Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Organizational Rankings: Second Basemen

These archived Organizational Rankings were originally put together in February 2007. There are a few things to keep in mind when browsing through them:

1.) This is a subjective ranking -- please feel free to dispute where I've ranked players, but keep in mind that nothing happening in the 2007 season went into the decision on where to rank a player.

2.) Originally, these posts had my predictions on where a player would start off the 2007 season. The team in purple immediately following a player's name is where that player is right now, and nothing else will appear if that was where I predicted that player would end up. If I was wrong, I'll list my predicted destination in brackets and blue text following the team that player is actually playing with.

3.) Each player is listed in only one of these posts. The determination of where to place a player was made based on where that player got the most playing time in 2006, and I won't be moving players around during the season.

4.) Players who are no longer with the team will remain on the list, but their entry will be in red text and the method by which that player left the team (released, traded, etc.) will be listed in place of a team assignment.

5.) Players added to the organization during the season will be placed at the bottom of the ranking, and will receive a rank of "NR," for "Not Ranked." If they are still with the team when the 2008 season rolls around, they'll be ranked along with everyone else.

Rank - Name - Likely 2007 Destination

#1 - Luis Castillo (40-Man) - Traded to the Mets (7/30/07)
As always, I'm going to say only limited things about the Major League players in these rankings. Castillo is a solid, consistent second baseman (he's hit .296/.301/.291 over the past three seasons), and there's no reason not to list him at the top of these rankings. Incidentally, I agree with Seth that Castillo is probably entering his last season as a Twin, and that his replacement will probably be Alexi Casilla. Nevertheless, you won't see Casilla on this list, because based on where he played last year, I've listed him as a shortstop.

#2 - Felix Molina - Unassigned [No Prediction]
The 23-year-old Molina was a 21st round draft pick back in 2001. Since that time, he's risen to the AA level, where he's been for the past year and a half or so. Because there are quite a few players at Rochester already who will likely get playing time there (most notably Alexi Casilla, who again is not on this list), Molina will probably be kept at New Britain, at least to start the season. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the Twins will view Molina as having progressed enough to move him up - a decision that would necessitate some shifting of players, and probably would only happen if Casilla or Tommy Watkins - the likely starting SS at Rochester - were injured (because Casilla could move over to cover Watkins' territory). Molina is a switch-hitter who hit .270/722 last year in 116 games, and who hit .287/751 with New Britain in 36 games after being called up mid-season in 2005. To retain his status as a top infield prospect, he'll need to bump the batting average up a little bit. Molina became a minor league free agent in November, but returned to the Twins and received an invitation to spring training in early January.

#3 - Andrew Thompson - Beloit Snappers [FtM/Bel] [Disabled List]
Thompson was a second round pick in the 2005 draft, and the 20-year-old has played solid, if unspectacular, ball since signing. He started off in the GCL, where he hhit .257/752 in 109 at-bats in 2005. He finished his season with a cup of coffee in Ft. Myers, where he hit .308 in 13 at-bats. Last season, he was assigned to Beloit, and hit .261/703 in 74 games before shutting his season down due to injuries. If Thompson comes back healthy this year, he should prove himself to be a top prospect. He's most likely to end up in Ft. Myers, but the Twins could decide to start him off at Beloit to give him some time to get back in the groove without facing the demands of playing at a higher level. Began season with Beloit

#4 - Brian Dinkelman - Ft. Myers Miracle [Beloit]
Dinkelman was an 8th round selection in last season's draft, and the left-handed hitting 23-year-old (he was 22 at the time) proved himself to be a solid player, hitting .298/758 in 188 at-bats with Elizabethton. There's nothing left for him to prove in the Rookie leagues, so he'll be on his way to Beloit this year where he'll get a chance to establish himself, and prove my high rating of him correct. Depending on what happens with Andrew Thompson, Dinkelman could find himself moving past Thompson and into the starting spot at Ft. Myers by the end of the season. Began season with Beloit; Promoted to Ft. Myers 6/22/07

#5 - Glenn Williams - Minor League Free Agent (c. 11/02/07)
Williams is best remembered by Twins fans as the guy who came up and played a little 3B for the team back in 2005, hitting .425 in 13 games (40 AB's) before getting hurt. I'm listing him as a second baseman because he got a lot of playing time at 2B for the Red Wings last season, but this season he's more likely to be a bit of a roving infielder, playing some 1B, 3B, and 2B. After hitting .303/810 in 35 games for Rochester in 2005 (and then playing well with the Twins befor the injury), the switch-hitting Williams retrogressed last year, hitting just .257/715 in 113 games for the Red Wings. With a number of infielders ready to move into the AAA level, and with Williams turning 30 this year, the odds are that this is a make-it-or-break-it year for Williams with the Twins. Began season with Rochester

#6 - Alejandro Machado - Unassigned
Machado was a Rule 5 Draft choice by the Twins in December, and as such will need to make the Major League roster out of spring training, or be offered back to the Washington Nationals [Originally listed inaccurately as being the Boston Red Sox]. Teams almost always buy back a Rule 5 pick that doesn't make the roster, so Machado will almost certainly not be playing in Rochester no matter what happens. There's actually a decent shot that he'll make the team - he's basically competing with Luis Rodriguez for the backup infielder role, and while Rodriguez has some more Major League experience, he is by no means an untouchable. The 24-year-old Machado has a career .288 batting average in the minor leagues, so he's proved that he can play. It will be interesting to watch as the switch-hitting Machado fights for a roster spot this spring. Began season with Minnesota

#7 - Steven Tolleson - Ft. Myers Miracle
Tolleson hit .287/782 in 47 games for Beloit before being called up to Ft. Myers, where he finished the season hitting .268/761 in 49 games. Tolleson was a fifth round pick in the 2005 draft, and the 23-year-old will probably have to compete for playing time with Andrew Thompson (if not right away, then probably within a month or so of the start of the season). Tolleson actually got a lot of playing time last year as a DH, so the team isn't afraid to use him in that position - and with multiple talented second basemen likely going to be with the team, that could be another way that he is given a chance to get at-bats this season. Began season with Ft. Myers

#8 - Juan Portes - Ft. Myers Miracle [Beloit]
Portes played mostly at 2B with Beloit last season (especially after Andrew Thompson's injury), and also played a bit at 3B. After starting off his Twins career with a bang (.327/910 with the GCL team in 2004, .286/843 with Elizabethton in 2005), he struggled with Beloit last season, hitting just .231/588 in 75 games and 268 at-bats. Portes will probably get his playing time as a utility infielder this season, because Brian Dinkelman will be getting most of the starts at 2B. Began season with Ft. Myers

#9 - Matt Tolbert - Rochester Red Wings [New Britain]
Tolbert, a 16th round pick in the 2004 draft, played at 2B, 3B, and SS last season. I'm including him as a 2B because I think he got a bit more playing time there, but honestly it was about equal. The 24-year-old hit .258/704 in 72 games with New Britain last season after being called up from Ft. Myers (after hitting .303/818 in 40 games with the Miracle). Tolbert should continue to bounce around the infield, getting just about as much playing time as any of the "regular" starters by virtue of playing all over. If he can put things together in New Britain as he did in Ft. Myers at the start of last season, he should be in Rochester by the start of next season. Began season with Rochester

#10 - J.R. (Sam) Taylor - RELEASED (c. 3/30/07)
Taylor was a 24th round pick back in 2000, and made his way up to New Britain last season. He hit just .207/607 in 71 games (203 at-bats) for the Rock Cats, however, so I don't think it's certain that he stays with the Cats. The switch-hitting 24-year-old can play 2B or SS, and will probably be left at New Britain to see whether he can return to his form of 2005, (when he hit .266/691 with New Britain). If he doesn't, then he could be sent back down to Ft. Myers.

#11 - Matthew Lawman - Elizabethton Twins
Lawman mostly played at 2B for the GCL Twins last season, and hit .256/605 in 28 games. Those aren't great numbers, but they're probably good enough to get him promoted to Elizabethton after a stint in Extended Spring Training to start things off. Began season with Elizabethton

#12 - Thomas Cowgill - RELEASED (c. 3/30/07)
Cowgill was a 40th round selection in last year's draft, and the 23-year-old was assigned to the GCL Twins. He didn't perform very well, hitting just .185/618 in 35 games (119 AB's). That poor performance could mean a return to the GCL squad for next season - but if he performs and shows signs of progress in extended spring training, it's possible Elizabethton could be his next destination.

#13 - Jakub Hajtmar - UNASSIGNED [GCL]
The 20-year old is from the Czech Republic - other than that, information is hard to find. I'm predicting a start for Hajtmar with the GCL squad, but if he's developed enough I suppose he could start a little higher in Elizabethton. We should know a lot more about him by the end of the season.

NR - Jeanfred Brito - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Brito is a graduate of the Twins Dominican Summer League team, where he hit .273/.749 in 242 AB's in 2006 while stealing 17 bases. Brito was born in El Baul, Venezuela, and was born on 12/21/87. He hits and throws from the right side, and is a slight 5'8", 150 lbs. Began season with GCL

NR - Yangervis Solarte - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Solarte is a graduate of the Twins Dominican Summer League team, where he hit .278/.750 in 194 AB's in 2006. He was born in Valencia, Venezuela on 7/07/1987, and is a switch hitter who throws from the right side. Began season with GCL

NR - Matt Macri - No Assignment [No Prediction]
Macri was acquired by the Twins in a trade with the Colorado Rockies on 8/15/07 in exchange for starter-turned-reliever Ramon Ortiz. Macri was actually drafted by the Twins in the 17th round of the 2001 draft, but he elected to attend Notre Dame instead. He was drafted again in the 2004 draft by the Rockies in the 5th round. He was polished enough to start his professional career in low A ball in 2004, where he hit .333 in 195 AB's. The next year, he moved up to high A ball and hit .283 in 244 AB's. That was followed by a poor 2006 season in which he hit just .232 in AA, but his 2007 season has been a success, with a .298 batting average and 11 homers in 275 AB's before earning a promotion to AAA, which has been very short. Tolbert was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and hits and throws from the right side.

NR - Hyeong-Rok Choi - No Assignment [No Prediction]
Choi is a 17-year-0ld South Korean player who was one of several Koreans picked up by the Twins over the summer. After doing some cursory research online, I wasn't able to find much information on Choi other than his age and country of origin. For an article from Korea that at least has a picture of Choi, check out this link.

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  • At Thu Feb 08, 02:26:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is Steven Tolleson any relation to Wayne Tolleson, who used to play in the majors?

  • At Thu Feb 08, 02:35:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Thu Feb 08, 02:36:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Indeed, yes - Steven is Wayne's son. Incidentally, Andrew Thompson (or Drew) is also the son of a former Major Leaguer - the Giants Robbie Thompson. For an article on the two players, you can head here:



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