Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Top Prospects

I wanted to put together a post listing the players who I consider to be the Twins top 10 prospects. I am limiting this list to players who are not currently in the Major Leagues (so no Jason Kubel), but players who have been in the Major Leagues previously are not excluded (so Scott Baker is eligible). I started with a list of 32 players who I consider to be in the top echelon of minor league players in the Twins organization, and worked my way down from there.

The criteria which I used to evaluate these players was rather amorphous. More than anything, this is a list of the players who I fell will eventually contribute to the Twins, either directly by making their way to the Major League level, or indirectly by serving as an important piece in a trade. There is no "time" element for me in this equation, so a player at the High A level and a player at AAA are on an equal footing for this list. I would be interested in any thoughts people might have on this, so please feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with the list, or feel you have something else to add to the discussion.

Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects
  1. Matt Garza (SP) - Garza has blown away the competition so far in his first full year of professional baseball. Drafted out of college as the Twins first round selection in the June 2005 draft, the team had high expectations for Garza. He has far exceeded them. Already pitching for the AA New Britain Rock Cats, Garza should start next season in AAA, and could very easily be pitching in a Twins uniform by the end of the 2007 season. He is potentially a number 2 or 3 starter at the Major League level, and I expect him to be a staple in the rotation by mid-2008.
  2. Pat Neshek (RP) - Neshek has had an incredibly productive season for AAA Rochester, striking out right-handed hitters at a fantastic pace. He has 79 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 51.1 innings this season, which is an absolutely absurd number. His name has been mentioned virtually every time the Twins think about calling someone up, and he should be with the Twins by the end of the season. He is a side-armer who appears to have much greater success against right-handed hitters than against lefties, so he will probably have a specialized role at the Major League level.
  3. Kevin Slowey (SP) - It's hard not to put Slowey in the top 2. Drafted last year shortly after the Twins drafted Garza, Slowey has exploded onto the scene this year, with an ERA of 1.09 through the first half of the season. He is expected to join Garza in AA soon. Pitching in the Florida State League All-Star Game this weekend, Slowey got the start and struck out all three batters he faced. If he pitches as well for New Britain as he has for Fort Myers, he could be joining Garza in AAA for the start of next season. By 2008 he could be knocking on the door of the Twins rotation.
  4. Matt Moses (3B) - Moses had a medical setback after he was drafted by the Twins a couple of years ago, but that has been resolved. He has been hitting very well for New Britain, and the reports suggest that the Twins believe Moses could hit at the Major League level now. The problem is his fielding, which needs a lot of work. Nevertheless, Moses may get the opportunity to win the starting 3B job for the Twins next spring, especially if no one else emerges as a long-term solution at the position.
  5. Denard Span (OF) - Span is seen by many as the eventual successor to Torii Hunter in Center Field. He was the Twins first round selection in 2002, and has worked hard to get up to New Britain. After starting this season on a tear, he has since levelled off. Nevertheless, he is expected to start next season at AAA, and to be ready to come up to the big club sometime in late 2008 or 2009. If the Twins were to get rid of Hunter before that, there would be pressure to bring Span up and let him develop at the Major League level, or at least to let Span compete for the job next spring.
  6. Alexi Casilla (SS) - Casilla was acquired in the J.C. Romero trade, and at the time it looked like a pretty bad deal for the Twins. This season for High A Ft. Myers, however, Casilla is hitting .315 and has 23 Stolen Bases already. He looks like a very promising middle infielder, and has an excellent chance to develop into a Major League caliber shortstop. He is still a few years away, but by the end of 2008 or 2009 we could see him get a chance to fill the Twins shortstop hole. Of course, by the that time Jason Bartlett will hopefully have secured himself in the position.
  7. Glen Perkins (SP) - Don't let his 2-7 record for New Britain fool you. Perkins low ERA (3.69) and excellent K-BB ratio (80-24) speak volumes about his potential. A former starter for the University of Minnesota, Perkins is a solid left-hander who should continue to move steadily through the system. I would be somewhat surprised if he weren't with Rochester next year. There is a good chance that he will be bypassed by Garza and Slowey in the Twins priority plans, but I would expect that with his ability to strike players out, he will make a solid case for a spot in the rotation whenever he gets a chance to compete for one.
  8. J.D. Durbin (SP) - For awhile there, it looked like Durbin was going to completely fall of this kind of "top prospects" list, and join Adam Johnson in the "if only" wing of Twins prospects. But Durbin has put together a solid season for the Red Wings, and could very conceivably see Major League action this season. With plenty of solid pitchers coming through the system behind him, the Twins won't wait much longer for Durbin to develop. My suspicion is that he will have the rest of this year and next year to prove that he belongs before the Twins would make an effort to trade him. With his plus stuff, he should be able to stick at the Major League level; the question is whether he has the right mental makeup to handle life in the Bigs.
  9. Erik Lis (1B) - Lis was drafted last year in the 9th round, 8 rounds behind Henry Sanchez. But while Sanchez has struggled this season, Lis has played very well for Low A Beloit, and has moved past Sanchez in terms of development. While Sanchez could very easily be asked to remain in Beloit next season, Lis almost certainly will be moved to Ft. Myers to continue his development. It will take a few years, but by 2009 or 2010, Lis may be ready to play at the big league level, possibly replacing Justin Morneau as the teams first baseman when they move into the spiffy new stadium.
  10. Kyle Waldrop (SP) - Waldrop was one of the Twins 5 first round selections in 2004, but is still stuck in low A. Nevertheless, he is pitching very well this season and should make it up to Ft. Myers by the start of next season at the latest. There are a number of other pitchers (Justin Jones for one) who I could have put in this position, but Waldrop's relative youth (he's just 21) and good K-BB ratio lead me to believe that he is going to develop very quickly now that he has begun to figure things out. I don't expect him to be pushing Garza or Slowey anytime soon, but Waldrop nevertheless rounds out my top 10.


  • At Thu Oct 11, 06:44:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    what about the young Rob Delaney!? have ou seen his stats?

  • At Thu Oct 11, 06:55:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Anon, I appreciate your enthusiasm -- but let me point out that this post was originally made on June 20, 2006. Delaney at that point had just entered the organization. There was no way he was going to be included in a 2006 mid-season Top Prospects post.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home