Catching Up: Twinkie Town's 2009 Top 10 Prospects

A review of the organization's top ten prospects, as voted by you:  the Twinkie Town faithful.  A full list can be found by scrolling down and checking out the left side content bar.

#10:  Luke Hughes, 3B/DH
Current Team:  Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Minor League Experience:  7 seasons
Age:  24

Hughes has had a great start to the year, batting .277/.378/.505 over his first 101 at-bats.  His five homers give him the team lead, with four coming off southpaws.  In fact, so far this season Hughes has destroyed left-handed pitching.  Unfortunately the fielding doesn't seem to be improving much, as he's already been charged with eight errors.  While it's hard to judge anything of his defense by the 'E' stats, committing eight of them already isn't a good thing.  Minor League Splits values his third base defense at -4 runs against league average.  Right now his value is still all offense, and because he's a fly-ball hitter he's going to have to start making better contact if he's going to stay productive.  A 15.6% line-drive rate doesn't do him favors, and he's popping up too often.

#9:  Deolis Guerra, RHP
Current Team:  Fort Myers Miracle (A+)
Minor League Experience:  4 seasons
Age:  20

Guerra's had an up and down start to the season, having had the bottom drop out in two of his starts.  He's a ground-ball pitcher, but at times he can be susceptible to getting rocked, particularly by right-handed hitters.  The fastball isn't there right now, which was supposed to be a big plus.  It's early, and he's only just turned 20 in April, but he needs to turn some sort of a corner and get the number of base runners under control.

#8:  Tyler Robertson, LHP
Current Team:  Fort Myers Miracle (A+)
Minor League Experience:  4 seasons
Age:  21

Robertson, like Guerra, has been sabotaged by a pair of bad starts.  Also like Guerra he's getting a lot of ground balls this year, which should do him favors if his defense can convert them into outs.  There will always be worries about those mechanics, but as long as he produces good results those mechanics will continue to take a back seat.  His low line-drive rate (14.1%) suggests some luck by the hitters (.310 BABIP), but continuing to pitch well should balance those numbers out.

#7:  Anthony Swarzak, RHP
Current Team:  Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
Minor League Experience:  6 seasons
Age:  23

Anthony is proving he belongs at triple-A after a somewhat curious promotion late last year.  Good strikeout rate, miniscule home run rate, good walk rate...he's earned the 1.70 ERA.  Even the 2.85 FIP insists he's pitching well.  Right now he's having success against hitters on both sides of the dish, and an impressive split is how effective he's been when his team is behind.  As a starter that's an issue because he's already allowed his team to fall into a hole, but that's going to happen.  Besides, to this point he's been good overall regardless.  Being able to stymie the opposition in order to give your offense a chance is a good thing.  If any one of the Minnesota starting rotation faulters, Swarzak should be the replacement.

#6:  Jose Mijares, LH RP
Current Team:  Minnesota Twins
Minor League Experience:  6 seasons
Age:  24

The first (and only) member of the list to make it to The Bigs, Mijares had a short stint in Rochester in April.  Over 6.1 innings he struck out four, walked one and allowed a pair of hits.  Nobody scored.  Since joining the Twins he's retired eight on strikes in just six innings, but on occasion has trouble locating his fastball.  His last two outings have produced runs, the last being horribly painful.  Luckily he's still one of the bullpen's best options, even though that statement is all relative right now, which means he's not in danger of being sent away any time soon.

#5:  Wilson Ramos, C
Current Team:  New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Minor League Experience:  4 seasons
Age:  21

Luckily Ramos' value is defensive, and he's a catcher, which means the .269/.289/.344 line isn't causing anyone to doubt his potential.  Still, he's generally hit better than this in his time on the farm, so hopefully he'll be able to adjust to the harder competition he's seeing at double-A.  He's done a bit better over the last 10 days, pounding out a .324 average.  In the minor league depth chart, he sits behind only Drew Butera.  And Jose Morales, if you want to count him.  Which we probably should.

#4:  Angel Morales, OF
Current Team:  Beloit Snappers (A)
Minor League Experience:  3 seasons
Age:  19

It's been a slow start for Angel, who's still striking out at least once a game but is doing it so far this year without the production.  The .587 OPS is very un-Morales as we know him to this point.  Versus righties or lefties it's all been a struggle.  We'll lean on his age and lack of experience in his first experience out of the Rookie Leagues, and hopefully as the season progresses we see some positive steps.  Right now, from how things look, I wouldn't expect him to make it to Fort Myers before next year.

#3:  Aaron Hicks, OF
Current Team:  Currently in extended spring training
Minor League Experience:  1 season
Age:  19

Hicks is getting a little extra work in, which isn't a bad thing.  The organization is stocked with talent at the outfield position at this point in time, which allows him the luxury of being able to have this time without feeling pressured to get onto a squad and put up impressive numbers like he did last summer.  Most likely he'll repeat a short season in the Rookie League, barring an injury or a performance so bad that someone gets the axe.  Still, after hitting .314/.401/.479 for the GCL Twins last summer, he'll be one to follow closely once he starts playing.

#2:  Ben Revere, OF
Current Team:  Fort Myers Miracle (A+)
Minor League Experience:  3 seasons
Age:  21

The speedy contact hitter is already off to a good start, reaching base at a .377 clip in his first sting at high-A ball.  The slugging is way down, at just .350, which might be closer to what you'd expect of a guy with his tools than the .461 and .497 numbers he posted in '07 and '08 in lower levels.  He's still an extreme ground-ball hitter, and he's hitting a bit over his head versus southpaws so far; a .417 BABIP with onlly a 12.5% line drive rate just isn't sustainable, even for a guy with his speed.  Still, the tools are there, and he's already stolen 15 bases in 29 games.  If he can leg out a few more doubles, which he likely will as he adjusts to better pitching, his numbers will improve and we might even see him in New Britain by the time summer ends.

#1:  Danny Valencia, 3B
Current Team:  New Britain Rock Cats (AA)
Minor League Experience:  6 seasons
Age:  24

Like his hot-corner counterpart in Rochester, Valencia is off to a hot start.  The walks are there, the power is there, and so is the defense.  He's a bit of a ground-ball hitter, but when he gets ahold of one, he really gets ahold of it.  His three homers in 84 at-bats aren't impressive, but they tie him for the squad lead and he has plenty of other extra-base hits to supplement his production.  Right now all the power is coming against right-handed pitchers, so if he learns to hit southpaws a bit better, his numbers will go through the roof.  The line of .298/.404/.524 is fantastic, and if Hughes gets a call at any point this season it wil mean a promotion for Valencia as well.  It's been a slow but steady climb for Daniel, but he seems to be almost a sure shot to breach the majors next summer if not this September.  He's a great choice for the organization's number one prospect.

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