Organizational Rankings: Shortstops
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 - Jason Bartlett - TRADED to Tampa Bay (11/28/07)
Bartlett firmly established himself as the Twins starting shortstop last season, hitting .309/760 in 99 games (333 AB's) after being called up. As long as he continues to play well, the 27-year-old Barlett will remain in the Twins infield. Again, because these posts are more focused on the minor leagues, I'm not going to say much more about Bartlett.
#2 - Alexi Casilla - Minnesota Twins [Rochester]
I mentioned in the post on second basemen that Casilla is being classified as a shortstop because of where he played last season, but it's fully expected that he'll get most of his playing time at 2B this year, as the Twins groom him as the likely replacement for Luis Castillo in 2008. The 22-year-old Casilla, who was acquired from the Angels in the trade that sent J.C. Romero to Anaheim, established himself last season in Ft. Myers by hitting .331/796 in 78 games before being promoted to New Britain, where he continued to play well (.294/757 in 45 games). He was also added to the 40-man roster, and made his Major League debut as a September callup, picking up one hit in four at-bats. The switch-hitting Casilla should be able to establish himself in Rochester, and you should expect to see him again in September. If he's playing well by the end of July, don't be surprised if the Twins pull the trigger on a Luis Castillo trade if there are any takers.
#3 - Trevor Plouffe - New Britain Rock Cats
Plouffe has underperformed over the past two seasons, after starting off his career on the right foot with Elizabethton in 2004. Plouffe hit .283/720 with the E-Twins in 60 games after being drafted in the 1st round of the 2004 draft, but proceeded to hit just .223/645 in 466 at-bats with Beloit in 2005. He improved a bit with Ft. Myers last season, hitting .246/680 in 455 at-bats with the Miracle. With Paul Kelly charging up through the system behind him, Plouffe is probably likely to get another promotion this season up to New Britain so that both players can get regular playing time at SS. Plouffe is still young enough at 20 to develop into the solid shortstop the Twins were hoping for when they drafted him, but this will be a crucial season for Plouffe - if he struggles again, he'll probably be passed up by Kelly.
#4 - Paul Kelly - Beloit Snappers [Ft. Myers]
Kelly was a second round pick in the 2005 draft, and the 20-year-old has so far done what Trevor Plouffe hasn't by playing well at every level in which he's been placed. Kelly started off his career with the GCL Twins at the end of 2005, hitting .277/723 in 40 games (137 AB's) before getting a cup of coffee with Beloit to end the season. He spent his entire 2006 season with Beloit, and hit .280/736 in 95 games (378 AB's) for the Snappers. That should easily earn him a promotion to Ft. Myers for this season, where he will attempt to continue moving up through the system.
#5 - Tommy Watkins - Rochester Red Wings
Watkins has already spent 9 years in the Twins minor league system, after being drafted in the 38th round of the 1998 draft. He's played at every level in the Twins system, and last season finally made his way up to AAA, hitting .276/747 in 60 games (174 AB's) for the Red Wings. Those numbers are significantly better than his career averages (.247/658) throughout his lengthy minor league career, so it will be interesting to see whether he can continue to play solidly this season. At 26, Watkins is moving into the make-it-or-break-it stage of his career.
#6 - Steven Singleton - Beloit Snappers
This post originally said that Singleton was 28, when he is, in fact, 21 (birthday 9/12/85). My apologies to Singleton for aging him. Thanks to the Anonymous Commenter who pointed out the error. Singleton was assigned to Elizabethton, and proceeded to hit .340/924 in 41 games (144 AB's) for the E-Twins. This season, he should be given significant playing time in Beloit, and already being an older, more mature player, there is a good chance that he could move up to Ft. Myers quickly if he plays well for the Snappers. The right-handed hitting Singleton will be one of the most intriguing players in the middle levels of the Twins minor league system this season.
#7 - Yancarlos Ortiz - Beloit Snappers
Ortiz was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2003, and first played in the Twins system with the GCL Twins in 2004. The 22-year-old Ortiz moved on to Elizabethton in 2005, hitting .289/672 in 49 games (187 AB's). For whatever reason, that was not enough to earn a promotion to Beloit in 2006, and he started off that season in extended spring training before returning to Elizabethton and hitting .275/717 in 34 games (102 AB's) before the Twins moved him up to Beloit, where he struggled (.200/530 in 21 games). Ortiz will have to battle Singleton for playing time, and is probably going to be stuck in a backup role this season - but that could mean he's asked to branch out a bit and play some 2B or 3B as well.
#8 - Eric Santiago - Elizabethton Twins
Santiago was a 21st round pick in the 2006 draft, and the 19-year-old was assigned to the GCL squad to start his career. Santiago hit .250/685 in 35 games (92 AB's) for the GCL Twins, and that should be enough to get him a promotion this season to Elizabethton. With so many middle infielders in the system ahead of him, jumping up to Beloit this season is probably out of the question. If Santiago performs well for the E-Twins this season, however, he should easily move up to Beloit next year. With a such a young player, there also is unlikely to be much of a rush to move him quickly through the system.
#9 - Gil Velazquez - Minor League Free Agent (c. 11/02/07)
Velazquez was originally drafted by the Mets in the 14th round of the 1998 draft, and signed with the Twins as a minor league free agent after the 2004 season. He started his Twins career with New Britain in 2005, hitting .231/584 in 81 games (286 AB's) for the Rock Cats, and also layed in 17 games for the Red Wings that season. Last year, he played only 6 games for the Rock Cats (hitting .375/974), and spent the majority of his season in Rochester, hitting .250/607 in 56 games (164 AB's). The 27-year-old Velazquez should primarily back up Tommy Watkins, but will also likely get some playing time at 2B and 3B over the course of the season.
#10 - Juan Delgado - RELEASED (c. 6/20/07)
Delgado was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Twins, and has largely struggled since joining the organization. In 2005, Delgado hit just .097/356 in 27 games (72 AB's) for the GCL Twins. He spent the bulk of the 2006 season with the GCL squad as well, hitting .228/610 in 40 games (136 AB's), although he did have a successful 2 game stint with Ft. Myers (where he had 3 hits in 9 at-bats) as well. The 20-year-old Delgado should play in Elizabethton this season, because it's rare for a player to spend 3 years in the GCL. However, if he does not show signs of progress in extended spring training, he might find himself without a roster spot with either rookie league team. He can play all over the infield, which may help him earn a roster spot.
#11 - Toby Gardenhire - Ft. Myers Miracle [Beloit]
Gardenhire (the son of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire) was a 41st round pick in the 2005 draft. The 24-year-old is not exactly burning his way through the system. He started off his Twins career with Elizabethton in 2005, hitting .200/516 in 30 games (100 AB's). Last season, he moved up to Beloit, and hit just .198/478 in 87 games (258 AB's) for the Snappers. Having the ability to play multiple infield positions, Gardenhire will probably return to Beloit this season despite the presence of Steven Singleton and Yancarlos Ortiz. If he can't improve on his batting average, this will probably be his last season in the organization.
#12 - Starling de los Santos - Elizabethton Twins [GCL]
De los Santos is a middle-infield type who played in 24 games (82 AB's) for the GCL Twins last season, hitting .195/546. He just turned 20, so there isn't yet a rush to move him up. He should return to the GCL squad this season, but it's possible that a strong showing in extended spring training could earn him a ticket to Elizabethton.
#13 - Nick Papasan - UNASSIGNED [Eliz/GCL]
Papasan was a 24th round pick in the 2006 draft for the Twins, but was signed too late to be assigned to a team last season. The soon-to-be 19-year-old should get a look in extended spring training, and while I expect him to end up in the GCL because of his age, there is a chance that he'll impress in EST, securing a spot with Elizabethton. Don't know a lot about yet, except that he's right-handed.
NR - Ramon Santana - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Santana is a graduate of the Twins Dominican Summer League team, where he hit .313/.977 in 176 AB's in 2006. Santana was born in La Romana, Venezuela on 6/20/1986, and he hits and throws from the right side of the plate.
NR - Chris Cates - Beloit Snappers [No Prediction]
Cates was drafted by the Twins in the 38th round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Louisville. The diminuitive shortstop measures in at 5'3" and 150 lbs. He was born in 4/15/1985 in Brandon, FL, and hits from the right side of the plate. Promoted from Elizabethton to Beloit (6/29/07)
NR - Brendan Harris - Minnesota Twins [No Prediction]
Harris was the Rays starting shortstop in 2007, and was acquired in the Delmon Young/Matt Garza trade that took place on November 28. Since that trade also involved Twins starting shortstop Jason Bartlett, Harris immediately becomes one of the front runners to start for the Twins in 2008 -- although further trades could change the outlook. Also, Harris is viewed by some as more of a 2B or 3B, so his future as a shortstop is uncertain.
NR - Adam Everett - Minnesota Twins [No Prediction]
Everett is a light-hitting shortstop who started playing regularly with the Astros in 2003. He has a career batting average of .248 with a .299 OBP (ouch). However, he is supposed to be a very solid defensive shortstop. Everett will almost certainly be the Twins starting shortstop in 2008 after being added via free agency on December 13.