As "Prospect List Season" kicks off, Baseball America is running through each league in the minors and determining a Top 20 list of prospects for each. They've already released their lists for 13 leagues, three of which involve leagues with Twins affiliates.
We'll update this post as BA continues to release their lists, being sure to include any Twins prospects that make an appearance. Excerpts in italics are taken from prospect profiles I've written for Twnkie Town recently, and will be linked at the end of this post.
Gulf Coast League
Lewis Thorpe, LHP (#7)
Minnesota's latest Aussie has a number of distinctions to roll through: he's the youngest pitcher in the system with the highest strikeout rate (13.1 K/9); his walk-to-strikeout ratio is better than the ace of your video game's baseball team (10.7-to-1.00); his WHIP is second in the organization among pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings (0.86).
Thorpe signed with the Twins around the same time as Amaurys Minier, and was called Australia's best prospect by Baseball America. His fastball sits right around 90mph and is more developed than his other pitches, but regardless of his stuff he owned his league this season with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts and four relief appearances: 32 hits in 44 innings, 64 strikeouts, six walks, and just two home runs. No doubt the Twins will try to put him through Elizabethton next season, but if he's anywhere nearly as effective as he was this summer then I hope they give him a turn in Cedar Rapids at the end of the year.
Jorge spent his age-17 season in the Dominican Summer League and last season with the GCL Twins, before making all 12 of his starts in 2013 for Elizabethton. In 61 innings he struck out 72 batters, walked 18, and allowed 29 runs on 56 hits for a 2.95 ERA. He was a highly sought after international prospect in 2011, and it's safe to say nobody in Minnesota regrets their push to sign him.
Jorge already has a good fastball that will only get stronger and faster, and provided his breaking and off-speed offerings continue to improve he'll be one of the organization's more highly regarded pitching prospects. It's going to be another three or four years before he gets close to the Majors and before we know what kind of a ceiling he really has, but there's a lot of potential and he's definitely exciting.
Stuart Turner, C (#18)
Turner doesn't appear on any of our prospect lists, which isn't much of a surprise considering he was only just drafted this past summer. The third-round pick made a single-game appearance at Double-A, but it's nothing to read into. He spent the bulk of his summer in Elizabethton, playing in 34 games and hitting 272/.345.384. As a collegiate pick, Turner should be promoted a bit more aggressively over the next year or so. His 8.5% walk rate is good but not great, and he also turned in three homers and five doubles in 142 plate appearances in E-Town.
Turner drew attention heading into the draft this year because of his ability to throw out runners attempting to steal bases and because of his bat, where he'd built a reputation for having a bit of power. We'll see how those things develop going forward.
Byron Buxton, CF (#1)
Buxton moved on from the Midwestern League, but he still left quite an impression. He finished second in the league in batting average (.341), first in on-base percentage (.431), first in slugging percentage (.559), and tied for third in triples with Jorge Polanco (10). He was also top ten in stolen bases (38). All in spite of playing in roughly half as many games as most of the players on the leader board.
Jose Berrios, RHP (#13)
Berrios tired a bit at the end of the season but still posted good numbers across the board, making 19 starts and tossing 103.2 innings for the Kernels. With 2014 being his second time through a full minor league season, expect his durability and stamina to take him further. I'll also be interested to see how aggressively the Twins move him along.
Adam Walker, RF (#15)
Walker led the Midwest League in home runs (27) and runs batted in (109), while finishing in the top ten in doubles (31) and top five in slugging percentage (.526). At 21 years in and in just his first full season, Walker looked good. Like Berrios we'll see how those numbers change/improve now that he has that extended season experience under his belt.
Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS (#20)
With only slightly more time at second, the 19-year old Polanco proved that his offensive performance in the short-season Rookie League in 2012 wasn't a mirage. Among these four players he's the most likely to start the season at Single-A again in 2014, simply due to his age, but there is no doubt in my mind that he'll finish the season in Advanced-A. After Eddie Rosario, Polanco is the most exciting middle infield prospect in the system.
Florida State League
Byron Buxton, CF (#1)
After playing half a season in the Midwest League, and still being good enough to be the league's top prospect, Buxton was promoted to Fort Myers where, for half a season, he was also good enough to be the league's best prospect. Is that incredibly awesome? Yes. Does it help build hype to the point where it's going to be difficult for Buxton to live up to expectations? Maybe.
Miguel Sano, 3B (#2)
Rocketing up the prospect rankings with Buxton, Sano's profile features more than just prolific power. Baseball America loves his arm, and scouting reports continue to talk about his improving defensive chops. He also has pretty good strike zone judgement, with a 12% walk rate through his minor league career.
But let's be honest: it all comes back to the power stroke. Since 2011 his isolated power has averaged better than .300.
Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF (#12)
Rosario, like Sano, saw his numbers dip after the promotion to Double-A, but his .329/.377/.527 triple slash in 52 games at Cedar Rapids was good enough to get him on this list. We still don't know if Rosario will be moved back into the outfield. If the Twins don't think he's able to hack it at second then he certainly will be moved, which means his value could dip slightly since part of what made him such a great prospect was his offense as a middle infielder.
Miguel Sano, 3B (#2)
After finishing second behind Byron Buxton on the Florida State League list, he again finishes second on the Eastern League list. This time it's behind Boston's Xander Bogaerts, the 20-year old shortstop/third baseman who played 18 games for the Red Sox in August and September. His performance earned him quick promotions these last two seasons, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Buxton and Sano do the same in 2014: start the season in Double-A, end it in the Majors.
Alex Meyer, SP (#5)
Meyer's 2013 wasn't as full as the Twins would have liked, but that's part of the reason they've sent him to the Arizona Fall League - where he's performed well in two starts, with a few scouts dropping a caveat on his command. Meyer did pitch well did perform well in 70 innings for New Britain, so there's a chance he could start this season in Triple-A.
Josmil Pinto, C (#20)
In 119 career Double-A games (2012-2013), Pinto has hit .307/.406/.490, and in a small sample size at Triple-A he's impressed. He was even better with the Twins than the Red Wings, and he's likely to go north with the team out of spring training.
Oswaldo Arcia (#12)
As rough as Arcia looked at times with the Twins in 2013, he looked just as brilliant at others. He led all rookies with 14 home runs, and it's important not to forget his minor league track record: he's a career .314/.376/.540 hitter in the minors, with triple slashes at Double-A and Triple-A actually better. He's a potential middle-of-the-order bat, and he could be filling that role as early as this coming summer.
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