and half of 2009 following knee and back surgeries. Hendriks didn't miss a beat when he finally returned to the mound, tossing 84 innings with a 3.55 ERA and 75-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio between rookie-ball and low Single-A, and then turned in by far the most impressive performance by any pitcher in the Twins' system last year.

Hendriks began the season back at low Single-A, where he had a 1.32 ERA and 39/4 K/BB ratio in six starts to earn a quick promotion to high Single-A. He missed some time at Fort Myers due to an appendectomy that also kept him from pitching in the Futures Game, but the 6-foot-1 right-hander still dominated Florida State League hitters with a 1.93 ERA and 66/8 K/BB ratio in 75 innings despite being one of the youngest starters in the league at age 21.

His overall numbers between the two levels were ridiculous, with a 1.74 ERA, .199 opponents' batting average, 105/12 K/BB ratio, and just two homers allowed in 109 innings. His raw stuff can't match that dominance, but Hendriks has excellent command of a five-pitch repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball. Performance-wise he's been nearly flawless, but with a grand total of 236 innings in four pro seasons staying healthy is key as he moves beyond the low minors.

7. Ben Revere | Center Field | DOB: 5/88 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2007-1

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2008     A-     374     .379     .433     .497      1     28     27     31
2009     A+     517     .311     .372     .369      2     19     40     34
2010     AA     406     .305     .371     .363      1     15     32     41

Ben Revere was initially thought to be done for the year when a pitch to the face fractured his right orbital bone in early August, but instead he rejoined the Double-A lineup and then made his unexpected MLB debut in September when the Twins put him on the 40-man roster after Ron Gardenhire requested some speed. Revere even drew a half-dozen starts in place of an injured Denard Span, but the 2007 first-round pick figures to spend most of 2011 at Triple-A.

Flirting with a .400 batting average at low Single-A in 2008 made it easy to overlook Revere's flaws, but his non-existent power and sub par plate discipline certainly stood out more during the past two seasons as he hit "only" .311 and .305. He managed just three homers, 34 total extra-base hits, and 72 walks in 215 games and 923 plate appearances during that time, and then hit .295 with a measly .330 slugging percentage in 28 games in the Arizona Fall League.

Great speed, few strikeouts, and a line-drive swing make Revere capable of hitting .300 in the majors, but even if he does a glaring lack of secondary skills would leave him with limited value offensively. An empty batting average works when joined by elite defense and base-stealing, but there are questions about Revere thriving in center field and he's yet to turn great speed into great success rates on the bases. Right now he looks like a poor man's Juan Pierre.

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

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2008     A-     290     .248     .326     .382      4     23     24     73
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

Joe Benson got off to a brutal start at Double-A last year, hitting .169 in April, but recovered to hit .283/.411/.609 during the first two weeks of May when the Twins demoted him to Single-A anyway. It was an odd move, as the Twins cited his strikeout total and poor batting average even though he'd been on fire for two weeks and led New Britain in OPS, but Benson took the demotion in stride and hit .294/.375/.588 with 16 extra-base hits in 21 games at Fort Myers.

That earned Benson a mid-June promotion back to Double-A, where he continued to crush the ball and finished with an .862 OPS that led the team by 127 points and was 18 percent above the Eastern League average. Combined between the two levels he hit .259/.343/.538 with 27 homers, 19 steals, and 66 total extra-base hits in 123 games. Benson had the highest OPS in the Twins' system by 52 points and topped the next-best Isolated Power by 37 percent.

Benson's power really stands out in a system where no other hitter had 20 homers or slugged .450, but controlling the strike zone remains a big issue. He struck out 136 times in 123 games and hit .251, both of which match his career marks. As a great athlete with plus speed and the range for center field he brings much more to the table than most low-average, high-strikeout guys, but before projecting him as a star Benson still has a lot to prove in his age-23 season.