Today was the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster, if they wanted those players to be protected from the December's Rule 5 draft. In response, Minnesota utilized each of the four remaining slots on their 40-man roster to add a prospect.. Here's something on Logan Darnell, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Kennys Vargas, including our original commentary when discussing which players the Twins needed to protect.
Note: the Twins also removed B.J. Hermsen from the roster, leaving the 40-man with one open spot.
Logan Darnell, LHP (2010 draft, 6th round)
As a starter, Darnell hasn't put up impressive numbers but he's been steady. He reached Triple-A for the first tie this season as a 24-year old.
Commentary: Darnell's biggest asset is the fact that he's left-handed, which separates him from many of the pitchers the Twins could have protected (like A.J. Achter and Alex Wimmers). He's also a starter, which helps make him more valuable based off the club's current needs than another lefty, Ryan O'Rourke. But the Twins chose Darnell over fellow collegiate draft selection Pat Dean. Why Darnell and not Dean?
The best and most likely answer is that Darnell is seemed to have more valuable to Minnesota's big league team this season. His 11 Triple-A starts to Dean's six is certainly a part of that, but for a team desperate for starting pitching it's also possible that the organization felt that, of the two pitchers, Dean was the safer gamble to leave exposed.
Max Kepler, CF (2010 signing, Germany)
Kepler signed just three months before Sano, but it puts him [a year ahead of] schedule.
Prediction: In spite of his enormous talent, Kepler was still just 20 years old this season and wasn't as productive at SingleA as he would need to be in order to make a selection pay off for another team. It's still possible that the Twins add him, just to make sure he doesn't go anywhere, but if the Twins leave him off the 40-man roster I'd be surprised if someone selected him. Still - I think the Twins play it safe and add him.
Commentary: The Twins moved Kepler to first base for his time in the Arizona Fall League. He didn't play exceptionally well (.234/.306/.313), but it's certainly possible that the team was going to add him regardless of his AFL performance. While his move to first may or may not be an indication of the team's designs on Kepler going forward, one thing is certain - the Twins weren't comfortable exposing Kepler to the Rule 5 draft, regardless of how many years he is from being ready to contribute to a Major League team.
Jorge Polanco, SS (2010 signing, Dominican Republic)
Polanco was signed five days prior to Kepler. 2009 was a good year for international signings for the Twins! Although he didn't play for Minnesota in '09, this is still the fifth Rule 5 to pass since then.
Prediction: Even though he was just 19 at Single-A this season, he's a very talented young middle infielder. Added.
Commentary: Polanco's current trajectory has him being groomed as a shortstop, in no small part due to his skill set but also because the Twins already have Eddie Rosario on track to take over second base (barring his move to the outfield). With a very successful full season at Single-A (.308/.362/.452) under his belt at just 19, Polanco is going to start popping up on a lot of Top 10 lists for Twins prospects.
Kennys Vargas, 1B (2010 signing, Puerto Rico)
Even though he was 22 this season in High-A, Vargas displayed his typical ability to flat out smash the ball as one of our ten un-ranked position player prospects to watch.
Prediction: He's incomplete and a few years off of a Major League timetable, but while he's not as sure of an add as some of the other international signings I think the Twins still protect him. If they don't and he gets taken, Dalton (D.J.) Hicks will be there to take his place.
Commentary: The Twins clearly like Hicks' power. He smashed 17 homers between Cedar Rapids (13) and Fort Myers (4) this season, leading to a combined slugging percentage of .468 and an isolated power mark of .179. Of the four players Minnesota added to the 40-man roster today he's the biggest surprise and I have to believe his spot is also less safe, meaning I believe that he could be one of the first players bumped next spring if the Twins find themselves needing a roster spot. He'll likely be picking up where he left off last season, at High-A For Myers, but as a 24-year old he'll need to earn a promotion fairly early to keep his spot safe.