TwinsCentric: Looking at the organization's infielders
- Blog Post by: Seth Stohs
- March 7, 2013 - 8:00 AM
On Tuesday, I began my look at the Twins organizational depth chart by looking at all of the outfielders in the system. Today, we jump back into the Twins system by looking at the infielders. Compared to the outfielders, I’d say it’s more than fair to say that the Twins have not had as much success grooming infielders. Could that trend be changing? Read below and decide for yourself.
In the following, we will consider which players may fill the rosters of the Twins minor league affiliates. Of course, this is all just my educated guess. As I’ve said, any of this could be altered by an unexpected free agent signing or a trade. Sadly, not all of these players will remain in the organization beyond spring training. Some may wind up on the Disabled List. Hopefully this list will remind you of which players are in the organization.
So let’s get to it. Here are the Infielders in the Minnesota Twins organization:
Justin Morneau (1B), Brian Dozier (2B), Trevor Plouffe (3B), Pedro Florimon (SS), Jamey Carroll, Eduardo Escobar
Morneau is the most healthy he’s been since spring of 2010 when he put up MVP caliber numbers until he suffered a concussion. The 2006 MVP is still just 31 years old and entering his contract year. It is also a big year for Trevor Plouffe in 2013. The Twins are banking on him hitting similarly to what he did for those six weeks that he crushed the ball, rather than the .150 hitter he was early in the season. He is healthy and will get every opportunity. Brian Dozier struggled immensely as a rookie in 2012, but the organization believes in him and he is being given every opportunity to be the team’s second baseman. He’ll team up the middle with Pedro Florimon, the great-glove, no-hit shortstop. Those guys will get the chance, but having the solid veteran Jamey Carroll around will certainly help provide some stability. Eduardo Escobar is a terrific glove who will do well in a utility role. In my opinion, Escobar will be starting at shortstop by mid-June.
Rochester Red Wings
Chris Colabello (1B), James Beresford (2B), Mark Sobolewski (3B), Ray Olmedo (SS), Jeff Clement, Nate Hanson, Reynaldo Rodriguez
Chris Colabello was the story of the Twins minor league system in 2012 when, as a 28-year-old, he spent his first season in affiliated baseball and had a terrific season. It earned him an invitation to Twins big league spring training, and he also will be representing Italy in the WBC. Colabello lived in Italy for several years of his youth and played for Italy in several international competitions. He has an outside shot to be a bench bat with the Twins if they go that direction. Beresford’s 2013 WBC experience is already over. He was the leadoff hitter and shortstop for Australia, but he’ll likely be playing a lot at second base as well. Ray Olmedo spent time in the big leagues in the middle of last decade, but after a few years away, he returned to the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012 after they traded Eduardo Escobar to the Twins. Olmedo and Beresford won’t hit a lot, but they will play tremendous defense. Mark Sobolewski was a Twins minor league Rule 5 selection in December from the Blue Jays organization. The cancer-survivor hit 20 home runs last year between AA and AAA. The Twins seem to really like his defense. The Twins drafted Clement in 2002 out of his Iowa high school, but he decided to go to college. It was the right choice for him as three years later, he was the #3 overall pick in the draft by the Mariners. Things haven’t happened for him in the big leagues to this point, and he’s back with the Twins on a minor league deal, playing some 1B and wanting to show he can be an emergency catcher option. Nate Hanson really stepped up his game in 2012 when he was moved to second base after playing mostly first base the year before. He was drafted as a third baseman, where he will get some time again this spring, but the former Gopher’s path to the big leagues will involve using several different gloves. Rodriguez is a veteran first baseman, looking to keep a job.
New Britain Rock Cats
Steve Liddle (1B), Levi Michael (2B), Deibinson Romero (3B), Danny Santana (SS), Harold Garcia, Jason Christian, Doug Bernier, Michael Gonzales
2012 was a frustrating year for Liddle, the nephew of the former Twins coach. He began the season hurt, and he ended up going back to Beloit for a month before settling in with the Miracle. The former Vanderbilt standout will primarily play first base, although he has played some in the outfield in his career. Deibinson Romero had a very good season in 2012 with the Rock Cats. He was invited to big league spring training (For the first time since he was on the 40 man roster in 2009), but visa issues mean he is still back home in the Dominican. That may also mean that he will have to head back to the Rock Cats and wait for an opening in Rochester. Danny Santana really stepped up his performance in 2012 with the Miracle. At the end of the year, he was placed on the Twins 40 man roster and has shown his talent along with his weaknesses so far in camp. Levi Michael’s professional debut last year in Ft. Myers certainly got off to a rough start. He was young for his draft class, but his struggled in the Florida State League were disappointing. He has been hurt since signing with the Twins but played all of the 2012 season. He could go back to Ft. Myers for a spell to start the season, but he should get to the Rock Cats quickly. Harold Garcia, Jason Christian and Doug Bernier are long-timer minor league veterans who at this points in their careers are just happy with an opportunity to continue their careers. Michael Gonzales was alright in 2012 in Ft. Myers. He just is not able to play very long or very often in the humidity of the Florida State League. He has a condition in which he really suffers from dehydration so he is often not able to play full games or many back-to-back. He could stay in Ft. Myers, but they may move him up for an opportunity to play more.
Ft. Myers Miracle
Kennys Vargas (1B), Eddie Rosario (2B), Miguel Sano (3B), AJ Pettersen (SS), Andy Leer, Adam Bryant, Steven Wickens
This is a pretty impressive infield, at least when they have bats in their hands. Miguel Sano hit 30 home runs in the Midwest League in 2012 and is generally considered the team’s top prospect. Rosario will play for Puerto Rico in the WBC, but he impressed during his stint with the Twins before reporting. He will begin his second season at second base, and his defensive improvements will likely dictate how quickly he moves up to New Britain. Likewise for Sano. Kenny Vargas returned to a game lineup later last summer after finishing out his 50-game suspension on the Elizabethon roster. He came back and immediately showed the power that he possesses. For him to move up, he will have to improve several parts of his game, but his power is pretty legit. AJ Pettersen, Adam Bryant, Stephen Wickens and Andy Leer will all play around the infield and give guys days off. Pettersen and Bryant each played several positions in 2012 in Beloit. Wickens came up later in the year and played up the middle defense and did a nice job with the bat. Leer played all over the field for the Miracle a year ago. Pettersen is a former Gopher who writes for Twins Daily and for Baseball America. Leer is from North Dakota.
Cedar Rapids Kernels
DJ Hicks (1B), Jorge Polanco (2B), Niko Goodrum (SS), Travis Harrison (3B), Candido Pimentel, Rory Rhodes
Rhodes began the 2012 season in Beloit, but he really struggled before being sent back down to Elizabethton where he split time with DJ Hicks. Rhodes is Australian. Hicks was the Twins 17th round draft pick in 2012 from Central Florida. His walk-off grand slam gave the Elizabethton Twins the 2013 Appalachian League championship. Former 2nd round pick Niko Goodrum spent his second season in Elizabethton a year ago. He did improve his shortstop defense. His batting average went down but his walk numbers and his slugging increased. Jorge Polanco was part of the international signing year that saw the Twins ink deals with Miguel Sano and Max Kepler as well. Touted for his defense and his ability to play shortstop, he has primarily played second base in the minor leagues. In 2012, his bat even came to life as he hit over .300 with the E-Twins. Travis Harrison, a Twins supplemental 1st round pick in 2011, made his pro debut in 2012 with the E-Twins. He hit for average, but most believe that his power will also develop. His error total rivaled that of Miguel Sano and will have to improve a lot if he wants to stay at third base. Pimentel was the Appy League MVP in 2012 when he was the team’s leadoff hitter. He was an outfielder, but he was moved to second base and will get some time there as well in 2013.
Extended Spring Training/Short-Season
Aderlin Mejia, Bryan Haar, Joel Licon, Javier Pimentel, Logan Wade, Jose Ramirez, Will Hurt
Aderlin Mejia was the one player on the GCL Twins team to be named all-league. For his efforts, he was asked to play a few games with the Ft. Myers Miracle at the end of their season. Haar was the team’s 34th round pick a year ago from San Diego. He played 45 games for the GCL Twins and hit .250/.319/.345. Javier Pimentel signed for about $700,000 in 2010 and has struggled offensively since signing. Will Hurt gave up a scholarship to Coastal Carolina to sign as the Twins 16th round pick last year. He really struggled with the bat, but he has premiere speed. Licon was the Twins 25th round pick, and like Hurt, most people thought he would be a tough sign, but he did come to terms with the team. Wade is a 21-year-old Australian who signed just a year ago. He spent the winter playing in the Australian Baseball League. After spending two years in the DSL, Jose Ramirez spent 2012 in the GCL where he hit .234.
1.) Miguel Sano, 2.) Eddie Rosario, 3.) Danny Santana, 4.) Jorge Polanco, 5.) Travis Harrison, 6.) Travis Harrison, 7.) Niko Goodrum, 8.) Levi Michael.
This prospect list isn’t so bad. Sano and Rosario could be future stars. There are five middle infielders on this list that have the potential to be a big league middle infielder if things play out right. Now, most of this talent is in the lower levels of the minor leagues. That’s why it will be important for Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar will have to be able to man the positions for a couple of years.
There are questions, to be sure, in the Twins big league middle infield. Then again, it’s also a big year for Trevor Plouffe. It’s also a contract year for Justin Morneau so it will be curious to see if a big year means a contract extension or a July trade to a contender? The Twins do have several very good minor league infield prospects, so it will be fun to watch how they develop throughout the 2013 season. Offense is what we tend to notice. Managers, coaches, and especially pitchers will also notice the infielders’ defense. Which players will be receiving the most notice as the season progresses?
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