Minnesota Twins' Top 10 Minor League Prospects (1-5)
The Twins have a minor league system loaded with good young players. In part one of this series I highlighted players ranked six through ten in the Twins' farm system.
6. Alex Wimmers: RHP
7. Adrian Salcedo: RHP
8, Liam Hendriks: RHP
9. Carlos Gutierrez: RHP
10. Max Kepler: OF
Who makes the cut as the top five players in the Twins' farm system?
5. Joe Benson: OF
Joe Benson came to the Minnesota Twins with a second round draft pick in the 2006 MLB Entry Draft.
The outfield prospect has some of the best tools in the Twins' system. Outside of Miguel Sano, he has the highest ceiling as far as power, has the best speed outside of Ben Revere, and has the best arm not named Aaron Hicks.
Benson needs to improve on his approach at the plate. During the 2010 season, while bouncing between double-A and triple-A, Benson hit .259, 27 HR, and a .539 slugging percentage. If he can cut down on his 136 strikeouts, and add more to his 47 walks, he could project as an above average major league outfielder.
If Benson can continue to improve over the 2011 season, he may be in line to take over for Michael Cuddyer (who is in the final year of his contract) in right field starting in 2012.
Estimated Time of Arrival to Majors: 2012
4. Ben Revere: OF
Ben Revere was the Minnesota Twins' surprise first round draft pick in the 2007 MLB Entry Draft.
Many had projected him as a late second or third round talent, but the Twins recognized Revere's talents, and didn't hesitate to take him late in the first round.
Revere responded to the Twins' faith in him by pounding out hits ever since. Revere has had a decorated minor league career. In 2008 he was named the MID most valuable player, and participated in the MLB Futures Game during the 2010 All-Star festivities.
Revere is a pure contact hitter, in the mold of a Juan Pierre. His bat has been the best in the Twins' system, hitting .379 during the 2008 season. His most valuable asset is his speed. In his four minor league seasons he has averaged nearly 40 stolen bases a season. He often takes bad routes in the outfield, but has been able to limit his mistakes with his speed. His arm rates well below average for an outfielder (think Johnny Damon).
Revere made his major league debut for the Twins at the end of the 2010 season. He should win a spot on the 2011 squad out of spring training as a fourth outfielder, where his speed off the bench can be utilized in late game situations by Ron Gardenhire.
Estimated Time of Arrival to Majors: Now
3. Aaron Hicks: OF
Aaron Hicks came to the Twins with their first round draft pick in the 2008 MLB Entry Draft.
The 21 year old Hicks has spent his career so far at Low-A ball, as the Twins have been very patient with his development.
Hicks has some of the best tools in all of the minor leagues. He can hit for power and average. He has some of the best plate discipline in the minors and has speed and range in the outfield with one of the best arms in all of the minors. He may have been a top ten draft pick had he declared for the draft as a pitcher, where he sported a 97 mph fastball at age 18.
Hicks really put it together in the second half of 2010. After the All-Star break he hit .308 with a .429 OBP and an .889 OPS.
Hicks' ceiling can be as high as a Matt Kemp if he continues to develop power in addition to his potentially gold glove defense and very high batter I.Q.
Estimated Time of Arrival to Majors: 2013/2014
2. Miguel Sano: 3B
Miguel Sano is a fruit of the Minnesota Twins' international scouting program. Sano comes into the Twins organization with as much hype as anyone ever has after signing a $3.15 million dollar bonus at the age of 16. The only other player to receive a higher bonus in Twins history is none other then Joe Mauer.
Sano, now 17 years old, is a boy in a man's body. He stands 6'3" and weighs in at 230 pounds. He was originally brought in as a shortstop, but has already made the move to third base.
Sano has the best tool set in the Twins' farm system. For his ceiling, look no further then Miguel Cabrera or Alex Rodriguez. He has the body and swing path to be a perennial 30-home-runs-a-season player. He has the hands and arm strength to be an upper tier defensive third baseman. His only tool that rates as below average is his base running.
Sano won't turn 18 till May of 2011, but if his career trajectory continues he may be able to make a debut in the majors before his 21st birthday.
Estimated Time of Arrival to Majors: 2014/2015
1. Kyle Gibson: RHP
Kyle Gibson fell to the Twins with the 22nd pick in the 2009 MLB Entry Draft after a stress fracture scared many potential suitors away right before the draft. The Twins have been smiling ever since for their good fortune.
Gibson is a pitcher very suited to the Twins' mentality to pitch to contact. He has a similar repertoire as other Twins pitchers like Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn. He just has much better "stuff" than either of them. He has great command of his fastball, which tops out around 93 mph. It constantly has movement, in the same vein as Roy Halladay. His secondary pitches all project as above average as well. He throws an above-average slider and change-up that he can mix in with his two-seam fastball.
During the 2010 season, he spent time between Double-A and Triple-A, going 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA and a 4/1 K/BB ratio.
Gibson projects as high as a staff ace with a ceiling as high as (a healthy) Brandon Webb, and no lower than a third starter on a winning team. He could see time in the Twins rotation this coming season should any of the starters prove ineffective or succumb to injury.
Estimated Time of Arrival to Majors: 2011