Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

2008 Organizational Rankings: Second Basemen

This is the fourth in a series of posts covering every player in the Twins organization who has played at least at the Rookie League level or higher, along with a few international players who have not yet reached that level. Here are the ground rules for these posts:

1.) Each player in the organization will be listed in only one of these posts. The determination of where to place a player was made based on the position at which the player received the most playing time during the 2007 season (with very rare exceptions -- including one in this post), and I won't be moving players around during the season.

2.) These rankings are obviously being made prior to the start of the 2008 season, and I will not be updating them during the season. As a result, no matter how well a player performs in 2008, it will not affect his ranking.

3.) As with everything else that appears on this blog, these rankings represent my own subjective impressions. If you agree or disagree, feel free to respond with your own thoughts in the comments.

4.) Speaking of comments, I'm human and therefore make mistakes. If I've missed a player, added a player who is no longer with the team, incorrectly listed biographical information, or anything else, please let me know in the comments and I will address the mistake with a correction, if necessary.

5.) Players who leave the Twins organization (whether by release, trade, or any other circumstance) will remain in the rankings, but their listing will be in red font and the method by which they left the team will be noted. Players who join the Twins organization during the season will be added to the proper post, but will not be ranked; instead, they'll appear at the bottom of the list with the ranking of "NR," standing for "Not Ranked." This will be true whether the player is a 2008 draft pick or a former All-Star traded for at the deadline.

#1 - Alexi Casilla
Call this a ranking based on expectations. Casilla struggled last season in his time with the Twins, hitting just .222 in 189 AB's. He also demonstrated some bad habits that hopefully have more to do with his youth than with anything else. Despite this, I think Casilla has a bright future going forward, probably as the Twins long-term solution at 2B or SS. Considering that there are no sure-fire #1's behind Casilla in the organization, I strongly believe he belongs at the top of this list. Hopefully, he'll make strides in 2008 to demonstrate that he can hit (and field) consistently at the big league level. No matter where he starts the season, I expect him to end it with the Twins.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Birthdate: 7/20/1984
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 40-Man Roster
Projected 2008 Team: Rochester Red Wings
Current Team: Minnesota Twins
2008 Transactions: Optioned to AAA Rochester (3/14/08); Recalled to Minnesota (5/11/08); 15-Day DL (7/29/08); Activated (8/21/08)

#2 - Nick Punto (Free Agent - 10/30/08)
Surprised to see him in the 2B rankings? More surprised to see him so high on the list? I hear ya, but there's a method to my madness. First off, Punto has spent most of the past two seasons playing at 3B, so by my normal rules he should be listed as a 3B. However, with the Twins signing of Mike Lamb, it's quite clear that Punto is no longer considered the Twins starter at third -- but he will get every chance to win the starting job at 2B. Even if he doesn't win that job, he'll be a utility man, not a true 3B. As a result, I've used my editorial discretion to move Punto to the 2B list. As for why he's ranked second on the list after a truly miserable 2007 season (.210/562 in 472 AB's) -- it's due to a combination of factors. Firstly, there's no one in the organization who has earned this spot with their play. Second, even with his offensive struggles, Punto remains a potent defensive weapon, and that shouldn't be discounted. Third, Punto's 2007 was almost certainly a career low-point for him offensively, and while he's unlikely to ever return to his 2006 form (.290/725 in 425 AB's), he's also unlikely to ever be quite as bad as in 2007. As a result, his experience at the big league level and his defensive prowess are enough to get him the #2 spot in my ranking -- and I even considered sticking him at #1.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Birthdate: 11/8/1977
Drafted: 1998 (21st Round)
Status: 40-Man Roster
Projected 2008 Team: Minnesota Twins
Current Team: Minnesota Twins
2008 Transactions: 15-Day DL (5/11/08); Activated from DL (5/31/08); 15-Day DL (6/05/08); Activated from DL (6/23/08); Filed for Free Agency (10/30/08)

#3 - Matt Tolbert
Tolbert had a dream start to the 2007 season before leveling off to finish with a still solid .293/780 in 417 AB's. For the most part, that performance backed up Tolbert's claim to being a solid offensive season, proven as he's moved up through the system from Elizabethton firectly to Ft. Myers, then a half season in New Britain and finally in Rochester last year. That performance was good enough to get Tolbert a place on the 40-man roster to protect him from the rule 5 draft, but not until after the season was over. I, for one, was lobbying for Tolbert to get a shot as a September callup, but it wasn't to be. Tolbert will get a long look during Spring Training as a possible backup infielder, but will more likely return to Rochester for more seasoning. I fully expect him to make his Major League debut sometime in 2008, however.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Birthdate: 5/4/1982
Drafted: 2004 (16th Round)
Status: 40-Man Roster
Projected 2008 Team: Rochester Red Wings
Current Team: Minnesota Twins
2008 Transactions: 15-Day DL (5/16/08); Activated from DL (9/02/08)

#4 - Felix Molina -- Minor League Free Agent (11/10/08)
Molina was ranked second on my list last year, but Casilla, Punto, and Tolbert are all new to my second base rankings and all deserved to be ranked ahead of him. I like Molina, and I'm glad that the Twins brought him back into the fold after he became a minor league free agent after the 2007 season. He's relatively consistent offensively (.272/719 in 426 AB's in New Britain during 2007; .270/722 in .385 AB's in New Britain during 2008). Molina belongs in Rochester this season, but the difficulty there is that Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert will likely both be there as well competing for playing time. I'm still projecting that that's where he'll play in 2008, but there's at least an outside shot that he could be sent back to New Britain, at least at the start of the season.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Birthdate: 5/5/1983
Drafted: 2001 (21st Round)
Status: 8th Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Rochester Red Wings
Current Team: New Britain Rock Cats
2008 Transactions: Assigned to AA New Britain (4/03/08); Promoted to AAA Rochester (5/24/08); Assigned to AA New Britain (6/04/08); Granted minor league free agency (11/10/08)

#5 - Brian Dinkelman
Dinkelman started off his Twins career with a very solid 2006 season in Elizabethton, but last season was not quite as successful. Dinkelman spent part of his season in Ft. Myers, where he hit .255/750 in 247 AB's. However, at the Low A level with Beloit, Dinkelman hit .283/861 in 240 AB's. He has a little bit of speed and a little bit of power, and he merits some attention as he enters his third season in the organization.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Birthdate: 11/10/1983
Drafted: 2006 (8th Round)
Status: 3rd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Ft. Myers Miracle
Current Team: New Britain Rock Cats
2008 Transactions: Assigned to High A Ft. Myers (4/03/08); Promoted to AA New Britain (6/16/08); 7-Day DL (7/20/08); Activated from DL (7/31/08)

#6 - Steven Singleton
Last year was a reasonably solid season for Singleton, who spent his first full season as a professional with the Beloit Snappers. Singleton hit .271/640 in 373 AB's, playing a little short but primarily playing at second base. Singleton hit a ridiculous .340/924 in 144 AB's with Elizabethton in 2006, so his 2007 performance was a drop -- but by no means did he fall off a cliff last year. My guess is that his performance was good enough to get him moved up a level, but it is possible that the Twins will decide to keep him in Beloit for at least the first part of the season to see how his offense looks this season.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Birthdate: 9/12/1985
Drafted: 2006 (11th Round)
Status: 3rd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Ft. Myers Miracle
Current Team: Ft. Myers Miracle
2008 Transactions: Assigned to Low A Beloit (4/03/08); Promoted to High A Ft. Myers (6/15/08)

#7 - Jeanfred Brito
Brito is a Venezuelan who played his first US ball last summer with the GCL Twins, where he hit .290/705 in 210 AB's. Those are respectable enough numbers for me to give him a solid ranking, but essentially this year is somewhat tentative -- a .290 BA in the GCL doesn't mean a whole lot overall. Brito plays in the middle infield and can also play in the outfield as needed, so his versatility should help him as he moves through the system.
Bats/Throws: B/R
Birthdate: 12/21/1987
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 2nd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Elizabethton Twins
Current Team: Beloit Snappers
2008 Transactions: Assigned to High R Elizabethton (6/17/08); Promoted to Low A Beloit (7/02/08)

#8 - Andrew Thompson
Thompson was a fairly highly touted prospect when he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft, but his career so far has been severely limited by injuries. He missed all of 2007 due to his injury problems, and he picked up just 283 AB's with Beloit in 2006 due to injuries (putting up a .261/703). Hopefully, he'll enter 2008 healthy enough to get back on the field. The primary reason for his relatively low ranking on this list (a drop of five spots from where he was ranked last year) is his uncertain health.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Birthdate: 11/7/1986
Drafted: 2005 (2nd Round)
Status: 4th Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Beloit Snappers
Current Team: Beloit Snappers
2008 Transactions: Assigned to Low A Beloit (4/03/08); 7-Day DL (4/04/08)

#9 - Nick Papasan
On last year's ranking, Papasan was one of the names that generated the most interested amongst my readers, largely because of people from his native Texas who were interested in following his progress. Unfortunately, Papasan got very little playing time in 2007 due to an injury that kept him out of all but 9 late games. He ended up hitting .286/676 in 28 AB's with the GCL Twins, which is obviously far too small a sample size to analyze meaningfully (especially as he was coming off of that injury). He's ranked here on my list largely because I don't have a lot of faith in the players behind him in the organization.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 3/14/1988
Drafted: 2006 (24th Round)
Status: 2nd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Elizabethton Twins
Current Team: Elizabethton Twins
2008 Transactions: Assigned to High R Elizabethton (6/17/08); 7-Day DL (7/26/08)

#10 - Luke Hughes
The Australian Hughes has a legitimate gripe about being ranked so low on my charts after he hit .283/794 in 315 AB's with New Britain. That performance followed a season in Ft. Myers where Hughes hit .231/599 in 333 AB's in Ft. Myers, and a another season when Hughes hit .257/709 in 292 AB's with Beloit. While I could legitimately justify moving Hughes higher on the list, I'm not yet a firm believer, and I'm placing him pretty low. We'll see how he performs this season, which will probably see a return engagement in New Britain.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 8/2/1984
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 6th Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: New Britain Rock Cats
Current Team: New Britain Rock Cats
2008 Transactions: Assigned to AA New Britain (4/03/08); 7-Day DL (6/09/08); Activated from DL (7/04/08)

#11 - Eric Santiago
Two seasons of only moderate playing time and batting averages that leave something to be desired have left Eric Santiago in an unenviable position low in my rankings. Last year, Santiago hit .240/636 in 125 AB's with Elizabethton, while in 2005 Santiago hit .250/684 in 92 AB's with the GCL Twins. I don't exactly know where that leaves Santiago in the organization -- it's not really bad enough to simply part ways with him, but it's also not really good enough to justify a promotion to a full-season team. I'm guessing he'll get one more year in Elizabethton to see if things gel.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 7/10/1987
Drafted: 2006 (21st Round)
Status: 3rd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Elizabethton Twins
Current Team: Beloit Snappers
2008 Transactions: Assigned to High R Elizabethton (6/17/08); Promoted to Low A Beloit (6/22/08); Placed on 7-Day DL (c. 6/28/08)

#12 - Matthew Lawman
We've now reached a point where looking at stats could make your brain hurt a little bit, because things get rather painful. Lawman is an Australian who was originally signed back in 2005 as a 17-year-old, and he got his first American action with the GCL Twins in 2006, where he hit .256/605 in 86 AB's. That's not particularly good, but it's also not horrible. Unfortunately, last year was a bit of a disaster for Lawman, who hit just .184/554 in 114 AB's (striking out 33 times) with the Elizabethton Twins. Drastic improvement will need to be made in 2008 or Lawman will wash out as a bust.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 6/26/1987
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 3rd Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Elizabethton Twins
Current Team: TBD
2008 Transactions: None

#13 - William Luque
I'm not sure why William Luque, a Venezuelan who the Twins originally signed back in 2002 when he was 18, is still in the organization, especially after his performance in Beloit last season. In just 64 AB's, Luque posted a horrendous .125/330 -- not exactly numbers that scream out "FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUER!". His career minor league batting average is .243, which is coincidentally what he hit in 74 AB's with Elizabethton in 2006 (he also posted a .247 average in 89 AB's in Beloit the same year). To be fair, he did hit .322/784 in 90 AB's with the GCL Twins in 2005 -- but how much do 90 good AB's several years ago really weigh in the equation of keeping him around? I think Luque's days as a Twin are numbered.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 8/2/1984
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 4th Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: Beloit Snappers
Current Team: TBD
2008 Transactions: None

#14 - Jakub Hajtmar -- Released (10/29/08)
Hajtmar is a middle infielder out of Brno, Czech Republic (yep, THAT Czech Republic) who was signed as a 19-year-old in 2006. I have no information on what, if anything, he did baseball-wise last year. However, I would guess that unless the Twins have decided to part ways with Hajtmar (and I have seen no evidence of that), he has a good chance of debuting in the GCL this season.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 6/14/1987
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 1st Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: GCL Twins
Current Team: GCL Twins
2008 Transactions: Assigned to Low R GCL (6/19/08); Released (10/29/08)

#15 - Hyeong-Rok Choi
Compared to Choi, I had a veritable encyclopedia of information on Jakub Hajtmar. All I know about Choi is that he was just signed in 2007 as a 17-year-old, and that he comes out of South Korea. There's a chance that he could show up in the US this year to play in the GCL, or the Twins could send him to someplace like Australia (as they did with Jae Jang, a South Korean catcher, last year) to get some seasoning. If I find out more information on him as the year goes on, I'll update this entry.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 8/23/1989
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 1st Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: GCL Twins
Current Team: GCL Twins
2008 Transactions: Assigned to Low R GCL (6/19/08)

NR - Anderson Hidalgo
Hidalgo spent 2007 in the Dominican Summer League after signing with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2006. He hit .305 in 55 games, so he seems to be relatively promising.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate: 9/05/1988
Drafted: International Signing
Status: 1st Year Minor League Player
Projected 2008 Team: No Projections
Current Team: GCL Twins
2008 Transactions: Assigned to Low R GCL (6/19/08)

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4 Comments:

  • At Tue Feb 05, 10:44:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Brendan Harris?

     
  • At Tue Feb 05, 10:56:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    I'm listing him in the shortstop section. This is an editorial call -- I don't think he's going to be the starting second baseman, and instead I expect him to fill a backup infielder role. Since he played more games at SS last year than at 2B, I'm listing him there.

    This can be fairly criticized, because certainly if he wins a starting job, it will be at 2B. Nonetheless, I'm keeping him at SS. This is one time that I may violate my rule about moving players -- if Harris wins the starting job at 2B this spring, I'll probably move him into the 2B rankings and re-rank to accommodate him.

     
  • At Wed Feb 06, 11:29:00 AM , Anonymous SethSpeaks said...

    Harris will almost certainly be the Twins opening day 2B, but by season's end, I would not be surprised if Casilla is starting, at either SS or 2B by the end of the year as I think he'll be the starting SS at Rochester.

    The guy I'm excited about is Luke Hughes, who I think will get a lot of playing time at 2B for New Britain. (Sorry, but I think that Molina might as well be let go so he can get a chance elsewhere. He won't improve with a fourth season at AA.)

     
  • At Wed Feb 06, 01:30:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Singleton played '07 with a shoulder injury, which is a major reason he was at 2B instead of SS (where he was drafted). Injury caused him to sit out the Spring, then stay a month in extended before joining Beloit in May. He'll be healthy going into camp this year, so it will be interesting to see a full season of him at full strength. I think he may surprise some. Having seen all of the organization's middle guys, he stacks up quite well.

     

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