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Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects
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Moderator: Josh Boyd will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Will Young from Washington, DC asks:
In what role would you recommend the Twins use Grant Balfour? Also, do you have any thoughts on Alexander Smit? Thanks.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Greetings Twins fans! Thanks for showing up today. I'll get to as many questions as I can today. The Twins are such a strong system, so it's exciting to chat about.

Josh Boyd: Will, Balfour has really taken to the starting role, and with four quality pitches there's no reason to put him back in the pen unless stamina becomes an issue. Smith is a long way away, but he has such a good feel for pitching and is projectable. He was just on the outside of the top 10 and once guys like Morneau, Restovich, Crain, etc expire their rookie status, he'll be ready to break into the top 10 next year.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
How long before Jesse Crain takes over as the Twins' closer?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I'm not a huge believer in rookie closers, but Crain's stuff is similar to Ryan Wagner's in Cincy (must be something about U. of Houston closers), but it does look like Crain is being groomed for that Twins closer job. Depending on how Joe Nathan takes to that role, Crain or even Durbin could get a shot in the second half.

 Q:  Tim from Twin Cities asks:
Crain v. Durbin. Not having my issue yet, which does BA forecast as the closer in 2007? Does the fact that Durbin can start, while Crain seems like a closer-only give Jesse a leg up on the job. since he will be at the back end of the bullpen while JD is seeing if he can be a starter?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Staying with the topic of closers, I think Durbin has the stuff and mentality to hang on as a starter and be a pretty good one at that. There are definitely mixed opinions out there in the scouting community though. A lot of that has to do with his size, and there is some effort to his delivery, so you have to wonder how long he can continue to hold up with heavy workloads. We have Crain in the closer slot for 2007, with Durbin the No. 2 starter behind Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse.

 Q:  Big Daddy from Salem asks:
Josh, I can't help but compare Joe Mauer to Sean Burroughs. They were both considered to be the top hitters in their high school draft classes. They were both selected in the first round of the draft (though Burroughs was selected far lower due to financial reasons.) They both possess "picture-perfect left-handed strokes." They both showed tremendous plate discipline in the minor leagues. And while neither has ever hit for power, scouts seem to think they will, eventually. How would you compare the two of them as hitters?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Big Daddy Kane, there are some similarities there as you've pointed out, and you're right, most scouts I talked to about Burroughs during his ascent considered it a lock that he would hit for power. He's still very young and rushed up the ladder, and as strong as he is with a pure hitting approach, I think there is still time for him to develop average major league pop. Mauer is taller and more athletic, and the leverage in his swing suggests plus power to come. We'll see what happens, and Twins officials say it's more of a matter of what type of hitter Mauer wants to be. For now, he's content to hit hard line drives, and he hits the ball on the ground a lot more than he lifts the ball. Both are natural born hitters and the power is the last to develop.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Hi Josh, a question on Michael Cuddyer. It seems like he could be a bona fide major league hitter if the Twins would find him some at bats. What position suits him best and how do you project him as a major league hitter? Thanks
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Just so you all know, Cuddyer didn't qualify for this year's list. If he did, he still would've ranked in the top five, where he dwelled every year since he was drafted. I still think most scouts project him as an everyday major league bat, and I the evidence of that is in the number of teams who keep asking Terry Ryan for him in trades. Position? Probably third base would be ideal, but for the Twins OF or DH.

 Q:  Tim from St. Paul asks:
How close were Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano to making the list?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They are in the second group of 10, which tells you a lot about how strong the Twins system is. Both Bonser and Liriano would've made the Giants top 10. With Bonser, though, the Twins have many similar arms with a little higher ceiling and Liriano, who might have the best arm in the system just needs to stay healthy. The Twins saw him up to 98 mph in instructional league before trading for him

 Q:  Dave from New Jersey asks:
You have Matt Moses ranked pretty high for a rookie leaguer. Is his bat that good?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Rookie-level or Triple-A, we're weighing overall future potential with risk. With Moses the risk is relatively low because his bat is that good. He compares to a Hank Blalock type hitter at the same level and Moses has outstanding makeup. He could move fast.

 Q:  Harold from Iowa asks:
Where would Jeff Clement rank on this list if the Twins had signed him after they drafted him?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Good question. The Twins have left so many good prospects unsigned out of the draft, and Clement was their 12th rounder in 2002. On talent and upside, he would rank No. 5 or 6 for me.

 Q:  A.J. from San Francisco asks:
Is Rob Bowen good enough to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Many scouts think so, especially given the current state of catching in the majors. He might be better suited for a platoon or backup role, but his defense will be good enough to carry him.

 Q:  Shane from NJ asks:
Who do you like out of the 2003 Draft other than the big name first rounders? I'm talking like 2nd, 3rd, 4th rounders, thanks for you insight and taking the time to answer my question!!
 A: 

Josh Boyd: It really looks like another strong draft from Mike Radcliff in Minnesota. They took chances on prospects like Dave Shinskie and Johnny Woodard, and got some safer picks like Scott Baker, Chris Schutt and Errol Simonitsch, who we ranked ahead of the other four aforementioned players.

 Q:  Jacque from Shakopee asks:
Who are some sleeper prospects in the Twins system that we may not have heard of?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: The Twins are loaded with sleeper type prospects. My personal favorites are Adam Harben, a live-armed righty, Aussie shortstop Luke Hughes and I would think Lew Ford will still have to qualify as such.

 Q:  John from Battle Creek asks:
Josh- Obviously Joe Mauer is a premium prospect, but there seems to be dissent to the fact that he is the best prospect in baseball. Should the historical difficulties that high school catchers have in reaching their potential play some role in BA's thinking? Or is he so great that the difficulties others have will wash right over him?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Allan Simpson wrote a great feature on the history of prep catchers, and this is a good question. I haven't heard any of this dissent though, and that's from talking to a lot of scouts who are familiar with the top prospects. BJ Upton is a strong contender for that spot, but that's not because of the historical troubles of prep catchers reaching their potential. Mauer is just different, and you have to look at these players on an individual basis. I'm not going to knock Mauer down because Ben Davis underachieved. Mauer does it all and has the perfect makeup to continue excelling. One scout went so far to say Mauer will be the best defensive catcher in the AL by Opening Day.

 Q:  Brian in River Falls from asks:
Brad Thomas was hurt for most of the season and made a brief appearance in the show late in the year. What is the story on him and his future with the Twins?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: It's been a long ride up the ladder for Thomas, and the Twins are counting on him to deliver this season. He'll get a shot in the pen, and he's out of options. If JC Romero pitches the way he did in Puerto Rico, he might have a window of opportunity. I'm not sure Thomas will miss enough bats to survive in the majors, though.

 Q:  Kenny from Detroit asks:
Josh,in which would you rank the farm systems in the AL Central - BA had the Twins as the 4th best system overall last year, where would you put them around this year ? Thanks
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They surpassed the Indians (of course the Indians graduated most of their best prospects to the majors last year and they're still deep) as the best in the division and the Twins still will rank in the top five overall.

 Q:  Bruce from Snowy Minneapolis asks:
Will Jason Bartlett be able to fill in for Denny Hocking at the super utility spot?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Unless things change in spring training, I think the plan is for Bartlett to spend most of the year in Triple-A playing everyday in preparation to take over for Guzman in 2005. It wouldn't make sense for them to groom him for their everyday job by sitting him on the bench in the majors. When they first acquired Bartlett, though, they would've been pleased if he turned out to be Hocking, instead he's exceeded expectations and profiles as an everyday guy now.

 Q:  Steve from St. Louis Park asks:
Is there a current major leaguer that you could compare Jason Bartlett to?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: At the plate, maybe a Mark Loretta type, though he's more of a factor on the bases than Loretta.

 Q:  Shawn Kohlmeier from Platteville, WI asks:
Based on just pure potential where does Alex Romero rate among the top 10 prospects, would he rank among the mauer's and morneau's at the top or would he still miss out on the top 10? And do you see Alexander Smit breaking into the top 10 by next year?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: he just missed the cut for the top 10, but that's not because we don't like him or the Twins don't think highly of him. They are split, however, on what type of player he will become most prefer Jason Kubel. Some scouts see him of a bit of a tweener, not enough speed for center (as he's starting to fill out and slow down) and maybe not enough juice for a corner. He does has a good bat though, and should continue hitting. Romero needs to stay focused on and off the field.

 Q:  Bob from Edina asks:
Matt Moses at 3 seems rather high for someone with 65 at bats in professional baseball- Would you consider him underdrafted? At that spot it seems like he will be about 60 on the top 100 prospects. Would that be correct?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: That just reflects how special his bat is and can be. In my personal top 50 that will appear in the Prospect Handbook, I have him right around 50th overall, which is probably higher than Will Lingo, Jim Callis and Allan Simpson. I don't think he was underdrafted though, he was a first-rounder and there were a handful of teams picking in the teens strongly considered drafting him. His secondary tools are overwhelming and he has work to do defensively, though, which is why he wasn't a top 10 pick.

 Q:  Franklin from New York asks:
Why isn't Justin Morneau going to play everyday? If he is as good as advertised, it seems like a waste not to get his bat into a lineup that isn't that powerful...
 A: 

Josh Boyd: He will play everyday. If you're referring to the comment in his prospect writeup about getting 200-250 ABs, that means after he is called up from Rochester at some point. The Twins would like to get him ready in Triple-A and then bring him up to get a couple hundred ABs. Now, obviously that plan can change based on a number of different factors.

 Q:  Matt S. from Oakdale, MN asks:
Scott Tyler had a very disappointing 2003 after an excellent 2002. Do you see him bouncing back in 2004?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I'd look for him to make significant improvement, but the expectations for him might have lowered somewhat. He really struggled with his mechanics and keeping the ball down. One scout said he pitched from the waist to the shoulders all year long instead of driving the ball downhill at the knees. He still has explosive stuff, but is probably headed for the pen down the road.

 Q:  Joe from Newport News, VA asks:
The Twins don't seem to have much pitching at lower levels. Who are their best pitching prospects below AA, and is there an organizational philosophy to focus on position players?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They do have a deep stable of pitching prospects throughout the system. Righthander Adam Harben is ranked the highest of the below AA guys, followed closely by Alexander Smit, Evan Meek and Errol Simonitsch.

 Q:  Medea's Child from Los Angeles asks:
What's JD Durbin's upside as a starter (#2 starter, #3 starter, etc)? What's Grant Balfour's? For that matter, which of the two has the higher upside?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Durbin-most likely a quality No. 3 and he has much more upside than Balfour, who profiles as a no. 4.

 Q:  Bombo Rivera from Bloomington, MN asks:
The Twins seem to currently have quite a few fellows with good plate discipline among their prospects; even Restovich walks some. Mauer obviously excels and guys like Bartlett, Kubel, and Span also look to have a keen eye. Is there anyone in the organization promoting the OBP craze?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: The Twins are definitely not subscribing to the Moneyball craze. They are built on traditional scouting, but amazingly enough they, like most scouts and teams, understand the importance of quality at-bats and plate discipline, long before Michael Lewis discovered it. I think the Twins player development and scouting staffs on a whole deserves credit.

 Q:  Big Denard Fan from Tampa asks:
At the time he was drafted, the comps to Denard were to a young Kenny Lofton. Would you say this is still true? Or is there another player you see him as being like?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: That is fair still. I think the Twins realize though that Span is many years away in terms of development. He has made tremendous progress already with his ability to use his speed at the plate to his advantage. They believe he is going to be able to drive the ball for extra-base power as he matures as a hitter, but for now he's focusing on hitting the ball on the ground to the left side of the infield and bunting.

 Q:  Kevin H from CA asks:
Thanks for taking my question. So would you say that Mauer is going to be a left handed Pudge. I also hear he has a cannon for an arm but is he accurate and can he call a good game?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: That might not be far off. As for Mauer's accuracy, it rates as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He puts every throw on the bag.

 Q:  Martin Berg from West Vancouver, B.C asks:
My brother and I have on whethert Luis Maza will be in the Twins Top 30 in the Prospects Handbook. What's your take on Luis' ceiling and future in the org?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I hope you have your money on Luis not cracking the list. He'll be lucky to have a career as a utility man.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
With their payroll restrictions and their dependence on their farm system to supply players to the big league club, do you think the Twins would be better off drafting more college players?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: No, because they are loaded and balanced from the upper levels to the lower levels, but it is not in Mike Radcliff or Terry Ryan's mindset to settle for a lesser talent when they have a bat like Matt Moses' on the board. You could say that they did that with Adam Johnson, but they believe Johnson was close (which he proved to be) and had a high ceiling (which he did) but things didn't go right for him. I don't think Radcliff and co. have any need to change draft philosophies right now.

 Q:  J-Dub from Bloomington asks:
Who's the better Twins pitching prospect who didn't make the top ten list? Boof Bonser, Scott Baker, Alexander Smit or Colby Miller?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Smit has the highest ceiling, though he's the least advanced. The others are more like No. 4 starters.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
How would Guillermo Quiroz's defence stack up against Mauer's?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Quiroz is above-average, or at least he has the tools to be and projects as above-average (60 on the 20-80) where Mauer is a 70 now and projects as an 80, winning Gold Gloves year after year.

 Q:  Adam from Clinton,NJ asks:
Do you see a future with the Twins for Terry Tiffee? Or will the Twins focus more on Matt Moses with 3B
 A: 

Josh Boyd: You've got to love Tiffee's bat, and he's made strides with other phases of his game in recent years through hard work. He projects as a .300 hitter with a lot of doubles and though I'm not sure he has a future in Minnesota, unless he just erupts with power in Triple-A this year, but I would think he'd be attractive to other teams with his advanced bat control.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
How good can Johnny Woodard be? Is he a good sleeper prospect and what is his best quality?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: He is a quality sleeper, and the Twins jumped up and grabbed him ahead of where most teams considered him based solely on his bat. he is athletic, he's just raw, and the Twins have the patience and player development staff to wait it out.

 Q:  Aaron from The Island asks:
Justin Morneau, best compared to:Jason Giambi or Wes Helms?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Not Wes Helms.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
Does Denard Span have any chance of making a major league impact? Especially in a crowded outfield?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: By the time he's ready for prime time, maybe 2008, a lot of things will change in Minnesota by then.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
I know he isn't a prospect, but Lew Ford seems to be a guy who can do a little bit of everything, with their outfield depth, is there anyway he breaks into the Twins major league outfield picture?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: In Minnesota, he'll likely have to wait for an injury, but I agree I think he's a bona fide everyday guy for someone. Put him at the top of the order and let him stir things up and score runs like crazy.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Who are some of the LHP to look for in the Twins system and though it seems deep with impact hitters it also seems weak with Left handed pitching, starters and middle infield prospects. What are your thoughts? Thanks
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Most have been mentioned here today, Smit, Liriano, Simonitsch... Michael Rogers is another good one to watch for in 2004.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Elizabethton seemed to have some solid starters this year. How do you think Errol Simontisch, Angel Garcia, and Evan Meek will progress through the system? Which has the best stuff?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Garcia and Meek have the best stuff hands down of that group... Simonitsch is more advanced with his feel for pitching though. Garcia is just a real long-term project. Meek has the makings of Durbin-like stuff.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Hi Josh, Who has a better stroke: Mauer or Casey Kotchman? Who has a higher offensive ceiling between the two? Lastly, if you have one to take, who would it be: Mauer, Upton, Kotchman, or Delmon Young?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Both have incredible strokes, but I think Mauer's would be the preferred sweet stroke. They are close to equals offensively, though I might give a healthy Kotchman the nod. I'd like to build my team around Mauer.

 Q:  Eric from Salina, KS asks:
There seems to be a lack of talent in the middle infield within the Twins farm system. Are there any middle infield prospects that might have a break-out year in 2004? Do you think the Twins will concentrate their extra draft picks in this year's draft on the middle infield?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They are well aware of this too, but they haven't had the right players in the draft to fit their need and they aren't going to compromise by leaving a better talent on the board. Aussies Luke Hughes and Paul Rutgers are a couple to watch in the lower levels. Both can swing it, though neither is a lock to stay up the middle.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Every time someone starts to question Joe Mauer's future, you guys throw down the defensive trump card. I hate to break it to you, but a great defensive catcher who calls a great game does not justify all the hype Mauer has received. If he can't hit as well as AJ Pierzinski, with a lot more power, Mauer has to be considered a dissapointment. Defensive catchers alone don't win ballgames.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: What? We're not talking about Ron Karkovice here Charles. Fine, you don't want the Gold Glove defense, which I don't ever recall using as the trump card or an excuse for the fact he hasn't hit home runs yet, but you must be ignoring the fact that we are calling him a future batting champ who is going to control the strike zone like no other, drive the ball to the gaps for frequent doubles and hit 10-15 jacks early in his career. What else do you want?

 Q:  Galen from Cedar Rapids asks:
Josh, I was wondering what you see as the potential for Jason Kubel. He hit .298 with a .361 on base percentage in the tough on hitters Florida State League.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: You're right, not overwhelming numbers, but we're predicting bigger things because of his tools and ability to drive the ball hard to the opposite field. He was young for the level and was one of the top hitters in a miserable hitting league. His power is not a guarantee, but he does show a lot of reasons for projecting plus power, and he has good strike zone judgement.

 Q:  John from Greenville, SC asks:
How serious was Josh Hill's injury? When will he be ready to pitch again, and are his days as a starter over?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I believe he just had bone chips removed from his elbow which shouldn't prevent him from resuming his career early this season.

 Q:  Mark from Florida asks:
Where do you think Moses will end up playing?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Third base in QC this season.

 Q:  Tony from Cleveland asks:
Come on Josh, even w all the graduations the Indians system took it still looks to me (admittedly biased) the Indians syetem is the class of the Central though not by as much as last year, pitching wise the Indians look a lot deeper throughout then the Twins - In what ares do you think the Twins have surpassed the Tribe ? Thanks
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Come on Tony, they are still very close in our rankings, so it's splitting hairs in some ways, but I will say that there is more depth in the Twins organization now, in addition to the fact they have the best prospect in the game atop their rankings, and another who projects to hit 35-plus bombs. Not a thing wrong with the Tribe though. I don't agree that the Indians pitching is better throughout though.

 Q:  Galen from Cedar Rapids asks:
OK I promise the last one. I read somewhere that the Yankees had signed Jeff Deardoff to a minor league deal. I was wondering if you had heard this too and was wondering if he could play 3rd base with any regularity? Kinda off topic for a Twins chat but he was in their system last year.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They did sign him and I don't think he can play third on a daily basis.

Moderator: Thanks for your time today.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, TX asks:
Josh, you misinturpreted what I was saying about Mauer. Let me use shortstops as an example. †Let's say Mauer's ceiling is Nomar Garciaparra. †His floor is Omar Vizquel. †Either way he's great defensively, but one of those guys is an MVP candidate and one is a non-impact player. †Everyone seems to be saying Mauer is going to be a star without question. † I'm just saying that there is a chance his offense doesn't materialize in the pros (like Burroughs). †And if that happens, he won't have deserved all this hype.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: There is a chance, though it's small. Omar Vizquel is an all-star, and Sean Burroughs is a 23-year-old star in the making.

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