February 18, 2010

Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2010: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

Other entries in Top 40 Twins Prospects of 2010 series: 1-5, 6-10, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40.

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

YEAR     LV      G     GS      ERA        IP       H     HR      SO     BB
2007     A-     13     13     1.51      77.2      51      4      77      9
         A+     13     13     3.15      71.1      77      5      59     25
2008     A+     13     13     2.86      78.2      68      0      63     20
         AA     14     14     4.46      76.2      90      8      62     24
2009     AA     13     13     4.28      75.2      72      2      45     20
         AAA     8      8     3.22      50.1      53      1      30     17
         MLB    11      5     5.68      31.2      39      4      21     15

Selected in the 14th round of the 2006 draft and lured away from Notre Dame with a $300,000 signing bonus that was more like third-round money, Jeff Manship hit the low minors like gangbusters but has since seen the steady deterioration of his numbers with each move up the organizational ladder. While not uncommon, in Manship's case the consistent level-by-level slippage in his strikeout and walk rates have left him looking like little more than a potential back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.

His big-league debut came in August, first as a low-leverage reliever and then into the rotation for five late-season starts, but Manship struggled with a 5.68 ERA and 21-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31.2 innings while averaging just 89.8 miles per hour with his fastball. Prior to that he had a 4.09 ERA and 137-to-61 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 202.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, so without delving all the way back into Single-A days it's tough to find signs of upside and Manship is already 25 years old.

More than 50 percent of Manship's balls in play have been grounders in each of his four pro seasons and like just about every Twins pitching prospect his control is pretty good, so he's certainly not totally without value. Somewhat similar to Anthony Swarzak in that Manship is MLB-ready yet it's unclear if he fits into the Twins' plans as a fifth starter, reliever, or trade piece. He'll compete for the final rotation spot this spring before likely heading to Triple-A, where he'll be near the front of the line for a call-up.

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

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2007     A-     507     .255     .347     .368      5     31     49    124
2008     A-     290     .248     .326     .382      4     23     24     73
2009     A+     327     .285     .414     .403      5     18     46     74

Joe Benson hit just .254/.337/.386 through three pro seasons and missed half of 2008 with a stress fracture in his back while repeating low Single-A, but the Twins moved him up to high Single-A last year anyway and the 2006 second rounder fared surprisingly well. Benson hit .285 after batting .260, .255, and .248 in his first three seasons and upped his walk rate by 60 percent. Unfortunately he was limited to 80 games because of another injury, this time a broken hand suffered punching a wall in frustration.

Aside from that wall Benson has been unable to make consistent contact, whiffing 140 times per 600 plate appearances for his career. Along with the high strikeout rate and low batting average he's also a terrible base-stealer despite possessing good speed, which is why last season's walk increase is key for Benson's development offensively. Defensively he's considered a solid center fielder, but because of a strong arm and the organization's log jam at the position he may end up in right field long term.

He won't be 22 years old until next month, so Benson still has time on his side, but inconsistency and injuries continue to make him more about tools and potential than actual production. That's not such a good thing for someone entering his fifth pro season, yet if Benson stays healthy and performs well in 2010 he could be knocking on the door to the majors at some point in 2011. His tools put him closer to being a big leaguer than the mediocre numbers suggest, but at some point that ceases being enough.

13. 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

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old two winters ago, Adrian Salcedo began his pro career in 2008 by dominating in the Dominican Summer League, posting a 1.65 ERA, .198 opponents' batting average, and 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65.1 innings. He moved up a level to the first rung on the American minor-league ladder last year and had equally ridiculous numbers in the Gulf Coast League with a 1.46 ERA and 58-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61.2 innings.

By themselves even those great numbers wouldn't be enough for Salcedo to rank this highly, because plenty of pitchers have insanely good stats in rookie-ball and the Twins' entire GCL pitching staff (which also included No. 18 prospect B.J. Hermsen) had a combined 2.46 ERA last season. What makes his insanely good stats particularly impressive is that Salcedo was just 18 years old--which is young even for the youngest league--and more importantly has the raw stuff to match.

Despite packing only 175 pounds on to a 6-foot-4 frame, his fastball is already regularly in the low-90s and can reach the mid-90s. Salcedo complements the plus heater with what John Manuel of Baseball America calls "a mid-80s power breaking ball" and also has an effective changeup for a teenager. His stats are amazing, his stuff is already very strong, and between his age and body type there's plenty of room for projection. As far as teenage, rookie-ball pitching prospects go, Salcedo is a really good one.

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

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2007     A-     501     .239     .313     .414     15     43     46    137
2008     A-     289     .239     .385     .496     14     27     52     83
2009     A+     501     .258     .359     .441     16     44     65    109

Chris Parmelee is all about power and patience, which makes him stick out within an organization that stresses just about everything else and has generally shied away from players like him. Of course, the Twins selected him with the 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft, so presumably they still like Parmelee despite his lack of resemblance to just about every other prospect in the system. And as long as they're willing to look past the strikeouts and low batting averages, there's still plenty to like.

Parmelee stayed healthy last season after missing half of 2008 with a wrist injury, moving up from low Single-A to high Single-A while leading the Florida State League in walks and ranking third in homers. Despite the lowly .258 batting average Parmelee's overall production was 15 percent above the league average and his Isolated Power was 65 percent above par. Pitcher-friendly environments mute his raw numbers, but Parmelee has a ton of power and loads of plate discipline. That's the good news.

The bad news is that most of MLB's best low-average sluggers actually hit for solid batting averages in the minors. Adam Dunn hit .304, Pat Burrell hit .303, Matt Stairs hit .293, Troy Glaus hit .288, Carlos Pena hit .283, and most of the other prominent guys were above .270. In other words, a .250 average in the minors may get Parmelee compared to Dunn or Burrell, but guys who hit .250 with big power in the majors typically hit at least .275 with big power in the minors. Until that happens, he's a question mark.

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

YEAR     LV      PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR    XBH     BB     SO
2007     RK     286     .301     .407     .428      3     20     32     48
2008     A+     170     .300     .408     .414      1     11     21     30
2009     AA     490     .271     .360     .454     15     44     45     98

After drafting him in 2004 out of a Canadian high school and in 2005 out of a Florida junior college, the Twins had Rene Tosoni skip low Single-A and spend his first full season at high Single-A in 2008. He hit .300/.408/.414 with nice strike-zone control despite being one of the Florida State League's younger players, but was limited to 42 games because of a broken foot. That setback didn't stop the Twins from moving him to Double-A last year and Tosoni stayed healthy while hitting .271/.360/.454 in 122 games.

Tosoni hasn't shown a standout skill yet, but seems to do just about everything pretty well. He's hit .287 through 963 plate appearances as a pro, draws a fair number of walks without tons of strikeouts, has above-average speed, flashed more pop than expected last year, and is considered a good defensive right fielder who may even be passable in center field. And obviously the Twins really believe in Tosoni after drafting him twice and promoting him aggressively.

Taken alone a .271/.360/.454 line at Double-A certainly doesn't predict stardom, but Tosoni was 12th among Eastern League hitters in OPS while being younger than all but one of the guys ahead of him. His overall production was 12 percent better than the league average, which along with good defense and being young for the level of competition makes him a very solid prospect. Putting together a similar year at Triple-A could thrust Tosoni into the Twins' plans for 2011.

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