You’re excused if you’re thinking: Who the heck is Rene Tosoni?
Crowned the Most Valuable Player of Major League Baseball’s annual top-prospects showcase (for his pinch-hit RBI double, which led to the winning run for the World Team), Tosoni is a 23-year-old outfielder in the Minnesota Twins organization. The left-handed hitter was drafted in the 36th round of the 2006 draft and signed as a draft-and-follow (a now-defunct process) out of Chipola College in Florida. Tosoni was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but he went to high school in British Columbia.
He got off to a hot start in his pro career in 2007 when he hit .301/.407/.428 with 13 stolen bases and three homers in 236 rookie ball at-bats. Injuries slowed his ascent in 2008 but he hit .300/.408/.414 with three steals and one homer in 140 high-A at-bats. This season in double-A, Tosoni’s batting average has slipped a bit, but he’s showing more power with a line of .278/.387/.480 with 10 homers and six steals in 273 at-bats. His ISO has nearly doubled from .114 to .201.
One disturbing trend is the constant increase in his strikeout rate each season, from 20.3 to 21.4 to 26 K%. His walk rate, though, has remained between 11.7 and 13.0 BB% during the past three seasons. Another issue affecting Tosoni’s prospect value is his inability to hit left-handed pitchers. This season he is hitting .330 versus right-handed pitchers, but just .159 against southpaws. His career batting average versus left-handed pitching is .230 and it’s .310 against right-handers.
Defensively, Tosoni is an average center-fielder with a good arm. His range, though, will probably move him to a corner outfield spot before too long. With average power, Tosoni could very well end up as a fourth outfielder (especially if continues to struggle against southpaws). With that said, he has shown more power this year, which could lead to a starting role at the Major League level.
Tosoni is probably six months to a year away from being MLB ready. He could potentially move into a platoon role with Carlos Gomez is center, or possibly make for a cheap replacement of Michael Cuddyer, although the club would certainly be giving up some power in the switch. With other top prospects like Ben Revere, Joe Benson, and Aaron Hicks on the way, Tosoni could also be used as trade bait – especially with the higher profile he’s developed thanks to his Futures game heroics.