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Midwest League Top 20 Prospects

By Jim Callis
September 24, 2002

1. Joe Mauer, c, Quad City River Bandits (Twins)
Mark Prior was the consensus top prospect in the 2001 draft, and he needed just seven weeks in the minors before he was ready for the majors. Unable to determine what it would take to sign Prior, who ultimately received a record guarantee of $10.5 million, the Twins chose Mauer. There's absolutely no feeling they wound up with a consolation prize.

Interestingly, managers raved about his skills behind the plate while scouts believed his offense was ahead of his defense. Both camps agreed he only needs time to become an all-around catching star.

Mauer should be a .300 hitter capable of 20-30 homers per year. He went deep just four times in 2002, but he's strong and his power will develop as he learns to pull more pitches. His stroke and approach are solid, and he walked more than he struck out.

"He hits like Adam Dunn did when Adam Dunn was in Rockford in 1999," Beloit manager Don Money said. "Adam Dunn didn't pull the ball. He hit the other way, hit the other way, hit the other way like Joe Mauer did. Now look at him."

A Florida State quarterback recruit and high school basketball star, Mauer is extremely athletic for a catcher. He has a strong, accurate arm and quick, effortless release, which allowed him to rank third in the MWL by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers. His biggest needs are learning to call a game and handle a pitching staff.

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