Guest author Seth Stohs of Sethspeaks.net knows more about the Twins farm system than anyone not working in the organization itself. Here is a report from Seth regarding five little-known but intriguing prospects just starting their 2010 campaigns at the short-season level.
Take it away, Seth!
Five to Watch (Short-season edition)
Mr. Sickels has asked me to occasionally post a blog about some players in the Twins minor league system here on his excellent minor league blog. I'm obviously thrilled to be able to discuss Twins minor leaguers any time, so I appreciate the opportunity.
With the start of the short-season affiliates this week, I thought it would be good to discuss five Twins prospects worth watching from Elizabethton and the GCL Twins.
You already know about Adrian Salcedo. I ranked him as my #9 Twins prospect after last season, and he was #5 in my updated rankings earlier this month. John had him at #5 all along. You have heard a ton about Max Kepler, the $800,000 bonus baby from Germany. The 17 year old, five-tool talent has a long way to go, but he is certainly one to watch. I have ranked Blayne Weller in my Top 25 the last couple of years. What I want to do here today is introduce you to five players that you may not have heard about yet, but who I think you will hear more about this summer and in the future.
Arcia has started out the 2010 season Elizabethton in style. In the first two games, the switch-hitting outfielder is 5-8 with a double, a triple and two home runs. (that equates to a nice 2.375 OPS, in case you don't think two games is too small of a sample size) Arcia (who signed in July of 2007 from Venezuela) is another five-tool talented outfielder in the Twins system. He just turned 18 years old in May. Last year in the GCL, he hit .275/.337/.455 with 18 extra base hits (including five home runs) in 167 at bats. He walked 15 times with 18 strikeouts. He was also 8/8 in stolen base attempts. Following his 2008 season, I ranked him as the Twins top prospect in the DSL (ahead of #2 choice, Adrian Salcedo). Although I don't anticipate him hitting .625 for the whole season, he is definitely one to watch.
The Twins signed Soliman as a hitter in March of 2007 from the Dominican Republic. He hit .189 with a four home runs for the DSL Twins in 2007 before hitting .211 with one home run there in 2008. In 2009, the Twins moved the hard-throwing right-hander to the mound. Last year in the DSL, he made 14 starts and went 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA. To jump from the DSL to Elizabethton will be a big jump for the soon-to-be-21 year old, but he would make a nice story.
Like Arcia the year before, I ranked Guillen as the Twins top prospect in the DSL in 2009. The Twins signed the 3B in 2009 and as a 16 year old, he hit .336/443/.409 in his first experience in professional baseball. It was only 110 at bats, but for such a young player to experience that kind of success is impressive. He walked 19 times to just 23 strikeouts, a very good rate. He will get plenty of playing time with the GCL Twins this year and won't turn 18 until late in August.
Guerra is a guy that many Twins fans who do follow the DSL closely are intrigued by. Already 20 years old, Guerra signed with the Twins late in 2006. He pitched for the Twins Venezuelan Summer League team in 2007 and was 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA. With that team eliminated, he pitched for the DSL Twins in 2008 and was 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA. In 84.1 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 75. After the season, I ranked him as the Twins #4 prospect in the league in my 2009 book. He was kept in the DSL in 2009 and was even better. He went 7-0 with a 0.38 ERA. He gave up three runs in 71 innings. He walked 12 and struck out 75. I didn't include him in my Top 5 DSL Twins prospects in my 2010 book. Due to his advanced age (I know, 20, right?), he could move up fairly quickly if he succeeds. In his first GCL start, he went five shutout innings and allowed one hit and two walks. Not a bad first start.
I figured I would bookend my Five to Watch with a pair of five-tool outfielders since that is something that the Twins seem to have a plethora of, and they have had success with. Ortiz was the Twins 4th round pick out of Puerto Rico in June of 2008. He debuted with the Twins GCL team that year and hit .274/.328/.419 with 19 extra base hits in 186 at bats. He was 4-4 in stolen base attempts. By all indications, he is a very solid defensive outfielder. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2009 season because of knee surgery. It will be interesting to see how he comes back after missing a year of playing time, but in terms of talent, Ortiz has a ton.
It's always fun to start reading the box scores from the short-season teams. How will the team's 2010 draft picks fare? With the ultra-athletic Niko Goodrum perform in the GCL? How will LHP Pat Dean do? Many said Eddie Rosario was the best hitter from Puerto Rico in this year's draft. How will he do? (he went 3-4 with a homer and a stolen base on Wednesday!) Will Alex Wimmers sign before the end of the summer?
With the Twins, it is also sometimes necessary to utilize a globe to find out where on a map some of these players are from. The Twins have players on their GCL team representing no fewer than nine countries. But it is also fun to see which players step up and play well. Which ones will appear in game summaries frequently?
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know.