2013 Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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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.

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Minnesota Twins

Losing has become the norm again for the Twins. Minnesota followed its 99-loss 2011 debacle with a 96-loss snore of a season that was over in April, when it lost its first four games and 15 of its first 20.

The team's pitching imploded almost immediately and the season became an audition for young players, some of whom responded. Recent farm products such as Trevor Plouffe (24 homers, second on the team), Ben Revere (.333 OBP, 40 steals) and Chris Parmelee (.755 OPS in his final 26 games) showed signs they could be low-cost contributors. Former Rule 5 draftee Scott Diamond turned out to be the team's top starter at 12-9, 3.54.

Other than strong seasons by Joe Mauer and free-agent signee Josh Willingham, though, that was about it for the good news in the Twin Cities. The team dropped 90 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in 12 years.

When that happened in 1999-2000, the Twins had the lowest payroll in baseball. This time, they had the highest (2011) and third-highest (2012) payrolls in franchise history, totaling more than $210 million. The losing has taken a hit on attendance at Target Field, which dropped nearly 400,000 to 2.8 million fans in 2011.

Terry Ryan had been brought back as general manager—technically on an interim basis, though that tag was removed in October—in an attempt to right the ship. Farm director Jim Rantz retired following the season, after drawing a paycheck from the organization for 52 years. Five major league coaches were fired or reassigned, and several changes were made in the scouting department. Manager Ron Gardenhire wasn't given an extension, meaning the 2013 season is the last on his current contract.

Minnesota's problems start on the mound. Twins starters posted a 5.40 ERA, worst in the American League, and Diamond's 173 innings led the club by a startling 64 frames. Twelve pitchers made five or more starts, and only Diamond and perhaps Cole DeVries earned spots in the 2013 rotation.

The picture isn't much prettier on the mound in the minors, where Minnesota has suffered from a succession of injuries and flameouts by top draft picks. Its top pitching prospect, Kyle Gibson, made his way back from Tommy John surgery and could factor into the 2013 big league rotation after a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League.

Low in power arms, the Twins made them a priority in the draft and added several. However, other than supplemental first-rounders J.O. Berrios and Luke Bard, most of them project as relievers.

In the first year of baseball's new draft system, Minnesota had the largest signing pool for the first 10 rounds at $12.4 million and spent nearly half of that on its top pick, outfielder Byron Buxton. The No. 2 overall selection got the largest bonus in franchise history and in the entire 2012 draft at $6 million and made an immediate impact, helping lead Elizabethton to the Rookie-level Appalachian League title.

Buxton is part of a passel of exciting hitting prospects who give the Twins hope for the future, starting with third baseman Miguel Sano. That group also includes outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks and second baseman/outfielder Eddie Rosario.

1. Miguel Sano, 3b Born: May 11, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Signed: Dominican Republic '09 Signed by: Fred Guerrero
Miguel SanoBackground: Whether Sano is actually 19 or not almost seems immaterial at this point. The Twins signed him to a $3.15 million bonus (their largest ever for an international player) after a lengthy MLB investigation process, which confirmed his identity but not necessarily his age. Sano has been under the microscope for years and drew fans, Twin Cities media and a movie crew to low Class A Beloit in 2012. Already part of one documentary, the Bobby Valentine-produced "Pelotero" that began filming him at age 15, Sano now is involved in the follow-up. He has thrived in pro ball, ranking as the No. 2 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, No. 1 in the Rookie-level Appalachian League and No. 2 in the low Class Midwest League the last three seasons. He led the MWL in homers (28), RBIs (100), total bases (238) and extra-base hits (60) while ranking second in walks (80) and third in slugging (.521).

Scouting Report: Sano has enough juice to earn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton, the only righthanded hitter in the game who matches his 80 raw power on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's strong enough to hit the ball out to any part of any park and he uses his lower half well. Minnesota envisions him as a future cleanup hitter thanks to his present power, improved patience and pitch recognition. Sano is learning to lay off breaking balls out of the strike zone and pound pitches in his hitting zone. When he slows the game down, he keeps his fast hands back and waits on pitches. He showed a fine ability to make adjustments as 2012 went on, pulling out of a June swoon to hit .291/.398/.564 in his final 51 games. His bat attracts attention, but his glove does as well, usually for the wrong reasons. His defensive ability and where he'll play are the biggest questions facing Sano, who is large but moves well for his size. He has easy arm strength for third base, earning some 80 grades, and his errors come more frequently from lack of focus than ability. He made 42 miscues in 2012, the fourth-highest total in the minors. He did improve defensively as the year progressed, developing better instincts as he got more reps at third base after primarily playing shortstop in the past. Sano's hands remain hard, though, and he'll have to improve his footwork to get better hops and make more accurate throws. He's a below-average runner out of the box who's closer to average once he's underway. In addition to his playing ability, he also excites the Twins by showing leadership skills, even throwing in a dugout speech or two in his second language.

The Future: Sano isn't a clear choice over 2012 first-rounder Byron Buxton as Minnesota's top prospect. Buxton should develop into a more well-rounded player, but there's no projection needed when it comes to Sano's righthanded power. With continued maturity and repetitions at third, he should be able to stay on the dirt. He could develop into a lesser version of Miguel Cabrera, with not as much feel for hitting but better defensive ability at either infield corner. Sano is headed for high Class A Fort Myers in 2013, and the ever-patient Twins believe their step-by-step approach will serve him well as he learns to become more consistent with his prodigious tools. He should reach Minnesota by 2015.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Twins (R) 64 11 22 2 1 3 10 14 17 2 1 .344 .463 .547
'10 Twins (R) 148 23 43 14 0 4 19 10 43 2 2 .291 .338 .466
'11 Elizabethton (R) 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 23 77 5 4 .292 .352 .637
'12 Beloit (LoA) 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 80 144 8 3 .258 .373 .521
Minor League Totals 936 167 261 62 12 55 188 127 281 17 10 .279 .368 .547

2. Byron Buxton, of Born: Dec 18, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 188
Drafted: Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga., 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Jack Powell
Byron BuxtonBackground: Baseball America's 2012 High School Player of the Year, Buxton led Appling County High to the Georgia state 2-A championship, tossing a complete game with 18 strikeouts in the clincher to give the school its first state title in any boys' sport. He was still throwing 91 mph in the seventh and final inning. BA's top-rated prospect and the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, he signed for a franchise-record $6 million and helped Rookie-level Elizabethton win the Appalachian League championship.

Scouting Report: If his blazing bat speed translates into power down the line, Buxton will be a true five-tool player. He'll need repetitions at the plate against better pitching, but his swing path keeps the bat in the hitting zone a long time. He'll have to learn to backspin balls a bit more down the line to have plus power, but many scouts think he'll get there. He's a top-of-the-scale runner who gets from the right side of the plate to first base in 3.9 seconds, with easy plus range and well above-average arm strength in center field.

The Future: Buxton plays with confidence and has a chance to be a superstar along the lines of Andrew McCutchen. The Twins preach patience but know he's ready for full-season ball in 2013 with an assignment to their new low Class A Cedar Rapids affiliate.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Twins (R) 88 17 19 4 3 4 14 11 26 4 3 .216 .324 .466
'12 Elizabethton (R) 77 16 22 6 1 1 6 8 15 7 0 .286 .368 .429
Minor League Totals 165 33 41 10 4 5 20 19 41 11 3 .248 .344 .448

3. Oswaldo Arcia, of Born: May 09, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 210
Signed: Venezuela '07 Signed by: Jose Leon
Oswaldo ArciaBackground: A center fielder when he won Appalachian League MVP honors in 2012, Arcia has thickened up and gotten stronger as he's matured. He missed two months of 2011 with a right elbow injury, but bounced back to earn the rare midseason promotion from the patience-loving Twins.

Scouting Report: Arcia's supreme confidence in his hitting ability rankles opponents at times, probably because they find it hard to get him out consistently. He walks the line between patience and aggressiveness well, pounding mistakes and showing plenty of bat speed to turn on good fastballs. He has improved his ability to lay off pitches out of the strike zone, and he stays back and balanced against lefthanders and offspeed stuff in general. He has lost some speed but runs well enough to stay in right field, where his strong, accurate arm is an asset.

The Future: Arcia fits the right-field profile well. The Twins used to think he'd be a .260 hitter with power or a .300 hitter with 10-15 homers, but now they believe he can combine the best of both worlds. He likely will start 2013 season back in Double-A New Britain but could push for a spot in Triple-A Rochester. Minnesota right fielders hit just 10 homers in 2012, so he could push for a big league spot sooner rather than later if he continues to rake.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'08 Twins (R) 229 38 67 12 4 4 36 16 27 8 7 .293 .343 .432
'09 Twins (R) 167 20 46 11 2 5 24 15 18 8 0 .275 .337 .455
'10 Elizabethton (R) 259 47 97 21 7 14 51 19 67 4 4 .375 .424 .672
'11 Beloit (LoA) 71 18 25 8 1 5 18 9 16 2 2 .352 .420 .704
'11 Twins (R) 8 1 4 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .875
'11 Fort Myers (HiA) 213 27 56 14 2 8 32 9 53 1 1 .263 .300 .460
'12 Fort Myers (HiA) 207 22 64 16 3 7 31 23 45 1 3 .309 .376 .517
'12 New Britain (AA) 262 54 86 20 5 10 67 28 62 3 2 .328 .398 .557
Minor League Totals 1416 227 445 103 25 53 260 119 289 27 19 .314 .371 .535

4. Kyle Gibson, rhp Born: Oct 23, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Missouri, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: J.R. DiMercurio
Kyle GibsonBackground: Gibson turned down the Phillies in the 36th round as an Indiana high schooler and became a first-rounder out of Missouri in 2009, signing for $1.85 million. His stock fell late that spring due to forearm tightness, and though he remained healthy in 2010, he needed Tommy John surgery in September 2011. He returned in 2012 with 13 appearances of no more than four innings before a stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Scouting Report: Gibson's stuff has returned after his elbow reconstruction. He threw his four-seam fastball at 92-94 mph in the regular season and the AFL, where he started in the Rising Stars Game. He also threw strikes with his two-seamer and his plus changeup with sink that he long has used as an out pitch. While the velocity (80-84 mph) and good bite on his slider are back, he was still searching for his feel for the pitch in the AFL.

The Future: The Twins are desperate for starting pitching, and Gibson is both the closest and best candidate their system has to offer. Minnesota's offseason moves will determine whether he gets the chance to open 2013 in the big leagues or gets more time in the minors. He's already 25 but can become a No. 2 or 3 starter.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Fort Myers (HiA) 4 1 1.87 7 7 0 43 33 11 9 2 12 40 .202
'10 New Britain (AA) 7 5 3.68 16 16 0 93 91 39 38 5 22 77 .246
'10 Rochester (AAA) 0 0 1.72 3 3 0 16 12 5 3 0 5 9 .203
'11 Rochester (AAA) 3 8 4.81 18 18 0 95 109 57 51 11 27 91 .276
'12 Twins (R) 0 0 2.45 9 7 0 15 9 4 4 1 4 16 .170
'12 Fort Myers (HiA) 0 0 2.57 2 2 0 7 6 2 2 1 1 7 .222
'12 Rochester (AAA) 0 2 9.45 2 2 0 7 11 7 7 1 1 10 .355
Minor League Totals 14 16 3.72 57 55 0 276 271 271 114 21 72 250 .247

5. Aaron Hicks, of Born: Oct 02, 1989 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Wilson HS, Long Beach, 2008 (1st round).  Signed by: John Leavitt
Aaron HicksBackground: Hicks may still have the best fastball in the Twins system, though he hasn't pitched since signing for $1.78 million in 2008. The Athletics wanted to draft him 12th overall as a pitcher, but he wanted to hit and the Twins were the first team to agree, picking him 14th overall. A tremendous amateur golfer, he put a poor 2011 season behind him by setting career bests for homers (13), steals (32) and full-season OPS (.844) in 2012.

Scouting Report: Hicks remains an above-average athlete whose skills are starting to catch up to his tools. He listened to Minnesota coaches and stopped swinging big for power from the left side, shortening up and improving his ability to make contact. He improved from a .228/.357/.348 performance against righthanders in 2011 to .287/.394/.434 in 2012. He's still more natural and rhythmic as a righty, batting .283/.359/.522 last season. A gliding runner, he has improved his basestealing reads and possesses plenty of range in center field. Once capable of throwing 97-mph fastballs on the mound, he retains a well above-average arm.

The Future: Scouts who like Hicks believe he's developing into a top-of-the-order tablesetter, while others consider him more of a solid regular who'll hit sixth or seventh on a good team while providing premium defense in center. After playing winter ball in Venezuela, he'll head to Triple-A.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'08 Twins (R) 173 32 55 10 4 4 27 28 32 12 2 .318 .409 .491
'09 Beloit (LoA) 251 43 63 15 3 4 29 40 55 10 8 .251 .353 .382
'10 Beloit (LoA) 423 86 118 27 6 8 49 88 112 21 11 .279 .401 .428
'11 Fort Myers (HiA) 443 79 107 31 5 5 38 78 110 17 9 .242 .354 .368
'12 New Britain (AA) 472 100 135 21 11 13 61 79 116 32 11 .286 .384 .460
Minor League Totals 1762 340 478 104 29 34 204 313 425 92 41 .271 .379 .421

6. J.O. Berrios, rhp Born: May 27, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 187
Drafted: Papa Juan XXIII HS, Bayamon, P.R., 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Hector Otero
J.O. BerriosBackground: Berrios boosted his draft stock with an April no-hitter against a Puerto Rican all-star team featuring No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa and finished the spring strong. That helped make Berrios the 32nd overall pick and the highest-drafted pitcher ever out of Puerto Rico. After signing for $1.55 million, he helped Elizabethton to the Appy League title with 36 strikeouts in 24 innings (counting the postseason).

Scouting Report: Berrios' has the best fastball of any Twins farmhand who profiles as a starter. He can sit at 92-95 mph while throwing strikes to both sides of the plate, and his strong frame helps him maintain his velocity. He commands a changeup with fade that's already solid and should become a plus pitch in time. His slider has its moments as well, showing some power and sharpness at 78-81 mph. At times his slider flattens out, and Berrios will have to be diligent about staying tall in his delivery to create some plane and angle with his pitches. He needs to mix his pitches better, too. He has the arm action and delivery to project average or better command down the line.

The Future: Confident to the point of being cocky, Berrios will be on Minnesota's idea of a fast track. He'll open his first full season in low Class A and has the upside of a No. 2 starter.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Twins (R) 1 0 1.08 8 1 4 17 7 2 2 0 3 27 .123
'12 Elizabethton (R) 2 0 1.29 3 3 0 14 8 2 2 1 1 22 .160
Minor League Totals 3 0 1.16 11 4 4 31 15 15 4 1 4 49 .139

7. Eddie Rosario, 2b/of Born: Sep 28, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170
Drafted: Rafael Lopez Landron HS, Guayama, P.R., 2010 (4th round).  Signed by: Hector Otero
Eddie RosarioBackground: Rosario led the Appalachian League with 21 homers in 2011 and won co-MVP honors as an outfielder. The Twins tried him at second base that fall in instructional league, and he played 67 of his 86 games in the field there in 2012. He missed nearly seven weeks after a batting-practice line drive hit him in the face in mid-June, requiring the insertion of a plate above his lip, but he played well after his return.

Scouting Report: Rosario uses his hands well in his swing and has excellent plate coverage. His hands are low in his setup but quick through the hitting zone. Though he has slugged .538 in the lower minors, scouts and club officials expect him to settle in around 10-15 homers at higher levels because he has a line-drive swing and gap-to-gap approach. Rosario's average speed and range are less than ideal for center field, and scouts question whether his hands and throwing are good enough for second base. Minnesota has had him focus on making the routine play and turning the double play, but he'll need more work to be an average defender.

The Future: Rosario will stay in the infield as he moves up to high Class A. He's a bit of a tweener if he has to go back to the outfield, so the Twins will give him every chance to remain at second base.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Twins (R) 194 34 57 9 2 5 26 16 28 22 5 .294 .343 .438
'11 Elizabethton (R) 270 71 91 9 9 21 60 27 60 17 6 .337 .397 .670
'12 Twins (R) 19 2 7 3 0 1 4 1 2 0 0 .368 .400 .684
'12 Beloit (LoA) 392 60 116 32 4 12 70 31 69 11 11 .296 .345 .490
Minor League Totals 875 167 271 53 15 39 160 75 159 50 22 .310 .362 .538

8. Max Kepler, of Born: Feb 10, 1993 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180
Signed: Germany '09 Signed by: Mike Radcliff
Max KeplerBackground: The son of American and Polish ballet dancers, Kepler is the best prospect ever born in Germany. He signed for $800,000 in 2009, the largest bonus ever for a European position player, then finished high school in Fort Myers, Fla., while participating in instructional league. Repeating the Appalachian League in 2012, he led the circuit in slugging (.539) and total bases (125) before going 2-for-14 for Germany in a World Baseball Classic qualifier.

Scouting Report: The Twins long have believed in Kepler's athleticism, and he added maturity and strength to his game in 2012. He has put on 17 pounds since signing and now has the physicality to drive the ball to all fields. He has a sound, balanced swing, doesn't mind going deep in counts and has a decent two-strike approach for his experience level. He's getting better as he sees more quality pitching, and his next step will be hitting for more power against lefthanders. A plus runner when he signed, Kepler is more of an average runner now and moved from center to left field when Byron Buxton arrived in Elizabethton. Kepler's fringy arm fits better in left than in right, and he also has gotten work at first base.

The Future: Kepler is ready for full-season ball at age 20. He'll join Buxton and 2012 draftee Adam Brett Walker in a power-packed Cedar Rapids outfield in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Twins (R) 140 15 40 6 1 0 11 13 27 6 1 .286 .346 .343
'11 Elizabethton (R) 191 29 50 11 3 1 24 23 54 1 1 .262 .347 .366
'12 Elizabethton (R) 232 40 69 16 5 10 49 27 33 7 0 .297 .387 .539
Minor League Totals 563 84 159 33 9 11 84 63 114 14 2 .282 .363 .432

9. Daniel Santana, ss/2b Born: Nov 7, 1990 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 173
Signed: Dominican Republic '07 Signed by: Fred Guerrero
Daniel SantanaBackground: With his bat slow to develop, Santana fell into a utility role in 2011, spending time in center field as well as the middle infield. In his fifth season as a pro, he broke through in 2012. He alternated series between second base and shortstop for most of the season with 2011 first-round pick Levi Michael, but Santana outperformed him and finished the season as Fort Myers' regular shortstop.

Scouting Report: Santana's best tools are his speed and his throwing arm. He needs to polish his baserunning skills, but he's a plus runner down the line and has well above-average speed once underway. His throws have plenty of carry and he has become a more consistent defender as he has matured, though he still tends to botch more routine plays than he should. A switch-hitter, Santana has good swings from both sides of the plate that are geared for contact. He has little home run power as a lefty but more pop as a natural righty. He put together more consistent at-bats in 2012, tempering his aggressiveness somewhat. His lack of plate discipline could limit him to the bottom of a big league batting order.

The Future: Santana reminds some scouts of Pedro Florimon, the light-hitting minor league veteran who finished the year as Minnesota's regular shortstop. The Twins believe Santana has more offensive upside and will send him to Double-A in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'08 Twins (R) 190 37 52 6 10 1 27 20 38 15 4 .274 .343 .426
'09 Twins (R) 170 30 45 7 5 3 25 8 27 12 1 .265 .302 .418
'10 Elizabethton (R) 140 23 37 8 1 4 16 3 30 5 4 .264 .285 .421
'10 Beloit (LoA) 130 14 31 4 3 0 11 7 40 10 4 .238 .289 .315
'11 Beloit (LoA) 365 55 90 15 5 7 41 25 98 24 15 .247 .298 .373
'12 Fort Myers (HiA) 507 70 145 21 9 8 60 29 77 17 11 .286 .329 .410
Minor League Totals 1502 229 400 61 33 23 180 92 310 83 39 .266 .313 .397

10. Luke Bard, rhp Born: Nov 13, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Jack Powell
Luke BardBackground: Like his big league brother Daniel, Bard struggled with a shift from relieving to starting in 2012. While Daniel couldn't find the strike zone, Luke tore a lat muscle on March 31, ending his junior season at Georgia Tech. After signing for $1,227,000 as the 42nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, he pitched seven pro innings before reaggravating the injury in instructional league.

Scouting Report: While he doesn't have his brother's easy gas, Bard pitches off his fastball and has above-average velocity. He sat as high as 93-95 mph as a starter in college and touched 97 as a reliever. His slider made significant progress in 2012, showing more consistency, depth and late bite. It's a well above-average pitch when at its best. He flashes an average changeup that needs more consistency. Bard has the clean arm action and sound delivery to become a full-time starter. He'll need to learn to sequence his pitches better and prove he can hold up in that role.

The Future: If healthy, Bard will open his first full pro season in the rotation of one of the Twins' Class A affiliates. At best, he'll be a No. 3 starter. At worst, he should be one of the best relievers from the entire 2012 draft class.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Twins (R) 0 0 6.75 3 1 0 4 3 3 3 0 5 3 .200
'12 Elizabethton (R) 0 0 0.00 4 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 2 4 .182
Minor League Totals 0 0 3.86 7 1 1 7 5 5 3 0 7 7 .192