The Twins organization is loaded with intriguing talent. Unfortunately, the club’s top prospects are mainly in the lower half of the system – which is made less disappointing by the fact that the big club already has a lot of young talent filtered throughout the roster. It’s definitely going to be a fun organization to watch in 2009.
Right-hander Anthony Swarzak, 23, struggled when he was asked to repeat Double-A and right-handed batters hit .311 against him. He improved significantly when he was promoted to Triple-A, although it was a smaller sample size (seven games compared to 20). Swarzak’s stuff is solid with a low 90s fastball and excellent curveball. The change-up remains a work-in-progress.
Brian Duensing’s ceiling is lower than Swarzak’s, but the left-hander is a little more consistent at this point. His strikeout rate is troubling at 5.00 K/9, and he’s never dominated lefties so a LOOGY role is unlikely. He’s spent most of the last two seasons in Triple-A, and should help out as a middle reliever before long.
Jose Mijares is one frustrating player. The left-handed reliever has all the talent in the world (touches the high 90s at times, has two good breaking balls) but his attitude needs work. In his MLB debut in 2008, Mijares allowed just three hits and no walks in 10.1 innings. He has the potential to be the go-to guy in the pen.
Ben Revere caught a lot of people by surprise in 2008 by hitting .379 in A-ball. The former No. 1 draft pick has more power potential than you would expect from a 5’9” player. With 44 stolen bases and 10 triples in 2008, speed is his biggest asset right now and he needs to be more patient at the plate to increase his opportunities (7.4 BB%) on the base paths.
Wilson Ramos is one of the top young catchers in baseball – but he’s in the wrong organization… unless his presence finally convinces the Twins to move Joe Mauer out from behind the dish. Ramos, 21, is ticketed for Double-A in 2009. He has always hit for a good average and he also has power potential. Like many Twins prospects, he could stand to be more patient. Ramos is an average defender, with an above-average arm who led the league in throwing out base runners (43%).
Carlos Gutierrez and Shooter Hunt were both added in the 2008 draft out of college and should move quickly though the system. Like Revere in 2007, the Twins organization surprised a lot of people by taking Gutierrez as early as it did. He’ll move through the minors as a starter but many scouts project him as a reliever because he is basically a one-pitch pitcher with a killer sinker. Gutierrez also has an inconsistent slider and a developing change-up. Hunt was grabbed in the supplemental first round although he had more hype than Gutierrez. Hunt’s status was damaged by injuries in college. He struck out a lot of batters in his debut but really struggled with his command, posting a rate of 7.76 BB/9 in A-ball.
Aaron Hicks, 19, was the Twins’ first round pick in 2008 out of high school and was considered quite raw, although he’s loaded with athleticism. Hicks hit much better than expected in his debut (.318) and should open 2009 in A-ball. His 13.9 BB% was encouraging, especially for a Twins prospect.
Angel Morales, 19, is another player who is loaded with athletic potential. He was drafted out of Puerto Rico and showed more power than was expected, with 15 homers in 183 at-bats (.322 ISO). Morales, though, was repeating rookie ball and had a terrible strikeout rate at 39.3 K%. He definitely won’t hit .300 with that approach at higher levels, like he did in 2008.
Tyler Ladendorf, 20, did not have an impressive debut, but he should be considered a sleeper for 2009 after being a hit machine during his junior college career. He managed a line of just .204/.308/.293 but his walk and strikeout rates were encouraging.
Up Next: The St. Louis Cardinals
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