Byron Buxton hit the first of hopefully many home runs for the Minnesota Twins organization on Saturday, going 2-for-4 in game number 13 with the Gulf Coast League Twins. With such a highlight in the books from a player who is likely to be near the top of our prospect lists next spring, I thought now was a good time to go over our top ten prospects...as voted by you, the Twinkie Town faithful. We'll hit each of the players who were voted into the Twinkie Town Top 10, as well as Buxton who is bound to crack that list the next time we vote.
Byron Buxton, OF (Unranked)
Drafted: 2012, 2nd Overall
GCL Twins (Rookie League)
Buxton reported soon after singing with the Twins, picking up just one hit in his first eight games (1-for-27) before heating it up a bit over the last few games (6-for-18). There isn't much you can deduce here, and there really won't be anything to get excited about for at least a year or two, but I expect we'll be keeping a closer eye on Buxton than we have on any prospect outside of Miguel Sano.
Twinkie Town's top ten after the jump.
Chris Herrmann, C (#10)
Drafted: 2009, 6th Round
New Britain (AA)
Herrmann's ability to take a walk makes him a semi-valuable offensive player, and he's already accumulated 20 doubles this season (already a career best). He also shows some ability to hit for power, and should finish the year with double-digit totals in homers for the first time. Since his bat heated up he's taken fewer walks, but it's not uncommon for players to take swings at good pitches when things are going well. He turns 25 in November, but we could see Herrmann as the Twins' third catcher over the next year or two. He's hitting .264/.331/.399 with the Rock Cats this year.
Brian Dozier, SS (#9)
Drafted: 2009, 8th Round
In over 1500 minor league plate appearances, Dozier has hit .305 with a .379 on-base percentage. Those are some pretty good numbers, even for a player who didn't necessarily hit for a lot of power. Baseball America ranked him the organization's 30th-best prospect post 2010 and 10th-best post 2011, but only after that power-filled 2011 campaign (.320/.399/.491 between High-A and Double-A) did they bestow him with the organization's "Best Defensive Infielder" ranking. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
After 28 games and a .710 OPS at Triple-A this year Dozier was called up, and it's been a mixed bag ever since. Shortstop now belongs to the 25-year old. After a solid start at the plate he went into the break batting .242/.267/.332, showing flashes of range in the field to go with a good arm. The tools for him to be a league-average shortstop are certainly there, it's just up to the Twins to give him the time necessary to see if he can get there.
Liam Hendriks, RHP (#8)
Non-Drafted Free Agent
Hendriks has been brilliant in his first stint(s) at Triple-A this season, but has been unable to put it together with the Twins. We've seen it all first-hand. If the organization can help it I'm sure they'd like to keep their Aussie in Rochester for the rest of the season to work out what they've known he needs to work out. He'll be back. But hopefully that's next year.
Chris Parmelee, 1B (#7)
Drafted: 2006, 20th Overall
A strong September, a strong spring, and questions about how much of the field Justin Morneau could handle led to Parmelee earning a roster spot out of spring training, in spite of the organization being forthright in admitting you can't put too much into small sample sizes. His OPS was .562 at the time of his first demotion to Triple-A, and that didn't change too much in his second stint until hitting home runs in back-to-back games just prior to his second demotion.
Still: when Parmelee lost some of his power in the middle of his minor league career it was because the Twins wanted him to work on his plate discipline in an effort to up the quality of contact. It seems to be clicking at Triple-A: .328/.487/.603 in 19 games, with four home runs, 17 walks, and just 10 strikeouts. He's not likely to ever be a Morneau-in-his-prime first baseman, but there's something there.
Kyle Gibson, RHP (#6)
Drafted: 2009, 22nd Overall
GCL Twins (Rookie League)
On Tuesday, July 10, Kyle Gibson quietly made his return to the mound. He started, pitched one inning and allowed just one walk, with otherwise a clean slate, collecting a pair of ground outs. It's the middle of a long comeback road, but this is the part we've been waiting for. Gibson is back on the hill, and we wish him luck. He turns 25 in October.
Joe Benson, CF (#5)
Drafted: 2006, 2nd Round
Fort Myers (High-A)
Benson has been all over the place this season, first moving down to Double-A from Triple-A, and now he's recovering from hamate bone surgery. It's hard to judge his numbers at this point, at least in the focus of how he's developing, but we know that his numbers prior to surgery were terrible. In the next couple weeks we'll see where the Twins put him. From there it's hard to say what will happen, but he'll have to show improvement again next year if he wants to remain at the top of the outfield prospect depth chart. At 24, and regarded so highly by people inside and outside of the organization, you have to hope he can perform in triple-A early next year.
Aaron Hicks, CF (#4)
Drafted: 2008, 14th Overall
New Britain (Double-A)
After another unimpressive stat line early in the year, Hicks has begun to pick up the pace a bit. He batted .288/.371/.424 and June and, so far in July, has hit .395/.477/.684. On the year as a whole he's put together an .811 OPS, stealing 19 bases in 27 attempts. If he's able to stay hot through most of the last half of his season, significant faith will be restored in his status as a prospect. He'll turn just 23 in early October.
Oswaldo Arcia, RF (#3)
New Britain (Double-A)
Arcia is putting together a third consecutive season of promising numbers, already being promoted to Double-A after throwing up an .893 OPS in High-A. He's now 78 plate appearances into his time with the Rock Cats, and while he's not immediately launched into the stratosphere he's becoming known for he's delivered in 26 July plate appearances: .333/.385/.458. It's likely that, at this rate, Arcia will continue to earn himself a promotion and it's very realistic that we could see this 21-year in Minnesota old before Hicks. And depending on how Benson rebounds, Benson might be looking up at Arcia in the next year or so as well.
Eddie Rosario, 2B (#2)
Drafted: 2010, 4th Round
After a blistering April and a (relatively) down May, Rosario bounced back in June before getting hit in the face with a baseball during batting practice on June 13. He's undergone surgery to insert a metal plate into his upper lip, and should return to the field in the relatively near future. On the year he's hit .293/.362/.473 with seven homers and 20 doubles. There's a very real chance that Rosario could be a second baseman who can hit in the next three years or so, and there's no real rush as he turns 21 in September.
Miguel Sano, IF (#1)
He strikes out a lot. The contact rates probably aren't where the Twins would like them to be. But really, how disappointed can you be in a 19-year old at A-ball who is slugging .505, is on base 36% of the time, has jacked 18 homers (leading the Midwest League), and by all accounts has the kind of power that is possessed by only the truly blessed? Sano is a monster, and he's delivering more than you could hope for from a 19-year old. He looks the part, and right now he's playing the part. I don't know about you, but I'm already wondering where he'll be two years from right now. I'm guessing: close.