Once again we're joined by the incomparable Seth Stohs, as he answers a bunch of questions on the Twins farm system that a number of TT's front page writers came up with earlier this winter. Thanks to Seth for his time, and hopefully it's given everyone a glimpse into what the future may hold for their favorite baseball team.
Ben Revere is a pretty polarizing prospect. Comps have been anywhere from Kenny Lofton to Juan Pierre or Brett Gardner. Assuming Revere continues to hit at around a .300 clip as he progresses (a big assumption, I know, but he falls off the table if he ends up hitting around .260), the key to his long term value is going to be defense. Do you consider him to be a legit Major League center field prospect? Or is he a weak-armed corner outfielder at best?
Well, I think that the Kenny Lofton comp is looking more and more silly every day. Revere will not hit for power. I know that there are some who seem to still believe he will. I just can't see it. If Revere hits .300, his slash line could be .300/.360/.360. If he hits .260, he could have a .260/.320/.320 slash line. His offensive value is so directly tied to his batting average which is very much tied to his tremendous, game-changing speed. What he showed with the Twins in September means nothing. He isn't ready, even offensively for every day play. I would actually like to see him spend another half-season in New Britain. I think that would be great for him, and it might give us a better idea of what to expect. I actually really like Brett Gardener, and if Revere can be Gardner offensively, that would be adequate, especially with the 50+ stolen bases. (I also don't think Revere has a real high SB%, does he?)
However, Gardner is elite defensively, and Revere, well, isn't. We know the arm isn't good. He's got great range, but like many, doesn't run great routes. In the vast CF in Target Field, I do think Revere can be a positive and get to a lot, but the arm isn't there. This sounds really negative, and part of this thought is that I read blog comments from people who think Denard Span is bad and Revere should take over in center (the few that write that, not a lot). To me, that's funny. As I pointed up above, a good year for Revere is a .720 OPS. In Span's first two big league seasons, he posted OPSs of over .800. Even last year, when he hit .265, he got on .330 and had a .350 slugging. Span's "poor" year in 2010 is what we would hope for from Revere early in his career. And Revere would like not post a +5.7 UZR.
To be fair, Revere has flown through the system to this point. I think he's at least a year to a year-and-a-half from really being a ready product, and after another full minor league season, we will know a lot more.
Aaron Hicks spent his second straight year in Beloit, showing a nearly 100 point jump in OPS, with very good patience (88 walks in 423 AB). Strikeouts (112, rate is up from 2009) and lack of HR power concern me just a little. Do you see Hick’s 27 doubles as indicative of him having 20+ HR potential? Also, as a switch hitter, what is Hicks' strong/weak side?
In 2010, Hicks was significantly better as a right-handed hitter, his natural swing. Of course, he still posted an OPS that was 20% better than league average despite his 'struggles' as a left-handed batter.
Hicks was raw in many ways when the Twins drafted him. But even last year, he put up really solid numbers despite having a long way to go. I had the chance to watch him play in two games in May (very small sample), and he has a very short, quick, compact swing. Sometimes it might be a little too big, but he uses the whole field and you can just tell that over time, he will add some power.
I think a great comp for him is Carlos Beltran because I think Hicks can do it all. I think he'll hit for a decent average. He could hit in that 18-25 home run range. He will play very good defense and we all know about Hicks' arm. And, I don't think we can underestimate the value of Hicks' patience at the plate. That is a positive thing, impressive for someone so young. Again, having watched him play, he doesn't go to the plate looking for a walk, but it appears he legitimately knows the strike zone. I still believe that he will be a terrific player in time.
Angel Morales had an interesting year, playing well at both Beloit and then in the FSL. His average was solid with lots of triples and stolen bases. But it appeared that his power left him. Are you aware whether there was a reason for this? We're hoping he was working on making contact or cutting down his strikeouts.
Seeing Morales in person was really impressive. The guy just looks like a ball player. I'm probably higher on him than most, but I see a five tool type here (with batting average being the question mark). I seem to get a lot of scouting reports on Morales from people, more than most for sure, and there is no one who is at all worried about his power. He has as much power potential as anyone in the organization.
When he moved up to Ft. Myers, he was quickly moved into their leadoff spot. He takes a lot of pitches which makes him perfect for the role, he has always had a terrific IsoD, and it also explains the high strikeout numbers. He has a powerful swing, but although he has improved at hitting breaking pitches, he still has work to do.
People forget that although he was drafted a year earlier, Morales is younger than Aaron Hicks.
The Twins have taken young outfielders from Puerto Rico high in three of the last four drafts (Morales, Ortiz and Rosario). Who rates the best for you in the long term?
In my recent Top 50 Twins prospect list, I had Morales in the top ten, and then Rosario in the 15-19 range. I've also said that I think that Ortiz is my breakout hitter choice for 2011. He was tremendous down the stretch for E-Town after a slow start in his return after missing all of 2009. And yet, Rosario probably had the best GCL debut of the three. They're all very intriguing, and very high-ceiling types.
Brian Dozier had unbelievable stats last year in Elizabethton. This year he hit well in Beloit and later better with Ft. Myers, becoming the Miracle's only all-star. Can he be a successful big league shortstop?
First, Dozier wasn't an All-Star with the Miracle--Chris Herrmann was their lone representative, I believe.
Dozier did, in E-Town, what you would hope a four-year college guy from a College World Series caliber program would do. He hit OK at Beloit. In the one game I saw, I wasn't impressed. He's not very fast, but all reports are that he makes all the plays defensively and has enough arm. He hit in the mid-270s, got on base at a decent clip... not sure where the 5 HR in Ft. Myers came from. He's not a power guy.
The best thing about him is that he has walked more than he has struck out. It'll be interesting to see if he starts in New Britain or back in Ft. Myers. Can he be a solid starter? Maybe. Looks a lot more like Matt Tolbert to me.
Who is the best shortstop in the system? Is it Dozier, Niko Goodrum, or someone else?
Here's holding out hope for Paul Kelly to finally return!! I mean, tough question because Goodrum and Sano are technically SS-like, but most believe that neither will remain there. I guess I think Trevor Plouffe is the best of the real SS prospects.
With health always being an issue, does Brandon Roberts have a shot to be the Twins #4 outfielder at any point in 2011?
Well, obviously Jason Repko is the guy to start the season as the 4th OF. I think if Span got hurt and missed extended time, we'd see Revere. I think if Repko got hurt, then there is a chance Roberts could [be the fourth outfielder]. He had a decent 2010 when healthy, even in AAA. He's not great defensively, not a lot of range despite great speed, and a poor arm.
Tosoni could probably play CF for a short period. I think several things would need to happen for Roberts to get a shot, mainly involving CF because Jeff Bailey would be the first, I think, if a corner outfielder was needed.
Speaking of outfielders, there are quite a few in the Minnesota system with some promise. Hicks, Revere, Morales, and of course Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson are a couple more. Do any of them strike you as long-term, full-time Major League prospects?
Not sure how to answer that, but at this stage in their careers, I think they can all be MLB prospects. Hicks, Morales and Benson have very high ceilings. Revere is what he is, but that can be a solid MLB player. Tosoni can be very solid as well, especially in a platoon role.
Jorge Polanco didn't make John Sickels' early prospect list for the 2011 Twins. What are your thoughts on him?
He didn't make my Top 50 prospects. Allegedly he's a great glove, and that's awesome. Hopefully that's all true.
It'll be hard to judge until he gets up to Ft. Myers where the fields are all terrific. He didn't hit at all in DSL or GCL, which means nothing, of course. Really, all we know about him is he's supposed to be good defensively and the Twins gave him $750,000 to sign. They've given a lot of guys that amount that we didn't know about that we wouldn't rank, so I just can't get excited about him. I mean, James Beresford got that same signing bonus, and we didn't rank him in the Top 50 until he got to Beloit and did well.
What's your prediction for Miguel Angel Sano's future? Will he be an A-grade prospect at any point?
I think that we could make the case for Sano as the Twins top prospect. He's so far from the big leagues, but he's got such amazing potential. From video, we see just how quick his hands are. He's got incredible power, and he's just starting. And, he hit for power at both the DSL and GCL levels.
I think the only thing keeping him from A-grade prospect status is being that young and in the GCL... I mean, he does still need to be promoted six more times to get to the Twins.