La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

About the minors....

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: October 1, 2010 - 12:09 PM

Sorry that I haven't posted much minor league content lately but it's gotten hectic with the major league club and I've had some non-newspaper developments lately. I've been meaning to write something about Fort Myers pitcher Bruce Pugh off of our August conversation but have been  unable to. (full disclosure: I had something written a few weeks ago but the computer crashed).

Anyway, check this out. It's Baseball America's list of the top prospects in the Midwest League.

Aaron Hicks. the Twins' top prospect, is ranked fifth. Here's how BA summed up his season.

Hicks ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, and while he put up better numbers in his second tour of the MWL, he didn't dominate and left observers wanting more. "I wish he was hitting .300 with 20 homers," the AL scout said, "but he's so talented and does so many good things that it's worth the wait."

A switch-hitter, Hicks has more balance and strength from the right side (where he hit .362/.449/.664) and is more tentative from the left (.248/.383/.339). While he drew an impressive 88 walks and doesn't chase pitches, he gets passive and doesn't attack pitches he could hammer when he's ahead in the count. He has above-average speed but still is learning the nuances of basestealing, getting caught 11 times in 32 tries.

Hicks has good range to both sides in center field, where he should become a solid or better defender once his instincts improve. Though he registered just five assists in 103 games, he has one of the strongest outfield arms in the minors. He hit 97 mph with his fastball in high school, when some clubs preferred him as a pitcher.




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