Today we begin our yearly reviews of the pre-season Top 20 lists with the Minnesota Twins. This is a review of the pre-season list. It is not a new list! These are pre-season grades!
This list was originally published October 29, 2012 and revised on April 4, 2013.
1) Miguel Sano, 3B, Grade A-: Destroyed the Florida State League (.330/.424/.655) and continues to show power in Double-A (.204/.309/.485); he's getting the hang of it. Remains one of the top prospects in baseball.
2) Aaron Hicks, OF, Grade B+: Earned regular job with the big league team in spring training but has struggled, hitting .195/.261/.361. He's shown flashes and they are sticking with him.
3) Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .257/.317/.408 in the major leagues, has some contact issues but I think he will continue to improve.
4) Byron Buxton, OF, Grade B+: His tools were known to be excellent, but his skills proved to be much more polished than I thought. Hitting .327/.407/.521 with 35 steals in A-ball; now rates as the top minor league prospect anywhere and a pure Grade A guy.
5) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Grade B+: 3.01 ERA with 79/28 K/BB in 93 innings in Triple-A. Promoted to majors and has mixed results in first four starts (6.45 ERA, 11/9 K/BB in 22 innings) but he has nothing left to prove in the minors. Just let him pitch.
6) Alex Meyer, RHP, Grade B+: 3.69 ERA with 73/27 K/BB in 61 innings in Double-A before going down with minor arm trouble. Supposed to be OK; he was showing excellent stuff and performing well until he got hurt.
7) Eddie Rosario, 2B, Grade B: He continues to adapt to second base and I think he can stay there. The bat looks excellent: .324/.378/.506 combined between High-A and Double-A, with no loss in performance after moving up.
8) Jose Berrios, RHP, Grade B: Has cooled down after a hot start in Low-A, now at 3.93 ERA with 76/23 K/BB in 69 innings, 76 hits. Holding his own overall but I wonder if he is tired as ratios have gradually deteriorated.
9) Max Kepler, OF, Grade B: Elbow injury kept him from playing early, but he's performed well since being activated, hitting .264/.339/.472 in 27 games in Low-A.
10) Trevor May, RHP, Grade B-: Hard-thrower has a 3.88 ERA with a 99/45 K/BB in 102 innings in Double-A. This is his second year at the level, with some improvement. I think I'd move him up soon to see what happens.
11) Travis Harrison, 3B, Grade B-: Hitting .260/.374/.479 with 15 homers in Low-A. Very solid bat with good power, decent strike zone judgment, needs more work on defense but he can hit.
12) Mason Melotakis, LHP, Grade B-: 3.83 ERA with a 55/36 K/BB in 85 innings in Low-A. He's doing OK but I'd like to see more strikeouts to project him well at higher levels. May wind up in relief.
13) Luke Bard, RHP, Grade B-: Has missed the entire season so far with a shoulder injury.
14) Joe Benson, OF, Grade C+: Hit .192/.256/.285 in Triple-A, prompting the Twins to finally give up on his tools. Claimed on waivers by the Rangers. A real long shot.
15) Jorge Polanco, 2B-SS, Grade C+: Part of prospect-laden Cedar Rapids lineup, one of the best collections of talent in Low-A this year, hitting .303/.352/.448. Makes contact, has some power, still just 20 years old, stock is moving up quickly.
16) Niko Goodrum, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .261/.372/.362 with 11 steals in Low-A. Extremely athletic, progress has been incremental, easy to overlook but still has the tools to thrive.
17) J.T. Chargois, RHP, Grade C+: Injured, hasn't pitched this year. He was drafted out of Rice, so I guess getting hurt is part of the package.
18) Zach Jones, RHP, Grade C+: Hard-thrower is having a strong season in High-A, 1.73 ERA with 51/21 K/BB in 36 innings, just 18 hits, 10 saves so far. Closer potential if he throws enough strikes.
19) Michael Tonkin, RHP, Grade C+: Another live-armed relief prospect, has a 1.80 ERA with a 46/11 K/BB in 40 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 12 saves. Reached the majors briefly and threw 1.1 shutout innings. Has a future.
20) Adam Walker, OF, Grade C+: Another right-handed power bat, hitting .280/.328/.542 with 20 homers in Low-A. Contact/discipline is still questionable for higher levels, but upside as a home run hitter is impressive. He can run too. He is 11-for-11 in steal attempts as a pro, was 40-for-41 in college. Think about that. Over the last four years, he has stolen 58 bases in 59 attempts.
21) D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Grade C+: Blew through High-A (1.10 ERA, 48/11 K/BB in 57 innings) but Double-A isn't as easy (4.97 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 38 innings). Command still makes him a potential utility pitcher.
22) Nate Roberts, OF, Grade C+: Played one game in May in High-A; has otherwise been hurt all year. He always hits when healthy, but he's usually injured.
23) Corey Williams, LHP, Grade C+: 5.46 ERA with 28/17 K/BB in 31 innings in High-A, 29 hits, 10 saves. Went on the disabled list this week after two poor outings.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER: A.J. Achter, RHP; Hudson Boyd, RHP; Tyler Duffey, RHP; Deolis Guerra, RHP; B.J. Hermsen, RHP; Chris Herrmann, C; Pedro Hernandez, LHP; Tyler Jones, RHP; Felix Jorge, RHP; Austin Malinowski, LHP; Angel Mata, RHP; Levi Michael, INF; Amaurys Minier, SS; Josue Montanez, LHP; Josmil Pinto; C; Ryan Pressly, RHP; Bruce Pugh, RHP; Taylor Rogers, LHP; Daniel Santana, SS: Caleb Thielbar, LHP; Kennys Vargas, 1B; Jason Wheeler, LHP; Alex Wimmers, RHP.
The Twins farm system continues to thrive, with Buxton emerging as the best prospect in the game, Sano continuing to mash, Arcia holding his own, and strong performances from several others. The need for high-ceiling arms remains, but the addition of 2013 first-round pick Kohl Stewart adds a potential ace starter to the mix, granted he's a high school kid who is some distance away.
Josmil Pinto and Kennys Vargas who were in the "others" section have seen their stock rise. Pinto is decent enough on defense and is hitting .318/.426/.503 in Double-A; Vargas is an enormous switch-hitter from Puerto Rico hitting .286/.359/.498 with 26 doubles and 14 homers in the difficult-for-power-hitters Florida State League. Thielbar and Pressly have performed well in the major league pen. Other risers include infielder Aderlin Mejia, catcher Matt Koch, first baseman D.J. Hicks, and outfielder J.D. Williams.