PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Kyle Gibson #44 of the Minnesota Twins pitches in the seventh inning during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Each year, major prospect outlets release a list of midseason top prospects, and every year it's always exciting to see which Twins' prospects have seen their stock rise and which have seen it fall. ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein), and Baseball America (J.J. Cooper) have recently released their lists of Top 50 prospects, each featuring the Twins in varying frequency. It's disappointing to see that there isn't a Twin who cracked each list, but let's take a look at each and see what they had to say about our beloved minor leaguers after the jump.
Keith Law, released July 14:
- Aaron Hicks (15)
Hicks got off to a horrible start, but is now hitting .294/.414/.447 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) since May 1. He's a true center fielder who projects to have above-average defense, a plus arm, the ability to get on base and more power once he gets out of the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
- Miguel Sano (23)
This 18-year-old projects as an impact bat at first base or in left field with big raw power. Weird stat quirk: He's a right-handed hitter but has a reverse split in 2011, hitting .311/.368/.607 against right-handed pitchers in 21 games for rookie-level Elizabethton.
- Oswaldo Arcia (27)
I have to think he would have been in the Futures Game if he'd been healthy. He's hitting .300/.345/.480 in a tiny sample in high-A as a 20-year-old who projects to stay in right field.
Baseball Prospectus, released July 18:
Sano was the only Twin to crack Goldstein's list, but he did so at No. 18 after ranking 31st preseason (which stands to reason, as several who were ahead of him -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Trout, etc. -- were called up to the Majors), but Goldstein is clearly enamored with Sano's power:
His full-season debut won't come until 2012, and he'll probably be a right fielder by then, but his power potential is nearly unmatched in the minor leagues.
I've asked Goldstein about his thoughts on Arcia and Hicks before, and know that he thinks highly of both. He told me earlier this year on Twitter that a healthy Arcia would almost certainly crack his Top 100, and that he was still a believer that Hicks' glut of doubles would eventually yield plenty of home runs. Hicks must've been paying attention, as he belted his fourth homer of the season the day I posed the question to Goldstein.
Baseball America, released July 7:
BA has two Twins on the list, and it's nice to see that Kyle Gibson hasn't been completely forgotten. He hasn't quite lived up to expectations thus far, but he's ranked 36th on Baseball America's list, which is a dozen spots behind where Hicks ranks at 24.
Gibson has an unsightly 4.68 ERA this season, but that's more than a full run higher than his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 3.62 suggests the mark should be. His 4.09 K/BB ratio, 9.0 K/9, and groundball rate of 57% all support that he's experienced some poor luck due to what's likely been some questionable defense behind him. When assistant GM Rob Antony appeared on 1500 ESPN Radio this weekend, he emphasized that Gibson is a starter, and that he'll remain in that role and likely remain in Triple-A this season, all but squelching any hope that he'll impact the Twins in a bullpen role in 2011.
After scorching months of May and June, Hicks is off to a slow start in July. He's hitting just .200 with diminished walk totals (13.8%) and an increase in strikeouts (25.9%). It's nice that for Hicks, drawing a free pass in nearly 14% of your plate appearances is considered disappointing, though. He's got a line-drive percentage of just 6% this month and only 13% on the year, which is unfortunately less than impressive.
Sano is still pretty allergic to walks, drawing them at just 6.3% (pretty much identical to 2010's 6.2%) and striking out 24.1% of the time. His discipline will come with age though; he's only 18 after all. His .241 isolated slugging for the E-Town Twins is a reminder that his power is very real, and it should be fun to watch that develop as the summer and years go on.
I think Arcia would've been able to force his way onto another list if he'd been healthy, so hopefully the injuries he's shown so far don't become a recurring issue throughout his career. Arcia exploded onto the scene with a mammoth 2010, and so far in 2011 he's doing his best imitation of those numbers. His overall line (.341/.393/.615) is astounding, and he's held his own since moving to Fort Myers: .304/.344/.464. I'd have loved to see Arcia in the Futures Game, as Law suggested, but given the consistency he's shown over the past year-plus, it sounds like we'll have a chance for that in 2012.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com and contributes at 612Sports.net and MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve