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November 18, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Twins list

The Top Ten

  1. CF Byron Buxton
  2. 3B Miguel Sano
  3. RHP Alex Meyer
  4. RHP Kohl Stewart
  5. C Josmil Pinto
  6. RHP Jose Berrios
  7. 2B/CF Eddie Rosario
  8. LHP Lewis Thorpe
  9. RHP Felix Jorge
  10. 2B Jorge Polanco

1. Byron Buxton
Position: CF
DOB: 12/18/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 189 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Appling County HS (Baxley, GA)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #8 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .326/.415/.472 at High-A Fort Myers (57 games), .341/.431/.559 at Low-A Cedar Rapids (68 games)
The Tools: 8 run; 6 arm; 7 potential glove; 7 raw; 6 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: With only a short-season resume to work with, we decided to rank Buxton in the top 10 in baseball coming into the year, and he rewarded our faith by blossoming into the top overall prospect in baseball.

Strengths: Well above-average athlete; elite run; glove could end up plus-plus or better; arm is plus; hit tool is advanced; lets balls travel deep into the zone; quick hands and explosive bat speed; power potential is plus (some sources suggest it could be plus-plus at maturity); advanced approach at the plate.

Weaknesses: Still transitioning from raw athlete to skill player; needs to refine baserunning utility; scout sources are mixed on future game power output; has struggled against plus breaking stuff.

Overall Future Potential: 8; elite potential

Realistic Role: High 6; first-division/all-star

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to play at Double-A level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Just give me a second to take a breath and collect my thoughts. The sky is the limit with Buxton, but you already knew that. He has a chance to be the best player in fantasy with his combination of tools—the same type of value that we’ve seen from Mike Trout the last two seasons. It’s a clear five-category profile with impact potential in steals.

The Year Ahead: Buxton is a monster athlete, with elite speed, near-elite potential in center field, a potent hit tool and raw power that some think could end up emerging as yet another plus-plus tool in the coming years. He will move to Double-A in 2014, and barring an unforeseen developmental setback, Buxton will likely taste major-league action as a 20-year-old. One scout suggested Buxton’s career floor was Torii Hunter, which is both a ridiculous bar of success to reach and an absolutely justifiable suggestion based on the physical gifts. I don’t even want to discuss what the ceiling might look like.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

2. Miguel Sano
Position: 3B
DOB: 05/11/1993
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #21 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .236/.344/.571 at Double-A New Britain (67 games), .330/.424/.655 at High-A Fort Myers (56 games)
The Tools: 8 raw; 7 arm; 5+ potential glove; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: As a 20-year-old, Sano hit 70 extra-base hits over two stops, including 35 bombs—half of which have yet to land.

Strengths: Massive raw strength/power; 8 grade power potential; better athlete than people realize; can produce plus run times to first; arm is a 7; glove could end up being 5+; aptitude for the game.

Weaknesses: Leveraged swing with length; has swing-and-miss in the zone; can struggle against off-speed offerings; hit tool might play below average; hot corner defense comes and goes; good coming in on balls but struggles going side-to-side.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player

Realistic Role: 6; first-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; only 20 years old; struggled (somewhat) in Double-A debut.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Sano’s ability to contribute in home runs, RBI and runs scored is rarely up for discussion among analysts, but the two categories that remain are where the debate lies. Sano could hit 40 homers annually and still not be a first-round talent (Adam Dunn never was), but if he can either hit at least .260 or steal double-digit bases, that’s Giancarlo Stanton territory. With 3B eligibility, no less.

The Year Ahead: Sano is the best all-around power threat in the minors, with elite raw power and a hit tool that should allow most of it to show up in game action. His swing can get loose and he will chase outside the zone despite showing a willingness to take a walk when he’s pitched around, so pitchers with a plan and command of off-speed offerings can trip him up. When he connects, the ball goes a long way, and if he can improve his bat control and ability to square up movement, he could develop into a middle-of-the-order monster and a future all-star at the major-league level.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

3. Alex Meyer
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/03/1990
Height/Weight: 6’9” 220 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
Previous Ranking: #88 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.21 ERA (70 IP, 60 H, 84 K, 29 BB) at Double-A New Britain, 1.08 ERA (8.1 IP, 7 H, 16 K, 3 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 8 potential FB; 6+ SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: A shoulder injury limited Meyer’s workload in 2013, but when healthy he was a force on the mound, looking dominant at times in Double-A and taking another forward in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Length you can’t teach; good athlete for size; coordinated; big time arm strength; fastball can work mid-upper 90s; has touched triple-digits; good vertical action; could grade to 8; slider is easy plus offering and possibly a 7; mid-80s with depth and sharp two-plane slice; has flashed plus changeup.

Weaknesses: Command is below average; athletic but lots of body to control; can lose delivery; struggle to repeat mechanics throughout a game; can slow body on secondary offerings; changeup can lose arm-speed deception.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 6; late-innings reliever (closer)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; ready for major-league challenge; shoulder injuries are a concern.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The great thing about Meyer from a fantasy perspective is that even if it doesn’t work for him in the rotation, his major-league fallback plan won’t lower his draft slots much. In the rotation, he has the stuff to strike out close to a batter an inning, but with a slightly elevated WHIP (think around 1.25-1.30). In the bullpen, he could be a top-10 closer.

The Year Ahead: Industry sources continue to offer mixed prognostications about Meyer’s long-term role, and I can honestly say that I don’t have a strong feeling either way. The body is a paradox, with length you dream about but length you struggle to control over the course of a game. The arm strength is elite, and the fastball grade could reach that status with improved command. The slider is of the knockout variety, and even the changeup, which graded below-average coming into the season, now has some sources putting a plus grade on its future. In a rotation, he has the stuff to stand out, but the command and mechanical inconsistency could lead to erratic production; a gem one start and an early exit the next. In the bullpen, he could develop into a top-shelf closer, even if the command is a little shaky. Meyer is a low-risk, role 6 arm regardless of whether he is pitching in a rotation or out of the bullpen. Impact talent.

Major league ETA: 2014

4. Kohl Stewart
Position: RHP
DOB: 10/07/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, St. Pius X HS (Houston, TX)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (4 IP, 1 H, 8 K, 1 BB) at rookie level Elizabethton, 1.69 ERA (16 IP, 12 H, 16 K, 3 BB) at complex level GCL)
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 7 potential SL; High 5 potential CB; High 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: After being drafted fourth overall, Stewart made the most of his brief 20-inning debut, striking out 24 while walking only four hitters.

Strengths: Athletic build; good delivery; arm is very fast; fastball is a future 7 pitch; works low 90s and can get to mid-90s; creates good angle; velocity will tick up; slider is second plus offering; mid-80s with big bite; curveball flashes plus, could play as average-or-better offering; good up/down pitch; changeup projects to be average or better; command profile could end up above average; big competitor.

Weaknesses: More polish than projection; body is mature for age; secondary command is below average; changeup can get too firm/overthrown.

Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 1/2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; health concerns on resume (type 1 diabetes); limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Stewart has the higher fantasy upside than Meyer, but clearly the risk is greater. With two potential plus-plus pitches, the strikeouts should come in spades if he hits anything resembling his ceiling. And with Target Field at his back, suppressing power from the left-hand side, it’s not difficult to envision Stewart’s path to being a top-10 fantasy starter.

The Year Ahead: Several sources thought Stewart was the best pitcher available in the 2013 draft, a future no. 1 type that could move quickly through a developmental system. The profile is what you want to see in a frontline arm; plus-plus potential fastball, plus-plus potential slider, quality curveball for sightline/timing disruption, and a changeup that could be average or better. The command needs to improve, but with an athletic delivery and easy arm, the stuff could reach its potential. This is a very high-end talent that should move faster than most high school arms, and by the end of next season, Stewart could find himself in the discussion for top pitcher in the minor-league class.

Major league ETA: 2016

5. Josmil Pinto
Position: C
DOB: 03/31/1989
Height/Weight: 5’11” 210 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2006, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .342/.398/.566 at major-league level (21 games), .314/.333/.486 at Triple-A Rochester (19 games), .308/.411/.482 at Double-A New Britain (107 games)
The Tools: 5 hit; 6 raw; 5 glove; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2013: After over 1,600 at-bats at the minor-league level, Pinto erupted in 2013, hitting for average and power over three stops, including a highly impressive 21-game run at the major-league level.

Strengths: Plus raw power; good overall feel for hitting; short to the ball; nothing fancy in the swing; stays balanced; good approach; works himself into favorable hitting conditions; arm is strong; good catch/throw skills; glove is at least average; good receiver with leadership skills.

Weaknesses: Well below-average run; footwork behind the plate can be sluggish and slow; not an impact defender; potential to be good but not great hitter.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average player

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer (regular)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; major-league ready

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The most exciting thing to happen in 2013 for Pinto’s fantasy value wasn’t his breakout performance at Double-A or taking it up a notch at the major-league level. It was the news of Joe Mauer being moved full-time to first base that gets Pinto shooting up draft boards. A catcher who could hit .270 with 20 homers in short order? Sign me up, please.

The Year Ahead: Pinto’s 2013 breakthrough was legit, as I watched him in New Britain over the summer and came away impressed by his bat, his ability behind the plate, and his overall approach to the game. He’s not a middle-of-the-order hitter and he’s not a shutdown defender, but he is likely to be a consistent solid-average player at a premium position, one that could hit .275-plus with 15 bombs while playing average (or better) defense. It’s a very nice profile.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

6. Jose Berrios
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/27/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0” 187 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Papa Juan HS (Bayamon, PR)
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.99 ERA (103.2 IP, 105 H, 100 K, 40 BB) at Low-A Cedar Rapids
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential CB; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, Berrios made 19 starts and logged over 100 innings, but started to fade down the stretch and the electric stuff was a little sapped.

Strengths: Extremely fast arm; athletic delivery; fastball routinely works 92-96; very lively when spotted lower in the zone; hard curveball offers plenty of snap and depth; swing-and-miss pitch; turns over a good changeup; good arm speed deception; plus projection.

Weaknesses: Limited size (height); has to work down to create angle; struggles with hard contact when he elevates; struggled to maintain stuff in ’13; shows control but command is presently below average; can slip to the side of the curve/get slurvy.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; only 19 years old; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There are ballparks where Berrios would not profile well. Fortunately for him, Target Field is not one of them. He’s had a tough time keeping the ball on the ground in his short pro career thus far (less than 40 percent groundball rate), but the strikeout potential is real, even if he comes with a few too many long balls. He can be a very solid fantasy starter, just not someone to build a staff around.

The Year Ahead: I really like Berrios, and even though I listed his realistic role as a late-innings reliever, I think he has the stuff and the approach to make it work in a rotation. He needs to get stronger in order to maintain his stuff, and because of his size, he needs to refine his command and hit his spots lower in the zone. But with three quality pitches and feel for craft, he has a good chance of figuring it out and developing into a mid-rotation type.

Major league ETA: 2016

7. Eddie Rosario
Position: 2B/CF
DOB: 09/28/1991
Height/Weight: 6’0” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4th round, 2010 draft, Rafael Lopez Landron HS (Guayama, PR)
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org)
2013 Stats: .284/.330/.412 at Double-A New Britain (70 games), .329/.377/.527 at High-A Fort Myers (52 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 run; 5 power potential

What Happened in 2013: Rosario crushed in the Florida State League, and after a promotion to Double-A, continued to show off his plus hit tool, racking up 82 hits in 70 games against older competition.

Strengths: Excellent bat-to-ball; fast hands and a pretty swing; pure hitter; runs well; very good athlete; has good pop in the stick; might end up with average game power.

Weaknesses: Can carry over bad batting practice habits into game action; will drop shoulder and elevate plane for power; lacks the strength for this approach; glove at second is below average; arm can make throws but not a weapon; hit tool could end up being only carrying tool; could end up empty.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average player

Realistic Role: Low 5; second-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; room to grow; solid Double-A debut.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Here’s where the real-life value and the fantasy diverge. Rosario is not a good defender at the keystone, but fantasy owners don’t care as long as he has the eligibility. If he were to stick there, he’d have top-five second baseman potential, in the mold of a Jason Kipnis that just wasn’t quite left in the oven long enough (think 20 steals instead of 30).

The Year Ahead: Rosario can hit a baseball, and that’s going to take him to the major-league level. His swing is quick and fluid, but when he attempts to wear a power costume, it doesn’t fit and the outcomes suffer. I didn’t like his actions or approach at second, and I didn’t see enough feel for big improvements on that side of the ball. I can see a move back to the outfield where the above-average speed and athleticism would play better, but if he stays at second, it’s hard to envision an average defensive profile at the position. This is a bat-first player that could end up hitting .280-plus at the highest level, with extra-base hit potential and good wheels.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

8. Lewis Thorpe
Position: LHP
DOB: 11/23/1995
Height/Weight: 6’1” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Australia
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 2.05 ERA (44 IP, 32 H, 64 K, 6 BB) at complex level GCL
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6 potential CB; 6+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: The 17-year-old Aussie made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, and the scouting backed up the stats, as his advanced arsenal and execution made him one of the better prospects in the circuit.

Strengths: Projectable body; delivery is easy and repeatable; arm works very well; fastball works 89-93; touches 95; good arm-side life; shows plus potential curveball; tight rotation and vertical depth; good command of the pitch; can turn over a promising changeup; overall command profile is excellent; advanced pitchability.

Weaknesses: Still physically immature; velocity spike yet to be tested in workload; secondary stuff is still on the come (obviously); limited professional sample.

Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Extreme risk; will pitch ’14 season at age 18; complex-league resume.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: In a system with no shortage of dreams, Thorpe is the freshest one from a fantasy standpoint. Likely unowned in your league, unless you play extremely deep, it’s tough to match his star upside—even among 2013 draftees. It makes sense to jump on him in offseason drafts, especially in shallower leagues, with his potential to breakout in 2014.

The Year Ahead: Thanks to his international performances, Thorpe has been on the prospect radar for a while, but it wasn’t until his GCL dominance that he became a name you can’t forget. There is a lot of room to grow here, both physically and from an arsenal standpoint, so there will be ebbs and flows in the developmental process. If he can maintain control over his body as he fills out, while intensifying the stuff without losing his advanced feel, Thorpe could end up one of the better arms in the minors. At the end of the day (which is a long way off), the Australian southpaw could be a low/mid-90s velo type, with multiple secondary looks that play above average or better, all delivered in a smooth, repeatable manner that allows everything to play up thanks to strong command. That’s an abnormal profile. That could be a no. 2 starter on a championship caliber team. Look for another run in short-season ball in 2014 followed by a full-season breakout scheduled for 2015.

Major league ETA: 2017

9. Felix Jorge
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/02/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2” 170 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 2.95 ERA (61 IP, 56 H, 72 K, 18 BB) at rookie level Elizabethton
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: The highly projectable Dominican arm made 12 starts in the Appalachian League, missing 72 bats in only 61 innings, appearing to take steps forward with each subsequent start.

Strengths: Loose arm; electric; very good arm action; projectable body; athletic; fastball works 90-95; projects to be plus-plus offering at maturity; slider already flashes its potential; hard offering with tilt; turns over changeup and shows feel for the pitch; looks the part on the mound; plus makeup reports.

Weaknesses: Command is loose; fastball velocity fluctuates; arm will slow on secondaries; can lose pace/tempo in delivery; learning to attack with fastball, but can be passive at times and rely too much on secondary stuff

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings arm (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; 19 years old; yet to pitch at full-season level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Another potential 2014 breakout pick, Jorge doesn’t have the ceiling that Thorpe does, but it’s impressive nonetheless. His 4.0 strikeout-to-walk rate in Elizabethton hints at the ability to lay down strong ratios, but his changeup holds the key to his fantasy future.

The Year Ahead: This is a live arm that comes with some feel, a dangerous profile if everything clicks. With excellent reports on the makeup and aptitude, Jorge has a chance to not only stick around in a rotation but excel in that role. The fastball needs to find consistency, but it’s highly projectable and could develop into a lively 93-95 offering (even higher in bursts), backed up by a hard breaking ball and a changeup that he already feels comfortable throwing in sequence. He will move up to the full-season level in 2014, and a strong showing will push him up the prospect ranks and possibly land him in the top 101 by the end of the season.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Jorge Polanco
Position: 2B
DOB: 07/05/1993
Height/Weight: 5’11” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: .308/.362/.452 at Low-A Cedar Rapids (115 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 run; 5+ glove;

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, the switch-hitting Dominican continued his recent trend of hitting over .300, raking up 143 hits in 115 Midwest League games.

Strengths: Really quick hands; can put bat to the ball from both sides of the plate; line-drive stroke; pop for the gaps; runs well; good actions with the leather; can make plays; good overall approach.

Weaknesses: Lacks impact arm for the left side of the infield; better fit for second base; power is more doubles than over the fence; hit-tool second base profile, so he has to really hit; good run but not a burner; body needs to add strength.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; above-average player

Realistic Role: Low 5; second-division player/good utility

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; long developmental road ahead

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: For someone as fast as Polanco is, he’s really not much of a base stealer. In fact, he’s just 19-for-37 in his minor-league career. Without improvement in that arena, he’ll still clear the bar for ownership at second base because he can hit for average, but he won’t be a player to get particularly excited about.

The Year Ahead: Polanco can really swing the bat, and that has the potential to carry him to a major-league future. He offers some versatility with the defensive profile, so there is a good utility floor, but he has the chops to develop into a regular at second base if he develops to potential. He’s moving to the Florida State League in 2014, and given his balance at the plate, he’s probably going to continuing making hard contact with the baseball. The test will arrive in Double-A, which could happen over the summer if the bat really takes off to start the season.

Major league ETA: 2016

Prospects on the Rise:
1. LHP Stephen Gonsalves
: The projectable lefty could have (and perhaps should have) been a first-round pick in 2013, but fell to the Twins in the fourth round after some off-the-field issues raised questions about his makeup and down spring. With impressive size, raw stuff to build on, and feel, it won’t take long for the rest of baseball to mourn the decision to pass on Gonsalves, especially if that decision was based on a minor marijuana indiscretion. The arsenal isn’t there yet, but the velocity will continue to creep up as the delivery refines, and with a very promising changeup already in the arsenal, a major breakout could be coming in 2014.

2. RHP Luke Bard: Assorted injuries have stalled the former first-rounder’s progress since he was drafted in 2012, but if we get a chance to see a healthy arm in 2014, the results could push Bard up prospect lists and return him to the major-league fast track. It’s a power reliever profile, but a good one, with an electric fastball/slider combination thrown with purpose.

3. RHP Ryan Eades: It’s not the sexiest profile, and perhaps a throwback pitcher to the days when the Twins were known for their predilection of solid-average/pitch-to-contact types, but Eades might have more to offer than just a backend projection. With a low-90s fastball and good feel for the secondary arsenal, the former LSU arm will look to take a step forward in 2014, perhaps emerging as yet another fast-moving pitcher in a very deep system.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP Trevor May: In all honesty, May should be a lot better prospect than he is; he has plus velocity and he shows the ability to execute a deep secondary arsenal. Perhaps it’s a lack of feel or a delivery that works against his height advantage, but the full package rarely comes together on the mound. I think he finds his role in the back of a major-league rotation, but based on his size and stuff, the developmental outcome should have been better.

2. RHP Michael Tonkin: Abnormally large human with an angular 93-96 mph fastball and good, two-plane slider, Tonkin is ready for an extended look at the major-league level. He has good command for a max-effort power arm, and he should be able to find sustainable success at that level, most likely profiling as a quality 7th/8th inning type.

3. IF Danny Santana: I’m not sold that Santana’s bat is going to play as regular, but with plus-plus speed, contact ability from both sides of the plate, and defensive versatility, I think he carves out a career as a utility player. Some believe in the bat more than I do and project a second-division future at shortstop, but I think major-league quality pitching is going to expose the bat for what it is. The aforementioned skills will still make him a valuable member of a 25-man roster at some point in 2014.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Byron Buxton
  2. Miguel Sano
  3. Alex Meyer
  4. Kohl Stewart
  5. Josmil Pinto
  6. Oswaldo Arcia
  7. Aaron Hicks
  8. Jose Berrios
  9. Eddie Rosario
  10. Lewis Thorpe

There are some serious impact players at the top here. Buxton and Sano are obviously exceptional talents, but I think people routinely underrate Meyer and now Stewart. Pinto finally exploded this year, and when the likely outcome is an average everyday catcher, that’s lofty praise.

Oswaldo Arcia is a pure bat-first prospect with only modest defensive contributions likely, but with that said his bat has a chance to sit in the middle of the order. He suffered through ups and downs as a rookie but his .251/.304/.430 line hints at what could lie ahead. Pitchers adjusted to him late in the year and he will have to demonstrate that he can counter those adjustments in 2014. If he is successful, he could turn into a quality hitter with 20-plus home runs and plenty of doubles, giving the Twins an offensive force they sorely need to compliment Joe Mauer in the middle of the lineup.

Ranked ahead of Arcia on this list a year ago, Hicks made a surprise appearance on the Twins Opening Day roster, and after a horrendous start he showed some signs of potential throughout June and July, posting a .679 OPS. The flashes of progress were small, but Hicks has always taken time to adjust at the plate. He may never be a stud in the batter’s box but he has enough tools to contribute offensively while playing very good defense up the middle and showing good arm strength. Hicks isn’t a star in the making, but there is a high likelihood that he contributes in the big leagues for a long time.

All told, the Twins are going to need guys like Buxton, Sano, Meyer, and Stewart to maximize their potential to help get them on track toward building another winner in the Twin Cities. Precious few players on the current big-league roster should be expected to contribute to the next quality Twins club, meaning the burden of production and winning games falls to a crop of five or six young players that are among the best in the game. –Mark Anderson

A Parting Thought: Cover to cover, this is the best farm system in baseball, with impact players at every level and enough depth to re-stock after some of the monsters graduate.

***

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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues,  Top 10

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