2010 Twinkie Town Top 50 Review...11 thru 15

When I looked at this group today I asked myself, is this the best group of five in the entire Top 50? We won't know for several years how they all will pan out, but Chris Parmelee, Anthony Slama, Max Kepler-Rozycki, Carlos Gutierrez and Adrian Salcedo could be a special group of prospects.

11 - Chris Parmelee

The former first round pick saw his star become a bit tarnished the last few years. His slow start at New Britain and subsequent return to Ft. Myers early this year was meant to be a wake-up call. We will never know if the demotion was the reason for his turnaround, but Parmelee was a different player after he returned to the Rock Cats.

After hitting .338/.430/.463 in only 80 at bats in Ft. Myers, Parmelee would go on to hit .275/.341/.389 in New Britain. Once considered the best high school power hitting prospect in the 2006 draft, Parmelee didn't hit many home runs at New Britain (6), yet he did hit 25 doubles. After striking out to often in the past, he reduced his strike outs to only 81 in 491 at bats (16.5%) this year, which was his first season that he struck out less than 25% of the time.

Parmelee is now with the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League where he is one of the top hitters in the league. He has been on fire of late and is now hitting .373/.440/.547 with nine doubles which are the second most in the league. While playing with some of the top prospects in baseball, Parmelee has struck out only 12 times in 75 at bats (16%).

Although Parmelee began his career in the organization by playing more right field than first base, he was at first base in two-thirds of his games at New Britain this year. The Twins not resigning Brock Peterson to a contract for 2011 is an indication that Parmelee is scheduled to move up to Rochester where he will be one step away from fulfilling his dream of becomming a Minnesota Twin. If his play in Arizona is any indication, look for that to happen by next September at the latest.

12 - Anthony Slama

Since being drafted by the Twins in the 39th round of the 2006 draft, Slama has put up numbers that are best described as just plain sick!

His brief career in the organization is filled with awards such as the 2008 MLB.com Class A Relief Pitcher of the Year, playing in the 2010 Futures Game and numerous all-star selections. The reason for this is simple, Slama has posted ERA's of 1.01, 2.67 and 2.20 the last three years in Hi A, AA and AAA. Although not a hard thrower, Slama has a deceptive delivery which has enabled him to strike out 345 batters in 249 innings (12.47 strikeouts/9 innings pitched).

With a record like his one would think that he is looking at a long career in a major league bullpen, however, he also has a history of allowing to many walks. Although he has struck out 345 in his career, he has also walked 106 batters (3.83 walks per 9/innings), including 32 this year (4.42/9 innings) in AAA. When Slama received his first call to the Twins this summer, five walks in 4.2 innings were the reason he quickly returned to Rochester. With a tremendous track record in the minor leagues, he needs to cut down on his walks beginning in spring training. The Twins are an organization that prides themselves in developing pitchers that do not walk a lot of batters. If Slama cannot solve this problem, the Twins are not the organization for him.

13 - Max Kepler-Rozycki

We all heard much about the other big International signing of the Twins in 2009, sixteen year old German outfielder Max Kepler-Rozycki. Max and his mother moved to Ft. Myers last fall so he could go to high school while also participating in the Fall Instructional League. Early reports out of Florida a year ago were that this young man was rough and inexperienced, however, had a ceiling as high as anyone.

Kepler-Rozycki joined several other young prospects this spring, working on back fields learning the game. While Sano and Polanco returned to the DSL when their season began, Kepler-Rozycki remained in Extended Spring Training.

A 'five tool' player, the 6'4" Kepler-Rozycki has the body to become a power hitting corner outfielder with the speed to play centerfield. This summer he split his time with the GCL Twins, playing 16 games in left, 8 in center and 13 in right, finishing with two errors and three assists. He also hit a respectable .286/.346/.343 in 140 at bats with six doubles, a triple, eleven runs batted in and six stolen bases in seven attempts.

As is the case with his fellow top prospect who will also be eighteen next summer, Kepler-Rozycki could be back in the Gulf Coast League, in Elizabethton or even in Beloit. Wherever he is, his performance this summer was an indication that the Twins have a very talented young man that they will be very careful with.

14 - Carlos Gutierrez

Many were surprised when the Twins selected Gutierrez late in the first round of the 2008 draft. Only a year after Tommy John surgery while at the University of Miami, the Twins stretched a bit to get a young man they believed could become a top reliever. Gutierrez signed immediately and unlike most college pitchers selected by the Twins high in previous drafts, he began his professional career working out of the bullpen for the Ft. Myers Miracle.

The Twins moved Gutierrez to a starter in 2009 where he earned all-star recognition at Ft. Myers before being promoted to New Britain. This past year, Gutierrez again began his season as a starter at New Britain with mixed results. His 4.57 ERA in 122.0 innings wasn't great, yet, he was doing what the Twins had planned. Although the Twins have slated him to be a reliever, they had him starting to develop his arm strength and work on several pitches.

Gutierrez continues to work this fall in the Arizona Fall League. Although he currently has a 9.00 ERA in 8.0 innings, he was selected for the AFL Rising Stars Game this past weekend. In that game, he threw 1.0 shutout inning with no hits and two strikeouts. It was mentioned recently that his velocity is up to 93-94 mph which is where he needs it to be successful with the Twins. Look for Gutierrez to begin 2011 in Rochester with a trip to Minnesota likely later next summer.

15 - Adrian Salcedo

Salcedo is one of the exciting young pitching prospects to come through the Twins Dominican development program. After a special year as a seventeen year old in 2008 with the DSL Twins, Salecdo had a 1.46 ERA in the GCL in 2009 where he was named the sixth best prospect by Baseball America.

Salcedo was scheduled to be in the Appy League this summer, however, when the Ft. Myers Miracle were in need of a starter the Twins looked to Salcedo. At only ninteen years old Salcedo joined the Miracle and as would be expected, struggled. He made six starts, pitching 27.1 innings with a 1-3 record, a 6.26 ERA, 16 strikeouts and only 8 walks. When the Appy League began play, Salcedo moved back as a starter for Elizabethton. Salcedo led the Elizabethton Twins in innings (66.0), compiling a 4-3 record with a 3.27 ERA, 65 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 0.98 WHIP which was third best in the league.

Salcedo was twice selected as the Appy League Pitcher of the Week and Baseball America recently named him the eighth best prospect in the League. We won't know for several years whether or not he has the talent to become a front of the rotation starter, but all indications are that he could be that good.

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