We've talked at times about how different the Minnesota Twins farm system is now compared to the heady years of the '00s. Those days were all about the pitching prospects while the hitting prospects were mostly filler. Scott Baker versus Terry Tiffee.
Yesterday over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels released his Top 50 prospect lists for both hitters and pitchers going into 2013. These lists are preliminary, but the proof is in the pudding. The list of batters contains four Twins, all in the top 22. That list of pitchers, meanwhile, is sans Twins.
Here's how Sickels plants our prospects.
Ranked by Baseball America as the #18 overall prospect heading into 2012, it's hard to see him losing ground after batting .258/.373/.521 with 28 home runs as a 19-year old in Single-A. Yes, he struck out in 26% of his plate appearances, but he also walked 15% of the time. There's work to be done but he continues to be a blue chip hitter with 80 power.
Sickels mentions that some of the rankings may change, particularly after the top ten, and if I'm honest I do expect Buxton's ranking to drop a bit once he really gets things settled. His high ranking does speak to his talent, however, and particularly after moving the Appalachian League from the Gulf Coast League he flashed a bit of that promise. With Elizabethton he was 22-for-77 (.286) while collecting eight walks and going seven-for-seven in stolen base opportunities. Eight of his 22 hits were for extra bases (six were doubles, just one homer), but power isn't likely to be Buxton's game anyway. He posted a respectable .368 OBP in Elizabethton.
It's hard to tell you just how excited I am by Arcia. With Sano, the expectation was always there to see him turn into an elite hitter. With Arcia it just seems to have come out of nowhere. His Dominican Summer League performance in '08 wasn't spectacular, nor was his '09 in the GCL, and although his '10 in Elizabethton was outstanding he still spent the entire season in a Rookie league. He blew up in Single-A last year, raked in High-A earlier this year, and managed to do even better than that after his promotion to Double-A in the latter part of this season. In 69 games and 299 plate appearances with the Rock Cats, Arcia hit .328/.398/.557 with 35 extra-base hits. I'm not sure Arcia isn't the next Outfielder of the Future to breach the Majors. Who else can challenge him now? Joe Benson? Nope.
In spite of being hit in the face by a baseball during batting practice, Rosario returned to Single-A Beloit to finish off what had started as a very strong season. As a 20-year old this was his first season where a majority of his playing time came at second base, where the organization has been looking to shore up a lack of depth with an athletic player who they felt was up to the task. Rosario's continued prowess at the plate has justified their faith so far, with a .296/.345/.490 batting line to go along with 12 homers and 32 doubles in just 429 plate appearances. His walk rate isn't great, and he was exactly 50% in stolen base opportunities this season, so there are still plenty of things to work on. But it's hard to look too pointedly at those gaps in his game when his overall offense continues to play so well at second base.