February 23, 2012

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2012: 30, 29, 28, 27, 26

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

30. Matthew Hauser | Reliever | DOB: 3/88 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2010-7

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     RK+     8      0     1.00       9.0       7      0      13      2
         A-      4      0     0.00       6.2       5      0       4      1
2011     A-     17      0     1.40      19.1      13      1      27     13
         A+     24      0     2.16      41.2      37      3      44     16

After two seasons at a junior college Matthew Hauser transferred to the University of San Diego and was mediocre as a starter, but then moved to the bullpen as a senior and worked his way into a part-time closer role with a 3.67 ERA and 37-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 42 innings. That got him taken by the Twins in the seventh round of the 2010 draft and the lack of leverage made him a cheap sign for just $45,000.

Hauser was fantastic in his 16-inning professional debut after signing, allowing one run with a 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and then began last season dominating at low Single-A. He quickly earned a promotion to high Single-A, finished the year at Double-A, and between the three levels he threw 64 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 75-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio, holding opponents to a .224 batting average and four homers.

Baseball America's pre-draft scouting report had Hauser typically throwing in the high-80s or low-90s in college, but he's added velocity as a pro and was clocked in the mid-90s at times last season. Those extra miles per hour have resulted in worse control, but he made some strides in that department late in the season and that's a tradeoff Hauser and the Twins will gladly take when he's striking out double-digit batters per nine innings.

29. B.J. Hermsen | Starter | DOB: 12/89 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2008-6

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2009     RK-    10     10     1.35      53.1      32      0      42      4
2010     RK+     8      6     3.32      38.0      39      2      39      4
         A-     12     12     5.00      72.0      85      6      46     15
2011     A-     21     20     3.10     124.2     131     10      81     31
         A+      5      5     4.39      26.2      34      1      20      6

When the Twins picked B.J. Hermsen out of an Iowa high school in the sixth round of the 2008 draft and gave him second-round money in the form of a $650,000 signing bonus he was touted as a power arm, but somewhere along the way he lost the ability to light up radar guns and miss bats. Hermsen stands 6-foot-6, so he certainly looks the part, but his fastball is regularly clocked in the high-80s and he's managed just 228 strikeouts in 315 pro innings.

That includes just 101 strikeouts in 151 innings between low Single-A and high Single-A last season, although the lack of whiffs didn't keep Hermsen from pitching well with a 3.33 ERA in 25 total starts. His success came from throwing strikes and limiting homers, as Hermsen allowed 11 long balls in 645 plate appearances and issued 2.2 walks per nine innings, but opponents also hit .278 off him.

Hermsen is still just 22 years old, so there might be time to rediscover the lost velocity, but it hasn't happened three years into his pro career and unless that changes--or he figures out a way to induce more ground balls to compensate--it's tough to project him as more than a potential mid-rotation starter. This season should provide a good test for whether Hermsen's now-mediocre raw stuff will get the job done against tougher competition.

28. Pat Dean | Starter | DOB: 5/89 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2010-3

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     RK-     4      0     0.00       5.0       3      0       5      0
         RK+     5      5     2.59      24.1      17      3      32      1
2011     A-      8      8     2.86      44.0      40      4      37      9
         A+     11     11     6.67      58.0      83      8      36     15

Like so many other college pitchers drafted by the Twins during the past decade Pat Dean got assigned to rookie-ball for his debut and predictably dominated far younger, less experienced hitters before struggling upon climbing the organizational ladder. Dean signed for $320,000 out of Boston College as the Twins' third-round pick in 2010, throwing 29 innings with a 2.15 ERA and ridiculous 37-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio between two levels of rookie-ball.

He began last season at low Single-A and continued to pitch well with a 2.86 ERA and 37-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings, but then fell apart after a midseason promotion to high Single-A. Dean made 11 starts in Fort Myers, posting a 6.67 ERA while opponents hit .332 with eight homers and his strikeout rate declined to 4.5 per nine innings. He made one late-season start at Double-A, finishing with a 5.00 ERA and 76/25 K/BB ratio in 108 innings overall.

Dean's control has been excellent and he's still young enough to get back on track, but for a 22-year-old with lots of major college experience to be knocked around by high Single-A hitters is definitely a red flag and the fact that his low-90s fastball and assortment of off-speed stuff already struggles to miss bats is especially worrisome. He looked like a potential mid-rotation starter when the Twins drafted him, but at this point that seems pretty optimistic.

27. Deolis Guerra | Reliever | DOB: 4/89 | Throws: Right | Trade: Mets

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
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
2011     AA     37     10     5.59      95.0     102     11      95     28

Four years after the Johan Santana trade Deolis Guerra is the lone player acquired from the Mets still in the Twins organization, and unfortunately he's gone from teenage phenom and consensus top-100 prospect to 23-year-old failed starter. Guerra was unnecessarily rushed by the Mets before the trade, which all but forced the Twins to do the same, and his lack of development combined with diminished velocity adds up to a 4.95 career ERA in the minors.

That includes a 5.59 ERA at Double-A last season after posting a 6.36 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010, but hidden by those ugly overall numbers is that Guerra thrived upon moving to the bullpen around midseason. As a reliever he posted a 2.77 ERA and 65-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54 innings, which would be extremely impressive from a 22-year-old if it didn't come attached to all his previous disappointment.

Guerra threw much harder at 17 than he did at 22, but the 6-foot-5 right-hander's fastball still reaches the low-90s and his changeup remains an oft-praised pitch. Despite being younger than many Single-A players Guerra has spent two seasons in the high minors and is already on the 40-man roster, so picking up where he left off in the second half of last season could get him into the Twins' bullpen mix in a hurry.

26. Manuel Soliman | Starter | DOB: 8/89 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2009     DSL    14     14     2.15      71.0      66      0      55     20
2010     RK+    12     12     3.48      64.2      47      5      74     21
2011     A-     28     25     3.97     136.0     128     17     120     50

Manuel Soliman signed with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old third baseman in 2007, but shifted to the mound after hitting just .199 with a .288 slugging percentage in two summer league seasons. He experienced immediate success as a pitcher and has turned himself into a legitimate prospect, throwing 272 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 249 strikeouts through three seasons.

After overpowering the similarly inexperienced rookie-ball competition in 2009 and 2010 his rough edges were more prevalent last year, as Soliman made his full-season debut at low Single-A and walked 3.3 batters per nine innings while serving up 17 homers in 136 innings. Poor control is to be expected from a 21-year-old with his background and at first glance 17 long balls in 136 innings is reasonable, but the Midwest League as a whole slugged just .370.

Soliman has good raw stuff, with a low-90s fastball and hard slider, but the 6-foot-2 right-hander seems more likely to wind up in the bullpen long term considering his late start to pitching and lack of refinement. He'll stay on the starter track for now and likely spend most of this season at high Single-A, so don't expect Soliman to appear on the Twins' radar for a while even if things go well in Fort Myers.

February 18, 2011

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2011: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

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

15. Pat Dean | Starter | DOB: 5/89 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2010-3

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2010     RK-     4      0     0.00       5.0       3      0       5      0
         RK+     5      5     2.59      24.1      17      3      32      1

Going into last year's draft Baseball America compared Boston College left-hander Pat Dean to Glen Perkins, so the Twins picking him in the third round may seem strange given how Perkins has fallen out of favor. Of course, Perkins was once a good college southpaw and first rounder himself, so the comparison is meant as a compliment. Dean followed up a standout sophomore season by struggling with injuries as a junior, but proved healthy after signing for $320,000.

He debuted in the Gulf Coast League and was quickly promoted one step up the ladder to the Appalachian League, combining for a 2.15 ERA and remarkable 37-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29 innings between the two levels of rookie-ball. Dean also showed pinpoint control at BC, walking just 30 batters in 173 innings as a starter, and the 6-foot-1 southpaw is also capable of missing bats with a four-pitch repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball and plus changeup.

As an experienced college starter who faced quality competition in a top conference and then breezed through rookie-ball lineups Dean figures to move quickly through the Twins' system. Much like Perkins he doesn't project as a top-of-the-rotation guy, but Dean has mid-rotation upside and can hopefully keep the comparison going by developing into the pre-2009 version of Perkins who began his career 12-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 185 innings.

14. Rene Tosoni | Right Field | DOB: 7/86 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2005-36

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2008     A+     170     .300     .408     .414      1     11     21     30
2009     AA     490     .271     .360     .454     15     44     45     98
2010     AA     219     .270     .369     .422      4     16     25     52

Rene Tosoni had a strong 2009, batting .271/.360/.454 in 122 games at Double-A and winning MVP honors in the Futures Game during the All-Star break, yet the Twins sent him back to New Britain to begin last season. He got off to a solid start, basically duplicating his 2009 numbers with a bit less power through 52 games while repeating the level, but then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in June that required surgery.

Between repeating Double-A and shoulder surgery Tosoni's chances of reaching the majors in 2011 took a hit, but he could still get to Minnesota in the second half after being added to the 40-man roster this winter. His production in the minors has been solid rather than spectacular, as the former 36th-round pick from Canada has consistently been above average at each stop without really flashing any standout skills.

He's hit .270/.363/.444 with 19 homers and a 150-to-70 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 174 games at Double-A and turns 25 years old in July, so Tosoni projects as more of a platoon starter or fourth outfielder than everyday player unless his glove proves to be a major asset. He's spent some time in center field, but most of his action has come as a right fielder. If he bounces back well at Rochester he could be in line to replace Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer in 2012.

13. David Bromberg | Starter | DOB: 9/87 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2005-32

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2008     A-     27     27     4.44     150.0     149     10     177     54
2009     A+     27     26     2.70     153.1     125      6     148     63
2010     AA     17     17     3.62      99.1     105      4      65     35
         AAA     9      9     3.98      52.0      47      9      47     13

David Bromberg was named Twins' minor league pitcher of the year in 2009 after going 13-4 with a 2.70 ERA at high Single-A while leading his league in strikeouts for a third straight year, but he made the jump to the high minors last year and struggled to miss bats with just 112 strikeouts in 151 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. As he's climbed up the minor-league ladder Bromberg's yearly strikeouts per nine innings have dipped from 10.6 to 8.7 to 6.7.

His control has also improved while the strikeouts have declined, but with 48 walks and 10 hit batters in 151 innings last year Bromberg's command is hardly a strength. He's done a nice job keeping the ballpark in the ballpark, allowing just 13 homers in 151 innings last season and a total of 35 long balls in 564 career frames, but that will be nearly impossible to maintain given that Bromberg has proven to be an extreme fly-ball pitcher.

Bromberg has a pitcher of the year award and track record full of low-minors success, making it easy to assume he's a top-notch prospect. However, the numbers show a fly-baller with so-so control and a declining, mediocre strikeout rate, which isn't a common recipe for success. He's certainly a solid prospect and simply holding his own at Double-A and Triple-A as a 22-year-old was a plus, but Bromberg's upside is in more question than his name recognition suggests.

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

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2008     DSL    248     .293     .343     .432      4     20     16     27
2009     RK-    187     .275     .337     .455      5     18     15     18
2010     RK+    283     .375     .424     .672     14     42     19     67

Oswaldo Arcia was the Twins' breakout prospect of 2010 with a monstrous half-season in the rookie-level Appalachian League, batting .375 with 14 homers and 42 total extra-base hits in 64 games. History is filled with hitting prospects who knocked around rookie-ball pitching only to flame out against tougher competition, but even keeping that in mind the degree to which the 19-year-old Venezuelan stood out is incredible.

Arcia had an amazing .375/.424/.672 line in a pitcher-friendly league that hit just .258 with a .384 slugging percentage overall, leading in batting average by 52 points, on-base percentage by 44 points, slugging percentage by 62 points, and OPS by 122 points. He hit .398 off righties and .330 off lefties, won the sabermetric triple crown, finished just three homers short of the traditional triple crown, and not surprisingly won Appalachian League player of the year.

Despite that remarkable production he did a poor job controlling the strike zone, and while not being patient enough to walk much is excusable from a teenager hitting .375 his 67 strikeouts in 259 at-bats are a potential red flag. Arcia split time between center field and right field for Elizabethton, but profiles as a corner outfielder long term. He'll move up to low Single-A for his full-season debut and could have an impressive year at Beloit even if his OPS falls 300 points.

11. Angel Morales | Center Field | DOB: 11/89 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2007-3

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2008     RK     218     .301     .413     .623     15     28     26     72
2009     A-     418     .266     .329     .455     13     40     30    104
2010     A-     247     .289     .381     .474      4     24     24     65
         A+     301     .272     .347     .349      1     15     28     75

Angel Morales was the Twins' third-round pick in 2007 out of Puerto Rico and had an Arcia-like half-season at Elizabethton in 2008, batting .301/.413/.623 with 15 homers in 54 games as an 18-year-old. Amid those monster numbers Morales struggled to make consistent contact and his shaky strike-zone control has been exposed further as he's moved up the ladder, although he hit .274/.348/.462 in 175 games at low Single-A despite a 169-to-54 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Morales was asked to repeat low Single-A last season and improved his production the second time around, but then saw his power vanish following a midseason promotion to high Single-A. It was a solid season overall, as Morales hit .280 with 29 steals in 133 total games between the two levels and upped his walk rate by 30 percent, drawing 52 free passes in 513 plate appearances. The bad news is that he struck out 140 times while managing just five homers.

Through four seasons Morales has shown big power, good plate discipline, the ability to hit for a nice batting average, and 30-steal speed, but he's yet to put all those skills together at the same time and the only constant has been the strikeouts. He's still just 21 years old and will have strong defensive value whether he winds up in center field or a corner spot and the star potential is still there even if the flaws have become more prominent since his rookie-ball days.

June 9, 2010

Twins’ draft is heavy on college arms and high school bats

After selecting Ohio State right-hander Alex Wimmers with the 21st overall pick Monday night, the Twins' draft continued yesterday with their now-standard mix of college pitchers and high school hitters. Second-round pick Cartier Goodrum was listed as a shortstop, but the Georgia high schooler is considered a near-lock to move to the outfield and also goes by the nickname Niko, which is a shame because "Cartier Goodrum" is an absolutely amazing name.

Raw and toolsy at a lanky 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, Goodrum is a switch-hitter with what both Baseball America and MLB.com describe as "raw power" and trouble making consistent contact. I noted yesterday that Wimmers fit the Twins' preferred mold for pitchers as a college guy with better control and off-speed stuff than velocity, and as an athletic high schooler with far more tools than polish Goodrum fits their preferred mold for hitters equally well.

Going into the draft BA compared Boston College left-hander Pat Dean to Glen Perkins, so the Twins picking him in the third round may seem odd given how Perkins has fallen out of favor. Of course, Perkins was once a good college lefty and first rounder, so the comparison is meant as a compliment. Dean struggled with injuries this year, but is said to be healthy and works at 88-92 miles per hour with a good changeup and what BA calls "an excellent feel for pitching."

In the fourth round the Twins selected another high school outfielder in Eddie Rosario from Puerto Rico, who BA tabbed "the best pure hitter on the island" while comparing him to Bobby Abreu for his "sound approach at the plate" and solid left-handed bat. Hopefully he can follow in the footsteps of Angel Morales, who's emerged as a good prospect after the Twins picked him out of Puerto Rico in the third round back in 2007.

Breaking from the college pitcher/high school hitter approach, the Twins took college outfielder Nate Roberts in the fifth round. Roberts won Big South conference player of the year honors after hitting .416 with 19 homers and 36 steals in 56 games for High Point, leading the country in on-base percentage and runs scored, yet BA's very limited scouting report on him concluded with "lacks a standout tool."

Diving back into the college pitcher pool, the Twins took Kentucky left-hander Logan Darnell in the sixth round and San Diego right-hander Matt Hauser in the seventh round. Darnell moved from the bullpen to the rotation this year, but struggled and missed some time with shoulder problems. Darnell is a fastball-slider guy and BA suggests that he "profiles better as a reliever because ... his arm action and the effort in his delivery are better suited for shorter stints."

Hauser is another reliever, saving eight games with a 37-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 3.67 ERA in 42 innings as a senior. BA notes that he throws 88-92 mph with his fastball and "adds a nice slider and an excellent spilt-fingered fastball which acts as his change." Eighth-round pick Lance Ray is a first baseman who led Kentucky in batting average (.356), on-base percentage (.458), and slugging percentage (.720) while walking as many times as he struck out.

Maple Grove native and Gophers star Kyle Knudson was the Twins' ninth rounder as an all-Big Ten catcher who ranked among the conference's hitting leaders and threw out 40 percent of steal attempts. Some other picks with intriguing scouting reports and histories are high school bats J.D. Williams and Tyler Kuresa, college arms Steven Maxwell, Ryan O'Rourke, Thomas Girdwood, David Gutierrez, and Dallas Galant, and their first prep pitcher DeAndre Smelter.

All in all a pretty typical draft for the Twins, who as usual went heavy on college control artists and toolsy high school athletes. Every year I hope for a college middle infielder mixed in since that has long been an organizational weakness, but not surprisingly none fit that description. In terms of where this year's picks would rank among the Twins' top prospects it's really tough to say this early, but Wimmers would perhaps slot either before or after Ben Revere at No. 5.