Saturday, August 20, 2011

Composite Top 10 Prospect Rankings

We've finally arrived at the best of the best--or at least what we thought were the best of the best at the beginning of the season.  A lot has changed since then so let's dig in and see where these prospects stand now.

Click to enlarge

Note: Statistics current through August 17.

10. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
--Aaron Gleeman (4): "He's unlikely to have much pop... His defense and base-running will be key."
--Seth Stohs (15): "He'd probably be higher if he weren't 26... I think he will be solid all-around."
I probably don't need to tell you how Nishioka's done.  His power is non-existent, he hasn't hit for average, he has no plate discipline to speak of, and he's looked lost in the field.  Add it all up and Nishioka has been 69 percent worse than the average major league hitter and has been worth -1.3 wins when compared to a replacement-level player.  He's still only 210 plate appearances into his American baseball career, so hopefully he can turn it around.
--Result: Graduated (Downgrade)

9. Adrian Salcedo, RHP
--Reed MacPhail (6): "The ability to miss bats, limit walks, and keep the ball on the ground is a great recipe for success, and at 6'4" 175, there is still projection remaining in Salcedo's frame."
--Mr. Smokum, fan (13): "Isn't it just as likely as not that Salcedo's career path follows Deolis Guerra's?"
Salcedo celebrated his 20th birthday shortly after the season started and has proceeded to put together a fine year at Low Single-A.  His control has once again been impeccable, as he's issued only 25 walks in 127.1 innings, but his strikeouts have dropped precipitously, going from 8.86 per 9 innings at the rookie level to 5.94 per 9 this season.  He's kept the ball in the ballpark and exhibited good enough control to still have a 3.04 ERA, which is almost equal to his 3.09 FIP.  He was moved to the bullpen very recently, presumably to limit his innings, and has been excellent in his minimal time there.
--Result: No change

8. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
--Jonathan Mayo (5): "He's got power to all fields, though he'll have to swing and miss less if he wants to keep putting up those kinds of numbers."
--Aaron Gleeman (12): "History is filled with hitting prospects who knocked around rookie-ball pitching only to flame out against tougher competition... his 67 strikeouts in 259 at bats are a potential red flag."
Arcia dominated at Beloit during the month of April in his first taste of full-season baseball.  In that small sample, he hit .352, walked a decent amount, and put up ridiculous power numbers with a .352 ISO.  At the end of the month, though, he got injured and was placed on the disabled list.  Despite the time off, Arcia was promoted to High Single-A upon being reinstated towards the end of July.  At that level, his production has really fallen off, with his plate discipline looking particularly bad.  His power has remained respectable, but not anywhere near where it was at Beloit in April or at Elizabethton in 2010.
Result: No change

7. Liam Hendriks, RHP
--John Sickels (5): "Another Twins guy with excellent command of solid stuff."
--Jonathan Mayo (10): "He's had some issues staying healthy, but when he's on he can throw four pitches for strikes."
Following a fantastic year split between two levels of A-ball, Hendriks moved up another level to Double-A.  Through 90 innings there, he once more both demonstrated enviable command and maintained his strikeout rate from High-A.  That resulted in Hendriks moving up to the highest level of the minors as a 22-year old, and he has held his own.  His unsightly 6.34 ERA, caused by a 48.9 LOB %, has hidden some good peripherals.  His strikeout rate is all the way down to 4.68/9 at Rochester, but his walk rate is back under 1 per 9 innings.  Those will both probably rise as he throws more innings at the level, but all in all his performance this year has been quite encouraging.
--Result: Upgrade

6. Joe Benson, OF
--La Velle E. Neal III (3): "He showed in spring training that he can cover some ground in the outfield and he has a strong arm."
--John Sickels (11): "Good progress with his power development, strikeout rate remains scary."
Despite a very good season at New Britain in 2010, the Twins sent Benson back to the same level for 2011.  In his second year at the level, he's done the same thing Chris Parmelee did in 2010, cutting down on his strikeouts--not by that much though--, raising his average, and sacrificing power as a result.  He's still had a very solid season, as a result of a higher on base percentage making up for much of the loss in power.  If he can maintain that, or find his power stroke again, he could be an option for the Twins quite soon.
--Result: Slight downgrade

5. Alex Wimmers, RHP
--John Sickels (2): "I think his stuff is underrated."
--Jonathan Mayo (8): "His changeup stands out as a plus pitch, he's got a decent curve, and his fastball has some life to it.  He's not quite Gibson, but he could follow a somewhat similar trajectory."
Wimmers' first appearance of the year was an unmitigated disaster, a start in which he walked all 6 batters he faced.  He went on the disabled list and finally resurfaced three months later with a rehab game with the GCL Twins, where he pitched 1 inning with just 1 walk.  After that he was back with Ft. Myers and established that he hadn't completely forgotten how to pitch, although he has still walked more than 4.5 batters per 9 innings.  He also just made his first start since returning, a decent 4 inning outing that he can hopefully build on.
--Result: Downgrade

4. Ben Revere, OF
--Nick Nelson (4): "The power might never come, but if he can keep getting on base at a solid clip while covering lots of ground in the outfield, he'll be a valuable big leaguer."
--Seth Stohs (8): "He can still improve his defense, throwing, and base running, things that will do him well over time."
Revere had not played in Triple-A before, despite a September call-up in 2010, so he reported there for the first time this Spring.  After showcasing the exact same skill set he has at every level--ability to hit for a high average, steal bases, and run down lots of balls in the outfield with a noodle arm--for the first month of the season, Revere got his second opportunity to play in Minnesota.  His average has been lower than expected, probably the result of a .279 BABIP, but otherwise he's performed similarly at the big league level, too.  He's going to need that number to rise to be a starting-caliber player, even in centerfield.
--Result: Graduated (No change)

3. Miguel Sano, 3B/SS
--Kevin Goldstein (1): "He has the bat speed and hands to hit for average, as well as the plus-plus raw power that combine to make him a potential middle-of-the-order force."
--La Velle E. Neal III (4): "He's got work to do with strike zone judgment and really doesn't know what a good curveball is like."
The negatives have shown up, as Sano has struck out in over 27 percent of his at bats, but the power is only getting better, and he allegedly only turned 18 this summer.  In 52 games at Elizabethton, he's hit 14 homers and put up a .320 ISO, both of which rank first in the Appalachian League.  Obviously he's not polished yet, but the raw power makes it very easy to get carried away with his potential.
--Result: Slight upgrade

2. Aaron Hicks, OF
--Satchel Paige (1): "It seems like some are becoming unfairly impatient with Hicks' development.  He's still an elite prospect with unreal upside, and he could be an impact player both in the field and at the plate."
--Matt Hagen (3): "[2010] was a solid season for Hicks, but everyone expects more from him, and for it to be coming at a level beyond Single-A."
After two full seasons at Low-A, Hicks joined the Ft. Myers Miracle for the 2011 season and has had his worst offensive season in the minor leagues.  His average, which is the main contributing factor, is all the way down to .236.  He's still showing impressive patience at the plate, with an excellent walk rate once again, and has posted moderate power numbers again this season.  Much of his promise is still based on his tools, as the skills he's demonstrated to this point in his professional career are solid but not worthy of the reviews he has gotten from scouts.
--Result: Downgrade

1. Kyle Gibson, RHP
--Seth Stohs (1): "A ground ball machine when he is on, Gibson has four big league caliber pitches and the confidence to use them at any time.  He is also a great competitor."
--Reed MacPhail (2): "With his struggles to miss bats on a consistent basis, Gibson strikes me as more of a solid starter than a front-of-the-rotation arm some are billing him as."
The composite top prospect in the Twins' system, Gibson was pushing to make an appearance with Minnesota this year before an elbow injury prematurely ended his season.  He struggled in his final three starts, possibly due to the injury, but before that he had struck out more than a batter an inning in 83.1 innings at Rochester.  He had also only issued 19 walks, giving him a fantastic K/BB ratio.  That made the news that he will likely require Tommy John surgery all the more disappointing, as that would force him out to miss the 2012 season.  Perhaps rehab will fix what ails them, but more likely than not Gibson will be out of action for all of next season.
--Result: Downgrade

Well, that's the end of my review of the top 40 prospects as determined by the rankings comprised of opinions from 12 different websites.  I hope you learned a lot about the players who make up Minnesota's future, because I certainly did.  And be sure to check out the opinions from the sites that provided the information, as they are all more knowledgeable about the prospects than I am.

**Same thing as Alex Burnett.  I assume that Nishioka was only included on 3 lists because the other authors either made their lists before he was signed or didn't consider him a prospect.  Thus he was not penalized for being absent from the other lists.

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