"Teams are always looking for legitimate shortstops like (Cabrera)," said Radcliff, vice president for player personnel. "And our guy was generating a lot of interest from scouts."
"Our guy" was Estarlin de los Santos, a surprise addition to the Twins' 40-man roster in November—and a player Radcliff projects to arrive in Minnesota as soon as 2012.
"He's not well-known yet because he's been hurt, but scouts know about him," he said. "We felt like we would have lost him to this year's Rule 5 draft."
Instead, the Twins will begin the 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic at Double-A New Britain next year, and count on him continuing to develop at the plate.
A switch-hitter, de los Santos batted .290/.330/.397 in 68 games for high Class A Fort Myers in 2009, despite dealing with an elbow injury and a stress fracture in his leg. In fact, injuries that have limited him to just 136 games the past two seasons.
"His bat improvement and pitch recognition have been really positive over the last year. And he's got a plus arm, plus hands," Radcliff said. "He's really the only true shortstop we have in our system."
That's why the Twins, with roster spots at a premium, decided not to risk losing him for nothing, particularly when he got off to a strong start—14-for-50 (.280) with six RBIs—in the Dominican League.
"People might think it's a year early, because he's only been to High-A so far, but that's just because he's been hurt," Radcliff said. "We think he's got all the tools to get to the majors, so we didn't want to take any chances."
• Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano was issued a U.S. work visa, making official his September signing with the Twins for $3.15 million. His identity and age (16) were verified by an MLB investigation. Sano was considering using his father's surname and playing as Miguel Jean when he embarks upon the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2010.
• The Twins did not make a selection in the Rule 5 draft but did lose two pitchers in the Triple-A phase. The Phillies selected 20-year-old righthander Angelo Sanchez, who struck out 64 in 61 innings for Rookie-level Elizabethton, while the Rangers plucked 22-year-old lefty Winston Marquez, who pitched mostly in relief for low Class A Beloit.