October 9, 2007

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2007: Review (Part 1)

Last winter I ranked my top 40 Twins prospects for 2007 and profiled each player. My prospect rankings for 2008 will be coming in a few months, but before then let's take a look back at how the players from the 2007 version fared this season. First up are prospects 1-20, with 21-40 coming shortly.

1. Matt Garza | Starter | DOB: 11/83 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2005-1

What I said then: "Garza's debut was disappointing, but ... he showed signs of simply being fatigued, telegraphing his offspeed pitches and displaying an overall lack of command, and because of that I don't think we've seen the 'real' Garza yet."

What happened since:
Disappointed by not making the team out of spring training, he criticized the team publicly while posting a 3.62 ERA and 95-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 92 innings at Triple-A, and then posted a 3.69 ERA and 67-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 83 innings with the Twins.

2. Chris Parmelee | Right Field | DOB: 2/88 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2006-1

What I said then: "He needs to keep the strikeouts in check and projecting much of anything for a teenager with no experience above rookie-ball is always iffy, but so far at least Parmelee is on the right track to stardom."

What happened since: Spent the entire season at low Single-A as a 19-year-old, batting .239/.313/.414 with 15 homers, 43 total extra-base hits, and a 137-to-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 128 games.

3. Glen Perkins | Starter | DOB: 3/83 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2004-1

What I said then: "He doesn't project as an ace, but as a left-hander with three solid pitches, including a low-90s fastball with good movement, Perkins has No. 2 starter potential."

What happened since: Almost immediately called up to Minnesota after beginning the season at Triple-A, he worked strictly out of the bullpen and spent extended time on the disabled list with arm problems, posting a 3.29 ERA and 20-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27.1 innings.

4. Kevin Slowey | Starter | DOB: 5/84 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2005-2

What I said then: "Slowey should be at least an effective mid-rotation starter, perhaps by midseason, but I'm somewhat skeptical about his becoming much more than that without improved offspeed stuff."

What happened since: Won International League Pitcher of the Year honors by posting a 1.89 ERA and 107-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 133.2 innings at Triple-A, and posted a 4.73 ERA and 47-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66.2 innings during two stints with the Twins.

5. Anthony Swarzak | Starter | DOB: 9/85 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2004-2

What I said then: "He's not particularly close to being major league-ready, but ... has tons of potential if he can improve his control while simply staying on course."

What happened since: Suspended for 50 games early in the season for violating the minor-league drug prevention and treatment program, he returned to post a 3.09 ERA and 94-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 102 innings between high Single-A and Double-A as a 21-year-old.

6. Alexi Casilla | Shortstop | DOB: 7/84 | Bats: Switch | Trade: Angels

What I said then: "Casilla figures to begin this season at Triple-A ... and is set up perfectly to step into the lineup when Castillo leaves via free agency next winter."

What happened since: Hit .269/.345/.344 with three homers, 17 total extra-base hits, and a 50-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 84 games at Triple-A before replacing Castillo earlier than expected, batting .222/.256/.259 with zero homers, six total extra-base hits, and a 29-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 56 games with the Twins.

7. Pat Neshek | Reliever | DOB: 9/80 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2002-6

What I said then: "As long as Neshek continues to make right-handed batters look silly flailing away at his frisbee slider he'll be an excellent late-inning reliever."

What happened since: Spent the season as the Twins' top setup man, carrying a sub-2.00 ERA into August before a heavy workload wore him down, finishing the year with a 2.94 ERA and 74-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 70.1 innings.

8. Eduardo Morlan | Starter | DOB: 3/86 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2004-3

What I said then: "An overpowering fastball-slider combination gives Morlan the raw stuff to dominate in any role, but he'll likely need to develop both his changeup and stamina to remain in the rotation long term."

What happened since: Working strictly out of the bullpen as a 21-year-old at high Single-A, Morlan posted a 3.15 ERA and 92-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65.2 innings before a brief appearance at Double-A to end the year.

9. Oswaldo Sosa | Starter | DOB: 9/85 | Throws: Right | Sign: Venezuela

What I said then: "Sosa tends to get overlooked in an organization overflowing with quality pitching prospects ... his 'floor' is basically a mid-rotation starter and he's got plenty of time to work on missing bats when he's not killing worms."

What happened since: Split the season as a 21-year-old between high Single-A and Double-A, with a 2.94 ERA and 117-to-58 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 153 combined innings.

10. Alexander Smit | Starter | DOB: 10/85 | Throws: Left | Sign: Netherlands

What I said then: "Smit's control has come and gone, and he's had some very hittable stretches, but the one constant has been the ability to rack up huge strikeout totals."

What happened since: Got off to a poor start as a 21-year-old at high Single-A and was needlessly exposed to the waiver wire, where the Reds claimed him for nothing and watched as he finished the season with a 4.28 ERA and 76-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 90.1 innings.

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

What I said then: "At just 19 years old there's little reason to rush Benson, so expect him to reach Double-A sometime around mid-2008 and start scratching at the door to the big leagues no sooner than 2009. ... Benson is the only Twins center-field prospect who has legitimate star potential."

What happened since: Spent the entire season at low Single-A, hitting .255/.347/.368 with five homers, 31 total extra-base hits, and a 124-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 122 games.

12. Jeff Manship | Starter | DOB: 1/85 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2006-14

What I said then: "Manship's medical history is always going to be a concern, but he's long been viewed as a potential star and ... could be near the top of this list next year."

What happened since: Split the season as a 22-year-old between two levels of Single-A, posting a 2.30 ERA and 136-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 149 innings.

13. David Winfree | Third Base | DOB: 8/85 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2003-13

What I said then: "Winfree's plate discipline is sub par ... he's probably destined to move away from third base, but more importantly might be the Twins' next 30-homer hitter."

What happened since: Spent the season at Double-A as a 21-year-old and played primarily first base while batting .267/.308/.426 with 12 homers, 44 total extra-base hits, and a 106-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 123 games.

14. Paul Kelly | Shortstop | DOB: 10/86 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2005-2

What I said then: "A knee injury cut his first full season short after 95 games. ... Most of his value will ultimately come defensively, but Kelly's odds of developing into a capable hitter are probably better than most think."

What happened since: The knee injury lingered for far longer than expected and led to what was essentially a lost season, as Kelly appeared in just two rookie-ball games.

15. Erik Lis | First Base | DOB: 3/84 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2005-9

What I said then: "The big test will come this year, when Lis either holds his own at high Single-A and makes it to Double-A during the second half of his age-23 season or becomes just another guy who beat up on young pitching to begin his career."

What happened since: Spent the entire season at high Single-A and batted .274/.334/.470 with 18 homers, 56 total extra-base hits, and a 109-to-41 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 132 games.

16. Whit Robbins | Third Base | DOB: 9/84 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2006-4

What I said then: "Robbins probably won't be on a long leash defensively. ... If a move across the diamond is needed, Robbins' upside drops into Doug Mientkiewicz territory."

What happened since: Spent the season playing primarily first base at high Single-A as a 22-year-old, batting .210/.333/.249 with zero homers, seven total extra-base hits, and a 44-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64 games before an injury ended his season in mid-June.

17. Zach Ward | Starter | DOB: 1/84 | Throws: Right | Trade: Reds

What I said then: "Ward's combination of above-average stuff and extreme ground-ball inducing makes him an intriguing prospect."

What happened since: Spent the entire season as a 23-year-old at high Single-A, posting a 4.08 ERA and 107-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130 innings.

18. Alex Romero | Left Field | DOB: 9/83 | Bats: Left | Sign: Venezuela

What I said then: "He doesn't profile as a superstar, but has a chance to develop into a capable starting corner outfielder or a quality fourth outfielder."

What happened since: Lost on waivers for nothing so that the Twins could make room on the 40-man roster for Ramon Ortiz and Chris Heintz, Romero was claimed by Arizona and hit .310/.354/.421 with five homers, 43 total extra-base hits, and a 53-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 131 games at Triple-A.

19. Matt Moses | Third Base | DOB: 2/85 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2003-1

What I said then: "The biggest things on Moses' side right now are that he's still just 22 years old and has been rushed through the Twins' system, which means his ugly numbers may not tell the whole story. Whatever the case, 2007 could be a make-or-break year."

What happened since: Began the season at Triple-A, but was demoted to Double-A at midseason and hit .248/.283/.362 with six homers, 38 total extra-base hits, and a 93-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 119 combined games.

20. Ryan Mullins | Starter | DOB: 11/83 | Throws: Left | Draft: 2005-3

What I said then: "It would have been nice to see the Twins push Mullins a little more aggressively through the system, because he's spent his first two pro seasons throwing to teenagers despite having high-level college experience."

What happened since: Mullins spent time at high Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A while posting a 3.93 ERA and 135-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 155.2 combined innings.

Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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