"Minor League baseball players are doing all the same work that the big leaguers do. They are just doing it with far less fanfare, smaller per diems, less luxurious travel and hotel arrangements, and noticeably lighter wallets due to pay checks with far fewer zeroes. These players deserve to be recognized, too!"
And so they are, for the seventh iteration of Seth Stohs' Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, and with enthusiasm. One of the highlights of my winter for the last half dozen years has been reading Seth's prospect handbook. As his access and recognition within the organization and amongst the players has grown, so has the density of the book's contents. As a result, the 2015 Prospect Handbook slides in at just over 200 pages in length.
Because of the personal attention and eternal respect that Seth has been paying to the organization's prospects (for very nearly as long as I can remember as a Twins blogger), what you find between the covers aren't just lists and informed opinions. Some of the most interesting tidbits involve endorsements between players. Stephen Gonsalves credits Mitch Garver for being like an older brother; Stuart Turner's familiarity with Jose Berrios is so on point it reflects not just on the talent of Berrios but on Turner's own knowledge as a catcher; Minor League Reliever of the Year Brandon Peterson would only admit to shaking off Turner once all season.
I've given away who Seth credited for one of his yearly awards. He also hands out accolades for Minor League Hitter of the Year, Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Minor League Manager of the Year. Each is accompanied by a several-page write-up including quotes from several players and members of the organization. I'll give away the Manager award by teasing this: want to get a little insight into Terry Ryan's views on Doug Mientkiewicz's management style?
The bulk of the handbook is filled out with pitcher and batter profiles. Any player in the system who put up any kind of a performance or holds any kind of potential is profiled with a background, 2014 recap, scouting report, and a forecast for 2015. These aren't just useful reviews of a season now in the rear view mirror - they're points of reference for the next 12 months.
That's one of the greatest things about Seth's, and his staff's, work: this isn't a one-and-done read. You'll be able to flip back to these profiles months down the road for a baseline of not superficial knowledge on a prospect. Just as rewarding, if you're a baseball nerd like me, is that three years from now you'll be able to go back to these profiles and get a sense of how a particular player was viewed in the past. Part of the journey of tracking a player and an organization is to see how things change, and the Prospect Handbook is an ideal chronicle.
Speaking of history, you can also check out historical prospect lists from Seth, Cody, and Jeremy. I loved going over Seth's Top 30 lists from 2006 and 2007 and seeing names that haven't crossed my mind in years.
- An introduction from one of the best and hardest-working beat writers in the market, Mike Berardino
- "Joy in All Things," from AJ Pettersen, a poignant and well-written look back and glance forward
- A 2014 draft review from Jeremy Nygaard
- A preview of the 2015 draft and a few names that could become familiar next spring, also from Nygaard
- "Worldwide Changes," on the new system for international signings, from Nygaard and Howard Norsetter
- Cody Christie's catalog of injuries and how they might affect the players going forward
- Eric Pleiss' look into the crystal ball to see what the Twins' 2017 rotation may hold
- Steve Buhr's "Tale of Two Seasons for the Cedar Rapids Kernels"
I can't recommend the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015 highly enough. This review is going to be nearly 800 words yet part of me feels like I'm selling it short, but I just don't want to give too much away. It's a fully-researched look at every level and every aspect of the minor league system, informed not just by the authors but members of the organization and the players themselves.
Visit Lulu to get the paperback for $14.99, and if you want it in time for Christmas for that Twins fan in your life you can also get the PDF for $9.95. Fair warning: you may not see that family member for three or four hours after giving them the book. That also makes it a good distraction tactic, which could be handy at Christmas, so use wisely.