Minor League Report...February 11, 2012

I will use today's report to review this year's Top 50.

The Twinkie Town 2012 Top 50 included 22 position players and 28 pitchers, although only two pitchers made our top ten. Seven players who were in our 2011 Top 50 didn't make the cut this year, Kane Holbrooks (24), Bruce Pugh (34), Brett Jacobson (35), Danny Ortiz (36), Dan Osterbrock (38), Bobby Lanigan (41) and Anderson Hidalgo (48).

Chris Herrmann made the biggest move, moving up to our tenth spot after not being ranked last year. Other players making significant moves upward included Eddie Rosario who moved up sixteen spots to second, Brian Dozier, twenty spots to ninth, Tom Stuifbergen, fourteen spots to seventeenth, Niko Goodrum, eleven spots to nineteenth, Cole DeVries was thirty-fourth and Logan Darnell who was twenty-first after both not being ranked last year.

The players dropping the most included, Jorge Polanco, sixteen spots to forty-eighth, Dakota Watts, nineteen spots to forty-first, Deolis Guerra, twelve spots to twenty-eighth, Pat Dean, eleven spots to thirty-ninth, and David Bromberg, who dropped thirteen spots to twenty-fourth.

The most votes cast in any round were 525 in the eighth round when we selected Liam Hendriks. The player receiving the most votes was Miguel Sano who collected 286 votes in the first round. He also had the highest percentage, 58%. The fewest votes were 113 in the forty-eighth round when we selected Jorge Polanco. The closest round was the twenty-third round when Manuel Soliman beat David Bromberg by three votes. The biggest win was Sano, who won our top spot by 251 votes.

A complete review of this year's poll follows the jump, including last year's ranking in parenthesis.

There will not be a report next Saturday as I will still be traveling home.

Our Top 10 this year were: 1 - Miguel Sano (3), 2 - Eddie Rosario (18), 3 - Oswaldo Arcia (7), 4 - Aaron Hicks (2), 5 - Joe Benson (6), 6 - Kyle Gibson (1), 7 - Chris Parmelee (14), 8 - Liam Hendriks (8), 9 - Brian Dozier (29), and 10 - Chris Herrmann (nr-not ranked).

Our Top 10 is led by Sano, who at eighteen is Baseball America's second ranked third baseman. Sano is followed by four exciting outfielders, although Rosario may be moved to second base. Together with Sano, Rosario and Arcia give the Twins three exciting young prospects who will match any organization's top three young position players. Hicks continues to be ranked amongst BA's Top 100, however, dropped this year as the baseball world waits for him to put his talent on display at game time. Joe Benson is a five tool prospect who we all saw during his brief September appearance with the Twins. All he needs to become a star is to cut down on his strikeouts and a bit more seasoning.

Gibson didn't dominate at Rochester. After the season we found out why when he had Tommy John surgery. He should be back in spring, 2013. After a very good year at New Britain, Chris Parmelee had a huge September with the Twins. Like Benson, he needs another half year of seasoning at Rochester. Liam Hendriks made a handful of starts for the Twins in September, giving us a glimpse of a pitcher who reminds me a lot of Brad Radke. Brian Dozier continued to play solid defense and hit very well, earning recognition as the Twins 'Minor League Player of the Year.' To say that Chris Herrmann came out of nowhere isn't totally true, however, Herrmann opened everyone's eyes by hitting very well at Ft. Myers, New Britain and later in the Arizona Fall League. He can be a very valuable player as a solid catcher who also plays excellent defense at either corner outfield position.

The second group of ten included: 11 - Max Kepler (9), 12 - Levi Michael, 13 - Adrian Salcedo (13), 14 - Alex Wimmers (5), 15 - Angel Morales (10), 16 - Carlos Gutierrez (12), 17 - Tom Stuifbergen (31), 18 - Travis Harrison, 19 - Niko Goodrum (30), and 20 - Hudson Boyd.

Kepler remains an intriguing prospect with unlimited physical abilities. He had a solid season at Elizabethton where the young German worked to develop into the player most in the organization believe he can become. Michael was the Twins first round pick who didn't play after signing late as he recovered from several injuries remaining from his college season. Many believe the Twins got a steal when he dropped to them late in the first round. Salcedo, who had an excellent season as Beloit's top starter, held his position. I look for him to move higher next year as he is that rare pitcher who could become an Ace. Alex Wimmers battled an injury in spring training, then walked all six batters he faced in his first start. Fearing that he may have caught Shooter Hunt disease, the Twins shut him down for much of the season. He returned to Ft. Myers in August where he pitched well ending with a seven inning no-hitter in his last start. The Twins certainly need this former first round pick to build off that start in 2012. Angel Morales is another exciting young outfield prospect, unfortunately, he missed most of 2011 with an elbow injury. If back on track in 2012, he has talent similar to the outfielders in our Top 5!

Carlos Gutierrez pitched better than his numbers at Rochester indicate, as he made a lot of appearances while injured. He is a ground ball machine who could help the Twins this year. Tom Stuifbergen has pitched very well in a lot of big games on the international scene. Unfortunately, he again battled an injury much of last summer. Travis Harrison was a supplemental round pick who is considered to have as much power as any high school player in the draft. I was told from someone who saw him in the fall instructional league that he was solid at third base. Niko Goodrum was the Twins' second round pick in 2010 when reports said he had unlimited talent but was very raw. He made a lot of progress at Elizabethton, especially from the left side of the plate. He is a gifted athlete who, in my opinion, has a ceiling as high as any Twins shortstop. Hudson Boyd was the Twins second supplemental round pick this year who is from Ft. Myers. He is a big, very hard throwing starting pitcher with excellent control. He is the player from last year's draft that I can't wait to see on the mound this year.

The third group of ten: 21 - Logan Darnell (nr), 22 - Madison Boer, 23 - Manuel Soliman (19), 24 - David Bromberg (11), 25 - B. J. Hermsen (27), 26 - Lester Oliveros, 27 - Matt Hauser (nr), 28 - Deolis Guerra (16), 29 - Tyler Robertson (40), 30 - Scott Diamond.

Darnell did a rare thing in 2011, moving up two levels. After beginning at Beloit, he led Ft. Myers in wins with a 8-3 record before moving up to AA late in the year. Madison Boer is the Eden Prairie native who was the Twins second round pick. He pitched very well at Elizabethton before moving up to Beloit. It has been rumored that the Twins will make him a starter in 2012. Considering that he has been pitching for only a few years, Manuel Soliman had a wonderful season at Beloit. David Bromberg had an excellent April at New Britain, that is until his last start of the month when he was hit with a line drive and broke his arm. I am amongst those who believe he shouldn't have dropped this far due to an injury. B. J. Hermsen was an absolute horse for much of the season. Other than his first few starts at Beloit and a few late starts in Ft. Myers, he pitched as well as anyone could have expected.

Oliveros, who came to the Twins in the Delmon Young trade, has electric stuff. At only 23 years old, he may be that late inning set up guy the Twins desperately need. Matt Hauser was rewarded for being one of the most effective relievers in the organization. Deolis Guerra again failed in his role as a starter at New Britain. After he moved to the bullpen, however, he was as good as any reliever in the Eastern League. Tyler Robertson was moved to the bullpen last spring at New Britain. He improved throughout the year, earning a spot on the Twins 40 man roster in November. Scott Diamond was the Twins Rule V pick in 2011. They liked him enough in spring training to complete a trade with Atlanta so they could option him to Rochester. He didn't put up great numbers with the Red Wings, however, he was solid in a handful of starts with the Twins late in the year.

The fourth group of ten includes: 31 - Terry Doyle, 32 - Nate Roberts (43), 33 - Matt Summers, 34 - Cole DeVries (nr), 35 - Corey Williams, 36 - Matt Bashore (44), 37 - JaDamion Williams (nr), 38 - Danny Rams (33), 39 - Pat Dean (28), 40 - Andrew Albers.

Terry Doyle was drafted by the Twins in this winter's Rule V draft. Doyle is a Boston College alum who pitched as well as anyone in the Arizona Fall League. Nate Roberts has been mentioned by Baseball America as being a special talent. Although he missed part of this season at Beloit with an injury, he hit very well when healthy. Matt Summer was this year's fourth round pick who was nearly perfect as a short reliever at Elizabethton. I have been told that a good comparison for Matt would be a younger Jesse Crain. Cole DeVries was the organization's Pitcher of the Month in April before moving up to Rochester. While with the Wings, he was one of their three most effective pitchers for the rest of the season. Corey Williams is a crafty lefty out of Vanderbilt who the Twins drafted in the third round, then went way over slot to sign. Look for him to join Boer in Beloit's starting rotation this spring.

Matt Bashore is a former first round pick who missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery before returning last year in limited action at Elizabethton. I understand that he got most of his velocity back and we all are rooting for this young man to be 100% back as lefties who throw 96 mph can be special. JaDamion Williams was the fastest player on the Elizabethton Twins and may be the fastest player in the organization. He also hit well over .300 average after flirting with .400 until August. Danny Rams is a former second round high school pick with a ton of power. In an organization in need of catchers who can hit, any improvement in his on base ability will rocket him up the organizational ladder. Pat Dean is another Boston College alum who made three stops this year, beginning in Beloit and ending in Connecticut. Although his numbers didn't equal Darnell's, his stuff may be better. The Twins signed Andrew Albers last winter, then watched as he pitched as well as any reliever in both Ft. Myers and New Britain. Later in the year, he continued to be effective when moved to the Rock Cats starting rotation.

The final ten are: 41 - Dakota Watts (22), 42 - Tim Shibuya, 43 - Lance Ray (nr), 44 - Evan Bigley (42), 45 - James Beresford (39), 46 - Tony Davis (45), 47 - Danny Lehmann (50), 48 - Jorge Polanco (32), 49 - Angel Mata (nr), and 50 - Jairo Perez.

Watts is a very hard throwing short reliever who pitched well at Ft. Myers, then did an acceptable job in AA. If he can adapt and dominate at AA this year he could find himself in Minnesota in 2013. Tim Shibuya is a 23rd round pick who went on to become the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year. Can he continue to be effective in a full season league? Lance Ray has a lot of power and many believe a big future. Evan Bigley continues to play very well at each level. Is he ready to take that last step to AAA? James Beresford moves up a level every year where he continues to play good defense and hit very well, albeit without any extra base hits.

Tony Davis is another effective reliever who often gets overlooked in rankings like this. He likely will begin 2012 back at New Britain due to an overload of pitchers on Rochester's roster. Danny Lehmann is as good defensively as any catcher in the organization. He also can hit better than some of the defensive specialists ahead of him which means we could see him with the Twins in 2013. Jorge Polanco is a defensive wizard who hit .250 average in the GCL which was good for someone his age. It is surprising that he dropped sixteen spots in this year's ranking. Angel Mata was the Ace of the GCL Twins staff. I thought he would have been ranked higher as I had been voting for him for a dozen rounds.

And the Fiftieth and last spot in this year's ranking went to Jairo Perez, in a run-off with Javier Pimentel, Steve Hirschfeld and Luis Nunez.

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