2013 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects

System Overview: Minnesota’s system is loaded from top to bottom, featuring not only impressive overall depth, but the team’s top six prospects — Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson — could all develop into All-Star caliber players at some point during their respective career.

And beyond the top six, the farm system has an exciting array of young talent developing in the lower levels of the minors. Kennys Vargas and Max Kepler-Rozycki both have the potential to develop above-average or better power. Trevor May likely won’t develop into a strike-throwing starter, but could become a very useful backend reliever. And Jose Berrios turned in an impressive debut showing in 2012.

Minnesota may be lacking talent at the big league level, but it certainly shouldn’t for too many more seasons.

 

#1. Miguel Sano, Age: 20, Position: 3B

Sano is a young slugger blessed with the combination of plus-plus-power, an above-average eye at the plate and modest strikeout totals. Overall, he hit .258/.337/.521 with 28 homeruns and eight stolen bases. His total production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, was 46% above the league average, the second highest total, , despite the fact that he was one of just 11 qualified players under the age of 20 in the Midwest League.

Defensively, Sano is incredibly raw, so much so that he may not even last at third base. In 125 games at the hot corner, he committed an astounding 42 errors.

Projection: Sano’s bat will play anywhere and in any environment. And if he could develop into even a slightly below-average defender, he has the potential to become one of the game’s elite players. The Twins have taken the slow and steady approach with his development thus far, pushing him level to level, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for the team to bump him to High-A in 2013, though he looks ready to for Double-A.

Ceiling: 6.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

 #2. Oswaldo Arcia, Age: 22, Position: RF

Arcia dominated across two levels last season — High-A and Double-A — hitting a combined .320/.388/.539 while showing above-average power, strong plate discipline, and reasonable K-rates. As a 21-year-old in Double-A, his total offensive production was 62% better than the league average (69 games, 299 PA), the third highest total among hitters with 250+plate appearances.

Projection: While Sano, Buxton and to a lesser-extend Hicks garner much of the talk among offensive prospects in the Twins system, it’s really not out of the question for Arcia to develop into the best overall everyday player. He’s a legitimate 25- to 30-homerun threat with the added potential of half of a dozen stolen bases, an above-average eye and strong arm in right field. He does show a modest platoon split against lefties (.261/.335/.404).

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#3. Alex Meyer, Age: 23, Position: RHP

A mountain of a young man, Meyer, who’s listed at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, was recently acquired from the Washington Nationals, in exchange for Span.

Despite the height, Meyers showed a strong ability to pound the strike zone last year, averaging just 3.1 BB/9, a dramatic improvement over his collegiate days at the University of Kentucky. The right-hander also averaged just under 10 punch outs per nine innings as well, while generating a ton of groundballs (48.7%).

Projection: Meyers made 25 starts last season, 18 in A-ball and seven in High-A, and could very likely be headed to Double-A to start 2013. The data is rather limited at this point in his career, but he certainly looks the part of a potential front-of-the-rotation starter. And depending whether he can continue to limit walks, Myers could conceivably develop into a legitimate ace.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

#4. Byron Buxton, Age: 19, Position: CF

Arguably the best all-around athlete in Minnesota’s system, Buxton, the second overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, split his time between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Rookie Leagues, hitting a combined .248/.344/.448 with 10 doubles, four triples, five homeruns and 11 stolen bases.

Projection: Some of his impressive debut is lost on a poor batting average, though that can be blamed on a ridiculously low BABIP (.259) while in the Gulf Coast. Otherwise, he was everything that he was expected to be: a potential five-tool player. His advanced approach at the plate — 10.1% BB-rate and 21.7% K-rate – could mean that the Twins will push him to A-ball next season.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#5. Kyle Gibson, Age: 25, Position: RHP

Minnesota’s first round pick — 22nd overall — in the 2009 draft, Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery following the 2011 season. He returned rather quickly, making 13 appearances last season, 11 of which were starts.

Prior to the surgery, Gibson was the organization’s top pitching prospect, a hard-throwing right-hander that averaged nearly a punch out an inning to go along with above-average control. And he more or less picked up we he left off upon his return: 28.1 innings, 33 strikeouts, six walks and a lot of groundballs (53.8%). Granted that was mostly against younger competition.

Projection: Assuming he’s Gibson’s fully recovered, he still profiles as a solid #2-type starter. Minnesota will likely look to break him in slowly as he builds up his arm strength.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#6. Aaron Hicks, Age: 23, Position: CF

After turning in the best season of his five-year professional career, the starting center field job with the Twins is presumably his to lose, as the organization shipped out both Ben Revere and Denard Span for young arms. He spent the entirety of 2012 in Double-A, hitting .285/.382/.459, to go along with 13 homeruns, 32 stolen bases, and tremendous peripherals (13.9% walk and 20.4% strikeout rates).

Projection: Hicks isn’t quite a five-tool player; his defense was subpar in 2012. But he could develop into a complete big league player, capable of hitting in the upper-third of a lineup. He’s always shown an above-average to elite eye at the plate, solid-average power, and good speed. He could be a sleeper pick for 2013 AL Rookie of the Year if he makes the team on Opening Day.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

#7. Trevor May, Age: 23, Position: RHP

May, who was acquired in the Ben Revere trade with the Phillies, turned in another quasi-strong season in 2012, throwing 149.2 innings while averaging more than a punch out per inning. The downside, however, are the sheer number of walks (4.69 BB/9).

Projection: May, like a lot of young power arms in the lower- to middle-rungs of the minors, certainly has the ability to be a front-end-type starting pitcher, but the pure lack of not only command but even control makes it awfully difficult envisioning him fulfilling that promise. He’s already 23, owns a career 4.7 BB/9, and has yet to show any improvement. He’s likely headed for a backend bullpen role.

Ceiling: 2.0-win starter; 1.0-win reliever

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low (Starter); Moderate to Above-Average (Reliever)

#8. Kennys Vargas, Age: 22, Position: 1B

Vargas, who was suspended late last season for Phentermine, a drug used in weight loss, appeared in only 41 games in 2012, hitting an impressive .318/.419/.610 while averaging one homerun every 14 at bats. His total offensive production, albeit in a small sample size, was 80% higher than the league average. He coupled that with above-average to plus-power potential to go along with a strong eye (15.1%) and solid contact skills (22.0% K-rate).

Projection: Despite being in the Minnesota organization for four years already, Vargas has totaled just 667 total plate appearances, failing to top 191 in any of them. With that being said, the 6-foot-5 first baseman has always hit wherever he’s played.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player, conservative

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate, Conservative

  

#9. Jose Berrios, Age: 19, Position: RHP

Minnesota’s second first round pick in last season’s draft, Berrios had a successful — if not dominant — debut, throwing 30.2 innings while striking out 49 and walking just four.

Projection: It’s still far too soon to tell anything about the long term prospects of Berrios, but the early returns could not have been better — literally.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#10. Eddie Rosario, Age: 21, Position: 2B

Rosario, a 2010 fourth round pick, made the successful jump from rookie ball to A-ball, hitting .296/.345/.482 with 12 homeruns, 11 stolen bases, and an average eye at the plate. His total offensive production was 29% better than the league average.

Projection: The Twins moved Rosario from center field — home to Buxton and Hicks — to second base, where his bat plays exceptionally well. And to his credit, he handled the move well enough this season, committing 15 errors. He’s still several years away, but he could develop into a solid big league regular, perhaps an above-average starting second baseman.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#11. Max Kepler-Rozycki, Age: 20, Position: OF

The pride of Berlin, Kepler-Rozycki showed good offensive promise last season in the Appalachian League, hitting .297/.387/.539 while finishing fourth in the league with 10 homeruns. He also finished with a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases and has always shown a strong eye at the plate (9.8% BB-rate in his career).

Projection: After a three-peat among rookie levels — once in the Gulf Coast League and twice in the Appalachian League – Kepler-Rozycki has finally punched his ticket to A-ball, where he’s more than likely headed to start 2013. At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, he’s built well and his power potential could improve as he continues to fill out.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player, conservative

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

#12. Jorge Polanco, Age: 19, Position: 2B/SS

Among the many promising prospects buried deep within the system, Polanco has made consistent progress in each of his three seasons. The young switch-hitter, who made his professional debut at the age of 16, hit .318/.388/.514 against Appalachian League pitching. He also added 15 doubles, two triples, five homeruns and six stolen bases.

Projection: Polanco’s power took a dramatic step forward last season, practically doubling his ISO from the year before (.099 to .197). He did so while maintaining a low strikeout rate (12.7%) and improving his walk rate by two percentage points, to 9.8%.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player, conservative

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

#13. Travis Harrison. Age: 20, Position: 3B

Harrison, a first round pick in 2011, turned in a solid debut in the Appalachian League, hitting .306/.387/.466, to go along with 12 doubles, four triples, five homeruns and three stolen bases.

Projection: While his debut was successful, Harrison really didn’t show any elite skills. His eye at the plate was arguably his best asset. Otherwise, everything was solid-average across the board. A wait-and-see approach is needed to see how he handles more advanced pitching.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

#14. Mason Melotakis, Age: 22, Position: LHP

The third of four consecutive pitchers nabbed by the organization in the opening rounds of the draft last year, Melotakis could conceivably end up being a more valuable asset than Luke Bard, who was selected 21 picks earlier.

A 6-foot-3 left-hander out of Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Melotakis showed far better strikeout numbers over his final two collegiate years (9.96 K/9 and 10.16 K/9) to go along with promising control — in two of his three amateur seasons he averaged 2.55 BB.9 and 2.61 BB/9.

Projection: On top of the 62 innings he tossed in college last season, Melotakis was able to get in another 24 in professional ball, averaging 12.8 punch outs and just 2.2 walks per nine innings. He could very well likely make his big league debut sometime late in 2013.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win reliever

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#15. Luke Bard, Age: 22, Position: RHP

Bard, the organization’s third first round pick (42nd overall), made just a seven-game stint with the organization last year, striking out seven and walking seven in seven innings.

Projection: During his career at Georgia Tech, he was used almost exclusively as a reliever, making 55 total appearances in three seasons, only five of which were starts. His strikeout rates were rather consistent, but were far from impressive, particularly for a reliever. He did show impressive command during his final year (1.98 BB/9). The data is exceptionally limited, but he could move quickly as a serviceable setup arm.

Ceiling: 0.5-win player, conservative

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

#16. Felix Jorge, Age: 19, Position: RHP

Jorge is coming off of two solid, albeit short, seasons in rookie ball, the first in the Dominican Summer League and the most recent coming in the Gulf Coast League. He’s only thrown a total of 61.2 innings between both years, but has managed to post some solid peripherals: 9.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

Projection: The data on Jorge, unfortunately, is extremely limited. He did, however, show improvement as he moved between the DSL, a lower level of rookie ball, to the Gulf Coast League, an age-appropriate level of competition. Given his relatively light workload, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him repeat another year in rookie ball before moving up a full level.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 Miguel Sano Photo Courtesy of TwinsDaily.com



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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