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Poll: Twins minor league infielder of the year

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Welcome to the second installment of our Minor League awards voting.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Thinking about how to break down the positions for voting in this series was one of the fun challenges. Could I legitimately give you four or five third base prospects to vote for? Or five first base ones? Probably not. Here's how the rest of our minor league awards schedule looks.

Catcher of the Year: Mitch Garver (49%)
Infielder of the Year: Friday, November 6
Outfielder of the Year: Monday, November 9
Starting pitching of the Year: Thursday, November 12
Relief pitcher of the Year: Monday, November 16
Newcomer of the Year: Thursday, November 19
Player of the Year: Monday, November 23

Before we get to the nominees for the Twins minor league infielder of the year, just a few notes on those who missed the ballot and why.

  • Gorge Munoz had a very nice year in the Dominican Summer League, but the nature of that league's competition works against him. He's worth mentioning and monitoring though, because even for a 19-year old in the DSL a .315/.415/.429 line is very good. Maybe we'll see him on this list next year.
  • Trey Vavra played ten games at first base, but played more games in the outfield and is relatively positionless at this point in time. If we had a category for "Guy Who Hit Okay But Don't Really Have A Position" he'd be the first guy on my list. As a 23-year old in Single-A, Vavra hit .346/.406/.538 in 176 plate appearances before getting hurt.

With that, I've included six candidates for your consideration today. Remember to vote, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Luis Arraez, 2B
2015 Age: 18
High Level: Gulf Coast League (R)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
57 233 16 8.2 4.3 .309 .377 .391

I almost kept Arraez off the list. Partially because, compared to some guys on this list, he's a relative unknown; partially because he has absolutely no power, with 15 doubles and a triple to his name; partially because he's very young and in a rookie league, where success is generous but fleeting. But what caught my eye when looking into Arraez is that he's been pretty difficult to strike out: pitchers got their third strike just ten times over 233 plate appearances this year. A 4.3% strikeout rate is nothing to sniff at, and while the 8.2% walk rate isn't fantastic he still walked more than he struck out. Hit batting average on balls in play was .323, which isn't a red flag either.

A vote for Arraez doesn't necessarily mean you believe he's a great prospect or that you believe he'll even make a Top 40 list (though he certainly could). It just means you think he had the best year of the group. Whether that's the case or not, it was definitely a good season. Not bad for a guy who was signed quietly in November of 2013.

James Beresford, 2B
2015 Age: 26
High Level: Rochester (AAA)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
129 536 23 5.4 10.6 .307 .341 .359

Beresford has been in the organization a long time, having been signed out of Australia back in 2005. He was just 16 at the time and wouldn't make his stateside debut until 2007, but that now makes nine years he's been coming up through the system. Always solid but never quite good enough to be called up, it always seems like he's on the cusp of a 40-man roster spot.

This year he gave the Rochester Red Wings more than 1,000 innings at second base for the second year in a row, having established himself as a reliable defender up the middle. After hitting .298 in Triple-A in 2013 and .276 there last year, he's posted the highest batting average of his career this year.

Nick Gordon, SS
2015 Age: 19
High Level: Cedar Rapids (A)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
120 535 31 7.3 16.5 .277 .336 .360

Gordon is living up to his pre-draft hype so far. There hasn't been a negative report out there on his defense, showing that he is a true shortstop. The arm, the hands, the range, the instincts all seem to be in his favor. Even the offense, which was his biggest question mark, came along nicely this season - as evidenced by his .302/.347/.416 line in the second half. He's still a long way off, but Minnesota's first-round pick from 2014 looks like the real deal at the moment.

Levi Michael, 2B
2015 Age: 24
High Level: Chattanooga (AA)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
63 264 22 11.7 20.1 .267 .369 .434

In spite of missing a good chunk of the middle of the season, Michael has put together his second impressive campaign. Not only have his contact skills caught up with his plate discipline and moderate power, but he's smart on the bases: he stole 18 bases in 21 attempts this year. His defense was never going to be his calling card, but he has good enough range for second base and he makes most of the plays. Nobody bragged about Brian Dozier's defense in the minor leagues, either.

With back-to-back good years in the books, Michael looks like he's developing into the player the Twins thought he could be when the took him in the first round of the 2011 draft. Yes, he turns 25 in February, but not everyone develops like you hope they will. A vote for Michael is an endorsement in the realization of his potential.

Jermaine Palacios, SS
2015 Age: 18
High Level: Elizabethton (R)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
57 251 30 4.9 12.4 .370 .398 .540

Signed two months prior to Arraez, Palacios is a wiry infielder who played shortstop all but exclusively in 2015. Ranked as the #3 prospect in the Appalachian League this year (after ranking #17 in the Gulf Coast League) he's quietly working his way up Minnesota's prospect boards.

He's young and needs work in all facets of his game, but his results between the GCL Twins and the Elizabethton Twins this summer was impressive to say the least; BABIP was exceptionally kind to Palacios this year, although whether that's due more to luck or quality of contact or both I'm uncertain. His defensive game is a bit rougher. He committed four errors in 202 innings initially, while playing in the GCL, but after his July 31 promotion he committed an astonishing 16 errors in 263 innings for Elizabethton. It's not a question of tools, it's a question of application.

If Palacios can be a little more patient at the plate and get his defensive game up to merely adequate, the Twins could have something here. Keep an eye on this youngster, but expect a step backward in 2016 as his batting average on balls in play regresses.

Jorge Polanco, SS
2015 Age: 21
High Level: Minnesota (MLB)

G PA XBH BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
117 525 32 7.4 13.9 .288 .339 .386

Polanco spent most of his time in Double-A this season, spending 95 games there and 22 in Triple-A, all while sandwiching four games with the Twins. His year at the plate wasn't as impressive as it in 2012 and 2013, but for a player to be 21 years old (he turned 22 in July) and to be knocking on the door of the Major Leagues, the need to adjust is expected.

Almost Major League-ready, the Twins have shown us glimpses here and there. While Polanco has played mostly short over the last two years, his defensive tools fit better at second base. Whether the club continues to give him time at short to see if he can get by at the position will be one of the bigger developmental stories to watch on the Twins farm system in the coming year. Brian Dozier is the club's second baseman for the next few years, so unless Polanco is going to be traded he'll need to either be a shortstop or he'll need to be versatile.