Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Friday, February 09, 2007

Organizational Rankings: Third 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 - Nick Punto - Minnesota Twins
This was the first time that I seriously considered not ranking the Major League starter first in the position rankings. I like Nick Punto - I was converted to the fan club last year - but he's not exactly the prototypical Major League third baseman. In the end, I had to consider the fact that he has a year as a proven starter at the Major League level, so I decided to place him at #1 in the rankings.

#2 - Jeff Cirillo - WAIVED (Claimed by Arizona -- 8/03/07)
This one was a closer call. If Cirillo hadn't hit .319/783 last year, I probably wouldn't rank him this high. In the end, however, I think his career as a proven major leaguer outranks the fact that he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Consider this a "career achievment award."

#3 - David Winfree - New Britain Rock Cats
Winfree was a 13th round selection in the 2003 draft, and the 21-year-old right-hander has established himself as a top prospect in the system. Winfree was injured for much of last season, but came back to hit .276/818 in 261 at-bats in Ft. Myers. That followed a 2005 season at Beloit in which he hit .294/781 in 562 at-bats, and a 2004 season in Elizabethton in which he hit .286/782 with Elizabethton. While there is a slight possibility that the Twins could ask Winfree to start the season in Ft. Myers again this year, it is far more likely that he is moved up to New Britain, because there is a glut of talent coming up the pipeline behind him who need roster spots in Beloit, and that will push some players to New Britain.

#4 - Matt Moses - New Britain Rock Cats [Rochester]
Moses has been the "Third Baseman of the Future" for the Twins for a few years now, after being drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old (he'll turn 22 on February 20) has struggled for the last year and a half offensively. He remains a contender to become the Twins everyday third baseman, possibly by as early as the start of the 2008 season. However, he'll need to do better than last season's .249/689 for New Britain. At the start of the 2005 season, Moses hit .306/829 in Ft. Myers before being promoted, but his just .210/641 with New Britain in the second half of that season (so I guess last year was an improvement of sorts). Still, with a number of players making their way through the system behind him, Moses will need to have a good 2007 to retain his position within the organization.

#5 - Whitney Robbins - Beloit Snappers [Ft. Myers]
Robbins was a 4th round selection in the 2006 draft, and he started things off in Beloit, hitting .304/903 in 32 games before getting hurt. The big question is whether those games were enough for the Twins to move him up to Ft. Myers - as you can see above, I think he'll get promoted this season, if for no other reason than the fact that a number of players need spots with Beloit this season. Robbins can play first or third, so that should help him get a few more at-bats. The 22-year-old seems to be poised to rocket through the minor league system, so watching him play with the Miracle this season should be fun.

#6 - Daniel Valencia - Ft. Myers Miracle [Beloit]
Valencia is the one of several prospects who did very well in rookie league last year. He was the 19th round pick in 2006 for the Twins, and was assigned to Elizabethton, where he proceeded to hit .311 with an 870 OPS in 48 games. Those numbers are easily solid enough to earn him a promotion to Beloit, where he should get a chance to play some 1B as well as 3B.

#7 - Garrett Olson - Beloit Snappers
Olson is another of the guys who had solid Rookie League seasons in '06. The 21-year-old (who'll turn 22 before the start of the season) was drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 draft, and assigned to Elizabethon along with Valencia. He proceeded to hit .313/777 there in 49 games, and so, like Valencia, should be an easy candidate for a roster spot with Beloit in 2007.

#8 - Deibinson Romero - Elizabethton Twins [Bel/Eliz]
Things are starting to look awfully crowded in Beloit . . . Romero started off his minor league career in the GCL, where he hit .313/825 in 50 games. Normally, that would probably be enough to get him a promotion direct to Beloit, but with Valencia and Olson already on their way, there might be a chance that Romero is asked to start off in extended spring training and then play in Elizabethton next year while things sort themselves out in Beloit. Frankly, I'd rather see him in Beloit, playing a little 1B, a little 3B, DH'ing a bit, and if necessary learning how to play some outfield to get more playing time. It will be interesting to see how the Twins decide to address their logjam.

#9 - Luis Rodriguez - WAIVED (claimed by San Diego c. 10/01/07)
Is it harsh of me to have Rodriguez listed so low on this list despite his Major League experience? No disrespect is intended, but Rodriguez is no one's idea of a starting caliber 3B (or SS, or 2B), while each of the players listed higher than Rodriguez could conceivably become starters some day (obviously, not all of them will - but I think there's a chance for each of them, and Rodriguez's days of being considered a candidate as a starter are past). Rodriguez will need to earn his roster spot in Spring Training, and with Alejandro Machado in camp (and more suited to a middle infielder backup role, seemingly), there is a good chance that Rodriguez will find himself in AAA, behind Matt Moses and getting some playing time at SS and 2B as well.

#10 - Matthew Betsill - RELEASED (c. 10/25/07)
Ft. Myers is probably the most likely destination for Betsill, simply because of all of the players already at Beloit. Betsill did hit .280/683 with Beloit last season, but that was in just 28 games (100 at-bats). Is that enough playing time to justify promoting the 1B/3B to Ft. Myers? Probably yes, for the sake of the roster. Betsill was a 10th round selection in the 2005 draft, and is 22-years-old.

#11 - Brian Buscher (40-Man) - Rochester Red Wings [New Britain]
Buscher was a minor league Rule 5 selection in December, and I don't honestly know the rules about where he would have to play for the Twins to keep him - I suspect that he would have to play at the AAA level or be offered back to San Francisco. The question is whether San Fran would care enough to bring him back into the system if the Twins assigned him to New Britain, which seems to be the most likely scenario. Buscher was a 3rd round selection in the 2003 draft, but the left-handed hitter is already 25, and will turn 26 in April, and yet has never really put everything together. He did hit .282/789 in High-A ball in 2005, but struggled after being promoted to AA at the end of that season, and last year hit just .259/687 - once again at AA. With a position as loaded as this one is, the Twins can afford to send him back to San Francisco if he doesn't establish himself in spring training.

#12 - William Luque - UNASSIGNED [Beloit]
Luque can play at 2B, SS, and 3B - and he may be given a chance to explore the middle infield positions more this season because of all of the third basemen arriving in Beloit from the rookie league levels. Luque was signed as an undrafted free agent, and hit very well in 2005 with the GCL Twins (.322/784), but has never really adjusted to higher levels of play (.243/649 in 21 games with Elizabethon in 2006 - .247/710 in 30 games with Beloit). I suppose, then, that he could be asked to take another trip through extended spring training before starting next season in Elizabethton - but instead, I think the Twins will try to make room for him at Beloit.

#13 - Luke Hughes - New Britain Rock Cats [Ft Myers]
Hughes played a little 2B last year in Ft. Myers, but got most of his playing time at 3B. He hit just .231/599 in 95 games (333 at-bats) with the Miracle. Hughes was another undrafted free agent, signed back in 2002. He split time between Beloit and Ft. Myers back in 2005, and to this point has never put together a particularly strong offensive season. He could be on the cut list if the Twins need to make room for other players in Ft. Myers.

#14 - Rene Tosoni - Elizabethton Twins [Eliz/GCL]
Tosoni was a 36th round pick in the 2005 draft, and was signed by the team last summer. I don't know why he wasn't assigned to play anywhere last year, but I also haven't seen any indication that he was cut by the team. As a result, if Tosoni is still in the organization, he should be assigned to one of the rookie league teams this summer after a stint in extended spring training.

NR - Juan Richardson - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Do a search for Juan Richardson 3B, and you'll end up with a player in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. This is not that Richardson, although I'm hard pressed to tell you much else about him other than that he was born on 12/27/86 in Bani, Dominican Republic, and that he throws and bats from the right side.

NR - Reggie Williams - Unassigned [No Prediction]
Williams was the Twins 4th round pick in the 2007 draft, signing just before the deadline and too late to get any action in this year. Williams was born on 11/05/88, and was drafted out of Bellflower High School in California. Williams is a product of MLB's Urban Youth Academy, and is mentioned as a shortstop rather than a third baseman in this article from the Twins website discussing his signing. For now, I'm sticking with the designation of 3B from Baseball America.

NR - Howie Clark - Unassigned [No Prediction]
Clark, a veteran infielder who has spent time with the Orioles and Blue Jays, was signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent on November 22 and received an invite to spring training in early January.

NR - Mike Lamb - Minnesota Twins [No Prediction]
Lamb is a 32-year-old corner infielder signed by the Twins as a free agent on December 14 to a two-year deal with an option for 2010. The left-handed hitting Lamb will more than likely become the Twins starting third baseman next season.

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  • At Mon Mar 19, 07:37:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What do you think about the number of errors these players have? Moses has problems fielding. He has bad hands. Winnfree last year has the "yipps"

  • At Mon Mar 19, 08:28:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Fielding is important, but I view it as something that is more teachable than offense, and it is also a little harder to measure. There just aren't as many reliable measures of fielding for minor league players, and I don't really like the ones that are out there. As a result, I tended to rule it out when I was putting together the rankings. If a guy has enough offensive potential, he'll either learn how to field, or he'll become a DH . . . OR the team will just deal with the defensive liability.


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