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.

Prospect watch: Gulf Coast League

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: October 6, 2010 - 9:15 AM

I know there's a big game today, but I'm trying to throw fresh content on the minor league page.

Baseball America has been breaking down the top prospects in every league. I posted  something about the Midwest League recently. Now I'm in catch up mode.

The Gulf Coast League was highlighted before that. Infielder Miguel Angel Sano and Max Kepler made BA's list. Here's what it had to say about them.

Sano was ranked as the second best prospect in the league.

Sano signed for $3.15 million in September 2009, getting the largest bonus ever for a Latin American amateur position player. After breaking into pro ball by crushing Rookie-level Dominican Summer League pitching to the tune of .344/.463/.547, he arrived in the GCL and continued to hit well.

Sano is exceptionally strong for a 17-year-old and should hit for a solid average with plus power. Like many young players, he'll have to make adjustments to hit breaking pitches and refine his plate discipline.

Though he split his time between third base and shortstop in the GCL, he'll almost certainly wind up at the hot corner. As he gets bigger, he figures to lose a step and have below-average range at shortstop. His arm and bat profile well for third base

Kepler was ranked as the ninth best prospect.

Signed out of Germany for $800,000 in 2009, Kepler received the largest bonus ever given to a European position player. As part of his deal, the Twins allowed him to continue his education at Fort Myers (Fla.) High before he reported to their GCL team, almost literally across the street in the same city, to make his pro debut. (Note: It's called South Fort Myers High and it IS across the street!)

Kepler has an easy, compact swing and good hand-eye coordination. While he went homerless in 140 at-bats, it was his first time facing such advanced pitching, and he definitely held his own. His athletic 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame has plenty of room to fill out. He shows gap-to-gap power and hits lots of line drives which could translate into home runs as he gets stronger.

He played all three outfield spots this summer, and it remains to be seen whether he'll stay in center or move to a corner. He has average to plus speed and arm strength, and he gets good jumps on balls.

And the Twins believe they have more quality prospects on that team.

Now....back to ALDS prep!

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