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.

January 14, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• After years of campaigning on behalf of Bert Blyleven, blogger Rich Lederer and the Hall of Famer finally met in person at the Twins' fantasy camp in Fort Myers.

• Based on this picture, Dr. Dre will never be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

• If this ever reoccurs, my chances with the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com will skyrocket.

• Making an unsuccessful movie in 1998 sent Oprah Winfrey into what she called "a massive, depressive, macaroni-and-cheese-eating tail spin." Or as it's called in my life: "Tuesday."

• On a related note, I'm responsible for approximately $265 billion of this total.

• No matter how good your week has been, it can't possibly be complete without seeing this:

Not sure if that shows pure joy or pure insanity, but I'm certain I've never had that much fun.

Christina Hendricks was in Playboy way back in 1999. Sort of.

Next thing you know I'll admit to "trying" donuts.

• Some pretty big news in the world of online sportswriting. I'm a huge fan of quite a few AOL Fanhouse writers, including must-reads Clay Travis, Michael David Smith, Ariel Helwani, Jeff Fletcher, Mike Chiappetta, and Tom Krasovic, so hopefully everyone lands on their feet.

• In retrospect, the original casting wish list for Modern Family is pretty amusing.

Kim Kardashian is "having a lot of fun" with Kris Humphries.

• Breaking this habit was a tough one for me, but blogging has made me a one-spacer for life.

• Judging from his 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints last weekend, Marshawn Lynch is the third Super Mario brother:

That's called "Beast Mode."

Ryan Howard listens to The Cranberries. Of course he does.

• Earlier this week I suggested the Twins should sign reliever Chad Qualls for $2 million, but yesterday the Padres did it instead.

Bill Murray is, as always, the man.

• After hearing some intriguing word of mouth, I watched Catfish this week. While certainly not a great movie, as someone whose social interactions occur online about 99 percent of the time I found it extremely interesting/unsettling. Definitely worth checking out.

• If you haven't seen Men of a Certain Age on TNT, you're missing one of the most underrated shows on television.

• In fairness, A.C. Slater probably had it coming.

• If you're familiar with Twins outfield prospect Rene Tosoni or the concept of "icing" someone, odds are you'll enjoy this video from his wedding:

Just for that, I moved him up three spots on my upcoming ranking of Twins prospects.

• My latest podcasting discovery: "The Long Shot" with Sean Conroy, Eddie Pepitone, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny. Lots of funny, laid back conversations and lots of good guests from the stand-up comedy world.

• Rules are rules, but Trevor Mbakwe wrote the nicest note to ever get someone arrested.

Bobby Valentine is apparently the new king of Stamford, Connecticut, which is home to the NBCSports.com offices.

Blake Griffin is a bad, bad man, as Mario Chalmers can attest to.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Twins are "optimistic" that Justin Morneau "will be ready for spring training"
- All-times saves leader Trevor Hoffman announces retirement
- Mariano Rivera could pass Trevor Hoffman for all-time saves lead this season
- Kevin Kouzmanoff thought "where do I fit?" while A's pursued other third basemen
- Armando Galarraga could be odd man out for Tigers' rotation
- Jose Tabata "worked out in the gym every day this winter"
- Can Mike Stanton hit 40 homers in his first full season?
- Cornering the market on scrappiness, Diamondbacks sign Willie Bloomquist

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Marvin Gaye doing an a capella version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine":

June 23, 2010

Twins Notes: Mauer, Lowell, Bonser, Neshek, Plouffe, and prospects

• A few weeks ago after Ken Griffey Jr. retired friend of AG.com Jay Jaffe wrote a good article at Baseball Prospectus focusing on his place in baseball history, which also included this list of the best No. 1 overall picks of all time based on Wins Above Replacement Position (WARP):

NO. 1 PICK           YEAR     WARP
Alex Rodriguez       1993    101.0
Ken Griffey Jr.      1987     79.7
Chipper Jones        1990     72.4
Harold Baines        1977     48.4
Darryl Strawberry    1980     46.9
Joe Mauer            2001     34.5

I was surprised to see that only six No. 1 overall picks in baseball history have accumulated as many as 30 career WARP. To put that in some Twins-related context, Corey Koskie and Greg Gagne had 26.0 and 24.6 career WARP, respectively. Joe Mauer is already the sixth-best No. 1 pick ever despite being in the middle of his age-27 season. He won't top Alex Rodriguez and may be a long shot to pass Griffey, but should give Chipper Jones a run for the third spot.

• Last week I examined whether the Twins should trade for Mike Lowell after Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported they were talking to the Red Sox about the veteran third baseman. Rosenthal has since followed up his initial report, adding that the Red Sox are in a "stalemate" with the Twins and Rangers regarding Lowell because they're willing to pay the rest of his $12 million salary, but only if they get a decent player in return.

In other words the Red Sox want to save money or get a decent player. If the Twins are willing to absorb most of Lowell's remaining salary they can likely get him for a low-level prospect. If the Twins are willing to part with a mid-level prospect the Red Sox will likely pay the rest of his salary. Either way, the price is right. Lowell makes sense as a third baseman or DH platoon partner for Jason Kubel, who has a Jacque Jones-like .235/.317/.352 career line off lefties.

• Traded to the Red Sox in December after missing all of last year following shoulder surgery, Boof Bonser spent the first two months of this season on the disabled list, allowed four runs without recording an out in his first big-league appearance in 21 months, and was designated for assignment a week later. Meanwhile, the prospect the Twins got in return, Chris Province, has a 5.66 ERA in 41 innings as a 25-year-old reliever at Double-A. Seems like a fair trade.

• After angering the team by writing publicly about his injury status, Pat Neshek was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A earlier this month, with Ron Gardenhire saying:

He's just like everyone else in the minor leagues now. He's got to pitch his way back up. When there's a need, he'll get an opportunity ... if he's the one throwing the ball good.

Neshek has pitched in four Triple-A games with a 2.00 ERA, .152 opponents' batting average, and 7-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nine innings. So far so good, although I doubt he's gotten much closer to rejoining the Twins and even a 2.00 ERA ranks just third-best in the Rochester bullpen behind Kyle Waldrop at 1.16 and Anthony Slama at 1.60 ERA. Despite that, Rochester is 28-41 and has the worst team ERA in the International League at 5.03.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported recently that the Orioles have been "sniffing around for a shortstop" and Trevor Plouffe "is rumored to have piqued their interest." Plouffe was oddly the only shortstop Stark mentioned by name and that seems like some awfully random smoke if there's zero fire behind it. Over the weekend Plouffe was sent back to Triple-A, where he's hit a career-best .278/.340/.449 in 54 games.

• Last week B.J. Hermsen was four outs from a no-hitter at low Single-A, settling for a one-hit shutout. Friend of AG.com and former part-time MLB.com Twins beat writer Thor Nystrom was in attendance and told me Hermsen was "very solid looking" and "goes after guys." However, he was surprised that Hermsen "doesn't throw hard for his size" and "doesn't have dominant stuff," which matches reports I got before ranking him as this year's 18th-best Twins prospect.

• After signing in September for $3.15 million, Miguel Sano homered on the first pitch he saw in the Dominican Summer League and is hitting .341/.444/.636 in 14 games. What makes that even more impressive is the DSL as a whole hitting .234 with a .315 slugging percentage this year, so his OPS is 427 points higher than the league average. Also worth noting is that Sano has played primarily third base, so any notion of him as a long-term shortstop is already over.

• In less positive prospect news, last year's supplemental first-round pick Matthew Bashore is out for the season following Tommy John elbow surgery and third-round pick Ben Tootle is out indefinitely after shoulder surgery. Bashore signed for $750,000 shortly after the draft, but got into just one game before being shut down and never pitched this year. Tootle looked good in his debut last year, but gave up 17 runs in 18 innings before going under the knife this year.

• Outfield prospect Rene Tosoni is also out for the season following shoulder surgery, which is a shame because he was off to a good start at Double-A after ranking 11th on my preseason list and could have factored into the Twins' plans at some point next season.

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