Minnesota Twins Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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1. Kyle Gibson, rhp
2. Aaron Hicks, of
3. Miguel Sano, 3b/ss
4. Joe Benson, of
5. Ben Revere, of
6. Liam Hendriks, rhp
7. Alex Wimmers, rhp
8. Adrian Salcedo, rhp
9. Oswaldo Arcia, of
10. Carlos Gutierrez, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Ben Revere
Best Power Hitter Miguel Sano
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Aaron Hicks
Fastest Baserunner Ben Revere
Best Athlete Joe Benson
Best Fastball Dakota Watts
Best Curveball David Bromberg
Best Slider Kyle Gibson
Best Changeup Kyle Gibson
Best Control Liam Hendriks
Best Defensive Catcher Danny Lehmann
Best Defensive Infielder Jorge Polamco
Best Infield Arm Niko Goodrum
Best Defensive Outfielder Aaron Hicks
Best Outfield Arm Aaron Hicks
Catcher Joe Mauer
First Base Miguel Sano
Second Base Alexi Casilla
Third Base Danny Valencia
Shortstop Jorge Polanco
Left Field Delmon Young
Center Field Denard Span
Right Field Aaron Hicks
Designated Hitter Justin Morneau
No. 1 Starter Francisco Liriano
No. 2 Starter Kyle Gibson
No. 3 Starter Liam Hendriks
No. 4 Starter Alex Wimmers
No. 5 Starter Brian Duensing
Closer Carlos Gutierrez
Year Player, Position 2010
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
2010 Aaron Hicks, of Twins
Year Player, Position 2010
2001 Joe Mauer, c Twins
2002 Denard Span, of Twins
2003 Matt Moses, 3b Out of baseball
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
2010 Alex Wimmers, 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 American League Division Series almost obscured an otherwise storybook 2010 season for the Twins.

Minnesota opened Target Field and played home games outdoors for the first time since 1981. The ballpark drew rave reviews and attracted 3.22 million fans, third-best in the AL. The expected infusion of revenue helped the Twins lock up franchise icon Joe Mauer with an eight-year, $184 million contract in March.

That was general manager Bill Smith's biggest task last offseason, but he also made other moves that helped the club defend its AL Central title, its sixth in the last decade. Jim Thome may have been the biggest free-agent bargain of the year, hitting 25 homers after signing for just $1 million. Rookie Danny Valencia filled their third-base hole. Closer Joe Nathan had Tommy John surgery in March, but Smith built an excellent bullpen anyway, adding Matt Capps (for catching prospect Wilson Ramos) and Brian Fuentes (for minor league righthander Loek Van Mil) during the summer to fortify it.

The Twins seemed ready for October, but that's when their magical season turned sour. They lost eight of their last 10 regular-season games before getting swept in the Division Series by the Yankees. New York has beaten Minnesota in four Division Series meetings since 2003, winning 12 of 14 games.

While the Twins ranked third in the AL in runs allowed and fifth in runs scored, they didn't pitch or hit well against the Yankees, and lacked the athleticism to pressure New York's defense like the Rangers did in the AL Championship Series. Though they haven't won a postseason series since 2002, the Twins' window of opportunity remains open as long as they have Mauer and his solid supporting cast. Justin Morneau's concussion—he was hurt in July and never returned to the field—is cause for concern.

Despite trading Johan Santana for pennies on the dollar to the Mets in January 2008, Minnesota has retained a solid rotation. Francisco Liriano re-emerged as an ace in 2010, his second year removed from Tommy John surgery, with homegrown products Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey all reaching double digits in wins. The Twins believe their last two first-round picks, righties Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers, are at least as good and consider Gibson more of a front-of-the-rotation fit.

Minnesota has maintained its focus on scouting and player development, even though it didn't pay an above-slot bonus to a single draftee in 2010. While sticking to its draft principles of polished pitchers and athletic position players, the Twins have revitalized their Latin American scouting, spending big on the likes of Dominican infielder Miguel Sano while also developing better depth of Latin prospects, including righthanders Adrian Salcedo and Manuel Soliman, outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and middle infielders Jorge Polanco and Danny Santana.

While the Twins have prospects throughout their system, top affiliates New Britain and Rochester combined for just 93 victories, with poor bullpens and lax defense the main culprits. However, the rosters of both clubs will be counted on to provide low-cost reinforcements as the big league club may have to replace six free-agent pitchers, including 17-game winner Carl Pavano and relievers Capps, Fuentes, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch.

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