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, 2009.

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1. Aaron Hicks, of
2. Wilson Ramos, c
3. Kyle Gibson, rhp
4. Miguel Sano, ss/3b
5. Ben Revere, of
6. Danny Valencia, 3b
7. Carlos Gutierrez, rhp
8. Angel Morales, of
9. David Bromberg, rhp
10. Max Kepler, of
Best Hitter for Average Ben Revere
Best Power Hitter Wilson Ramos
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Aaron Hicks
Fastest Baserunner Ben Revere
Best Athlete Aaron Hicks
Best Fastball Carlos Gutierrez
Best Curveball Tyler Robertson
Best Slider Kyle Gibson
Best Changeup Deolis Guerra
Best Control Bradley Tippett
Best Defensive Catcher Wilson Ramos
Best Defensive Infielder Jorge Polanco
Best Infield Arm Estarlin de los Santos
Best Defensive Outfielder Aaron Hicks
Best Outfield Arm Aaron Hicks
Catcher Joe Mauer
First Base Justin Morneau
Second Base Alexi Casilla
Third Base Danny Valencia
Shortstop J.J. Hardy
Left Field Delmon Young
Center Field Denard Span
Right Field Aaron Hicks
Designated Hitter Jason Kubel
No. 1 Starter Kyle Gibson
No. 2 Starter Scott Baker
No. 3 Starter Kevin Slowey
No. 4 Starter Nick Blackburn
No. 5 Starter Brian Duensing
Closer Carlos Gutierrez
Year Player, Position 2009
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 Rays
2008 Nick Blackburn, rhp Twins
2009 Aaron Hicks, of Twins
Year Player, Position 2009
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 Rays
2006 Chris Parmelee, of/1b Twins
2007 Ben Revere, of Twins
2008 Aaron Hicks, of Twins
2009 Kyle Gibson, rhp Twins
Joe Mauer, 2001 $5,150,000
Miguel Sano, 2009 $3,150,000
B.J. Garbe, 1999 $2,750,000
Adam Johnson, 2000 $2,500,000
Ryan Mills, 1998 $2,000,000
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Minnesota Twins

The Twins experienced a slew of firsts and lasts in 2009, most notably wrapping up the final season in the Metrodome with a dramatic playoff run.

The hermetically sealed Dome had its warts, but it also provided one of sport's great home-field advantages. It gives way to Target Field and its open air and natural grass for 2010.

Minnesota extended the dome's run by a couple of games by charging through September. It was 68-68 on Sept. 6 and trailed the Tigers by seven games before rallying to catch Detroit on the second-to-last day of the regular season, forcing a 163rd game for a second straight season. After losing 1-0 to the White Sox in 2008, the Twins won in walkoff fashion, 6-5 in a 12-inning thriller.

That would have been a tremendous sendoff for the Metrodome, but Minnesota came back home for one more game, the finale of a Division Series sweep at the hands of the Yankees. New York won all 10 meetings between the two clubs.

The Twins' offense couldn't match that of the Yankees, but offense was the team's strength in 2009. They ranked fourth in the American League in runs thanks to a homegrown group of hitters, with AL MVP and three-time batting champion Joe Mauer leading the way with an epic .365/.444/.587 season. Michael Cuddyer hit 32 homers, Justin Morneau added 30 and Mauer and Jason Kubel belted 28 each.

They needed all that offense because Minnesota didn't pitch or defend up to previous standards, posting a 4.50 ERA (11th in the AL) with much the same cast of characters that put up a 4.18 mark in 2008. Even closer Joe Nathan looked mortal down the stretch and blew Game Two against the Yankees, which the Twins led 3-1 entering the ninth inning.

To settle the rotation and infield, general manager Bill Smith made two August deals, trading minor leaguers for Carl Pavano, Jon Rauch (who both will return in 2010) and Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera was a stopgap, and Minnesota acquired J.J. Hardy in November after the season as a more long-term answer at shortstop.

Those moves should improve Smith's trade track record, sullied early in his tenure when he gave Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza to the Rays in a deal for Delmon Young and sent Johan Santana to the Mets for four players who have done little since. Minnesota gave up the best player in that foursome, Carlos Gomez, to get Hardy from the Brewers. For his next act, Smith must lock up Mauer, whose contract expires after the 2010 season.

The Twins were active acquiring talent all summer. With the 22nd overall pick in June, they drafted Missouri righthander Kyle Gibson, a projected top-10 pick choice who was available because he had a stress reaction in his right forearm. Gibson signed at the Aug. 17 deadline for $1.85 million, marking the first time Minnesota took a premier talent who slid and paid him a seven-figure, above-slot bonus.

In another first, the Twins paid the highest bonus on the international market in 2009 and the highest for an international player in franchise history when infielder Miguel Sano signed in September for $3.15 million. Minnesota had kicked off the international period by signing German outfielder Max Kepler for $800,000, the largest bonus ever given to a European position player.

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