Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects

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1. Nick Blackburn, rhp
2. Joe Benson, of
3. Wilson Ramos, c
4. Tyler Robertson, lhp
5. Anthony Swarzak, rhp
6. Ben Revere, of
7. Jason Pridie, of
8. Brian Duensing, lhp
9. Jeff Manship, rhp
10. Trevor Plouffe, ss
Best Hitter for Average Ben Revere
Best Power Hitter Danny Rams
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brian Dinkelman
Fastest Baserunner Ben Revere
Best Athlete Joe Benson
Best Fastball Nick Blackburn
Best Curveball Mike McCardell
Best Slider Tyler Robertson
Best Changeup Brian Duensing
Best Control Nick Blackburn
Best Defensive Catcher Wilson Ramos
Best Defensive Infielder Deibinson Romero
Best Infield Arm Deibinson Romero
Best Defensive Outfielder Jason Pridie
Best Outfield Arm Angel Morales
Catcher Joe Mauer
First Base Justin Morneau
Second Base Alexi Casilla
Third Base Brendan Harris
Shortstop Trevor Plouffe
Left Field Michael Cuddyer
Center Field Joe Benson
Right Field Delmon Young
Designated Hitter Jason Kubel
No. 1 Starter Johan Santana
No. 2 Starter Franciso Liriano
No. 3 Starter Kevin Slowey
No. 4 Starter Nick Blackburn
No. 5 Starter Scott Baker
Closer Joe Nathan
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Luis Rivas, ss Indians
1999 Michael Cuddyer, 3b Twins
2000 Michael Cuddyer, 3b Twins
2001 Adam Johnson, rhp Out of baseball
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
2007 Matt Garza, rhp Twins
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Ryan Mills, lhp Out of baseball
1999 B.J. Garbe, of Out of baseball
2000 Adam Johnson, rhp Out of baseball
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
2007 Ben Revere, of 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

Adecade that had been rolling along smoothly suddenly threw the Twins off course in 2007.

For the first time since being a contraction candidate in the winter of 2000-01, Minnesota finished with a losing record. Starting in late August, the Twins lost 10 of 12 games, fell completely out of the American League playoff chase and never got over .500 after Sept. 4. The offense ranked 12th in the league in scoring despite a career year by Torii Hunter, who signed with the Angels as a free agent after the season.

A first-round pick in 1993, Hunter wasn’t the longest-tenured Twin to leave his job. Club employees were asked to come to a morning meeting Sept. 12, and most didn’t know what to expect. Many wept with sadness and surprise when told general manager Terry Ryan was stepping aside after 13 seasons. Ryan cited burnout and stress for wanting to accept his new role as senior adviser to his successor, former assistant GM Bill Smith. Ryan will be one of Minnesota’s top talent evaluators in a role one club official called “GM Lite.”

Smith’s ascension had a domino effect. One of those promoted was Mike Radcliff, the longest-tenured scouting director in the industry, who as vice president of player personnel effectively becomes Minnesota’s top talent evaluator (along with Ryan) on the pro side as well as the amateur draft. West Coast crosschecker Deron Johnson succeed Radcliff as scouting director.

Smith and Co. had work to do and got right to it. The Twins moved to improve their offense in late November, dealing Matt Garza (No. 1 on this list a year ago), Jason Bartlett and pitching prospect Eduardo Morlan to Tampa Bay for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and outfield prospect Jason Pridie. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft, Young was the key piece for Minnesota with his superstar potential.

The acquisitions of Harris and Pridie were important as well, because first-round picks Denard Span (2002) and Matt Moses (2003) were supposed to be ready for big league jobs by now, yet are far from ready. Either Harris or veteran free agent Mike Lamb should take the third-base job that the Twins once envisioned going to Moses, who wasn’t protected on the 40-man roster after the season. Pridie, who almost made Minnesota’s 2006 roster as a Rule 5 draft pick, will get the chance to replace Hunter in center field because Span hit a soft .267 in Triple-A.

Minnesota has had more success of late drafting and developing pitchers than hitters. That’s a trend it hopes to reverse with 2007 first-rounder Ben Revere, the seventh high school position player it has chosen with its first pick in the last nine drafts.

The Young-Garza trade can’t be Smith’s last bold move, though. The Twins have Johan Santana and Joe Nathan—arguably the best starter and best closer in the game—signed through 2008 but no longer. Despite a new ballpark scheduled to arrive in 2010, Minnesota still lacks the financial commitment from owner Carl Pohlad to keep both players, not to mention Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau once they approach free agency.

Santana rejected a four-year, $80 million offer from the Twins, spurring trade talks that dominated the Winter Meetings. Minnesota’s eventual resolution with Santana likely will set the course for the franchise for the rest of the decade.

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