Ultimate Prospect Smackdown--The CFers!

The Twins may not have a great track record of developing MI's*, or strikeout pitchers**, or 3Bers, or catchers not named Mauer.  But one thing they have historically done well is develop centerfielders, dating at least back to Kirby Puckett.  If Revere was at AAA, and Hicks was at Beloit, the Twins would have top prospects/players at every affiliate (not sure about the GCL or DSL.)

How do those prospects stack up, both comparably, and historically?  Let's find out.

*It's not like they haven't tried--remember high draft picks Paul Kelly and Derek Macallum?  (Tyler Ladendorf as well) Additionally, the middle infield at New Britain might dispute that notion.  Dozier and Solarte, IMO, are neck and neck for organizational hitter of the year.

**The last time the Twins had a high enough draft pick to snag an elite strikeout pitcher, they passed and took Joe Mauer instead.  And while they did pass on Phil Hughes and I believe Jon Lester in order to take Glen Perkins, Perk has kind of become a strikeout guy.  Unfortunately its for one inning a game.

Anyhow, on to the Smackdown.

The contenders:

Kirby Puckett, Drafted out of college in the 1st round, 3rd overall

Torii Hunter, HS, 1st round, 20th overall

Denard Span, HS 1st round, 20th overall

Ben Revere, HS 1st round, 28th overall

Joe Benson, HS, 2nd round

Aaron Hicks, HS 14th overall

Angel Morales, HS, 3rd round

Eddie Rosario, HS 4th round

Age 18 season:

Puckett College, no stats available

Hunter Low-A 293/358/439 80/25 K/BB  Krate 4.6 BBrate 14.9

Span Didn't play--late signee?

Revere Didn't play--he turned 19 in May of the year he was drafted (only 2 months younger than Benson)

Benson Lo-Rk 260/335/444 41/21 K/BB  Krate 5.4, BBrate 10.5 (played 8 games for Beloit)

Hicks Lo-Rk 318/409/491 55/40 K/BB Krate 3.7 BBrate 5.1

Morales Hi-Rk 301/413/623 72/26 K/BB Krate 3.02 BBrate 8.4 (played age 17 for Lo-Rk, .762 OPS)

Rosario Lo-Rk 294/343/438 28/16 K/BB Krate 7.6 BBrate 13.3

Curb Your Enthusiasm:  Ken Griffey Jr. 338/431/575 @ A ball

Reason For Hope:   Carlos Beltran 278/332/328 in Rookie ball (Gulf Coast League)

Hunter and Rosario had strikingly similar age 18 campaigns, but Hunter was a Low-A...Morales had the monster season at Hi-A, and actually didn't strike out much more than Hicks that season, and his BB rate wasn't bad either.  Hicks had the best OPS of his career...Carlos Beltran had a worse season than any of these guys..Morales had a similar year to Griffey, but he was two levels below.

Age 19:

Puckett College

Hunter Hi-A 246/330/338 Krate 5.8 BBrate 11.8

Span Hi-Rk 271/355/319 Krate 6.9 BBrate 10.2

Revere Lo-Rk 325/388/461 Krate 10.8 Bbrate 16.6 (10 triples, 0 hrs)

Benson Lo-A 255/347/368 Krate 4.1 BBrate 10.3 

Hicks Lo-A 251/353/382 Krate 5.4 BBrate 7.4

Morales Lo-A 266/329/455 Krate 4     BBrate 13.9

Rosario Hi-Rk 316/374/609 Krate 4.7  BBrate 14.6

Rain on the parade:  Eric Davis 322/467/561 in Low A 

Reason for hope:  Carlos Beltran 272/359/433 in Low A

Rosario is having a fantastic season, but keep in mind he'll be 20 in a month...His BB rate plummeted this year...Hicks, Benson, Span and Hunter had similar seasons (different levels) it shocking that Hunter struck out less than anybody except Span and Revere...great season from Revere--he doesn't walk or strikeout much...Morales still showing good power and poor plate discipline--similar numbers to Beltran


Age 20:

Puckett College

Hunter AA 263/331/401 Krate 6.5  BBrate 13.8

Span Lo-A  267/363/308 Krate 5.8  BBrate 8.3

Revere  Lo-A 379/433/497 Krate 12.1BBrate 13.9

Benson Lo-A 248/326/382 Krate 4     BBrate 12.1  (injury plagued?)

Hicks Lo-A 279/401/428 Krate 4.6 BBrate 5.9

Morales Lo-A 289/381/474 Krate 3.8 BBrate 10.3  (midseason promotion)

                Hi-A 272/347/349 Krate 4.0 BBrate 10.8

Sand in the Vaseline:  Jay Bruce 305/358/567 at AAA

Reason for hope:  Carlos Beltran 229/311/363 at Hi-A...

Hunter continued with the aggressive promotions and didn't look particularly great--different era?  Everybody else got to repeat Lo-A (except Span)...Hicks showed great improvement but didn't get promoted, Morales improved a little but did...he did improve his walk rate, and held his own at Hi-A...what did the org. see in Morales that they didn't see in Hicks...Benson still looking raw--didn't improve at all, but only played a half-season....look at Span and Revere--who looks like the better prospect?  Beltran had a lousy year.

Age 21:

Puckett College

Hunter AA 231/305/338 Krate 5.6 BBrate 11.2

Span Hi-A 339/410/403 Krate 8.5 BBrate 9.6

AA 285/355/345 Krate 7.4 BBrate 13.8

Revere Hi-A 311/372/369 Krate 15.2 BBrate 12.9

Benson Hi-A 285/414/413 Krate 4.4 BBrate 7.1

Hicks Hi-A 233/348/357 Krate 4.8 BBrate 6.8

Morales Hi-A 227/291/333 Krate 3.7 BBrate 9.7

Cuddyer AA 263/351/394 Krate 6.1 BBrate 10.2

Kubel A+ 298/361/400 Krate 7.7 BBrate 8.9

The Glass is Half Empty:  Matt Kemp 368/428/560 in AAA.  Melky freaking Cabrera 385/430/566 AAA

The Glass is Half Full:  Carlos Beltran 276/364/427 in Hi-A but...352/427/687 in half a AA season

Great year from Span--compare his AA numbers to Hunter's--goes to show you that power can be slow to develop, but if scouts say its there, they are often right (i.e. nobody ever thought Span would be a power threat; Hunter just hadn't developed his there is hope for Hicks.)  Hicks and Morales having similar (lousy) seasons--but Morales was hurt (he's improved his walk rate slightly.  Great breakout season for Benson--nice BB rate--similar numbers to Beltran's Hi-A, better than Hunter's AA...Beltran flipped a switch...Revere striking out a little less and walking a little more (but still not very often, though similar to Span--who struck out more.)  This is the age when a lot of 'elite' prospects made their MLB debuts.  Not happening with any of these guys--if Hicks wants to stay elite, he better figure something out soon.  As a hitting prospect, Kubel looked pretty good, but Benson is still close--except for plate discipline.

Age 22:

Puckett Hi-Rk 382/438/491 Krate 11.2 BBrate 12.2

Hunter AA 282/329/438 Krate 5.3 BBrate 17.8

AAA 337/347/543 Krate 7.5 BBrate 97 (97 PA's--he walked once)

Span AA 285/340/349 Krate 7.7 BBrate 14.9

Revere AA 305/371/363 Krate 9.9 BBrate 12.7

Benson A 294/375/588 Krate 4.6 BBrate 12 (96 PA)

AA 251/336/527 Krate 3.7 BBrate 10.8

Cuddyer AA 301/395/560 Krate 4.8 BBrate 7.9

Kubel AA 377/453/667 Krate 8.3 BBrate 8.3

AAA 343/398/560 9.75 11.4

Hunter really broke through, and improved upon his promotion--except for his ability to take a walk.  I assume he was so hot he was swinging at everything.  Keep in mind the Twin's AAA affiliate was in Salt Lake, which I believe is a very hitter friendly league.  Benson made a similar breakthrough, although it was a level lower.  I'm not sure what his AA numbers look like when you through out his first stint at AA, but they look alot like Hunter's AA numbers.  Revere struck out a lot more than he did the previous year, but still less than Span--and he walked more than Span.  Puckett owned the rookie league. Cuddy broke out, but with similar stats to Benson.  Kubel was raking-that guy was a great hitting prospect.

Age 23:

Puckett Hi-A 314/366/442 Krate 9.7 BBrate 13.1

Hunter Injured?

Span AAA 267/323/355 Krate 6.1 BBrate 13.7

Revere AAA 303/338/364 Krate 12.8 BBrate 23.5 (141 PA)

Benson AA 282/378/493 Krate 4.1 BBrate 9.45

Cuddyer AAA 309/379/594 Krate 4.7 BBrate 10.3

Puckett again dominated.  Span pretty underwhelming--still striking out more than Revere and not taking walks particularly well.  Revere taking walk even less, but he improved his Krate.  Benson looking like Cuddy-lite as a hitter--but he's been coming on of late.

Age 24: 

Puckett AAA 263/364/325 Krate 6.2 BBrate 21.8 (87 PA and never went back to the minors)

Hunter  AAA 368/403/727 Krate 8.1 BBrate 20.6 (227 PA--then promoted???)

Span AAA 340/434/481 Krate 5.1 BBrate 7.1 (184 PA, promoted)

Cuddy AAA 306/381/446 4.4, 8.72  (218 PA)

Puckett got promoted despite lackluster numbers, but consider that he jumped from A+ to AAA.  Hunter picked up where he left off at age 22, and then some...not bad Krate.  But look at his and Puckett's BBRates--anybody who doesn't think someone in the Twins organization payed attention to Moneyball is probably wrong (Revere being the exception.   Span broke through.  Cuddy struckout half as much and walked more.


I'm going by Baseball Reference's Range Factor Stat (Putouts + Assists/Games Played) No data for Puckett and Hunter.

Span 2.43 Revere 2.4 Benson 2.32 Hicks 2.49 Morales 2.26 Rosario 2.21.  Hard to draw too many conclusions from this, but they are all decent. By comparison, Carlos Gomez posted a career minor league rate of 2.59.  It seems like 2.4 is the cutoff between great and elite.  But this is just one stat.


Highest Career OPS: Rosario .889, Puckett .828, Morales .808,  Benson .794, Revere .793, Hicks .784, Hunter.751, Span .711.  For comparison: Bruce .917, Kemp .833, Cargo, .831, Sizemore .791, Beltran .782

Single Season OPS: (Min 200 PA) +.800

Lo Rookie: Hicks .900 (Age 18), Revere .849 (19)

Hi Rookie: Morales 1.036 (18), Puckett .928 (22), Rosario .983 (19)

Lo A:     Revere .930 (20), Morales .855 (20) Hicks .829 (20)

Hi A     Benson .817 (21)Puckett .808 (23)

AA     Benson .862 (22) Benson .870 (23)

AAA      Hunter 1.130 (24) --- Played at Salt Lake City. Hitter friendly league?  

SB Not filtered for games played

Puckett 99 SB/17 CS. Hunter 60/46. Span 120/60. Revere 154/54. Benson 93/59. Hicks 57/28. Morales 68/26. Rosario 36/9.  

Rough conversion: Puckett 83%. Hunter 360%. Revere 75%. Benson 66%. Hicks 66%. Morales 70%. Rosario 80%


Puckett:  Enough said.

Hunter:  Was young for his age and put up lackluster numbers before throwing the switch at age 22 in AA and AAA.

Span:  Like Revere, doesn't hit the longball, so not as sexy a prospect.  2nd best defender in the group.  Best attribute: Not striking out.  Really broke through at age 25 (laser surgery?)  I really like Span--I just saw the Disney movie Secretariat from a couple years ago (I don't much like boxing or horse racing, but they make for some pretty cool movies) and the actor who portrayed Secretariat's chief handler, Eddie Sweat, is a dead ringer for Span.  Denard should name his bat SecratariBat--but in looking at this list, I'm not suprised that the Twins were listening to trade offers for Span.  He probably wouldn't have passed a physical, but based on his track record, he's the least best prospect on this list, with Revere and Benson almost good to go in his place.

Revere:  What a crazy juxtaposition the other night--seeing Thome clobber #600 and almost seeing Revere runout #1.  He's not going to wipe out may catchers, so I suggest he sticks to triples.  His game is entirely predicated on speed, which means he might have a short shelf life, but I like him.  Other than Span's age 24 breakout (Revere is 23) he far surpasses Span in most every category, except BB rate.  I know he has a noodle arm, I've heard that ad nauseum--but how many runs or XB's does that really equate to?  At the very least, he became a major leaguer at a younger age than anybody else on this list.

Benson:  His hitting looks a lot like Hunter and Cuddyer--lower avg, strikes out alot, etc. He's had some good seasons, but still lacks the signature .900+ ops season that both of those guys delivered at a similar age.  If he can provide Cuddy like offense with Hunter like defense, I'd be hard pressed not to rate him as the best of the lot.  With New Britain being competitive and Rochester dismal, why promote him to AAA?  If Kubel or Cuddy or Thome gets traded, or if Span remains disabled, I'd expect him to get a cup of coffee with Minnesota this year, 200 PA's with Rochester next year, and then (hopefully) a permanent promotion.

Hicks:  Right now, he projects as a Carlos Gomez without the flailing at the plate.  Best defender, strongest arm.  Hard to know what switch hitting has cost him.  I hope he flips the switch like Beltran did, but given the other options in the system, his greatest value may lie as a pitcher.  Would you be more excited to see Revere hit his first inside the park homer or Hicks draw his first major league walk.  (Look at the stats--he walks a lot, but he strikes out at near the same rate a Benson or Morales.

Morales:  He's played a lot of not CF, and he may not project as a CFer, but his defensive numbers aren't bad.  If you throw out this injury season, take into consideration his +1000 ops season at age 18 and his more aggressive promotion, its hard not to think Morales has the potential to be the best of the group.

Rosario: Great speed/power combo.  Good base stealer, decent plate discipline.  I'd rate him tops if he wasn't marginally old for his league.  Fun to watch him and Sano this past few days tear up the Appy league.

There you have it.  I'm not ready to draw any real tough conclusions.  If I were the GM and another team wanted one of these guys in a trade, I'd be scared to make the wrong call.  If somebody wanted Span, I would feel fairly confident trading him (for the right deal!) with the knowledge that his replacement is somewhere in the system--if not on the roster already.

Thanks for reading--I'm not great at statistical analysis, so feel free to add/criticize.

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