January 26, 2009

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2009: 30, 29, 28, 27, 26

Previous Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2009: 31-35, 36-40

30. Philip Humber | Starter | DOB: 12/82 | Throws: Right | Trade: Mets

2006 A+ 7 7 2.37 38.0 24 4 36 9
AA 6 6 2.88 34.1 25 4 36 10
2007 AAA 25 25 4.27 139.0 129 21 120 44
2008 AAA 31 23 4.56 136.1 145 21 106 49
MLB 5 0 4.63 11.2 11 4 6 5

Taken by the Mets with the third overall pick in the 2004 draft after a brilliant run at Rice University, Philip Humber underwent Tommy John elbow surgery 15 starts into his pro career and has lacked anything resembling the same overpowering stuff since. He was acquired by the Twins last winter as part of the four-player package for Johan Santana and was the first pitcher from the trade to make it to Minnesota, but his September call-up came after a second straight underwhelming season at Triple-A.

Humber is three-plus seasons removed from surgery and turned 26 years old last month, so what you see is what you get at this point and he now looks like a potential back-of-the-rotation starter or reliever. Humber's curveball has always been MLB-quality, but his post-surgery fastball tops out in the low-90s and he's managed just 226 strikeouts in 275.1 innings at Triple-A. He's also an extreme fly-ball pitcher who's served up 42 homers in those 275 frames, which helps explain his 4.41 ERA.

Toss in mediocre control and it's tough to see a lot of upside in Humber, although he did put together a good second half at Rochester after rejoining the rotation following a demotion to the bullpen. He's out of minor-league options, so the Twins must either hand him a spot on the Opening Day pitching staff or risk losing him on waivers. A rotation spot should be out of the question, but he may do some long relieving since the Twins are unlikely to give up a high-profile piece of the Santana deal for nothing.

29. Jason Pridie | Center Field | DOB: 10/83 | Bats: Left | Trade: Rays

2006 AA 503 .230 .281 .304 5 20 31 93
2007 AA 300 .290 .331 .441 4 27 14 45
AAA 274 .318 .375 .539 10 30 22 47
2008 AAA 603 .270 .305 .435 13 50 30 152

Jason Pridie had a breakout 2007 season, hitting .303/.352/.487 in 134 games between Double-A and Triple-A, which convinced the Twins to acquire him from the Rays as part of the Matt Garza-for-Delmon Young swap two years after briefly holding him on their roster as a Rule 5 pick. Pridie predictably came crashing back down to earth at Rochester last year, performing so badly in the first half (.243/.276/.392) that a big second half (.326/.364/.522) left him at just .270/.305/.435 in 138 games overall.

Pridie has persuaded the Twins that he's promising enough to acquire twice, but it's tough to see him becoming more than a fourth outfielder given his non-existent plate discipline, horrendous strike-zone control, and .278 career batting average. He's an excellent athlete with good wheels and some pop in his bat, which is no doubt the combination of tools that had Twins scouts smitten, but Pridie has yet to consistently turn his physical ability into actual baseball skills and time is running out.

Pridie's strong finish provides some reason for optimism heading into 2009, but even while putting up big second-half numbers he posted an awful 51-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For the season he struck out 152 times while drawing 28 non-intentional walks, which is abysmal strike-zone control that keeps Pridie from taking full advantage of his speed or power. He made his MLB debut in September and will likely see more of Minnesota this season, but right now Pridie is just an unused toolbox.

28. David Winfree | Right Field | DOB: 8/85 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2003-13

2006 A+ 287 .276 .328 .490 13 28 19 59
2007 AA 490 .267 .308 .426 12 44 26 106
2008 AA 502 .252 .319 .450 19 49 41 87

David Winfree hacked at everything through five pro seasons, drawing just 25 walks per 500 trips to the plate while striking out 20 percent of the time to take some luster off his strong power numbers. He finally showed some improvement in both areas last year, walking 41 times compared to 87 strikeouts in 502 plate appearances at Double-A. More walks and fewer strikeouts while continuing to hit for good power as a 22-year-old certainly qualifies as promising news.

On the other hand, Winfree was repeating Double-A and posted a career-worst .252 batting average in the process while moving completely away from third base defensively. With minimal defensive value Winfree's bat will have to carry him, which makes his .269 career average in 537 games concerning even for someone who has been very young for every level. With that said, Winfree's power potential is legitimately outstanding and has been undersold by pitcher-friendly environments.

Last season Winfree ranked sixth among Eastern League hitters in homers as a 22-year-old and the five guys ahead of him were 26, 24, 24, 29, and 25 years old. In two seasons at Double-A he's posted a .178 Isolated Power, which is 30 percent above the EL average. It's tough to project stardom because he's yet to advance past posting an OPS in the .750 range despite seemingly being around forever, but Winfree won't turn 23 years old until August and has shown enough power to have an MLB role in time.

27. Dustin Martin | Center Field | DOB: 4/84 | Bats: Left | Trade: Mets

2006 A- 293 .315 .399 .454 2 24 28 50
2007 A+ 548 .290 .361 .426 8 44 53 118
2008 AA 573 .290 .355 .447 10 52 49 125

Acquired from the Mets in exchange for Luis Castillo in mid-2007, Dustin Martin moved up to Double-A for the first time last season and established himself as a legitimate prospect with a strong all-around campaign. He's never going to hit for big-time power, but Martin has developed a bit more pop as he's moved up the organizational ladder and smacked a career-high 10 homers among 52 total extra-base hits in 133 games last season.

Only New Britain teammate Erik Lis had more doubles than Martin among Eastern League batters and his eight triples ranked fourth in the league. Martin sports a .295 batting average in 332 pro games and offers decent plate discipline to go with above-average speed and solid range in center field, so there's plenty to like. However, he'll be 25 years old before his first Triple-A at-bat and has struck out in over 20 percent of his career plate appearances, including 125 times last season.

Martin is an underrated prospect and potentially could be a starting-caliber center fielder if his defense holds up, but he's more likely to end up as a fourth outfielder who offers a little bit of everything without thriving at anything. Unfortunately for Martin the Twins are overflowing with young outfielders throughout the organization and seemingly view Pridie as the superior backup option regardless of whether that's really warranted.

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

2007 RK 286 .301 .407 .428 3 20 32 48
2008 A+ 170 .300 .408 .414 1 11 21 30

Drafted by the Twins in 2004 out of a Canadian high school and in 2005 out of a Florida junior college, Rene Tosoni signed in mid-2006 and made his long-awaited pro debut at rookie-level Elizabethton in 2007. He made a good first impression, hitting .301 with 13 steals in 63 games while ranking second among Appalachian League hitters in on-base percentage and eighth in OPS. He was so good that the Twins had Tosoni finish the year at low Single-A to join Beloit for the Midwest League playoffs.

Tosoni appeared set to spend his first full season at Beloit last year, but instead the Twins decided to have him skip the level and pushed him up to high Single-A. Aggressively promoting Tosoni proved to be a good move when he hit .325 through 36 games, but he suffered a broken foot in mid-May and was sidelined for over three months. He went just 1-for-14 after returning for the final week of the regular season, but then batted .389 in the Florida State League playoffs to end the year on a high note.

At just 22 years old Tosoni will be young for the level of competition even if the Twins send him back to Fort Myers again, which makes his .305/.408/.433 line through 109 pro games so impressive. He's yet to show much pop and doesn't have the size to suggest a ton of future power, but hitting .305 with great plate discipline and the underrated ability to get plunked by pitches is plenty promising at his age and Tosoni is considered a good defensive right fielder who even played center field occasionally last year.

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