Twins farm report: Ranking the top 10 minor league prospects

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Byron Buxton

Photo: Richard Sennott • Richard.Sennott@startribune.com,

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The Twins have one of the top farm systems in baseball, largely because of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The two check in at No. 1 and No. 3 on mlb.com’s top prospects list. Both put up eye-popping numbers in several categories this year.

What the Twins hope to prove next season and beyond is that they have other quality prospects. They believe some pitchers are starting to move through the system, and a few infielders are starting to stand out as well.

“I think we have pretty good depth and talent in the minor leagues,” said Brad Steil, Twins director of minor leagues. “I think there is some depth in our system, and not just the top two guys.”

Below you will find the Star Tribune’s season-ending ranking of the top 10 Twins prospects. The list is complied with input from various Twins officials — and one broken-down baseball writer.

1. Byron Buxton

19, OF, Class A Fort Myers

He has grown in every area, on the field and personalitywise. Coaches love that they only have to tell him something once and he immediately incorporates it. Comparisons are dangerous, but Buxton had more extra-base hits, stolen bases and a higher on-base-plus-slugging percentage than Mike Trout during his age 19 season.

2. Miguel Sano

20, 3B, Class AA New Britain

He hit .330 at Fort Myers but only .236 at New Britain, but he smashed 35 homers and had 103 RBI between the two teams. He pulled off some very nice plays at third base and will stick there for now. He had a beanball incident at Fort Myers and was benched for four games at New Britain after admiring a home run too long, but no one views those incidents as red flags. Some in the organization are relieved that a Twins prospect shows some fire.

3. Alex Meyer

23, RHP, Class AA New Britain

Limited to 78⅓ innings this season because of a shoulder problem that surfaced in June. The Twins were conservative with Meyer’s recovery, and he came back to hit 98 miles per hour on the radar gun. In 16 minor league starts, he went 4-3 with a 2.99 ERA. He will head to the Arizona Fall League to get more innings. Like Sano, he could make his Twins debut next season.

4. Eddie Rosario

21, 2B, Class AA New Britain

Rosario hit .329 at Fort Myers before moving to New Britain, where he had a couple of slumps before rallying to finish at .284. The Twins are satisfied with his play at second. He is on a major baseball binge: He played winter ball, then in the World Baseball Classic, then the minor league season, and he is headed to Arizona this fall.

5. Kohl Stewart

18, RHP, rookie Elizabethon

His first pro season consisted of a 1.35 ERA over 20 innings. But his excellent stuff helped him strike out 24 while walking only four. This year’s No. 4 overall pick will see his career begin in earnest in 2014, when his mid-90s fastball and his hard slider will be on display for a full season.

6. Trevor May

23, RHP, Class AA New Britain

At times, May was unhittable. Other times, he walked the park. Command is a big reason why he hasn’t moved up to the majors yet. He has the stuff to be a midrotation pitcher but hasn’t put it all together. The Twins need May to come through after trading for him from Philadelphia last offseason.

7. Jose Berrios

19, RHP, Class A Cedar Rapids

Berrios pitched in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico. With the Kernels, he was 4-3 with a 3.17 ERA before the All-Star break but posted a 4.72 ERA after the break, suggesting that he hit a wall. Still, his fastball reaches the mid-90s and he throws a good changeup.

8. Jorge Polanco

20, SS, Class A Cedar Rapids

He was signed as an international free agent the same year as Sano and Max Kepler. After a couple of tough years at the plate, Polanco has posted back-to-back .300 seasons. The Twins are going to give him a good look at shortstop during the upcoming instructional league.

9. Mason Melotakis

22, LHP, Class A Cedar Rapids

As a reliever, Melotakis can fire fastballs at 96 mph, but the Twins wanted to see him as a starter in 2013. It was a tough transition at first, but Melotakis improved once he got a feel for his curveball. The Twins will decide this offseason whether they will leave him as a starter.

10. Michael Tonkin

23, RHP, Class A Rochester

He made two very brief stints with the Twins this year, showing off his 96-mph fastball and a slider that can finish off hitters. He was 14-for-15 in save opportunities for Rochester after earning a promotion from New Britain. He looms as a significant addition to a Twins bullpen that could use more power.

 

La Velle E. Neal • lneal@startribune.com

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