Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects

Minnesota Twins

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. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

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 AverageChris Parmelee
Best Power HitterGarrett Jones
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineAlexi Casilla
Fastest BaserunnerBrandon Roberts
Best AthleteJoe Benson
Best FastballMatt Garza
Best CurveballJeff Manship
Best SliderDanny Hernandez
Best ChangeupBrian Duensing
Best ControlKevin Slowey
Best Defensive CatcherAllan de San Miguel
Best Defensive InfielderAlexi Casilla
Best Infield ArmPaul Kelly
Best Defensive OutfielderDenard Span
Best Outfield ArmEli Tintor
CatcherJoe Mauer
First BaseJustin Morneau
Second BaseAlexi Casilla
Third BaseMatt Moses
ShortstopJason Bartlett
Left FieldChris Parmelee
Center FieldTorii Hunter
Right FieldMichael Cuddyer
Designated HitterJason Kubel
No. 1 StarterJohan Santana
No. 2 StarterFrancisco Liriano
No. 3 StarterMatt Garza
No. 4 StarterGlen Perkins
No. 5 StarterKevin Slowey
CloserJoe Nathan
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Todd Walker, 2bPadres
1998Luis Rivas, ssDevil Rays
1999Michael Cuddyer, 3bTwins
2000Michael Cuddyer, 3bTwins
2001Adam Johnson, rhpAthletics
2002Joe Mauer, cTwins
2003Joe Mauer, cTwins
2004Joe Mauer, cTwins
2005Joe Mauer, cTwins
2006Francisco Liriano, lhpTwins
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Michael Cuddyer, ssTwins
1998Ryan Mills, lhpOut of baseball
1999B.J. Garbe, ofMarlins
2000Adam Johnson, rhpAthletics
2001Joe Mauer, cTwins
2002Denard Span, ofTwins
2003Matt Moses, 3bTwins
2004Trevor Plouffe, ssTwins
2005Matt Garza, rhpTwins
2006Chris Parmelee, of/1bTwins
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.