It's not just trades and consecutive Top-5 draft picks that has Minnesota's system as one of the game's best prospect farms.
Over the course of this off-season, we're going to hear a lot about how good the Minnesota Twins farm system is. The fact is that there is a great deal of top-end talent, and a great deal of depth to go along with it. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked Minnesota as having the best system in all of baseball, saying:
"...cover to cover, this is the best farm system in baseball, with impact players at every level and enough depth to re-stock after some of the monsters graduate."
Whether the Twins actually have the best prospects in the game is debatable, but a couple of things are certain: it's telling that the organization is even in the conversation, and it's not just trades and consecutive top five draft picks that have given rise to the system.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Minnesota's Top 10 prospects going into 2014 are:
- Byron Buxton, CF
- Miguel Sano, 3B
- Alex Meyer, RHP
- Kohl Stewart, RHP
- Josmil Pinto, C
- Jose Berrios, RHP
- Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF
- Lewis Thorpe, LHP
- Felix Jorge, RHP
- Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS
It's quite telling that players like Max Kepler, Travis Harrison, Trevor May, and Adam Walker aren't included. That's how deep this system has become. For comparison, Twinkie Town's Top 10 list for 2012 - just two years ago - looked like this:
- Miguel Sano, 3B
- Eddie Rosario, 2B
- Oswaldo Arcia, RF
- Aaron Hicks, CF
- Joe Benson, CF
- Kyle Gibson, RHP
- Chris Parmelee, 1B
- Liam Hendriks, RHP
- Brian Dozier, SS
- Chris Herrmann, C
Whether we're looking at top-tier talent or system depth, 2012 pales in comparison to how the Minnesota system looks heading into 2014. But what really stands out is how much of that influx of talent has to do with the organization's recent propensity for landing high-end international talent. Let's break down BP's Top 10.
Draft Picks (4): Buxton, Stewart, Berrios, Rosario
Trades (1): Meyer
International Signings (5): Sano, Pinto, Thorpe, Jorge, Polanco
But it doesn't end there. If you look at the guys likely to fall in the 11 to 20 range, Danny Santana
, Kennys Vargas
, and the aforementioned Kepler fall into the same category. Recent signings like Amaurys Minier ('12), Lewin Diaz ('13), and Roni Tapia ('13) will be the next wave to bolster the system in a year or two.
The Twins have been lauded in recent years for their ability to scout and land some of the best international talent around the globe. A terrible Major League team and what will be three consecutive years of drafting in the top five of the MLB draft
certainly helps, but through the mid-2000s that's exactly where the organization failed so miserably. Which is exactly why the truth of the matter is that, even if the Twins had been better over the last three seasons, they'd still be among baseball's elite organizations in terms of minor league talent because of their success on the international market.
It may still be a year or two before the Twins are truly going to look competitive again, but when they do turn it around this exceptional system will help to sustain a long window where the team will have the resources to win.