Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects

1. Matt Garza, rhp
2. Glen Perkins, lhp
3. Kevin Slowey, rhp
4. Chris Parmelee, of
5. Anthony Swarzak, rhp
6. Pat Neshek, rhp
7. Alexi Casilla, ss/2b
8. Joe Benson, of
9. Paul Kelly, ss
10. J.D. Durbin, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Chris Parmelee
Best Power Hitter Garrett Jones
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Alexi Casilla
Fastest Baserunner Brandon Roberts
Best Athlete Joe Benson
Best Fastball Matt Garza
Best Curveball Jeff Manship
Best Slider Danny Hernandez
Best Changeup Brian Duensing
Best Control Kevin Slowey
Best Defensive Catcher Allan de San Miguel
Best Defensive Infielder Alexi Casilla
Best Infield Arm Paul Kelly
Best Defensive Outfielder Denard Span
Best Outfield Arm Eli Tintor
Catcher Joe Mauer
First Base Justin Morneau
Second Base Alexi Casilla
Third Base Matt Moses
Shortstop Jason Bartlett
Left Field Chris Parmelee
Center Field Torii Hunter
Right Field Michael Cuddyer
Designated Hitter Jason Kubel
No. 1 Starter Johan Santana
No. 2 Starter Francisco Liriano
No. 3 Starter Matt Garza
No. 4 Starter Glen Perkins
No. 5 Starter Kevin Slowey
Closer Joe Nathan
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Todd Walker, 2b Padres
1998 Luis Rivas, ss Devil Rays
1999 Michael Cuddyer, 3b Twins
2000 Michael Cuddyer, 3b Twins
2001 Adam Johnson, rhp Athletics
2002 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2003 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2004 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2005 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2006 Francisco Liriano, lhp Twins
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Michael Cuddyer, ss Twins
1998 Ryan Mills, lhp Out of baseball
1999 B.J. Garbe, of Marlins
2000 Adam Johnson, rhp Athletics
2001 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2002 Denard Span, of Twins
2003 Matt Moses, 3b Twins
2004 Trevor Plouffe, ss Twins
2005 Matt Garza, rhp Twins
2006 Chris Parmelee, of/1b Twins
Joe Mauer, 2001 $5,150,000
B.J. Garbe, 1999 $2,750,000
Adam Johnson, 2000 $2,500,000
Ryan Mills, 1998 $2,000,000
Michael Cuddyer, 1997 $1,850,000
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Minnesota Twins

The names change. The results, for the last five years, hardly have.

The Twins won their fourth American League Central title in the last five seasons under manager Ron Gardenhire, streaking past the Tigers in September after trailing by a dozen games at the all-star break. While they were doomed by uncharacteristically sloppy play in the Division Series and swept by the Athletics, 2006 was a success.

Minnesota rallied after it jettisoned some of the mistakes dotting its Opening Day roster and turned to internal candidates to get the team going. Jason Bartlett and Nick Punto replaced Juan Castro and Tony Batista on the left side of the infield, and while neither hit for much power, they provided much more offense and better defense.

On the mound, the Twins found middle-relief help in Pat Neshek after trading malcontent J.C. Romero for infield prospect Alexi Casilla during the offseason. When they finally gave up on Kyle Lohse, they turned loose Francisco Liriano, who was among baseball’s most dominant pitchers before being sidelined late in the season by a strained elbow. Liriano complemented ace Johan Santana, who won the major league pitching triple crown en route to Baseball America’s Major League Player of the Year award.

Postseason Tommy John surgery will sideline Liriano in 2007, and even Minnesota’s abundant pitching depth may be hard-pressed to replace his brilliance. General manager Terry Ryan and his trusted, experienced staff do have options such as Boof Bonser, 2006 phenom Matt Garza, fellow righties J.D. Durbin and Kevin Slowey and Minnesota native Glen Perkins.

The Twins have more questions when it comes to finding capable everyday players.

Catcher Joe Mauer won the AL batting title, while first baseman Justin Morneau became the first Twin since 1987 to hit 30 homers in a season (along with Torii Hunter). Add in right fielder Michael Cuddyer, a 1997 first-round pick who finally established himself as a regular and drove in 109 runs, and the Twins have a young, vibrant core for their lineup.

Hunter’s one-year contract extension buys Minnesota another season to find out if 2002 first-rounder Denard Span eventually can take over for him in center field. Third base, still a question mark, could be filled in the near future by Matt Moses, David Winfree or Trevor Plouffe, but the position remains a point of emphasis for the organization. The Twins addressed third base again in the draft, taking collegians Whit Robbins, Garrett Olson (both in the fourth round) and Danny Valencia (19th).

Minnesota focused on position players in a draft notable for its pitchers. However, in prep outfielders Chris Parmelee (first round, the fifth time in six years the Twins spent their top pick on a high school hitter) and Joe Benson (second), they may have found two more impact bats for a few years down the road.

By then, their new ballpark should be ready. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the stadium took years of political wrangling before billionaire owner Carl Pohlad and the state could agree on a plan. The park secures the club’s future in the Twin Cities.

Despite the increase in projected revenues with the new stadium, the Twins still have to plan ahead and rebuild from within. Few organizations do it better.