Jim Thome is coming back, and that is a good thing. Joe Christensen is doing a great job covering it, so be sure to read his work and comment there. If you want your very own Thome is My Homey t-shirt, get one (or ten) here.

But here today, we are going to talk Twins prospects, and hopefully it'll create some good discussion on Twins minor leaguers. I'll certainly try to answer your questions if you have any in the comments.

At SethSpeaks.net, I have been posting Top 50 Prospect lists twice a year (and sometimes more frequently) since 2004. I've been right on a few surprises, and way wrong on many more. That's the fun thing about prospects and prospect lists. There are few sure things. You never know. And everyone can have their own rankings that could be just as accurate in the end (ten years down the line?) as anyone, even the experts. There is no science behind this, but I tried to make my list this time around a little bit more scientific. I am just putting the final touches on the Minnesota Twins 2011 Prospect Handbook (more information coming soon), so I have  been looking at stats and scouting reports and more for a few months on all of these guys. Before getting to my Top 50 Twins Prospects, here is some detail on how I approached this ranking: 
I did something a little bit different in compiling my Top 50 list this time around. I took the entire list of Twins minor league prospects from the GCL through Rochester, and in an Excel spreadsheet, I put each name in the first column and each name in the first row. Then I went through and compared every prospect to every other prospect, picking which of the two I thought was the better prospect. My ‘vote’ on each was based on a ton of research, stats, scouting reports and more. I considered which of the two players I would trade if a team said that I could pick which prospect to send in a potential deal. I compared Aaron Hicks to Kyle Gibson and Miguel Sano, and also against Matt Schuld and Matt Trau. I compared Manuel Soliman to Dan Osterbrock, Joe Benson and Dallas Gallant. After doing that for every player (which took WAY too long), I added up the total number of times I selected each player. The player that I chose above all players obviously ended up with the most points at the end of the day. The one with the second most votes would be the #2 prospect. And so on. Of course, there were ties, sometimes three-way ties, which I broke by my head-to-head ranking, so to speak. The results were interesting, at least in the middle of the list, but really throughout.
Before jumping into the Top 10, here is a quick look at 11-52. If you want to read brief comments on each of these, please see www.SethSpeaks.net (and scroll down), or click here for my prospects 26-52 and 11-25. The Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook will have much more information on each player.  
#52 - Kyle Waldrop - RHP - Rochester
#51 - Dan Osterbrock - LHP - Ft. Myers
#50 - Rory Rhodes - 3B - GCL Twins
#49 - Cesar Ciurcina - RHP - GCL Twins
#48 - Daniel Santana - SS - Beloit
#47 - Evan Bigley - OF - New Britain
#46 - Anderson Hidalgo - 3B - Beloit
#45 - Lance Ray - OF/1B - Beloit
#44 - Brian Dozier - SS - Ft. Myers
#43 - Edgar Ibarra - LHP - Beloit
#42 - Dakota Watts - RHP - New Britain
#41 - Logan Darnell - LHP - Elizabethton
#40 - Kane Holbrooks - RHP - New Britain
#39 - Nate Roberts - OF - Elizabethton
#38 - Chris Herrmann - OF/C - Ft. Myers
#37 - Michael Tonkin - RHP - Beloit
#36 - Luke Hughes - IF/OF/DH/PH - Minnesota
#35 - Danny Rams - C/1B - Beloit
#34 - Anthony Slama - RHP - Minnesota
#33 - James Beresford - SS - Beloit
#32 - Rene Tosoni - OF - New Britain
#31 - Miguel Munoz - RHP - Beloit
#30 - Tom Stuifbergen - RHP - Beloit
#29 - Martire Garcia - LHP - Beloit
#28 - Scott Diamond - LHP - Gwinnett (Braves)
#27 - Steve Singleton - 2B - New Britain
#26 - Niko Goodrum - SS - GCL Twins
#25 - Bruce Pugh - RHP - New Britain
#24 - Deolis Guerra - RHP - Rochester
#23 - Billy Bullock - RHP - New Britain
#22 - Pat Dean - LHP - Elizabethton
#21 - Trevor Plouffe - SS - Minnesota
#20 - Bobby Lanigan - RHP - New Britain
#19 - Daniel Ortiz - OF - Elizabethton
#18 - BJ Hermsen - RHP - Beloit
#17 - Eddie Rosario - OF - GCL Twins
#16 - Max Kepler - OF - GCL Twins
#15 - Tsuyoshi Nishioka - 2B/SS - Chiba Lotte
#14 - Carlos Gutierrez - RHP - Rochester
#13 - Manuel Soliman - RHP - Elizabethton
#12 - Chris Parmelee - 1B - New Britain
#11 - David Bromberg - RHP - Rochester
Top Ten Twins Prospects
#10 – Oswaldo Arcia – OF – Elizabethton
                When you hit .375/.424/.672 with 21 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers and 51 RBI, you get noticed, no matter what level it’s at. He led the Appalachian League in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. He led the league in hits (by 16) and RBI. He finished second in home runs and triples. He was third in doubles and runs scored. Oh, and he’s pretty solid defensively too.  
#9 – Adrian Salcedo – RHP – Ft. Myers
                Salcedo will be 19 years old when the 2011 season begins. Overall, his 2010 numbers don’t stand out, but that’s in part due to jumping up to Ft. Myers for six starts. He held his own against much older, more experienced competition. In E-town, he won four games and posted a 3.16 ERA as a starter. The Twins were cautious with his arm and put him in the bullpen at the end of the season. Salcedo throws hard and his stuff is described as “filthy.”
#8 – Ben Revere – OF – Minnesota
                Another year, another .300+ batting average for Ben Revere. He jumped up to Double-A New Britain and hit .305/.371/.363. He showed his toughness too, returning less than a month after breaking two orbital bones when hit in the face by a fastball. He came back, played well, and earned a September promotion to the Twins. There is no rush to bring him up. He can still improve his defense, throwing and base running, things that will do him well over time. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt for him to spend another half-season in New Britain.  
#7 – Angel Morales – OF – Ft. Myers
                Morales will spend the entire 2011 season at age 21, and yet it will be his fifth minor league season after the Twins drafted him out of high school in 2007. Although the strikeouts are still high, his approach at the plate is terrific, especially after he was moved to the leadoff spot in the Ft. Myers lineup after a promotion from Beloit. No one questions his power potential. He also stole 29 bases in 2010, second only to Revere’s 36. He’s a good outfielder defensively as well. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s full of potential.  
#6 – Liam Hendriks – RHP – Ft. Myers
                Hendriks made opposing batters look silly all year in 2010. His 8-4 record with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP in 108.2 innings between Beloit and Ft. Myers were impressive. His 12 walk to 105 strikeout ratio was also impressive. The only thing that stopped him was an emergency appendectomy that cost him 4-5 weeks, and an opportunity to represent the Twins and Australia in the Futures game in Anaheim.
#5 – Alex Wimmers – RHP – Ft. Myers
                Wimmers was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010 out of THE Ohio State where he had won the past two Big Ten Pitcher of the Year awards. He’s a very polished starter with three good pitches. He made four starts for the Miracle after signing, so we shouldn’t make too much of his 15.2 professional innings in which he went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP and five walks to go with 23 strikeouts. Like their 2010 top pick, Wimmers could advance quickly in 2011.  
#4 – Joe Benson – OF – New Britain
                2010 was an interesting year for the Twins 2nd round pick from 2006. He started out slow in Double-A, was sent back to Ft. Myers for a month, and when he came back, he was very good. In all, he hit .259/.343/.538 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 27 home runs and 19 stolen bases. He’s got a ton of real, raw power when he makes contact, and he is nearly as fast as Ben Revere. He was the Twins 2010 Sherry Robertson Award recipient as the Twins top minor league hitter. He was added to the 40 man roster and should return to New Britain to start the 2011 season.  
#3 – Aaron Hicks – OF – Beloit
                I so frequently read Twins fans talk about how disappointing Hicks was in 2010. He hit .279/.401/.428 with 27 doubles, six triples, and eight home runs. He was a year younger than the average Midwest League player and performed over 20% better than average. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. He wasn’t as consistent as you’d like, he struggled from the left-side of the plate, and he’s still got work to do in the field and on the bases. But there is still no question that Hicks has all the talent in the world, and he can be a very good all-around player at the big league level. He just needs time and patience. Comparisons are never fair, or easy, but I think the comparison to Carlos Beltran is fair for what Hicks’ ceiling could be. A future #2 or #3 hitter, who can hit .280-.300, get on base 38-40% of the time, hit a lot of doubles, hit 20-25 home runs, steal some bases, drive in and score runs while playing terrific defense in centerfield or right field.  
#2 – Miguel Sano – 3B/SS – GCL Twins
                The Twins shocked a lot of people late in the 2009 season when the signed Sano to a $3.15 million signing bonus. The early returns from the 17-year-old in the GCL in 2010 were impressive. He hit .291/.338/.466 with 14 doubles and four home runs. He also hit very well in his time in the Dominican Summer League early in the season. So, why is he ahead of Hicks? First, because it’s my list, and you can certainly disagree. But second, this guy has amazing power potential. He’s big, strong and has incredibly quick hands and bat speed. Yes, he has a long way to go. He’ll have to cut down on his strikeouts. But when talking about ceiling, Sano’s is as high as it gets. Miguel Cabrera comes to mind. What position will Sano end up at? He actually primarily played 3B in 2010. Many think he could be a corner outfielder, and in Baseball America’s prospect content, John Manuel had him as the Twins 1B by 2015. It is going to be fun tracking his minor league progress.
#1 – Kyle Gibson – RHP – Rochester
                If ceiling was the only factor that went into prospect rankings, then Gibson would probably be fourth on this list (behind at least Hicks and Sano, and maybe even Benson), but Gibson has a very good likelihood of becoming a terrific major league pitcher. And that likely will happen sometime in 2011. The Twins top pick in 2009 didn’t sign until late, so he made his official professional debut this year, and he was very good. Between Ft. Myers, New Britain and three starts in Rochester, he went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. In 152 innings, he walked just 39 and struck out 126. A ground ball machine when he is on, Gibson has four big league caliber pitches and the confidence to use them at any time. He is also a great competitor. I think Gibson will be promoted in June, and I think he could have a strong impact on the 2011 AL Central race.  

So, now you’ve seen it, Top 50 Twins prospects. What do you think about it?

Here are a few more things to read over the weekend: