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Since the Twins drafted outfielder Byron Buxton with the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, the question I hear most is, “When do you think we will see Buxton in a Minnesota Twins uniform?” We can all venture our guesses bases on what we’ve read about an 18 year old, but no one knows. He could come up as a 20 year old in 2014, as a 24 year old in 2018, or he may never make it up to the big league club.
Another question I have heard frequently over the last two years is when we will see Aaron Hicks and if he is behind schedule, whatever who whoever’s schedule that is.
Is there a lot of risk drafting high school hitters early in the draft? How have the Twins done when they have drafted high school bats?
My hope in this article is not to necessarily answer those questions because, again, we don’t know what the end story will be for any individual. By the end of this article, hopefully you will be able to see a bit of information to help you project when we might expect to see Buxton, Hicks or other high school draftees.
Ben Revere was drafted by the Twins in 2007 out of Lexington Catholic High School in Kentucky. He debuted with the Twins in September of 2010, three-and-a-half years after being drafted. My assumption as I prepared this data was that Revere was on a very fast track. That is where I started the search. I looked at all high school hitters drafted by the Twins in the first 100 picks of their respective drafts. Although anyone drafted or signing with an affiliate technically have a chance to make the big leagues, many believe that the Top 100 picks is where most of the future big leaguers are selected.
Between 1993 and 2007 (15 drafts), the Twins selected 22 high school hitters in the Top 100 picks of the drafts. Fifteen of the twenty-two have reached the big leagues. Obviously there is a wide range of big league success, but that is an impressive 68.1% Six to eight of those 22 players have had a significant level of big league success.
With that, I put together a chart showing when the players was drafted (including overall pick #), when they made their big league debut, when they became a regular big leaguer, how many Major League plate appearances they have accumulated, and finally, what level did a player who didn’t make the big leagues get?
||Draft Year (Pick)
||No MLB - Hi Level
||Current - FM
||09 - Beloit
||11 - Ft. Myers
||10 - FM, '11 WS
||09 - Rochester
||06 - New Britain
||99 - New Britain
NEVER MADE IT
Along with the 68% of these 22 players making it to be the big leaguers comes the 32% chance that a Top 100 draft choice never sees the major leagues. This could be for many reasons. For example, Paul Kelly and Drew Thompson just could not stay on the field. They were hurt. Both had big league talent. Mucker and Garbe were good athletes that just plateaued. Sanchez had huge power but couldn’t make contact. He also couldn’t stay out of trouble. Moses was talented, but many believed he just didn’t care about baseball all that much. There are many reasons that players don’t get to the big leagues, and this small group of seven illustrates that well. (Note – Danny Rams is still playing with the Ft. Myers Miracle, hitting .136 on the season.)
ON THE FAST TRACK
Three players on this list were on what I would consider the fast track. Joe Mauer was starting on Opening Day in 2004, two-and-a-half years after he was the #1 overall pick in 2001. He signed and played in Elizabethton in 2001. He spent all of 2002 in Quad Cities (Low A). He started 2003 in Ft. Myers and played the second half in New Britain.
Ben Revere was drafted in 2007 and played in the GCL that year. He spent all of 2008 in Beloit, where he hit .379. He spent all of 2009 in Ft. Myers and hit .311. In 2010, he hit. 305 in New Britain before his September call-up. Revere spent three-and-a-half seasons in the minors before his debut. He didn’t spend much time in the minors in 2011 before being a starter for the Twins. He also got a little bit of time in Rochester in 2012.
Justin Morneau was the Twins 3rd round pick in 1999, and he debuted with the Twins almost exactly four years after signing with the Twins, on June 10, 2003. He was regular by the All Star break in 2004, shortly before the Twins traded Doug Mientkiewicz at the deadline. More impressive, he played in the Gulf Coast League in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, he spent time in Quad Cities and Ft. Myers before ending the season with ten games in New Britain. He spent all of 2002 in New Britain which is where he started the 2003 season. He moved up to Rochester, and by July, he was up with the Twins. He spent 72 more games in 2004 in Rochester before being called up for good.
Of the 15 (in our sample of 22) that made it to the big leagues ten of them debuted between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half years. The common denominator in this group is that the players went back to the minor leagues after their debut. Rob Bowen and Javier Valentin came up within four-and-a-half years, and it wasn’t long before they were backup catchers in the big leagues. Torii Hunter came up from AA just four-and-a-half years after he was drafted, but he played in just one game (as a pinch runner) before going back to the minors. In fact, he played in just six games for the Twins the following year. And, two years after that, he was infamously returned to the minor leagues when he figured things out. He came up for good after that. Michael Cuddyer came up after four-and-a-half years too, and it took him three years to become a regular.
Cleatus Davidson came up five years after he was drafted. He spent a little time as a utility infielder for the Twins and never played with the big league club again. AJ Pierzynski didn’t hit his first chance for five-and-a-half years, and he spent plenty more time over the next two seasons in the minor leagues before staying up for good. Michael Restovich took five-and-a-half years too, and he only got minimal time with the Twins over the next three seasons. He was a part-time big leaguers for several more years but never became a regular. Denard Span rarely put up numbers during his five-and-a-half years in the minor leagues before his debut. That’s why the Twins wanted to get a centerfielder in the Johan Santana trade. But Span got his chance just days after the start of the 2008 season. He was sent back down, but it wasn’t long before he came up as a regular and he’s outperformed his minor league numbers ever since. Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson were each in the minor leagues for five-and-a-half years before their September call-ups last year. I don’t think that either would be called a big league regular at this time, but both still have the youth and potential to become just that.
Jose Morales was in the minor leagues for six-and-a-half years before he was called up to the Twins in 2007. He had three hits in his big league debut, and was injured on a slide and missed the rest of that season and plenty of time the following year. He showed some glimpses that he could be a decent backup.
Trevor Plouffe did not make his Major League debut for six years after he was drafted in 2004. His is an interesting case. After the draft, he spent the season in Elizabethton. He spent all of 2005 in Beloit where he hit just .223 but was promoted to Ft. Myers for the 2006 season. There, he hit just .246. In 2007, he found himself in New Britain as a 21 year old. He hit .274 with 48 extra base hits, and yet in 2008, he was back with the Rock Cats. He split 2008 before New Britain and Rochester. He spent all of 2009 in Rochester. In 2010, he was back in Rochester, and hit .244. However, in June, the Twins had a need and Plouffe made his big league debut. He put up major power numbers for Rochester in 2011 and played in 81 games for the Twins. We know of his early-season struggles with the Twins in 2012. Based on his hot streak the last month, can we now call him a regular, about eight years after he was drafted?
So, when people ask me when I would guess we will see Byron Buxton playing for the Minnesota Twins, I think I’ll guess the average of the above, five years. That would mean he would debut with the Twins around June of 2017, but it will likely be September of either 2016 or 2017.
Is Aaron Hicks behind schedule? He was the #1 pick in June of 2008. Five years would be about June of 2013. He is at AA right now, and he needs to be added to the 40 man roster after this season, so it’s possible he gets called up in September this year. So now, he is not behind schedule. He’s on a pretty normal schedule.
Finally, I so often hear some fans make judgements quickly on a player who comes up for his debut, struggles and is sent down. I never understand that because, in reality, very few come up, make their debut and stay in the big leagues forever. It's normal to have some struggles, get sent back down, work on some things, come back up, and rinse and repeat. Obviously the better a player is able to make adjustments, the more likely he is to eventually become a quality regular.
You can do the same math with 2010 second-round pick Niko Goodrum and 2011 supplemental first round pick Travis Harrison. Yet no one knows. Will Harrison be on the Ben Revere path, or the Michael Cuddyer path, or the Trevor Plouffe path, or the BJ Garbe path? We don’t know. There are no givens in minor league baseball, and that’s part of makes it so fun to follow.
Things are really busy over at Twins Daily, and that’s great for readers. There is a ton of great content:
Aaron and John talk about the Twins' youth-led turnaround, Byron Buxton and the power arm-filled draft class, Trevor Plouffe's homer binge, Scott Diamond's ace impression, Chris Parmelee's return from Rochester, Ben Revere's long-term upside, Liam Hendriks' impending re-arrival, the wisdom of re-signing Ryan Doumit, Jason Marquis in pitcher heaven, Brian Dozier's struggles, and the exciting life on Aaron's balcony. Here are:
Over at Twins Daily.....
Of the last decade's drafts, I think it’s safe to say that the two first round picks for which the Twins took the most immediate heat were 2001 and 2007. It might be worth noting just how ridiculous that looks right now. In 2001, the Twins took Joe Mauer as the #1 pick and were lambasted for being too damn cheap and possibly blinded by a local kid. In 2007, the fiscal-based criticism was similar when they drafted Ben Revere "above slot" and it was compounded by a perception that the Twins were way too happy with their annoying little Piranhas and devoid of power.
But if you take a look at first round picks the Twins have made, Mauer and Revere currently rank among some of the best, even given Revere’s limited role so far.
The problem with writing about the draft the day after is that you’re writing in a void. After all, we have very little idea what these players will become. And when confronted with a void, the human mind creates a reality. So we start with rankings culled by a few media members and bloggers who are sensitive to what other media member and bloggers perceive. Then we extend realities from the ones we perceive while following the club, especially when they are supported by rankings.
So which realities do you want to embrace?
You could go with the “Twins Love Toolsy Outfielders” paradigm, which explains why the Twins nabbed high school prep star Byron Buxton. If you're disappointed by Aaron Hicks, then that's a bad thing. If you admire Denard Span or Torii Hunter, then that's a good thing. But, of course, neither Span nor Hunter nor Hicks have any impact on the development of Buxton.
Or you could go with the “Twins Are Too Cheap” which explains why they didn’t select Scott Boras client Mark Appel with the #2 pick and leaves you feeling a little bitter. It explains why the next two picks - Puerto Rican high school pitcher Jose Orlando Berrios and college relief pitcher Luke Bard - were chosen slightly above where they had been ranked by Baseball America and other ranking systems. By doing so, the Twins might save money since these players don’t have that high bonus expectations others might have had. Or it could be that the Twins didn't agree with Baseball America's rankings.
There will be others realities someone will want to extend. I'm quite sure someone will absolutely find a “Pitch To Contact” trend, though I think it’s going to take some imagination. More obvious is the “Twins Are Oblivious” since they didn’t come out of the first day with a college starting pitcher. Or a “Twins Are Medical Quacks” since third pick, Bard, is down with non-arm injury.
I’m looking forward to reading them. But the longer I do this, the more I conclude that none of them are legitimate.
Here’s what happened yesterday: the Twins nabbed some black boxes. Or maybe a better analogy would be some junk bond portfolios. Some are very promising, highly graded, with a possible high payout. Some are less so.
Twenty-nine other traders did the same thing. They did so based on experience and insider information that we have little access to. Our perceptions on what drove them or didn’t drive them are probably wrong. More than likely, they looked at these opaque boxes, shook them a bit, and picked the ones they like best.
Now we get to wait to see what’s in them.
The ins and outs of the draft were broken down 40,000 times yesterday at Twins Daily. And it'll continue today....
- There were 250+ comments on the thread that documented first day of the MLB draft.
- Today's Day 2 thread is here if you want to comment.
- There was also plenty of discussion about putting Carl Pavano on the DL and replacing him in the rotation with Nick Blackburn.
Is today, the first day of the MLB Draft, the most important day of 2012 for the Twins? Tha't one topic of today's Gleeman and the Geek podcast, along with the relative merits of possible top picks Mark Appel, Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. But there is a lot more.....
A week ago, we started to take a look at my Top 50 Twins Prospects. Within the last week, we looked at prospects 11-20, prospects 21-30, prospects 31-40, and prospects 41 through 50. The general belief is that the Twins farm system is pretty weak and sadly, from doing this exercise, I find it hard to disagree. However, to say that it is bad and completely void of talent is also not true at all. Within this top ten, there is a lot of talent. There are still plenty of question marks due to age and injuries, but there are some high ceilings. The hope would be that after the Twins make six selections in the top 100 picks in next week’s draft (And sign them), there will be a lot more talent in the system to believe in. Most likely, the player the Twins select with the #2 overall pick should slot right into the #2 spot on the list below.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list. Here are my choices for Twins Top Prospects:
#10 –Hudson Boyd, RHP
Boyd was the Twins second supplemental first round pick a year ago. He was drafted out of his high school in Ft. Myers. The Twins had him come to Hammond Stadium days before the draft and saw him throw 97 mph. Listed at 6-3 and 270 pounds, Boyd is a big man who the Twins will want to slim down. He didn’t play in 2011 until the Instructional League. Boyd throws hard, and he also throws strikes. He is just 19 years old so he will likely start his career in the GCL as a starter. Many believe that he may eventually need to move to the bullpen. It’s way too early to know that. Reports I’m hearing from Ft. Myers say that he is working really hard and more important, he is throwing really hard and has a very good curveball.
#9 – Travis Harrison, 3B
Harrison was selected five picks before the Twins took Boyd in the supplemental round of the 2011 draft. Like Boyd, he signed at the deadline for a little bit above slot. He debuted with the Twins in the Florida Instructional League. The 6-3, 215 pound right-handed hitter is one day younger than Boyd. Reports from Ft. Myers tell me that he is crushing the ball. Of course, like most young hitters, especially power hitters, Harrison still occasionally struggles with hitting a curveball. He can be a solid batting average hitter too if he can make contact, as he does a good job of using the whole field thanks to a very balanced swing. He is best known as a guy who hit a ball 504 feet, well out of Tropicana Field. And again, like Boyd, Harrison could start at Elizabethton but most likely with the GCL Twins.
#8 – Brian Dozier, SS
The Twins drafted Dozier with their 8th round pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi. The four-year senior advanced quickly through the Twins farm system. He split the 2011 season between Ft. Myers and New Britain. He was my choice for 2011 Minor League Hitter of the Year after hitting a combined .320/.399/.491 with 33 doubles, 12 triples, nine home runs and 24 stolen bases. Teammates talk about his poise and leadership. After hitting .276/.339/.371 with seven doubles and a homer in 28 AAA games this spring, he was promoted to the Twins. In 22 games, he has hit .227/.247/.341 with four doubles and two home runs. No one is expecting him to post an .800 OPS, but in time, I think he will be a .720-.750 OPS guy for a few years. He has shown good range and hands, and plenty of arm to play shortstop.
#7 – Joe Benson, OF
The Twins second round pick in 2006 out of his Illinois high school, Benson gave up a football scholarship to Purdue. Since signing, things have not always come easy for Benson. He was the Twins Minor League hitter of the year in 2010, and he was my runner up choice in 2011. He spent each of those seasons in New Britain. Last year, he spent September playing nearly every day with the Twins. In one game against Cleveland, he was 4-4 with a triple and two doubles. He began the 2012 season in Rochester, but through 28 games, he was hitting .179/.269/.316 with seven extra base hits. He was sent down to New Britain where he hit .156 in eight games before having surgery on a broken hamate bone last week. There is no questioning the physical tools that Benson possesses. His competitive and aggressive style can mean good things in many cases. The struggles this year were with the emotional side of the game and being able to handle the negative. If ever the 24-year-old can find a way to slow the game down, he can be a special player.
#6 – Kyle Gibson, RHP
The Twins top pick in the 2009 draft, Gibson came from the University of Missouri. Gibson was the Twins 2010 minor league pitcher of the year when he quickly moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain and up to Rochester. He began 2011 with the Red Wings and pitched well the first two months of the season. Unfortunately, he had elbow pain and had to have Tommy John surgery. He is expected to throw his first bullpen off of a mound next Monday and hopes to pitch in games in 2012. The idea would be that he be ready to pitch for the Twins sometime in 2013. The lanky right-hander throws a fastball between 89-91 but can touch 93. He has a great sinker and a slider. He also throws a change up. He gets a lot of ground balls. He will be added to the 40 man roster following the season.
#5 – Oswaldo Arcia, RHP
The Twins had to add Arcia to the 40 man roster last November because the 21 year old signed in July of 2007 out of Venezuela. He came to the States and put up solid numbers in 2009, but in 2010, he was the Appalachian League Player of the Year. In 2011, he put up huge numbers in Beloit in April, but then had to miss six weeks after having elbow surgery. Instead of returning to Beloit, he was moved up to Ft. Myers. That is where he starts this spring. After a slow April (thanks, in part, to a leg injury), he had a big May. Right now, he is hitting .298/.351/.482 with 13 doubles, three triples and four home runs. The left-handed hitter has major power. He strikes out a lot, and will have to figure out how to hit left-handed pitching at a decent rate, but Arcia does have a high ceiling.
#4 – Aaron Hicks, OF
Hicks was the Twins first-round pick way back in June of 2008 out of high school in California. The 22 year old is getting his first taste of AA this year after posting some impressive numbers in the Arizona Fall League last year. Hicks is not over his head, but he is certainly working through some struggles. Overall this season, he is hitting .246/.335/.392 (.727) with eight doubles, a triple and five home runs. However, he posted an OPS of .824 in April and of just .624 thus far in May. The other question is whether or not Hicks should remain a switch-hitter. Well, this year against left-handers, he is hitting .347/.396/.510 (.906) against left-handers and .205/.313/.344 (.657) against right-handers. I’ve said all along that I would give him this year to work on the switch-hitting, but they do need to think about him just being a right-handed hitter following this season when they add him to the 40 man roster. Hicks is already big-league ready defensively. He has great range and a very strong, accurate arm. He has a lot of strength and is very athletic. If he goes by the same timeline as other athletic high school types like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span, he should make his debut in 2014. It’s possible if he plays well in the second half that Hicks could debut in September.
#3 – Liam Hendriks, RHP
Consider that just about two years ago this month, Hendriks was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers, he has come a long ways very quickly. Signed by the Twins in 2007 from Australia, the 23-year-old has been on a fast-track, especially when considering that he missed all of the 2008 season with a neck surgery. He was my choice for Twins minor pitcher of the year in 2010 (Gibson was chosen by the Twins). He was my repeat choice in 2011 when he went 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 139.1 innings between New Britain and Rochester. He walked just 21 and struck out 111. He pitched in the Futures Game and the Eastern League All-Star game. He then was promoted to the Twins. He began the season in the Twins rotation but April was frustrating for him. He missed his first start due to food poisoning, and then struggled in four starts. He was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 18 innings. The Twins sent him back to Rochester, and in four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA. In 25.2 innings, he has given up 15 hits, walked eight and struck out 23. When on, the 6-0 right-hander has a two-seam fastball between 88-91 with a lot of movement. His four-seamer can hit 93. Although we didn’t see it in April, he has a good curveball at two speed, and a very good changeup. On other thing we didn’t see was his impeccable control of the strike zone. His ceiling is the good, healthy Scott Baker.
#2 – Eddie Rosario, 2B
When the Twins drafted Rosario in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, he was said to be the best hitter from Puerto Rico that year. To this point in his career, he has shown that he can flat-out hit. He posted a solid .781 OPS in the GCL in 2010 and showed a very good all-around game. It was 2011 in Elizabethton where he made his name. He hit .337/.397/.670 (1.068) with nine doubles, nine triples, 21 home runs and 60 RBI in 67 games. He was named the Appalachian League Player of the Year. At Instructs last fall, the decision was made to move Rosario from Centerfield (where he is really good) to second base. He advanced to Beloit and struggled in April with the glove, but he has improved greatly in the last month. He still plays centerfield once every eight to ten games as well. One the season, he is hitting a solid .284/.356/.458 (.814) with 16 doubles, a triple and five home runs. In the two short-season leagues, Rosario stole a lot of bases. In 2010 and 2011 combined, he had 39 steals in 50 chances. This season, he is struggling on the base paths, successful in just nine of 19 attempts. The 20-year-old has a very good swing, very quick and strong hands. He uses the whole field and is a terrific all-around hitter.
#1 – Miguel Sano, 3B
The Twins were the happy winners in the Miguel Sano sweepstakes when, in October of 2009, he signed with the Twins for a $3.15 million signing bonus. Known as the top Dominican talent that year, he was the subject of the movie Peletero (Ball player). After coming to the States for spring training in 2010, he split that season between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. In 2011, he played in Elizabehton and didn’t disappoint. He hit .292/.352/.637 (.988) with 18 doubles, seven triples, 20 home runs and 59 RBI in 66 games. How would he adjust to the full-season Midwest League and life in Wisconsin? He adjusted well. In April, he hit .276/.422/.586 (1.008) with five doubles, two triples and six home runs. However, he has struggled in May. Following his 19th birthday, he went on a run in which he had just one hit in 39 at bats (including an 0-24 stretch). He has homered in his past two games again. Miguel Sano has unbelievable power, and power potential. On the year, he has ten doubles, two triples and 13 home run in 188 at bats. He has the ability to hit for average, but that will largely be dependent upon his ability to put the ball in play. In 216 plate appearances, he has 60 strikeouts. He also has already committed 17 errors at third base. Those that look at his stats want to see him pushed and promoted quickly to Ft Myers. Those (coaches, front office types, fans, bloggers) who have seen him play in person say that he is where he needs to be because there are a lot of things he needs to work on. Sano is a special talent, and the Twins need to be wise with how they handle him. He can be on the Joe Mauer path (which was very fast) and get to the big leagues by early 2014. It shouldn’t be about getting him there quickly. It should be about getting him there when he is ready.
So, there you have my choices for Twins Top 10 Prospects. Later this week, I’ll be back with my choices for Twins Hitter, Starting Pitcher and Relief Pitcher of the Month for May.
If you have any questions or comments on any of these prospects, please feel free to ask.
Over at Twins Daily, you have a one-stop shop for all Minnesota Twins topics.
Aaron and John talk about Justin Morneau's resurgence, the Twins' options with the No. 2 pick, Jason Marquis' departure, Francisco Liriano's move back into the rotation, the best baseball movies of all time, first impressions of Cole De Vries, their PickPointz MVP picks, Johan Santana's return to greatness, and why Anthony Slama can't catch a break. Here are:
Twins Daily was all over the news about Jeff Manship's promotion on Saturday night.
As Twins fans watched the game yesterday, they also tuned into Twins Daily's chat about the team.
In the GATG podcast, we talk about the draft which happens a week from Memorial Day. We mention to Twins Daily features you might want to check out. First, there is an interview with Kevin Gausman, one of three top right-handed collge pitchers in the draft. Also, if the Twins DON'T take a pitcher with the #2 pick (and it looks like they might not) there are plenty of other pitchers for them to consider with the rest of the high picks they have.
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