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Continued: Twins' up-and-comers go far beyond Buxton

The two prospects with real power potential are first baseman Kennys Vargas and outfielder Adam Brett Walker.

Vargas was in his first major league camp before getting reassigned Sunday. But the switch hitter impressed. Jason Kubel recently watched Vargas take batting practice with Sano and was in awe.

“I used to think I had a little pop, but not like those two monsters,” Kubel said.

Vargas is a project who hit .267 at Fort Myers last season with 18 homers and 93 RBI. He is still a work in progress at first base and might end up as a designated hitter. He’s expected to open the season with Buxton at New Britain.

Walker hit .278 at Cedar Rapids last season with 27 homers and 109 RBI, leading the Midwest League in home runs, RBI and total bases. He’s not a shabby defensive player, either. He should begin the year at Fort Myers.

The Twins hope Kepler develops his power with experience, and third baseman Travis Harrison — .253 with 15 homers and 59 RBI at Cedar Rapids — has good power potential as well.

 

4 Who’s coming back from injury?

Righthanded reliever Lester Oliveros, the pitcher the Twins acquired from Detroit for Delmon Young in 2011, has recovered from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and hit 95 on the gun in a game last week. Luke Bard, another reliever, is rehabbing following shoulder surgery and is getting close to starting a throwing program. Another live-armed reliever, J.T. Chargois, ended up having Tommy John surgery in September after rehab didn’t work and likely will miss the season.

One pitcher finally getting back to competing is righthander Alex Wimmers, the first-round pick in 2010 who has battled severe control problems and had Tommy John surgery in 2012. Wimmers did pitch 15 innings for the Gulf Coast League rookie team last season, but he comes to camp this year looking to leave with a full-season team and try to salvage a career that consists of 77⅓ innings over four seasons.

 

5 Who’s moving into the top 10 this year?

Some already have Australian righthander Lewis Thorpe in the top 10. Thorpe was signed in 2012, filled out and saw his fastball jump 5 mph. He went 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA for the rookie Gulf Coast League Twins last season with six walks and 64 strikeouts in 44 innings.

“He has a lot of ability and is still a young guy,” Steil said.

Dominican righthander Felix Jorge needs to keep working on his slider and changeup, but he has touched 95 with his fastball. He went 2-2 with a 2.95 ERA for rookie league Elizabethton. Jorge, Thorpe and Stewart could form a prospect-laden rotation at Cedar Rapids.

Shortstop Danny Santana has impressed in major league camp and could move into the top 10 on his way to his major league debut. He has to cut down on his 32 errors last season.

Kepler, Walker and Polanco also could crack the top 10 in what could be an interesting year for Twins minor league teams if Meyer and Buxton move on to the majors and make room for other prospects to assume top spots in the organization.















 

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