February 21, 2011
10. Billy Bullock | Reliever | DOB: 2/88 | Throws: Right | Draft: 2009-2 YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2009 RK 7 0 1.23 7.1 3 0 10 1 A- 26 0 2.73 26.1 25 0 35 12 2010 A+ 28 0 3.62 37.1 39 2 45 19 AA 30 0 3.44 36.2 34 3 60 24
Rarely have the Twins averted from drafting pitchers with superior command and control than raw stuff, but 2009 second rounder Billy Bullock was an obvious exception and so far at least the former University of Florida closer has lived up to his pre-draft billing as one of the highest-upside arms in the class. Bullock has a legitimate mid-90s fastball and even without much of an off-speed repertoire he's racked up an incredible 150 strikeouts in 108 pro innings.
All those missed bats have also come with 4.7 walks per nine innings, so his control will have to improve when Bullocks starts to face more advanced competition not so easily overpowered with pure velocity. On the other hand he had no trouble dominating Double-A hitters following a midseason promotion last year, striking out 60 batters in 37 innings and posting a 3.44 ERA despite 5.9 walks per nine frames. He doesn't know where it's going but it's getting there fast.
Bullock has been used as a closer in the minors, accumulating 38 saves and finishing 79 games in 91 total appearances, and with a bit more refinement he certainly projects as a ninth-inning possibility in Minnesota some day. He's been promoted aggressively by the Twins despite the awful control, reaching low Single-A shortly after signing for $533,000 and finishing his first full season in Double-A at age 22, so with a few more strikes Bullock could arrive in a hurry.
9. Adrian Salcedo | Starter | DOB: 4/91 | Throws: Right | Sign: Dominican YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2008 DSL 12 12 1.65 65.1 47 1 50 8 2009 RK- 11 10 1.46 61.2 60 1 58 3 2010 RK+ 16 8 3.27 66.0 55 3 65 10 A+ 6 6 6.26 27.1 42 3 16 8
Adrian Salcedo signed with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2007 and made his pro debut in 2008 by dominating the Dominican summer league with a 1.65 ERA, .198 opponents' batting average, and 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65 innings. He moved up to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009 and the skinny, 6-foot-4 right-hander posted more video game-like numbers with a 1.46 ERA and 58/3 K/BB ratio in 62 innings.
Like many very young prospects Salcedo began last year in extended spring training and was slated for rookie-level Elizabethton once the short-season Appalachian League started up, but when injuries depleted Fort Myers' pitching staff the Twins surprisingly sent him all the way up to high Single-A. Not surprisingly for a 19-year-old facing Florida State League hitters 3-4 years his senior, Salcedo struggled with a 6.26 ERA in six starts before heading to Elizabethton.
Obviously the rough stretch at Fort Myers isn't a positive thing, but it's tough to blame Salcedo much for a poor 2010 performance at a level he may not have reached until 2012 under normal circumstances. And once he was back to facing guys his own age Salcedo resumed dominating with a 3.27 ERA and 65/10 K/BB ratio in 66 innings to finish the year on a high note. He'll likely begin this season at low Single-A and perhaps return to Fort Myers in the second half.
8. Liam Hendriks | Starter | DOB: 2/89 | Throws: Right | Sign: Australia YEAR LV G GS ERA IP H HR SO BB 2009 RK+ 3 3 3.71 17.0 19 0 13 1 A- 11 11 3.51 66.2 73 3 62 15 2010 A- 6 6 1.32 34.0 16 0 39 4 A+ 13 12 1.93 74.2 63 2 66 8
Liam Hendriks signed with the Twins out of Australia as an 18-year-old in 2007 and fared well at rookie-ball, but then missed all of 2008 and half of 2009 following knee and back surgeries. Hendriks didn't miss a beat when he finally returned to the mound, tossing 84 innings with a 3.55 ERA and 75-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio between rookie-ball and low Single-A, and then turned in by far the most impressive performance by any pitcher in the Twins' system last year.
Hendriks began the season back at low Single-A, where he had a 1.32 ERA and 39/4 K/BB ratio in six starts to earn a quick promotion to high Single-A. He missed some time at Fort Myers due to an appendectomy that also kept him from pitching in the Futures Game, but the 6-foot-1 right-hander still dominated Florida State League hitters with a 1.93 ERA and 66/8 K/BB ratio in 75 innings despite being one of the youngest starters in the league at age 21.
His overall numbers between the two levels were ridiculous, with a 1.74 ERA, .199 opponents' batting average, 105/12 K/BB ratio, and just two homers allowed in 109 innings. His raw stuff can't match that dominance, but Hendriks has excellent command of a five-pitch repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball. Performance-wise he's been nearly flawless, but with a grand total of 236 innings in four pro seasons staying healthy is key as he moves beyond the low minors.
7. Ben Revere | Center Field | DOB: 5/88 | Bats: Left | Draft: 2007-1 YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2008 A- 374 .379 .433 .497 1 28 27 31 2009 A+ 517 .311 .372 .369 2 19 40 34 2010 AA 406 .305 .371 .363 1 15 32 41
Ben Revere was initially thought to be done for the year when a pitch to the face fractured his right orbital bone in early August, but instead he rejoined the Double-A lineup and then made his unexpected MLB debut in September when the Twins put him on the 40-man roster after Ron Gardenhire requested some speed. Revere even drew a half-dozen starts in place of an injured Denard Span, but the 2007 first-round pick figures to spend most of 2011 at Triple-A.
Flirting with a .400 batting average at low Single-A in 2008 made it easy to overlook Revere's flaws, but his non-existent power and sub par plate discipline certainly stood out more during the past two seasons as he hit "only" .311 and .305. He managed just three homers, 34 total extra-base hits, and 72 walks in 215 games and 923 plate appearances during that time, and then hit .295 with a measly .330 slugging percentage in 28 games in the Arizona Fall League.
Great speed, few strikeouts, and a line-drive swing make Revere capable of hitting .300 in the majors, but even if he does a glaring lack of secondary skills would leave him with limited value offensively. An empty batting average works when joined by elite defense and base-stealing, but there are questions about Revere thriving in center field and he's yet to turn great speed into great success rates on the bases. Right now he looks like a poor man's Juan Pierre.
6. Joe Benson | Center Field | DOB: 3/88 | Bats: Right | Draft: 2006-2 YEAR LV PA AVG OBP SLG HR XBH BB SO 2008 A- 290 .248 .326 .382 4 23 24 73 2009 A+ 327 .285 .414 .403 5 18 46 74 2010 A+ 96 .294 .375 .588 4 16 8 21 AA 423 .251 .336 .527 23 50 39 115
Joe Benson got off to a brutal start at Double-A last year, hitting .169 in April, but recovered to hit .283/.411/.609 during the first two weeks of May when the Twins demoted him to Single-A anyway. It was an odd move, as the Twins cited his strikeout total and poor batting average even though he'd been on fire for two weeks and led New Britain in OPS, but Benson took the demotion in stride and hit .294/.375/.588 with 16 extra-base hits in 21 games at Fort Myers.
That earned Benson a mid-June promotion back to Double-A, where he continued to crush the ball and finished with an .862 OPS that led the team by 127 points and was 18 percent above the Eastern League average. Combined between the two levels he hit .259/.343/.538 with 27 homers, 19 steals, and 66 total extra-base hits in 123 games. Benson had the highest OPS in the Twins' system by 52 points and topped the next-best Isolated Power by 37 percent.
Benson's power really stands out in a system where no other hitter had 20 homers or slugged .450, but controlling the strike zone remains a big issue. He struck out 136 times in 123 games and hit .251, both of which match his career marks. As a great athlete with plus speed and the range for center field he brings much more to the table than most low-average, high-strikeout guys, but before projecting him as a star Benson still has a lot to prove in his age-23 season.