Twins prospects aren’t ready yet

hide

Long-awaited pitching prospect Kyle Gibson, who had reconstructive elbow surgery in September 2011, might be ready to help the Twins as soon as next season.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins farm system just might have the solution to the biggest problem with the major league club.

"Our strength is going to be in the pitching department," said Jim Rantz, the longtime Twins director of minor leagues.

There is a catch.

"But it's going to be two to three years away," Rantz said.

Of course, the Twins would like nothing more than to see rapid advancement from a couple starting prospects or power-arm relievers. It would be a welcome development for an organization whose idea of filling out a rotation through free agency is by signing Ramon Ortiz (2007) or Jason Marquis (2012).

Third baseman Miguel Sano is the Twins' top prospect, and one of the better ones in all of baseball. Outfielders Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia and second baseman Eddie Rosario, along with this year's No. 1 pick, Byron Buxton, likely fill out their top five.

The Twins might not have a pitching prospect in their top five once the experts release their lists next spring. But with minor league seasons now complete, the Twins can look back and see that some talented pitchers are developing. They just have to be patient.

"Our best pitching is low [in the minors], and that's not good," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said.

Especially for a team sorely in need of immediate help.

Gibson is back

The one pitcher Twins fans have been waiting to see is healthy and should make his debut in 2013.

Righthander Kyle Gibson, the Twins' first-round pick in 2009, returned to the mound this season after having reconstructive elbow surgery on Sept. 7, 2011. Before he was injured, some in the organization felt he was more talented than most of the pitchers on the major league roster.

Gibson is working to regain the feel and command of his pitches and throwing as many innings as he can.

Between rookie ball, Class A Fort Myers and Class AAA Rochester, Gibson threw 28 1/3 innings, going 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA. He had to start slowly, pitching one inning a few times as he built his endurance.

Now he's throwing five-inning stints during instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla. On Wednesday, he will report to the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League to pitch against other top prospects for about a month.

"We're trying to get him between 75 and 80 innings by the end of this year," Ryan said.

Gibson will report to spring training in February with a chance to make the major league club, but could start the year at Rochester if he still needs a little more work. Anyone who has watched the Twins for the past couple of seasons knows that if Gibson starts the year at Rochester, he might not be there long.

Velocity cycle?

The farm system hasn't provided the Twins with many flamethrowers in recent seasons. That might be changing down the road.

"We really drafted some good arms this year," Ryan said. "You guys always talk to us about velocity and we drafted velocity this year. There's no doubt about that."

Righthander Jose Berrios, taken with the 32nd overall pick earlier this year, is an 18-year-old who throws 93 miles per hour and has a good feel for pitching. He started with the Twins' rookie team at Fort Myers but was moved to Elizabethton, Tenn., of the Appalachian League, where he was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three late-season starts.

Lefthander Mason Melotakis, one of two 2012 second-round picks, has touched 97 with his fastball but averages around 93-94. The other second-rounder, righthander J.T. Chargois, also has thrown as hard as 97.

The Twins had to be careful with the workload of some of the college pitchers they drafted, making them relieve this year after signing. They will meet later this month to determine if Melotakis and some of the other promising arms should be converted to starters.

"We need starters and will continue to look for that," Ryan said.

One pitcher to watch next season is reliever Michael Tonkin. A 30th-round pick in 2008, Tonkin made big strides with his command this season. Between Class A Beloit and Class A Fort Myers, Tonkin, who throws around 95 mph with good movement, averaged 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The near future

The Twins have several position prospects who figure to be much closer than the young pitchers to making their major league debut. Arcia and Hicks should be next in line, as they both took big steps this season at Class AA New Britain.

Arcia actually began the season at Fort Myers, but kept hitting once he joined the Rock Cats. He batted .328 with 10 homers and 67 RBI in 69 games at New Britain. He could slide into one of the Twins' corner outfield spots as soon as late next year, if all goes well.

Hicks could make the Twins outfield of the near future even more interesting. After getting off to a slow start, the 2008 first-round pick rallied to bat .286 with 13 homers, 61 RBI, 11 triples and 32 stolen bases at New Britain. The switch-hitting Hicks struck out 116 times, but had an on-base percentage of .384 thanks to 79 walks.

"He's got skills, he's got strength, he's got numbers," Ryan said.

More top talent

Outfielder Buxton, the second overall pick in this year's draft, batted .248 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 48 games between the Gulf Coast League Twins and Elizabethton. But the raw talent was obvious. Ryan said Buxton is the fastest player in the organization -- even faster than Ben Revere -- and has good power potential.

"The thing that has come out now that we have gotten to know him is that he's a great teammate, he's a great worker, he prepares, he tries to pay attention to detail," Ryan said. "All those things you can't scout. He knows he's supposed to be a guy and that's a good thing. He doesn't want to mesh into a crowd and not be noticed."

And then there's Sano and Rosario, both of whom played at Beloit. Both have excellent offensive potential but are trying to stick at their positions.

Rosario, who shifted this season to second base from center field, is working on his footwork while turning double plays. He missed several weeks after being hit in the face by a line drive, but hit .296 with 12 homers and 70 RBI in 95 games.

Sano, who is 6-3 and around 230 pounds, hit .258 with 28 homers and 100 RBI. He walked 80 times and struck out 144. He also committed 42 errors at third, and his defense must improve if he's going to remain there.

"His agility is a work in progress," Rantz said. "We're trying to make his agility better through drills. He's a big kid for age 19, but there's no problem with his arm."

  • THE SERIES

    Sunday: Joe Mauer Monday: Can the starting rotation be fixed?

    Today: Analysis of 2012 farm system

    Wednesday: Look ahead to 2013 payroll

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close