I was listening to this week’s Gleeman & the Geek episode. In it, they discussed briefly how many Twins prospects might make Baseball America’s 2013 Top 100 prospects list. It certainly is an interesting question, especially given that the Twins minor league system has been generally considered very weak the last few years. However, there is little question in my mind, that the Twins organization will likely rank in the Top 10 minor league systems again.
The general belief is that Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton will likely be Top 25 prospects in all of baseball. The two certainly give the Twins a couple of high ceiling prospects although both are yet to turn 20.
Aaron Hicks is no stranger to the Top 100 lists. He was #19 on their list in 2010 and #45 in 2011 before dropping out of the last this past year. Oswaldo Arcia hasn’t been on Baseball America’s Top 100 before, but he put together quite the offensive season at age 21. I fully expect both of them to be in the Top 100.
What about Eddie Rosario? Will missing a month of the season keep him out of the Top 100? Kyle Gibson was #34 in 2011 after being #61 in 2010. Although he pitched very little in 2012, could he make the list again with a strong AFL showing? What about Jose (JO) Berrios? The Twins first supplemental first-round draft pick this year just dominated the rookie leagues.
I figure that there are four ‘for-sures’ to be Top 100, and I listed three others that we could make a strong case for making it. More important than the actual list itself is the fact that the Twins do have a lot of high-ceiling prospects again.
But, what does that really mean? What has being a Baseball America Top 100 prospect meant over the last 23 years? Let’s take a look:
1990 – Willie Banks (13), Johnny Ard (46), Kevin Tapani (88)
1991 – Willie Banks (15), Rich Garces (16), Chuck Knoblauch (72)
1992 – David McCarty (22), Pat Mahomes (25), Midre Cummings (33), Willie Banks (68), Alan Newman (96), Todd Ritchie (98)
1993 – David McCarthy (16), Mike Trombley (53), Rich Becker (78)
1994 – Rich Becker (37), Todd Ritchie (78), LaTroy Hawkins (92)
1995 – LaTroy Hawkins (30), Todd Walker (40), Marc Barcelo (70)
1996 – Todd Walker (22), Jose Valentin (58), LaTroy Hawkins (70), Dan Serafini (76)
1997 – Todd Walker (7), Luis Rivas (70), Torii Hunter (79)
1998 – Eric Milton (25), Luis Rivas (55), David Ortiz (84)
1999 – Michael Cuddyer (36), Michael Restovich (50), Luis Rivas (63), Cristian Guzman (68)
2000 – Michael Cuddyer (18), Michael Restovich (26), Matthew LeCroy (44), BJ Garbe (79), Luis Rivas (86)
2001 – Adam Johnson (41), Michael Cuddyer (55), Luis Rivas (93)
2002 – Joe Mauer (7), Justin Morneau (21), Michael Cuddyer (27), Michael Restovich (63), Adam Johnson (85)
2003 – Joe Mauer (4), Justin Morneau (14), Michael Cuddyer (17), Michael Restovich (37)
2004 – Joe Mauer (1), Justin Morneau (16), JD Durbin (66), Matt Moses (81), Jesse Crain (89)
2005 – Joe Mauer (1), Jason Kubel (17), Jesse Crain (63), JD Durbin (70)
2006 – Francisco Liriano (6), Jason Kubel (58), Matt Moses (75), Glen Perkins (91), Anthony Swarzak (100)
2007 – Matt Garza (21), Glen Perkins (66), Kevin Slowey (71), Chris Parmelee (94)
2008 – Deolis Guerra (35), Carlos Gomez (52), Nick Blackburn (56)
2009 – Ben Revere (59), Wilson Ramos (71)
2010 – Aaron Hicks (19), Wilson Ramos (58), Kyle Gibson (61), Miguel Sano (94)
2011 – Kyle Gibson (34), Aaron Hicks (45), Miguel Sano (60), Joe Benson (100)
2012 – Miguel Sano (18), Joe Benson (99)
A couple of notes:
· Any question why the Twins struggled in the 1990s? How about all of the high school pitchers drafted high in the late 80’s and early 90s? Guys like Willie Banks, Johnny Ard, Pat Mahomes, Alan Newman, Todd Ritchie and Dan Serafini didn’t exactly pan out. LaTroy Hawkins was a success story after several years of struggling. Of course, Brad Radke was a high school draft pick who was never a top prospect, but he turned out alright.
· Based on his rankings, it sure would have been nice to see Rochester’s Michael Restovich get a real opportunity. Either that, or he’s a good example of a guy who hit a ton of HR in the Pacific Coast League and it wouldn’t translate to the big leagues?
· These Top 100 lists are a good illustration of the definition of prospects. Most of them don’t make it to elite status. Some of the top guys become stars, and others completely flame out. Some just become OK players or even role players.
· Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer turned out alright, I guess. I sometimes think that many Twins fans who talk about how bad the Twins farm system was a couple of years ago (and it was certainly not great) only had the incredible run of mid-‘00s prospects to compare to. In addition to those three, guys like Jason Kubel, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins were all prospects around the same time.
Twins fans should be excited about the list of seven prospects mentioned early in this article. They are legitimate prospects and should give the Twins scouting departments a lot more credibility again. However, as with any prospects, there has to be an understanding of just what these rankings mean.
Tonight, which is an off night for the Twins, can still be full of baseball. At 7PM at the Barnes and Noble in Har Mar Mall, there will be a book signing of Short But Wondrous Summers: Baseball In The North Star State by several of the writers who contributed, including John Bonnes.
The book, all by itself, is a rare opportunity. It is only produced for those cities which host a SABR convention, which happened this past June. As part of that, SABR recruits members to contribute stories, history and research surrounding the region that hosts it. It's not an exaggeration to say that a compilation of Minnesota baseball information like this is something that happens once in a generation. Whatever your baseball library looks like, it will be considerably upgraded with the inclusion of Short But Wondrous Summers. (If you can't make it Thursday night, you can also order the book or just learn more about it here.)
Beyond that, several of the authors of the book will be there to give a short talk about the chapter that they wrote. There will also be a chance to ask questions. Finally, there will be a quick book signing, too.
If you can make it, please make sure to introduce yourself to John. He'd love to talk about Twins Daily, or the Twins, or Gleeman and the Geek, or just about anything else. The good lord willing, maybe you can even grab a beer afterwards. See you there.