Minnesota Twins: Chat
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.
John Manuel will chat about the Twins farm system beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
Chad (Toronto, Canada): Was Chris Parmelee
considered for the top 10? Is his line this year what you would expect
to see from year in, year out? Will he ever hit for a higher average?
Hi, everyone, thanks for coming out to
the chat. Congrats to Chad for the first question. Parmelee actually
was strongly considered for the Top 10. He's not a typical Twins
prospect but he performed quite well in 2009, especially considering he
was coming off a wrist injury in '08 and moved up to the FSL. His power
numbers were excellent in that context. I don't think he'll ever hit
for a high average. He reminds me of John-Ford Griffin, who was
similarly touted as a hit-first, power-second guy as an amateur, and
then both guys became low-average power guys in the minors. I'm sure
the Twins hope Parmelee is better, and I think he's a bit better, but
he still seems more like a second-division regular at his peak rather
than an impact bat.
JAYPERS (IL): Would you say Hicks has a lower
or higher ceiling than Justin Upton did after his first season in the
MWL a few years ago? (Both seemed to have similiar seasons, judging by
I don't think he has quite Upton's
thunder and upside, Mr. Jaypers (if that's your real name). The only
things the numbers tell me about Hicks is (a) he held his own, with
basically a league-average season despite being pretty young for the
league, and (b) he's got a lot of rough edges, such as the stolen-base
Ben (Leland Grove): If Mauer isn't going anywhere anytime soon, is there another position for Ramos he could attempt?
I suppose first base, but Morneau is
obviously not going anywhere, either. No, I don't think he's going
anywhere other than C, 1b or DH. The other option would of course be
Ben (Leland Grove): How many of the Twins' Top 10 get your vote for the Top 100 overall prospects list?
The first three are locks, and in fact
the first three might all end up in the top 50. I'm the high man on
Ramos, I believe. Beyond him, it's a toss-up whether guys like Miguel
Sano (no track record) and Ben Revere (limited power) also make it. I
doubt that Danny Valencia will make the cut, so it's 3 to 5.
JAYPERS (IL): What can you tell us about Michael Tonkin, and did he make your top 30?
Made the top 30 last year, just missed
this year, throws a ball with good natural sink and has a chance to be
a nice sinker-slider guy down the line. Lots of moving pieces so his
early command numbers are quite encouraging. Not the highest upside guy
but would have made the top 30 if not for the influx of new talent into
the system this year.
Ken (Rochester): What is the status of 09 pick SP Matthew Bashore, I see he debuted last year but then was quickly shut down?
He had some bone chips removed in the
late summer from his elbow. He's in the Top 30 and is expected to be at
full strength for 2010 spring training, but it wouldn't shock me if he
started in extended and then went up to Beloit after an extended
Ben (Leland Grove): What's your assessment of Loek Van Mil? Is he still on your prospect radar?
Definitely. If not for Kyle Gibson he'd
probably win Best Slider in the system. I've had reports of his slider
touching 88. Problem is, he's never even thrown 45 innings in a season,
and he's 25. He's hard to compare to anyone else — he's taller, he's
less experience, he's more Dutch . . . he's just different. He's in the
Top 30 but I really had no idea where to rank him, and wound up with
him toward the back. Fun guy to write up and talk about and discuss.
Being on the 40-man roster clinched him a spot in the 30, that was a
Grant (St. Cloud, MN): In retrospect, was Deolis Guerra's ceiling overstated? How far did he fall since last year's list?
I don't think so, because the Twins have
admitted he threw harder before they got him. I've gotten that
consistently from inside and outside the organization. When the Twins
got him, he was flashing a plus fastball, he had the changeup that is
definitely his best pitch, and the breaking ball was short. Now he
still has the change, and the breaking ball actually has made progress,
but the fastball command and velocity have regressed. The Twins last
year were basically debating if Guerra changed on his own or if he was
changed. Whatever happened, he's not the same pitcher, but he's also
still just 20 (at least officially). The Twins haven't given up on him,
and he's still ranked.
JAYPERS (IL): If you had to speculate, who would you compare Max Kepler to at this early stage?
His athleticism gets compared to guys
such as Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson internally, i.e., he gets compared
to the Twins' top athletes. He's almost as unique as Van Mil, though
not quite. His bat will be the million-dollar question, of course, but
the fundamentals are there for him to have a good swing. One thing to
note is, he's fairly fresh meat, in a manner of speaking. It's not like
he's been in the cage a billion times and his swing is his swing, like
it might be for some other guys. I'm not sure what the best nickname
for him should be though — Twinkletoes? Barishnikov? Elmer Fudd? Those
are the only ballet references I can make. I apologize for my lack of
Dan (Miami, FL): The scouting report on
Shooter Hunt coming out of Tulane was that he was a little wild, but
this year he put up Neighborgall type numbers. Do you see him righting
the ship, or is he already a bust as a supplemental 1st round pick?
Great reference, there were fairly
Neighborgallian. I would also throw out Eric Beattie, a Tigers pick in
2003 who got The Thing. It's really not a laughing matter but Hunt's
issues are clearly distressing. The track record of players overcoming
that sort of thing is, well, I can't think of any who overcame it. I'm
rooting for him, I've heard great things about Shooter. But when I
asked one Twins official about him, he just replied, "John, here I
thought we were having a great time talking baseball, and you had to
bring that up?"
Frank (Milwaukee): Did Adrian Salcedo come close?
Yes, he's actually No. 11. I have yet to
receive a negative report about him. I just think the Twins have 10
guys who are both closer to the majors and should be solid or better
big leaguers combined with other higher ceilings such as Sano and
Kepler. I talked more about him in the recent Prospect Pulse.
Pete (Chicago): What is Rene Tosoni's ceiling at present? 11-20 range?
He just missed the Top 10. I can't shake
the feeling that he's a tweener on a good team, kind of a Ryan Church
type, a second-division regular or fourth outfielder. It's hard to see
him hitting for the power teams want in a corner OF, and it's hard to
see him playing CF. He *might* just hit enough to be a Rusty Greer Lite
kind of guy. I could keep going with mindless comps but the point is,
he seems like a tweener, hence he's in the 11-20 range. He's such a
grinder, too, would be in quite a few other Top 10s by the looks of it.
Paul (Oakland, CA): Thanks for the chat John. Is BJ Hermsen a top 30 guy? What is the scouting report on him and what is his ceiling?
He is a top 30 guy. He also threw a ton
of strikes, the velocity wasn't super this year, in fact it was below
average frequently, but he creates angle to the plate and drives the
ball downhill, making him tough to elevate. He's a strong-bodied
innings-eater. Funny, the Twins compare all their guys like that to
Nick Blackburn now . . .
Troy (Tallahassee FL): Did Trevor Plouffe's stock rise or fall any since last year?
Fall. He was on the 40-man and they were
in a pennant race, and not only did they not call him up, but they sent
him to Europe to play for Team USA. Even if they needed him (which they
sort of did), they couldn't call him up. He's still just 23, but he's a
tweener, too. He doesn't run enough to be a great bench guy, like say
Matt Tolbert is; he doesn't have the power to be an everyday 3b, like
say Valencia could; he doesn't field well enough at SS to be a factor
there, as they acquired Hardy. I just don't see how he's in their plans
and I don't know what his fit is, unless the power improves or the
glove significantly improves.
Trey (Houston, TX): Oswaldo Arcia put up some
good numbers in his North American debut. Is he a guy that you could
see making the top 10 in future years?
Love that guy. Fits the right-field
profile, plus power potential, and he was among the toughest hitters to
strike out in the GCL. It's just the GCL and he has some rough edges to
polish up, but he's a potential Top 10 guy next year if he can make the
jump to the MWL and continue to show that kind of plate coverage, power
and arm strength. Pretty interesting guy.
Dr. Greg House, MD (Princeton-Plainsboro): Could you tell us your thoughts on Joe Benson and whether he fell out of your Top 30?
Definitely still in, ranked in the 11-20
range. The tools are all still there. The most important tool is the
bat and he's still lagging there. He made some progress in 2009, and it
would be nice to see him stay healthy. His speed and throwing arm give
him survival tools that should allow him to stick around and figure out
the hit tool, so the thinking goes.
JAYPERS (IL): Just how certain are you (and the Twins, for that matter) that Kyle Gibson won't become Deolis Guerra V. 2?
I don't quite see the connection. Gibson
was hurt, that's why his velo was down. His velo was back in the fall
at instructional league. Guerra didn't get hurt; there was a change in
his mechanics that I discussed earlier.
Ryan (Fayetteville, FL): Blayne Weller showed
outstanding control for a large bodied pitcher at his age. What does he
throw and does he have a high ceiling?
He's more of an over-the-top
fastball-curve-changeup guy. His ceiling ranks behind the other GCL
Twins starters such as Salcedo, Hermsen and Tonkin, he's not quite the
power arm or sinkerballer those guys are, nor is he as athletic. But
he's worth mentioning because he also pounded the bottom of the K zone
and he's got some feel for pitching.
Kyle (Chicago, IL): Will Anthony Slama make the big league pen this season, and is he a potential closer in the majors?
I will take yes on the first question but
no on the second. He's still not quite adept at retiring lefthanded
hitters. His fastball command will have to be more precise because it
doesn't seem like he's got an out pitch for them yet, but he hasn't
failed yet in the minors. I think he'll earn a shot with his
performance, and now he has to hope he gets his shot when he's throwing
well. AT least Bob Keppel's out of his way, that's one less competitor
. . .
Ian (Vancouver, Canada): Josmil Pinto hit for
some big power in the Appy league this season but he is already listed
as a DH. Is he a bat only guy, and is his bat good enough carry him
through higher levels in the minors?
Yes, he's a bat only guy, and I am
betting that his bat is not going to be enough. He didn't make the top
30. The Twins have excelled at bringing in some no-hit catchers lately
such as Pinto, Alex Soto and Danny Rams, who was an expensive get there
as a second rounder. I don't think any of them has made a top 30 yet.
Dale (Miami, FL): Do you see Billy Bullock being a quick mover through the minors? Is it realistic to think he could be in the majors in 2011?
It is realistic; that's half of why you
draft a college reliever that high. Bullock had a poor instructional
league; he ran out of gas and his fastball was sitting in the upper 80.
However, he hit a lot of 97s in the spring and after signing before he
got tired. He's been an inconsistent performer since his high school
days, so I think the Twins would take a consistent 93-94 if he could
command it. He has closer potential, but again, I think you have to
temper the enthusiasm a bit because his track record of performing at
his best is frankly spotty.
willy (pitt): How did you assess someone like
Angel Morales or Joe Benson with big tools but contact issues, versus
someone like Rene Tosoni with a higher floor but a lower ceiling?
Good question. Morales has done more than
Benson, though Benson frankly has better tools — better defense,
better runner. Morales' best tool is his power, and he's tapped into
that as a pro, which deserves some respect. Tosoni had his first true
full season this year, but as I discussed earlier, he doesn't really
fit a profile. Benson's inability to stay healthy, combined with his
contact issues and power (or rather his lack of game power), pushed him
to third here, even though he has the best tools of this trio. I ranked
Morales — the best combo of tools & performance — first. Still
have some doubts about him but he has earned a top 10 spot, it's
serious power and he fits the RF profile for sure.
John (Harrisonburg, VA): Is it just me, or does Ben Revere look like he's wearing a size 25 hat?
It's you, and our photog (credits are
omitted on our site right now . . . we'll get on that). But that photo
is goofy. Sorry Ben! If I were Brett Myers I'd tell him to show the
game some respect and straighten out his cap, but thankfully, I'm not.
John (Harrisonburg, VA): Does it look like Rob Delaney might help the major league bullpen in 2010? What would his scouting report look like?
Maybe, though he wasn't quite as good in
'09 as he had been in '08. He was in last year's Handbook, and he
didn't quite combat LH hitters as he did previously. His fastball
command also wasn't quite as good as it needed to be in Triple-A. I
think he'll be a big leaguer but more as an up-and-down guy rather than
making an impact. Still, excellent value for a $500 non-drafted free
Fred (Ohio): Hi- Can Kyle Gibson be a true number 1 starter? Thanks!
Probably not, because those are few and
far between, but he has the raw ingredients. He's shown three plus
pitches at times; the slider might be a 70, the fastball touches 94 and
sits 91-92 with sink and command, which make it a 60 pitch when he's
right; and his changeup is probably a 60 as well. As with everything
else in pitching, it comes back to the fastball. That was always the
criticism of Gibson in the past, that he didn't throw his fastball
enough. If you want to command the fastball, you better practice it,
and to practice you have to throw it. I can't think of a No. 1 starter
who doesn't have average or plus fastball command, except perhaps Tim
Lincecum. And his command is much better than it was in college, when
he walked the same number of guys (or more) in half the innings.
Fred (Ohio): Do you think that Blair Erickson has a shot at making the majors?
Signs point to no. He's got that NCAA
saves record so that's something but no, he's not really stamped
himself as a factor in the Twins system.
Luke (Des Moines): How excited are you for the college baseball season? When will the preview podcast come out?
Right now I'm still in Twins mode, but
the college preview has begun and we'll probably podcast tomorrow,
actually. Top 25 is less than two weeks away, I believe, but that has
been decided, so we're getting geared up. Just back this week from the
coaches convention which always gets us ready.
Fred (Ohio): What are your thoughts on Steve Singleton?
Part of a passel of Twins infield
prospects who are interesting but who also are not The Answer at 2b or
ss, for that matter. Infield is the organization's current Achilles'
heel, both at the major league level and in the farm system. Hence the
renewed, better efforts in the Dominican Republic.
Fred (Ohio): Do you know why the Twins were unable to sign 10th round pick Blake Dean?
I didn't delve into that signing, but
Dean was primarily a DH the last two seasons and has some real
limitations athletically. He's moved to first for LSU for 2010. He's a
very nice college hitter but that's no huge loss for the Twins.
Sal (Bloomington, IN): Did Matt Bashore come
close to making the top 10? I wouldn't think that there are too many
LHP who have a 4 pitch repertoire and can get it up to 94-95. I know he
was injured this year, but isn't the list based on upside?
It's upside mixed with chance to reach
that upside. Bashore was awfully inconsistent last year for IU, though
he came on strong down the stretch when the Hoosiers made us look good
after a bad start and won the Big Ten tournament. His fastball was more
frequently 88-91 in the spring, though he will touch those radar-gun
readings you mentioned. He's a four-pitch LHP in the Glen Perkins mold,
and if that's the upside, then I'm pretty satisfied leaving him out of
what I believe to be a very strong top 10. Then add in the bone chips
and the track record of IU players in pro ball (what IU track record?
Precisely!), and I think it's prudent to rank him lower. I look forward
to Eric Arnett and Bashore improving that IU track record, mind you.
Jacob (Northfield, MN): What are the odds Danny Valencia is the everyday 3B this year and what kind of impact do you think he will have if he does?
Every day that goes by without a 3B
signing in Minnesota or being traded to the Twins moves his odds up a
bit. His in-house competition is Tolbert or Punto (one could be at 2B),
Luke Hughes (frankly a similar hitter but lesser defender) and Brendan
Harris. Valencia should be able to win playing time through all of that
if he plays consistent defense, plays with energy and gives Ron
Gardenhire some competitive at-bats. You've got to know your audience;
Valencia's audience is Gardy.
Jeff (Slidell): I was wondering what your thoughts were on Tyler Robertson and a young first baseman by the name of Michael Gonzales?
Two Sacramento products, if I recall
correctly, one HS and one Juco. Robertson is fascinating, hold you hats
for it — he's a long-toss guy! The Twins have long been a strict
120-foot long-toss organization, but Rick Knapp isn't walking through
that door anymore, so new pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen has
allowed players who want to stretch it out to stretch it out, starting
with instructs 2009. Robertson was a big long-toss guy in high school,
so the hope is he'll regain some of his lost velocity. He's still got
that funky arm action, which lends him deception while making him less
projectable than someone his size ordinarily would be. He's still got
good breaking stuff, so if the fastball can be average, he'll have a
shot to stick in a rotation long-term. Gonzales is a nice hitter with
some power but more of an organizational guy who will have to hit his
way to prospect status.
Zach (Mpls.): Hey John, thanks for doing the
chat. So, if J.J. Hardy regresses back to last years form, is there
anybody from within that could help them out at SS this year? Also, who
are some of the sleeper prospects in their minor league ranks?
The in-house SS candidates other than
Hardy are (a) B. Harris, (b) Estarlin de los Santos, who's on the
40-man but has yet to reach even Double-A, and (c) Plouffe. I think
that tells you why they traded for Hardy. If he fails, Harris probably
is your best bet, I don't think Plouffe is a big league first-division
Kevin (Minnesota): With this recent infusion of talent where does the Twins organization rank as far as minor league talent is concerned?
I had them in my Top 10 but I frankly
can't find those notes right now. We did wind up putting them in the
Top 10, but you'll have to wait for the book to see exactly where.
kaderbop (chippewa falls,wi.): Have the twins decided on Gutierrez as a closer or are you guys speculating? Thanks.
They have not decided on him as a closer.
If you read the report, he's going to remain a starter. They still have
Derek Lowe hopes for him, and considering he led the minors in
groundout-airout ratio for pitchers with 100 IP, I think it's
reasonable. We put him at closer because Joe Nathan's old, Gutierrez
has closed before and they have a ton of starting pitching options. In
other words, it's informed speculation.
Kevin (Minnesota): Has Luke Hughes value as a prospect been hurt by the emergence of Danny Valencia?
No, it's been hurt by him being injury
prone and short defensively. He might have been a better fit at 2b all
along, but the Twins' never-ending quest for a 3b pushed them to move
Kevin (Minnesota): If you had to compare Wilson Ramos to another player who would it be?
I've tried to get a comp from scouts but
haven't gotten one. He's got some similarities to Bengi Molina, though
he's a better hitter and thankfully is faster. I believe he's going to
be a .270-.330-.480 type of guy with 20-25 home runs, in his best
years. He just flat crushed the ball in Winter ball in Venezuela, 14
doubles, 12 homers, hit .332 and took some walks when pitched around.
That was going on as I was finishing the list and encouraged my
Billy (California): Alex Burnett had a couple
of really nice seasons in his career but he really seemed to flourish
and have a breakout season when the Twins moved him to the bullpen -
whats is his ceiling - nice 7th/8th inning guy, potentially a closer or
an average arm in the pen?
Nice 7th or 8th inning guy sounds like a good ceiling.
James (Australia): Co-mvp of the Beloit team
and a great showing in the WBC (including a double off of Mr. Chapman)
- have I done enough to finally break into the top 30? Where do you see
my future possibly heading?
Yes, James Beresford is in the top 30 this year.
Sean (Calgary, Canada): Are Hicks and Span the same player? Which would you rather have at their ceiling potential (assuming they reach it)?
No, Hicks has more raw power and more
all-around ability. Span surprised us all — me, the Twins, everybody
probably but himself. I would say Hicks' ceiling is higher but Span's
become very good.
Michael (Toronto): I was very surprised to see
Ben Revere down at #5. Has he taken a step backwards as a prospect, or
does this just tell us how much stronger the Twins top 10 is this year?
I thought that Revere had a solid 2009 season.
Both, two of those guys ahead of him are
new, but also Revere isn't going to hit for the average power the Twins
were forecasting for him. I think he's got a real chance to be a Juan
Pierre clone, both the good part of that and perhaps the bad part. He's
got a big more juice than Pierre but he's also not as adept at stealing
bases as Pierre was.
Sean (Calgary, Canada): I know the projected
line-ups are make-believe at best but no Liriano in the rotation? Is he
done? I can assume you do not believe his slider will come back or he
will develop another secondary pitch?
He's not a sure thing for 2010, so I
thought 2013 was a stretch. He's thrown well in winter ball but let's
see him do it in the regular season.
Josh G (Sacto, CA): If he hadn't been traded would Tyler Ladendorf be in the top 10?
No, he was down their SS depth chart, which is why they traded him.
Wow, more than 100 questions still to go,
but I have got to go pick up the kids. Thanks for all the questions.
Next Top 10 and chat comes Monday with Matt Eddy and his new favorite
organization, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.