Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for a second year.
The Graduate: Brian Duensing, LHP
The 26-year-old lefty played a valuable role on the Twins squad in ’09. Duensing served as a swing man by making nine starts and 15 relief appearances. He features four pitches: fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. His most effective pitches in ’09 were his heater, which sat around 91 mph, and his slider. Duensing’s MLB ground-ball rate was just 45.5%, 5 – 10% below what he averaged in the minors, so there is room for improvement there.
The Riser: Loek Van Mil, RHP
Van Mil was about as raw as they come when he was signed out of the Netherlands. The big right-hander, though, has an exciting repertoire that includes a 90-95 mph fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. More than 7’0” tall, he struggles to maintain a reasonable walk rate (4.41 BB/9 in high-A) and his lack of command also hinders his strikeout totals (5.97 K/9). Despite a four-pitch repertoire, Van Mil has been developed as a reliever; his age is catching up to him as he turned 25 after the minor-league season. He has appeared in just eight games above high-A ball. He does, though, have a fresh arm.
The Tumbler: Shooter Hunt, RHP
The 31st overall pick out of Tulane University in the 2008 draft, Hunt has been unable to throw strikes as a pro. The right-hander pitched just 32.2 innings of work in ’09 because he couldn’t find the plate. He walked 58 batters. When he’s right, Hunt has an 89-94 mph fastball, as well as a curveball and changeup. He also produces a solid ground-ball rate. Unfortunately, his control issues are massive, and he has a lot of work ahead of him before he’ll come close to realizing his considerable potential.
The ’10 Sleeper: Angel Morales, OF
Morales has moved slowly through the system, since being drafted out of a Puerto Rico high school in 2007. He reached low-A for the first time in ’09 and had an encouraging season even if his overall line was just .266/.329/.455. The outfielder showed a much improved contact rate and saw his strikeouts decrease from a frightening 39.3% in ’08 to a more manageable 27.7% this past season. Morales also showed his power potential with an ISO rate of .189, and he improved is base running. He has 20-20 potential as he matures as ball player.
Bonus: Wilson Ramos, C
Ramos is certainly a Top 10 prospect, and he was identified as the Twins sleeper during the ’08 series. Injuries took a bite out of his ’09 season, but Ramos still showed a good batting stroke with a line of .317/.341/.454 in 205 at-bats in double-A. He significantly trimmed his strikeout rate from 22.8 to 11.2%. On the downside, his walk rate took a tumble too, from 7.6 to 2.8%. Defensively, he threw out more than 40% of base runners for the third straight season.
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