As we look at the rising stars in the system, you would expect that some of the really good ones might jump a level and begin 2006 two levels higher than they ended 2005.
Why this might not happen for many players, however, is that the Twins have a history of being conservative with player development and moving players slowly. It also may not happen to some because they are blocked from making a two level move by another top prospect at that level. Following are several players who are candidates for a two level jump.
There really aren't any players on the year ending Ft. Myers roster that could make a two level jump to Rochester. Perkins, Span, Moses and Blackburn all may have a chance to start at Rochester, however, they moved up to New Britain midway through 2005. It is more realistic however, that they all will begin the season at New Britain with all candidates to move to AAA during the season.
There are several players on the year ending Beloit squad that could begin the season with the AA Rock Cats. The most likely candidate actually wasn't on the Beloit squad, rather Alexi Casilla was on the Angels Midwest League squad. Everything about Casilla indicates that he should be able to move quickly up the ladder and it would not be a surprise to see him begin the season in AA. Other players that could be considered to begin the season at New Britain would include David Winfree, Deacon Burns and Jeremy Pickrel. Winfree will likely begin the season however at Ft. Myers as Moses will be at New Britain. Assuming that Doug Deeds and Alex Romero begin the season at Rochester, New Britain may have an opening for three or four young outfielders. One will likely be Trent Oeltjen from Ft. Myers. The others will likely include off season pickups Brent Krause, Eric Andrus (minor league Rule 5), and Jason Grove, however, should Burns or Pickrel have a great spring they could make the jump to AA.
With Elizabethton being a team that was loaded in 2005, one would think that several of the Rookie League Twins would skip Beloit and go straight to Ft. Myers. The only problem is that Beloit also had a very solid starting 8 and excellent pitching staff. There are several players however, who could make this jump. Perhaps the most likely is Alexander Smit, who will likely be in Ft. Myers if he remains in the bullpen. If they move Smit back to the starting rotation, look for him to return to Beloit as the Ft. Myers starting rotation is overloaded with potential starters. Another candidate is second baseman/left fielder Juan Portes, who is one of the most exciting young hitters in the organization. Elizabethton had three excellent catchers (Sean Richardson, Caleb Moore and Eli Tintor) and it is likely that one of them will begin at Ft. Myers, unless 18 year old Allan de San Miguel returns to Ft. Myers where he finished the season after being promoted from the GCL. Another candidate would be Elizabethton's top hitter Erik Lis, however, he will likely be blocked by Woodard and Brown.
The Beloit Snappers will normally have the most players making a two level jump from the GCL Twins to low A ball. One player that appears to be an excellent candidate is Allan de San Miguel, who must be considered as coming from the GCL even though he did finish the season at Ft. Myers as an injury replacement. Pitchers that should have a real chance of moving to Beloit include Kyle Edlich, Matt Williams, Aaron Crain and Alex Burnett. The GCL Twins double play combination of Andrew Thompson and Paul Kelly will likely begin the season with Beloit, as will top power hitter Danny Santiesteban. Although Erik Lis will likely move from Elizabethton to Beloit, one of two first basemen from the GCL Twins will likely begin at Beloit. Most would expect this player to be highly touted power hitting Henry Sanchez. The Twins are very high on the GCL Twins top hitter, Josh Dean, who will also have a legitimate shot at being the first baseman to make the jump to Beloit.
Spring training will prove to be an exciting time as all the Twins young talent battles for slots in the organization in 2006. It is also possible or even likely, that a player or two who didn't have a great 2005 will have a great spring and skip a level. It will be fun to track who begins the season at which levels the first week of April