Souhan: Twins' crop of young talent has even jaded eyes smiling

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2013 - 8:03 AM

Aaron Hicks is leading the next wave into the big leagues, and more talent is right behind him in the minors.

– The Twins played in Port Charlotte on Monday night, allowing the team’s brain trust to spend the early afternoon at the minor league fields in Fort Myers, watching their best prospects play the first intrasquad games of minor league camp.

On Field 2, Miguel Sano, in his first at-bat, smashed a pitch over the left field fence and onto Plantation Road.

On Field 3, Byron Buxton effortlessly sent a fastball on a line over the left field fence, toward the palm trees.

Often over the past 20 years, admiring the Twins’ farm system has required the suspension of disbelief. Even the group of youngsters who rescued the franchise around the turn the century lacked star power, until Torii Hunter matured and Johan Santana learned a changeup.

Their current group of prospects do not challenge the imagination. They are uncommon athletes, whether massive and powerful like Sano or sleek like Buxton.

Monday afternoon, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, manager Ron Gardenhire, Tom Kelly, Paul Molitor and the rest of the front office fanned out around Fields 2 and 3. Molitor stood behind third base, watching Sano’s footwork.

After big league cuts the past couple of days, the minor league camp holds top pitching prospects Alex Meyer, Trevor May and Michael Tonkin. Monday night, Aaron Hicks, who hasn’t played above Double-A, led off for the big league team again, having all but officially won the Opening Day center field job, and Oswaldo Arcia, a polished hitter, played right field.

Whenever Puerto Rico finishes its run in the World Baseball Classic, second baseman Eddie Rosario and pitcher Jose Berrios will return to give the Twins the most high-end talent they’ve had in their farm system since Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti were practicing wrestling holds on each other in fleabag hotels in the Midwest League.

The Twins always have been cautious about praising their prospects. They aren’t cautious about this bunch.

“I’m very excited,’’ Gardenhire said. “Very excited. You’ve seen what Hicks has done here. He’s been really, really good. Berrios has thrown the living crap out of the ball and has no fear. He looks like he’s been pitching here for 20 years.

“Rosario, the same thing, swinging the bat. Incredible. He just steps up and can really hit. I keep telling Terry he can lead off for us. I don’t know what he’s going to do defensively. I don’t know if he’d break even, if this was hockey, but he can really hit.’’

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson, who has held that job since 2002, said, “This is the best set of young arms I’ve had in my years here. If you look at stuff, with Myers and May and Tonkin — and what we saw from Tonkin over there today was outstanding — this is really exciting.

“You take them, and then add Berrios in there, who is very impressive, and this gets us very excited when we look to the future.’’

An active imagination is not required to envision the team’s best prospects gradually rising to the big leagues over the next two or three years, and helping a franchise that had lost its way reverse course.

Hicks is the pace car for the next wave of talent. The Twins traded center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere not only to acquire pitching talent, but because they believe Hicks will be better than either.

“We’ve got guys behind us in the minor leagues that are definitely going to be a big part of things once they, hopefully, get up to the big leagues,’’ Hicks said. “Sano, Buxton? Wow. And the pitchers we got from different teams, like Meyer and May? We’ve got talent.’’

Monday afternoon, Hicks walked to the minor league fields to watch the intrasquad games.

Later, Buxton was carrying his equipment away from Field 3, still too unknown to attract autograph seekers. He said he and Hicks have talked.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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: How confident are you the Twins will improve in 2015?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close