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30. Anthony Slama, RHP
--roger13 (23): "One of minor league baseball's top relievers throughout his career."
--Seth Stohs (33.5): "Reliever with [a] tremendous K-rate...should be in the Twins bullpen throughout 2011."
Slama struck out over 10 batters per 9 innings and allowed opponents to hit .200 or under again at Triple-A. He's done that at every level in every year of his minor league career. Ho hum. He got just 2.1 innings with the Twins this year at the beginning of June, as he was relegated to overpowering minor league hitters again. He even dropped his walk rate a little there, but no matter. Now he's dealing with an elbow injury, but at least it looks like he will avoid Tommy John surgery. Through no fault of his own he will fall on prospect lists as he is another year older.
29. Daniel Ortiz, OF
--Seth Stohs (19): "My choice for breakout hitter of the 2011 Twins minor league season."
--cmathewson, fan (36): "Skeptical about E-Town numbers, particularly power numbers."
A diminutive outfielder, Ortiz is getting his first shot at full-season competition this year. His power numbers have not been quite as good, but he's still accumulated 30 doubles and 10 homers, resulting in a .167 ISO. He's also showed improved plate discipline, upping his walk rate and cutting down on his strikeouts. It adds up to a performance that has been slightly above average in the Midwest League.
--Result: No change
28. Kane Holbrooks, RHP
--John Sickels (19): "Overlooked... Looks like a sleeper to me."
--Aaron Gleeman (27): "To stick as a starter Holbrooks needs to develop his off speed offerings."
Holbrooks made 7 starts at Ft. Myers last year to end the season, and even started one game with New Britain, but he returned to Ft. Myers this season as a 24-year old. His numbers have not been as good either, as he has a pathetic strikeout rate of 4.48 batters per 9 innings, a full 3 K/9 lower than last year at the same level. He was recently placed on the restricted list for reasons I don't know and hasn't pitched since July 17.
27. Bruce Pugh, RHP
--John Sickels (21): "Live arm, strikes people out, could surprise if his command sharpens up."
--DJL44, fan (34): "Has a live arm but a 4 ERA in Ft. Myers isn't impressive."
After starting at High-A last season and throwing over 100 innings there, Pugh began the season as a reliever at the same level. With 27 strikeouts and 6 walks in 24.1 innings, Pugh continued striking out lots of hitters while also harnessing his control. Upon being promoted to Double-A, though, he struggled mightily, imploding with 8 runs allowed in his first outing (1.1 IP). In total, he surrendered 16 hits, 16 runs, and 15 walks in 16 innings. He was then demoted back to Ft. Myers, where he's again been very good, striking out 28 against 7 walks in 19.1 IP.
26. Tom Stuifbergen, RHP
--Aaron Gleeman (20): "Raw stuff isn't overpowering, but Stuifbergen throws strikes, misses a fair number of bats, and induces grounders in bunches."
--Seth Stohs (30): "Will move up this list if he is healthy in 2010."
Stuifbergen has stayed healthy this season except for a very brief trip to the disabled list at the end of April, pitching 111 innings for Ft. Myers to this point. He's given up a ton of hits in that time and has seen a precipitous drop in his strikeout rate, but at least has maintained his pinpoint control, walking only 1.46 hitters per 9 innings. His ERA is a misleading 4.54, as his BABIP and LOB% indicate he is suffering from bad luck. Still, he's probably going to have to rediscover his strikeout rate to remain relevant.
--Result: Slight downgrade
24 (tie). Trevor Plouffe, SS
--Jon Kammerer, fan (21): "At least a utility guy with the potential to be an average regular if he can make more contact or increase his power."
--Aaron Gleeman (32): "It's pretty safe to conclude that Plouffe simply can't hit... A career as a utility man looks like his most realistic upside."
Plouffe got a cup of coffee with Minnesota in 2010, but found himself at Triple-A again in 2011. All of a sudden, though, he started to hit. In just 220 plate appearances, he had 15 home runs and 29 total extra base hits, good for a .323 ISO, which was nearly twice as high as in any previous season. In addition, he began walking a little more and hit for a high average, something he had never done before. Of course he is now 25 years old and has spent four seasons at AAA, casting some negative spin on his performance. His audition in the big leagues has predictably been less impressive, and his defense will prove key to making him a useful player.
--Result: Graduated (Upgrade)
24 (tie). Deolis Guerra, RHP
--Seth Stohs (24): "Has a tremendous changeup and he's got great makeup. 2011 is a big year for him as it is his final option season."
--Aaron Gleeman (34): "Struggled to maintain peak velocity and and ceased being a ground-baller. He's still young, but that's about all he has left in his favor."
At New Britain for the third consecutive season, Guerra once again failed to live up to his promise as a starting pitcher. For the first two months of the season, Guerra floundered in the rotation, allowing 49 runs (43 earned) in 43 innings with a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. At that point the Twins shifted him to the bullpen, where's he's been very effective. He's thrown 43 innings in that role, punching out 55 batters and 5 for every walk, and allowed only 16 runs (14 earned). Somehow still just 22 years old, it's good to see Guerra finally pitching well in any capacity.
23. Niko Goodrum, IF/OF
--Kevin Goldstein (16): "A fantastic up-the-middle athlete... he was lost with the bat after signing."
--roger13 (30): "Tremendous athlete who struggled in his adjustment to professional baseball."
Despite hitting .161 with a .414 OPS in 36 games with the GCL Twins in 2010, Goodrum moved up to rookie-level Elizabethton this year. He hasn't been as bad as last year (how could he be?), but his batting average is still just .239. His strikeout rate is also high, at 24 %, and his ISO is an unimpressive .094. If you're looking for positives I suppose they're that that offensive performance is only 13% below average in the Appalachian League and that he's 6-for-7 stealing bases.
--Result: Slight downgrade
22. Rene Tosoni, OF
--Aaron Gleeman (14): "Has consistently been above average at each stop without really flashing any standout skills... could be in line to replace Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer in 2012."
--Seth Stohs (32): "Solid all-around player. If healthy, he will move up quickly."
In his first taste of Triple-A Tosoni has disappointed. Just as he was consistently solid across the board at the other levels, he has been consistently below average in every category with Rochester. He's walking less, showing less power, and hitting for a lower average. Despite that, he's gotten a couple calls to the big leagues where he's almost exactly duplicated his AAA performance. He still has a chance to make a case for a spot on the big league roster next season with a month and a half left in this season.
21. B.J. Hermsen, RHP
--Aaron Gleeman (22): "He makes up for [a] lack of missed bats with pinpoint control and a fair number of ground balls."
--cmathewson, fan (27): "A marginal prospect in my book. He never throws harder than 88 with little movement."
Hermsen spent most of the 2011 season at Beloit, essentially replicating his numbers from 2010. In 124.2 innings, his FIP was exactly the same (3.76) while his K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 were very similar. He was recently promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he's made two starts. The early returns were good, but it's much too soon to make any sort of judgment on his performance there.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment!
*Slama is ranked 33.5 because Seth originally left him out altogether by accident. Rather than move every player down one, he put Slama at 33.5