2012 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. Miguel Sano, 3b/ss
2. Joe Benson, of
3. Eddie Rosario, 2b/of
4. Aaron Hicks, of
5. Oswaldo Arcia, of
6. Levi Michael, ss/2b
7. Liam Hendriks, rhp
8. Kyle Gibson, rhp
9. Chris Parmelee, of/1b
10. Brian Dozier, ss/2b
Best Hitter for Average Eddie Rosario
Best Power Hitter Miguel Sano
Best Strike Zone Discipline Brian Dozier
Fastest Baserunner J.D. Williams
Best Athlete Joe Benson
Best Fastball Lester Oliveros
Best Curveball Hudson Boyd
Best Slider Kyle Gibson
Best Changeup Deolis Guerra
Best Control Liam Hendriks
Best Defensive Catcher Danny Lehmann
Best Defensive Infielder Brian Dozier
Best Infield Arm Niko Goodrum
Best Defensive OF Aaron Hicks
Best Outfield Arm Aaron Hicks
Catcher Joe Mauer
First Base Chris Parmelee
Second Base Eddie Rosario
Third Base Miguel Sano
Shortstop Levi Michael
Left Field Denard Span
Center Field Aaron Hicks
Right Field Joe Benson
Designated Hitter Justin Morneau
No. 1 Starter Scott Baker
No. 2 Starter Francisco Liriano
No. 3 Starter Brian Duensing
No. 4 Starter Liam Hendriks
No. 5 Starter Kyle Gibson
Closer Corey Williams
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
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 Cubs
2008 Nick Blackburn, rhp Twins
2009 Aaron Hicks, of Twins
2010 Aaron Hicks, of Twins
2011 Kyle Gibson, rhp Twins
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Denard Span, OF Twins
2003 Matt Moses, 3B Twins
2004 Trevor Plouffe, SS Twins
2005 Matt Garza, RHP Cubs
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
2011 Levi Michael, SS 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

When Terry Ryan surprised the Twins by resigning as GM after the 2007 season, he said he felt guilty for leaving such a mess behind for his successor, Bill Smith. Ryan's last club went 79-83 and had Johan Santana demanding a trade with one year left on his contract.

Smith got little in return when he traded Santana to the Mets, but Minnesota made the most of the roster and farm system Ryan had constructed. The Twins lost the American League Central in Game 163 in 2008, then won the division in 2009 and 2010, built around the brilliance of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and low-cost, homegrown complements. Smith traded for key pieces such as J.J. Hardy and Carl Pavano to plug holes as needed.

Then came 2011, and everything that could go wrong did. Seeking more speed, Minnesota overhauled its middle infield with disastrous results, as Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka and holdovers Alexi Casilla and Trevor Plouffe flopped. The Twins hit with no power, ran poorly, defended worse and paid for their lack of power arms, as the pitching staff complied a 4.60 ERA and an AL-worst 940 strikeouts.

The twin pillars of the lineup faltered. Morneau has had concussion issues since June 2010 and hit .227 in 69 games. He's owed $28 million over the next two seasons, which pales in comparison to the $161 million due Mauer over the next seven. Mauer had the worst year of his career (.287, three homers in 82 games) as he recovered from offseason knee surgery, suffered from bilateral leg weakness, came down with pneumonia and had teammates question his toughness in the media.

The combination of a franchise-record $113 million Opening Day payroll and 99 losses led to a return to the past in the front office. Owner Jim Pohlad fired Smith in November and gave Ryan his old job. A special assistant since his resignation, Ryan tabbed Mets special assistant Wayne Krivsky, his former assistant, as an advisor.

Ryan immediately started reshaping the big league roster, signing Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham while allowing Joe Nathan to depart as a free agent. The big league team's fortunes depend most on a return to health by Mauer and Morneau, however

A former scouting director, Ryan built the Twins' player-development model, so don't expect changes there. Vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff still evaluates the organization's top talents for the draft as well as the entire farm system. Radcliff also has taken the lead in getting the club active in Latin America, spearheading the signing of No. 1 prospect Miguel Sano in 2009.

The system isn't as strong as it was when Ryan last was in charge, and 2011 was a rough season for the team's previous three first-round picks. Outfielder Aaron Hicks (2008) had to rally to hit .242 in high Class A, righthander Kyle Gibson (2009) needed Tommy John surgery and righty Alex Wimmers (2010) missed half the year with a bout of wildness after walking the first six batters he faced in an April start.

Wimmers eventually came back to throw seven no-hit innings in his final outing. Minnesota hopes Ryan's return is just as successful.

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