Souhan: Will up-and-coming Twins be worth wait?

  • Updated: March 30, 2013 - 5:54 PM

Current prospects, compared to the 2001 group, have talent. But will they be as driven as the group of young players who drove the last Minnesota resurgence a dozen years ago?

The Twins franchise has been defined by fraternities of prospects who elevated or cursed the team that raised them.

A wave of prospects led by Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek took the Twins from a stretch of seven non-winning seasons to two World Series titles in five years.

A group of prospects led by Rich Becker and Scott Stahoviak became the primary reason for eight consecutive losing seasons, from 1993 to 2000.

The frat-house buddies led by Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski, Cristian Guzman and Corey Koskie spurred a turnaround that led to nine winning seasons out of 10.

The recent failures of the farm system have led to 195 losses in the past two seasons.

With expectations low for the 2013 season, the franchise will once again ask fans to buy into the notion that the next wave of prospects will reward patience. On paper, the top prospects who should surface in the big leagues over the next few years look even more promising than the last successful wave, the rescue Twins of 2001.

Here’s the breakdown, comparing the 2001 group to the team that could be together in 2014 or 2015:

First base: Doug Mientkiewicz brought gamesmanship, brilliant fielding and competitive at-bats to the field. The Twins will have to decide whether to re-sign Justin Morneau or replace him with Chris Parmelee. Both could hit 25 homers a year. Edge: New Twins.

Second base: Luis Rivas proved a brilliant fielder and aggressive baserunner before flaming out. In the next two years, the Twins hope Eddie Rosario, a superior offensive player at the position, will have turned himself into a workmanlike fielder. Edge: New Twins.

Shortstop: Cristian Guzman might have been the most talented of the 2001 Twins. The Twins project Danny Santana to be their shortstop of the future. He might become a more reliable fielder, but Guzman was often a spectacular talent. Edge: Old Twins.

Third base: Corey Koskie turned himself into a valuable hitter and excellent fielder. Miguel Sano could be reminding people of Miguel Cabrera in the big leagues by next season. Edge: New Twins.

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski was a savior to the 2001 Twins, who had no other options at catcher, and his raw competitiveness fueled an overachieving team. Joe Mauer is one of the best catchers of his generation. Edge: New Twins.

Left field: Jacque Jones displayed excellent range and decent power but didn’t draw walks and couldn’t throw. Josh Willingham is a high-quality power-hitting corner outfielder who will eventually be replaced by an outfield of Byron Buxton, Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia. Edge: New Twins.

Center field: Torii Hunter became one of the most spectacular and likeable players in Twins history. Hicks and Buxton, both of whom share similarities with Hunter, will man center field for the next decade. The kids have more polish and upside, but Hunter became an All-Star. Edge: Old Twins.

Right field: The Turn-of-Century Twins tried Dustan Mohr and Brian Buchanan here before Michael Cuddyer emerged. Arcia or Parmelee will play here, depending on what happens with Morneau. Edge: New Twins.

Rotation: The Turn-of-Century Twins developed or traded for Brad Radke, Johan Santana, Joe Mays, Eric Milton, Kyle Lohse and Rick Reed, giving them a deep rotation. The New Twins hope Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Vance Worley, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson prove even more talented. Edge: Until midway through the 2003 season, Santana was a middle reliever, so edge goes to the New Twins, although none of their prospects can be expected to match what Santana became in his prime.

Bullpen: The TOC Twins had no reason to expect Eddie Guardado to become an All-Star or LaTroy Hawkins to finally find his niche as a setup man, but they were a remarkably effective duo. The New Twins have a slew of power arms rising through the system in support of Glen Perkins. Edge: Old Twins.

In terms of raw talent, the Twins’ best current prospects are more impressive than the youngsters who took the team to the ALCS in 2002. What the prospects will have to prove is that they possess the mental toughness of their successful predecessors.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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Detroit2200000004110
Minnesota «30000302X8130
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:K.Gibson(12-11) L:D.Price(14-12)
HR: DET- None MIN- None

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Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson 5
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Doolittle 1
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 5 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 2
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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