All sorts of lists have come out recently featuring a boatload of Twins' prospects ranked near the top of MLB. One recent one we say -- from ESPN -- had five players in the organization ranked in the top 50, including Byron Buxton (No. 1) and Miguel Sano (No. 3).
But the player in the Twins' system who is perhaps having a better year than anyone else will not be found on such a list. He will be 30 years old in October and is only in his second year playing in an affiliated league, having played independent ball in the Can-Am League for several seasons.
He is Chris Colabello, and he has absolutely mashed this season at Class AAA Rochester. In 322 at bats he is hitting .354 with 24 homers and 76 RBI. He had two brief stints with the Twins in emergency type situations, getting two hits in 16 at bats. But he's back up with the big club again now, and with 70 games left in this increasingly lost season, he figures to get a longer look.
And why not?
As intriguing as Buxton, Sano and co. are, finding out whether Colabello, a right-handed hitter who can play first base or outfield, can hold down an MLB job is just as interesting.
Is he a classic "4A" player who can hit the fastballs that aren't quite as fast and the sliders that aren't quite as sharp in the minors but can't make the leap ... or is he a guy who fell through the cracks, worked his butt off and can actually hit at the highest level?
With no other obvious first base prospects in the minors and Justin Morneau perhaps entering his final days with the team, Colabello has a massive opportunity and the Twins have a possible solution. Is he a poor man's Michael Cuddyer, or is he just a guy? We're looking forward to finding out.