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Minor League Report...Player of the Year

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Good morning,

And welcome to the off season. This week we will vote for Player of the Year, selecting the player who had the best season in the organization this year. Our selection of the Pitcher of the Year will be next week with voting for the Rookie of the Year on September 29th.

Although many of the players we can choose from are also top prospects, some are either new to the organization or had a break-out season. Who do you think had the best season in 2012? Stop back next week when fischean will likely spotlight your selection.

A review of this past season’s performance of the eleven nominated players follows the jump.

Chris Parmelee began his season with the Twins where he struggled at the plate, in part due to limited playing time. In 38 games (103 at bats) prior to the all-star break, Parmelee hit for only a .194 average. Since his return in September, he is hitting for a .371 average in 35 at bats with three home runs and eleven driven in. At Rochester, Parmelee was so good that he was selected as the Red Wings Most Valuable Player. In 228 at bats, he hit for a .338 average with a 1.102 OPS. Although he had roughly half the at bats of players who were with the Red Wings all season, Parmelee led the Wings with seventeen home runs. His 49 runs driven in trailed the team leader by only five (Wilkin Ramirez had 54 in 370 at bats). He also scored 45 runs while hitting 17 doubles. Parmelee, the Twins 2006 first round pick, drew 51 walks while striking out 52 times.

The Twins signed free-agent first baseman Chris Colabello this past February. Other than a few weeks with the Tigers organization in March, 2006, the 2011 Independent League Player of the Year had spent his entire seven year career playing in Independent Leagues. One of three Eastern League post-season all-stars, Colabello led the Rock Cats with 19 home runs (tied for fifth most in the league), 37 doubles (most in the league) and 98 runs driven in which were second most in the league and two short of being the most in the organization. Colabello struck out (94) times, twice as often as he walked (47).

Twins minor league fans have been waiting a long time for the Twins 2008 first round pick, Aaron Hicks, to play like the top prospect he is. He took a step forward in last year’s Arizona Fall League and continued to improve this year. His biggest improvement was actually hitting for a better average left handed than right handed, .287 to .283, respectively. Hicks, who also was an Eastern League all-star, led the league and organization with 100 runs scored. He hit for a .286 average in 496 at bats with 21 doubles and 13 home runs, while his 11 triples tied for the most in the league. Hicks, who led the organization with the league’s fourth most stolen bases (32), continued to strike out to often (116) while taking 79 walks.

Catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann, who was a mid-season all-star, continued to get the Twins attention with another very good year. Herrmann was behind the plate for 83 games where he compiled a .995 fielding percentage with three errors. He had only four passed balls while throwing out 44% of runners attempting to steal. He played 27 games in left field, where he committed only one error, and one game at third base. Herrmann scored the league’s third most runs (91) while hitting for a .276 average with a .741 OPS in 490 at bats. Herrmann hit 25 doubles, one triple and ten home runs while driving in 61. He took 58 walks while striking out 89 times. Any question of whether or not Herrmann will be added to the 40-man roster was answered yesterday when his contract was purchased by the Twins. When the Rock Cats season ended, Herrmann began preparing for the Arizona Fall League. This call came as a pleasant surprise, a surprise that will add about $60,000 to his bank account.

Perhaps New Britain’s best player wasn’t selected as an Eastern League all-star. That is most likely due to his joining the Rock Cats in mid-June. Oswaldo Arcia was however, selected as the League’s Player of the Month in July followed by being their Player of the Week twice in August. Arcia began his season in Fort Myers where he hit for a .309 average and .893 OPS with 16 doubles in 207 at bats. Had he had enough at bats to qualify (383) at New Britain, his .328 average would have led the league. In 262 at bats, Arcia had a .955 OPS with twenty doubles, five triples and ten home runs. In 69 games, Arcia had 67 runs driven in. His combined average was .320 in 469 at bats with 76 runs scored, 36 doubles, 8 triples, 17 home runs and 98 runs driven in. Including both stops, Arcia struck out 107 times while taking 51 walks.

One player included in this year’s poll is a young Venezuelan who had a break-out year, Josmil Pinto. Pinto spent most of his year in Fort Myers where he hit for a .295 average with a .834 OPS in 349 at bats which earned him recognition as the Florida State League mid-season and post-season all-star catcher. Pinto scored 45 runs while hitting 22 doubles, 2 triples and 12 home runs with 51 runs driven in. He moved up to the Rock Cats late in the year, where he hit for a .298 average and .919 OPS in 47 at bats with two home runs. Pinto will be subject to the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40-man roster this November. Will he be added? If he isn’t, will he be selected by another team this December?

The organization’s leader in home runs (28) and runs driven in (100) was Miguel Sano. He led the Midwestern League in those categories while also taking the second most walks (82) which is why he was a Midwestern League all-star and selected as the League’s Top Prospect. Sano completed his first full season by hitting for a .258 average and .893 OPS in 457 at bats. Sano scored 75 runs while hitting 28 doubles and 4 triples with 144 strikeouts. Sano also has work to do after committing 42 errors. In less than three years after signing with the Twins for more than three million dollars, Sano has risen to the top of most Twins prospect rankings while also being ranked amongst baseball’s top prospects by Baseball America.

A year ago, Eddie Rosario was selected as an Appalachian League all-star while also being selected as their Player of the Year. Although he missed much of June and nearly all of July after being hit in the face by a line drive, Rosario hit a solid .299 average with a .835 OPS in 392 at bats. He scored 60 runs while driving in 70 (eleventh most in the league) with a team leading 32 doubles (ninth most in the league). Rosario also had four triples and 12 home runs while taking 31 walks with 69 strikeouts. With his first year as a second baseman behind him, look for Rosario to move quickly up the ladder towards the Twins.

The third member of the second place Beloit Snappers who we will be voting on is Nate Roberts. Roberts missed all of April and most of May before joining the Snappers as their lead-off hitter. Roberts hit .299 average with a .860 OPS in 281 at bats while stealing the organization’s second most bases (27 in 35 attempts). Roberts scored 60 runs and drove in 33 with 18 doubles, 3 triples and 4 home runs. He walked more often (44) than he struck out (37). Hitting for a high average with speed while posting an excellent walk/strikeout ratio makes Roberts an excellent lead-off hitter. Although this was a repeat year for him at Beloit, Roberts has been selected to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League which begins play within a few weeks.

When the Twins signed Sano to the biggest bonus they ever paid to an International player, the Twins also signed Germany’s Max Kepler. As Kepler learns the game as a professional, he took a big step forward when he was selected as an Appalachian League all-star. After hitting only one home run at Elizabethton in 2011, Kepler found his power swing this year by hitting ten which doesn’t include the two home runs he hit in the playoffs. In 232 at bats, Kepler hit .297 average with a .925 OPS, including 16 doubles, 5 triples, 40 runs scored and the league’s second most runs driven in (49). Kepler stole seven bases without being thrown out while taking 27 walks with only 33 strikeouts.

The last player to choose from is the Appalachian League’s Player of the Year, Candido Pimentel. Pimentel is another Latin player who had a break-out season after spending two years with the GCL Twins. Pimentel had the league’s second best batting average (.330), third best OBP (.405), second most hits (71), and third most runs scored (45). He also stole 16 bases in 23 attempts while taking 26 walks with 42 strikeouts. Pimentel, 22, is a bit behind the normal development path for a future star, however, his play this year certainly made everyone around the Appalachian League take notice.

These eleven players all had exciting seasons. It gives Twins fans hope knowing that there is a lot of talent down on the farm.