Many people have New Year's resolutions. As a Phillies fan, mine this season was to better learn the minor leagues. I know the Phillies obviously, but I wanted to really learn everyone else's minor league system. I figured the easiest way to do that was to compile a Top 10 Prospects list for each major league team.
In order to not affect my judgement, I did not look at Baseball America's Top 10 lists and have tried to stay away from MILB Top 50 prospects. So far I have done Toronto, Oakland, Houston, the Angels, and the Diamondbacks.
If you have any comments or if I forgot someone or slotted someone to high, please let me know. I now present the 2010 Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospect list (from a Phillies fan's perspective)
1. Ben Revere-OF (Will be 22 in May)
Revere came into the 2009 season as the No. 2 prospect in the Twins' system. He enters 2010 as No. 1 on my list. Revere was taken with the 26th overall pick by the Twins in the 2007 draft and has never disappointed. In 2008, he hit an astounding .379/1/43 and added 44 SB to boot while playing with Beloit. Obviously, this earned him a promotion in 2009 and he was added to the Fort Myers Miracle roster where he continued his 2008 success.
2009 STATS: .311 BA, 13 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 48 RBI, 45 SB, 17 CS, in 466 AB.
Revere has swiped bags like a clepto but still needs to pick his spots a bit more carefully. Forty-five bags are great but 17 CS aren’t. If he could get that number down a bit he will wreck havoc on the bases. His 45 SB did however rank No. 1 among Twins minor leaguers. His .311 BA ranked third among Twins minor leaguers and his 145 Hits were the best in the system.
Revere's strength may be his ability to hit for average, which he has done the past two seasons, managing to hit above .300. Next season will be the big test for him as he will certainly be moved up to AA New Britain where he will face better, more experienced pitchers. The last time a Twins CF was this highly touted, his name was Torii Hunter.
2. Aaron Hicks-CF (Will be 20 for the 2010 season)
Hicks is one of the best prospects the Twins have. When the Twins selected him 14th overall in the 2008 MLB draft they had visions of him patrolling center field for them for years to come. He may have to move positions because of Ben Revere but he has the athletic ability to do it. Hicks was taken out of high school, which is a huge gamble, as most baseball fans know. Most of the time, HS kids struggle in their first few professional seasons because of the lack-luster talent they’ve faced, and just being a bit immature. Whatever the reason, Hicks wasn’t effected by going from a HS classroom to turning pro.
The Twins put their prized jewel on their Gulf Coast League team for his first pro season and he certainly did not disappoint: .318 BA with 4 3B, 4 HR, 27 RBI, and 12 SB isn’t too bad for a kid barely hitting age 19. So the Twins decided to give Hicks a real test for the 2009 season and had him skip Elizabethton and go straight to Low A Beloit.
2009 STATS: .251 BA, 15 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 10 SB, 8 CS. He had 40 BB, with 44 SO in 251 AB
OK, so Hicks struggled a bit in 2009, but it should be nothing to be too alarmed about if you’re a Twins fan. He obviously needs to work on his run discipline—10 SB is great but 18 would have been a lot better. Getting thrown out eight times just can’t happen. His BA went down a lot from his 2008 numbers but he still didn’t fair all that bad considering he did skip a level.
Hicks was rated as the Twins' best athlete, best plate discipline, best outfield arm, and best defensive outfielder. I personally think that Hicks could use some more work at Beloit, but, at the same time, he didn’t pay all that awfully in 2009, so he very well could be moved up to Fort Myers next season
3. Wilson Ramos-C-(Will be 23 in August)
Ramos enters another year in the Twins organization knowing that the odds of him having success with the Twins will probably never happen. But in case Joe Mauer does leave for free agency (which probably won’t happen), your future catcher could in fact be Wilson Ramos. Voted as the best defensive catcher in the system, he also can bring the bat with him and proved so again this season.
Ramos started out the season with AA New Britain after a successful 2008 season with Fort Myers. Other than a few games with the GCL, Ramos spent all season there and certainly didn’t disappoint.
2009 STATS: .317 BA, 17 2B, 7 HR, 35 RBI. In 224 AB he walked six times and had 23 SO.
While he needs to work on his plate discipline, he appears to be a guy who always is putting the ball in play with his low walk and low strike out numbers. Ramos could possibly be headed to Rochester to start next season, but he did only have a little over 200 AB with New Britain so the organization could want him to get more seasoning in AA. But with the best catcher in the MLB blocking his path, look for him to be on the move, possibly at the trade deadline
4. David Bromberg-RHP (Will be 23 in September)
Who was arguably the Twins' best minor league pitcher last season? The answer is David Bromberg. A former 32nd-round pick back in 2005, Bromberg had a breakout year for the Fort Myers Miracle in 2009, putting him on the map when it comes to Twins Prospects.
2009 STATS: 13-4, 2.70 ERA, 1 CG, and 1 SHO. In 153.1 IP, he had 148 SO and 63 BB. He held opponents to a BA of .224 and let up only six HRs and did all this in 27 games (26 stars).
Bromberg's 2.70 ERA last season was good for fifth among Twins rookies. His 13 wins were ranked second and his 148 SO were No. 1 among all Twins minor league pitchers. It just keeps getting better with this kid. And I haven’t even brought up the fact that, when asked, he can drop bombs as a power hitting 1B.....Oh wait, I just did....Oh well.
Bromberg led the minor leagues with 177 Ks in 2008 and in 2009 he was tied for eighth in Ks among all minor leaguers. The kid misses a lot of bats. His out pitch is a nasty curveball, which he found midway through the 2008 season after losing it for a bit, resulting in a 4.44 ERA.
He will face a true test next year when he will get a call up to AA New Britain, but if he can duplicate his 2009 success he very well could end up being in the majors as a September call-up.
5. Kyle Gibson-RHP (Will be 22 for the 2010 season)
Gibson was the Twins' first-round pick in the 2009 draft and was taken with the 22nd overall pick. A dominating pitcher at the University of Missouri, his draft stock took a hit after he suffered a stress fracture in his pitching arm. If it wasn’t for the injury, Gibson could have gone in the top 10 of the draft. Because of the injury, last season the most action he got with the Twins was signing the contract.
Gibson uses three pitches to battle opponents—a low-90s fastball and a hard slider with an average changeup. It wouldn’t hurt if he could learn another pitcher to compliment the others. He is a smart pitcher who knows how to work the strike zone, but his delivery and mechanics have some worried that the stress fracture won’t be his only injury.
Gibson projects as a top-of-the-rotation guy but will get his first true taste of pro ball this upcoming season. I don’t expect him to be in rookie ball but instead start out in Beloit. But at the same time, GM Bill Smith hasn’t given me a call regarding the matter.
6. Danny Valencia-3B-(Will be 26 in September)
Valencia could be poised to take over the hot corner if Brendan Harris struggles this season. The former 2006 19th-round draft choice has enjoyed a wonderful minor league career but is now ready to make the jump to the major leagues. The 2009 season saw him go from AA New Britain to AAA Rochester and even a brief call up to the majors, where he never received an AB.
At AA New Britain, he had a stat line that read .284/7/29 while adding 14 2B and 4 3B. He had almost as many walks (31) as SO (40) and did all this in 218 AB. He then got the call to Rochester where he never slowed down. At AAA Rochester he hit .286/7/41. He added 24 2B although his OBP and OPS went down.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: .285 BA, 38 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, and 70 RBI. In 487 AB he had 39 BB, 77 SO.
I would expect him to earn a bench spot with the Twins this spring training. He could start to get significant time with Ben Harris manning third because it’s not like he’s awful, but he’s not exactly young, or good.
7. Josmil Pinto-DH (Will turn 21 on March 31st)
Pinto was a rare find for the Twins, as he was signed as an undrafted free agent way back in 2006. But this past season was his best. Pinto was moved up to the Appalachian League, which is one step above the rookie league where he played in 2008. In 2008, he hit .329/1/14 for the Twins rookie squad, which earned him the promotion he received. Pinto put up a great stat line with the Elizabethton Twins, so let’s get right to his line.
2009 STATS: .332 BA, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 55 RBI. He had a .997 OPS and did all of this in 205 AB.
His .332 BA was good for second in the entire Twins organization. Also, his .387 OBP was third in the Twins organization and his .610 SLG was No. 1 among Twins minor leaguers. Not too bad for a kid who went undrafted.
The main problem with Pinto is that he plays DH. I would imagine he would dabble in playing first base as well, but obviously there is a huge roadblock in the majors named Justin Morneau.
Another problem with Pinto is he is a little old for rookie ball, but he was undrafted and thus needed to prove himself. He did that and because of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets moved up to High A Fort Myers and skip Low A Beloit all together.
No matter what the case is, Pinto is a good hitter who can add power and hit above average. But I don’t think that if he were to reach the majors it would be with the Twins because of the roadblocks in his way.
8. Pedro Guerra-RHP (Will be 20 to start the season)
If you have never heard of Pedro Guerra, you’re not alone. That may be because he’s never actually pitched in the United States. So why exactly is he on the list? Short answer is because his 2009 Dominican Summer League numbers are too good to pass up.
He had a good 2008 season with the DSL Twins, going 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 games. Decent numbers, but not good enough obviously to earn a ticket to the states. So began 2009, when Guerra was the best pitcher in the entire DSL.
2009 STATS: 0.38 ERA with a 7-0 record. In 71 IP, he allowed just three ER and zero HR. He walked 12 batters but then had 75 SO. He held opponents to a .181 BA and did all this in 14 games (11 starts).
His 0.38 ERA was the best ERA in the entire DSL. His undefeated record helped his case and because of this he was named Pitcher of the Year in the DSL. Get the green card ready; Guerra will be state side this upcoming season
9. Carlos Gutierrez-RHP (Will be 24 in September)
Gutierrez was coming off a 2008 in which he had a very productive year for the Fort Myers Miracles. He had a 3-1 record with a 2.10 ERA in 16 games (no starts), but in 2009 the Miracles management gave him his chance to get a spot in their rotation. He didn’t disappoint.
For the Miracles, Gutierrez had a 2-3 record with a 1.32 ERA. He pitched in 11 games (10 starts), which resulted in 54.2 IP, 22 BB, 33 SO, and held opponents to a .192 BA.
After his hot start he got a wakeup call when he was called up to AA New Britain. Carlos got flat out hammered against AA batters. He became Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde when it came to his single A and AA numbers. At New Britain he went 1-3 with a 6.19 ERA. In 22 games (6 starts) he gave up six HRs and had opponents hit .300 off of him. All this in 52.1 IP.
COMBINED 2009 STATS: 3-6 record with a 3.70 ERA. In 33 games (16 starts), he pitched 107 innings, he let up seven HRs, and had opponents hit .248 off of him. He also had a 3.45 ground out-to-fly out ratio.
OK, the good: ground ball pitcher who doesn’t allow too many balls in the air; had a dominating start of the 2009 season and tasted success at Fort Myers.
Then there’s the bad and that can be summed up in two words: New Britain. I will say, I don’t think it ever helps to jerk players around. Minnesota has put this kid in both a starting and relieving role, but does he know what he is? You need to look no further than Yankee Joba Chamberlin to see how it can affect a player's head. If I were the Twins I would start him in AA again and keep him as a starter. He’s tasted success before. Let’s see if he can recapture it in 2010.
10. Jose Mijares-LHP (Will be 25 at the start of 2010 season)
After a 2008 season that saw him go through three levels (GCL, High A, AA), where he experienced success at all levels. He had a combined 2.70 ERA as a reliever and even spent some time in the show during the '08 season.
In 2009, however, he was sent to Rochester. He never gave up a run in five games for a spotless 0.00 ERA and once again received a call-up to the major league club. He projects better as a set-up man for Joe Nathan, and I would expect him to be with the Twins this whole season.