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Written by Shawn Berg | 10 March 2012

14. Chris Herrmann, Catcher/OF, 24 years old


2011 stats: .269/.385/.399 with 8 HRs and 10 steals in 13 attempts between Fort Myers and New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 6th round out of the University of Miami in 2009.

Herrmann had a breakout year for the Twins in 2011 after compiling a .219/.310/.301 line in 408 plate appearances in 2010 for Fort Myers. Even though he had a rough first full professional year at the plate, he did throw out 36% of attempted base-stealer's. Herrmann started 2011 back at Fort Myers, but after a good start, posting a .310/.404/.425 line, he was promoted to New Britain in early May. His batting average dropped at New Britain but overall he had decent numbers, going .258/.380/.392. He also stole 9 bases. To top off his season, he was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League, going .380/.456/.620 in 57 plate appearances.

Herrmann put himself in the conversation as a top Twins prospect in 2011 and finally gave the system some decent catching depth since Wilson Ramos was traded in 2010. With Mauer's injuries in 2011, the lack of  system depth at catcher was really exposed. Herrmann's line at AA as a 23 year old is similar to Ramos' .317/.341/.454 line as a 21 year in New Britain. Herrmann is not the prospect that Ramos was, he is not as big, nor does he have the power or defensive ability but he gets on base and doesn't strikeout too much. He has also shown to be healthier at this stage of his career. 

Herrmann's skill-set will provide the Twins with a good back-up option to Joe Mauer. An option who is athletic enough to play other parts of the field. Herrmann, as a hitter, is a poor man's Joe Mauer. He is left-handed, a doubles machine and he gets on base. He just isn't as good of a hitter, nor is he as big. Herrmann is a better offensive catcher than Drew Butera right now, but given the signing of Ryan Doumit, the Twins can give him another year of seasoning. 2012 will be an important year for Herrmann. Another solid year would give him and the Twins options. He could either be a solid back-up to Mauer or a decent starter to replace Mauer, given Mauer's injury history or that he may have to replace Justin Morneau at first.

Ideal scenario: That Herrmann will spend 2012 in AA or AAA and the Twins won't need him . He will continue to develop his bat and his catching ability and be ready to play in the MLB in 2013.

Path to the majors: Herrmann has enough of a bat at catcher to backup right now in the system right now, but there are several short-term catcher options in front of him for 2012 and he would probably be better served spending the season in the minors. He can debut as a back-up catcher/bench bat/Joe Mauer insurance in 2013.

Check out #15 here and 20-16 and all of the rest here.

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Written by Shawn Berg | 04 March 2012

source: mlb.com

15. Carlos Gutierrez, Right-Handed Reliever, 25 years old

2011 stats: 2-3 4.62 ERA 57/31 K/BB in 62.1 innings for AAA Rochester.
Last year's rank: 43
Acquired: Drafted in the first round (27th overall) out of University of Miami in 2008

Gutierrez has been a highly thought of prospect in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2008, though considered a little bit of a stretch as the 27th pick. (Shooter Hunt drafted 31st was actually considered the better pick) He has steadily climbed the Twins minor league ladder to the point where he was added to the 40 man roster this off-season and is on the cusp of making his MLB debut.

Gutierrez is sometimes ranked as a top 10 prospect in the Twins system but hasn't ever really backed that lofty ranking up. He's generally had high ERAs and he generally gives up more than a hit an inning. His FIP is usually a little lower than his ERA and BABIP is often high, suggesting he's been a little unlucky. As a ground ball pitcher, Gutierrez will need good fielding behind him to maximize his ability.

Gutierrez has been tried as both a starter and a reliever with the Twins. In 2009 and 2010 he was often used as a starter with mixed results. His K/9 innings in 2009-2010 were under 6 per inning while walking nearly 4 per inning. In 2011, he was only used in relief and his K/9 rate shot up to 8.23 per inning, but his BB/9 rate was 4.48. He has a good fastball, I have seen him hit 96 MPH and he can be dominant, but generally he doesn't sustain his dominance for long periods of time. His stuff has been compared to the former Fausto Carmona and I'd like to believe in him more, but unless he can keep that sinker over the plate. If he can walk less and mix his pitches to induce a few more strikeouts, Gutierrez could be a set-up guy or closer. Right now, he looks like a 6th or 7th inning reliever and ranks this high on my list due to probable 2012 major league impact and potential top-end.

Ideal scenario: Gutierrez will start the year hot in Rochester and get a promotion to the Twins sketchy bullpen. Once promoted, if he can strikeout at least 7.5 per/9 and keep his walk rate down, he could be a really solid set-up guy and have a long major league career.

Path to the majors: Gutierrez will make his Twins debut in 2012 assuming he stays healthy and doesn't completely fall apart in Rochester.

Please checkout prospects 50-16 starting here 

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Written by Shawn Berg | 03 March 2012

I have been counting down My top 50 Twins prospects over at my other space, www.ontheroadwithshawn.blogspot.com. I recently tried to convince Joel Zumaya not to retire. I have also been posting at TwinsDaily. I recently posted 40-31 and now I have 30-16.

 30. Lance Ray Outfield/First Baseman 9/2/1989.
Ray was drafted in the 8th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Kentucky. He hit .253/.335/.432 with 16 HRs, 34 doubles and 10 steals in 16 attempts.  Ray's numbers were decent, but it was also a tough year for him in Beloit. His power came a little but he struck out 132 times in 539 plate appearances. Ray has the reputation of being a good hitter with some power, but his huge spike in strikeouts could be a problem if he doesn't get it corrected. His season was decent, just not completely fitting his reputation. I ranked him #39 last year.2012 Outlook: He'll probably spend a full season at Fort Myers.

29. Daniel Rams Catcher/Outfield. 12/19/1988.Rams was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft out of Gulliver Prep HS in Miami. He hit .239/.310/.388 with 8 HRs in 342 plate appearances for Fort Myers. He also threw out 33% of would-be base-stealers. Rams came into Fort Myers with a power reputation and a strikeout reputation. Unfortunetly, it was the strikeouts that were more prevelant in 2011. As a catcher, Rams numbers still profile decent enough, but it looks like the Twins will move him to the outfield. If the Twins switch him to outfield, he will have to improve his contact if he has any chance of making the major leagues. His power potential at catcher is the only thing that keeps him ranked in my top 50. 2012 is a make or break year. I ranked him #28 last year.
2012 Outlook: He'll probably move up to New Britain and split time between outfield and catcher.

28. Hudson Boyd Right-Handed Pitcher 10/18/1992.
Boyd was drafted 55th overall in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Bishop Verot High School, in Fort Myers, FL. He signed too late to make his professional debut in 2011. He went 12-0 with a .46 ERA as a senior in high school. He also struck out a Whopping 123 in 73 innings. Being down the road from the Twins facility probably gave the team an advantage while scouting him. It also went against the Twins usual draft strategy. They took a high school power pitcher high in the draft instead of a polished college control guy. Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Kyle Gibson etc.... are the typical high draft pick pitchers the Twins draft. Usually a guy who throws strikes and is 2 years or less from the majors. It was refreshing to see the Twins grab a power arm due to the dearth of powerful starter arms in their minors. There are very few in this list. He has a fastball that can reach 95 with a potential dominant curve ball. Keith Law had him as his 40th best prospect pre-draft.
2012 Outlook: Will start in extended spring training before shipping out to either GCL or Elizabethtown.

27. Travis Harrison Third Base 10/17/1992.Harrison was drafted 5 spots ahead of Boyd, #50 overall in the 2011 draft out of Tustin California High School. He also signed too late to make his professional debut in 2011. He hit .481/.643/1.130 with 13 HRs as a senior in high school. Harrison was considered "one of the best pure bats in the high school class" by Keith Law. A powerful hitter, Harrison once hit a 504 foot HR. Harrison may eventually out-grow third, or just might not be good enough to play there defensively. If his power progresses, he will still be valuabel at first base. Law had Harrison as his 37th best prospect pre-draft.  Below is video of his swing in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Will start in extended spring training before shipping out to either GCL or Elizabethtown.





26. Jose Gonzalez Left-Handed Reliever 2/3/1990.
Gonzalez was signed out of Tucupita, Venezuela in 2007. He went 5-3 with 13 saves and a 2.47 ERA in 48 appearances for Beloit. He struck out 63 and walked 23 in 62 innings. Gonzalez is pretty small and he doesn't throw super hard, though reports lead me to believe his fastball velocity increased, but he's had incredible numbers at every level. His numbers and ability seem similar to those of Nelvin Fuentes (without having ever seen either pitch), who I ranked 35th, but Gonzalez is 10 months younger and was the closer at Beloit. If he can keep striking out guys and keep his walk rate down, he has a good chance of being a relief option  for the Twins sooner than later. I ranked him #20 last year#37 in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Probable closer for Fort Myers.

25. Tyler Robertson Left-Handed Reliever 12/23/1987.
Robertson was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft out of Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, California. He went 10-3 with 16 saves and a 3.61 ERA in 55 appearances for AA New Britain. He struck out 88 and walked 29 in 89.2 innings. Robertson was considered a solid starting prospect coming into 2010. I had ranked him #20 as a 22 year old starter prospect in Fort Myers and some (more reputable sources) had him even higher. Unfortunately, his 2010 was miserable. He went  4-13 with a 5.40 ERA for New Britain, though his 4.80 FIP  suggests he wasn't quite as bad as his ERA. Even with the bad numbers, he was one of the Twins sent to the Arizona Fall League where he was used as a reliever. My half-assed scouting report on 2010 AFL Twins is here. Robertson had a really nice first year as a late inning reliever and it has jump started his career. He saw his K rate jump up more than 3 strikeouts per 9 innings and his walk rate improved as well. His season was good enough to get his career on track and was added to the 40-man roster. If Robertson can keep it up in his second year as a reliever, he could help the Twins in 2012. Especially in light of Joel Zumaya's latest injury.
2012 Outlook: Will spend the season in Rochester unless the Twins need some extra bullpen arms.

Robertson admiring my "Viva La Stache" shirt in 2010.


24. Tyler Grimes Shortstop 7/3/1990.
Grimes was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round of the 2011 draft out of Wichita St. He hit .225/.316/.406 with 4 HRs and 5 stolen bases in 7 attempts in 159 plate appearances for Beloit. He also had 4 triples. He got on base a ton his junior year of college but he also struck out a lot. The strikeouts carried over to his pro debut but his on-base skills haven't yet. He struck out 53 times and walked just 13 in 159 plate appearances. He may not stick at short, he has a strong arm at SS, but he committed 30 errors his junior year in college. He  also had 6 in 40 games in Beloit. If Grimes can stick at short, he could move up quickly in a system with few middle infield prospects. If he can hit for more average and cut the strikeouts, he will be elite.
2012 Outlook: He should start at Fort Myers and has a chance to move to New Britain, depending on #1 pick Levi Micheal's growth.

23. Niko Goodrum Shortstop 2/28/1992.
Goodrum was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft out of Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Georgia. He hit .275/.352/.382 with 2 HRs in 230 plate appearances plus 8 stolen bases in 9 attempts for Elizabethtown. Goodrum's numbers improved over his disastrous first pro season numbers. He's tall and skinny with a big arm but right now, Goodrum is still mostly tools. Most scouts feel his skill-set and body will eventually lead him to the outfield. Goodrum is predicted to add power as he fills out and he also has some speed. He's an intriguing prospect and it will be interesting to monitor his progress as he grows and plays in full-season leagues.
2012 Outlook: Goodrum may start in Extended spring training but should eventually report to Beloit.


22. Manuel Soliman Right-Handed Starter 8/11/1989.
Soliman was signed by the Twins in 2007 out of La Romana, Dominican Republic. He went 7-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 appearances (25 starts). He struck out 120 and walked 50 in 136 innings. Originally, Soliman was signed as a third baseman with some expectations, but he just couldn't hit. After 2 seasons of not hitting, topping out at a .640 OPS as an 18 year old in the Dominican Summer League, his live arm was converted to pitching. Soliman is a couple years behind in his pitching development and even though he throws hard, he hasn't been able to harnass his secondary pitches. As a 22 year old in High A ball, it will be time for him to start pulling everything together if he to become a good or even great pitcher. I ranked him #13 last year and Andrew Kneeland wrote it here.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend all season starting for Fort Myers.

21. Max Kepler-Rozycki Outfield 2/10/1993.
Kepler was signed by the Twins in 2009 out of Berlin Germany. He hit .262/.347/.366 with 1 HR in 221 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. Max moved up a level of rookie ball and did modestly better than his first season. As an 18 year old, he was still very young for the level and he should continue to improve. He was regarded as one of the greatest prospects signed out of Europe, two years ago when the Twins signed him for $750,000, and there is nothing yet to doubt that. The one worry I have at this stage, is his strikeout rate went up a ton in 2011. I'm looking forward to seeing his continuing development. I had him at #15 last year. Andrew Kneeland wrote about him here.
2012 Outlook: Like Niko Goodrum, Kepler May start in Extended spring training but should eventually report to Beloit.

20. Madison Boer Right-Handed Pitcher 11/9/1989.
Boer was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Oregon. He went 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 11 saves in 23 appearances with Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out a whopping 43 and walked just 3 in 25.1 innings. Despite his great numbers after as a reliever in 2011, (especially in E-town) the Twins will try him out as a starter. He has a fastball that reaches 95 and a potential plus slider or splitter. As a starter, he looks like a back of the rotation guy but could be a closer as a reliever. He's also a Minnesota kid, which certainly goes a long way for this Twins fan.
2012 Outlook: He'll start the season as a starter for Beloit with a potential mid-season promotion to Fort Myers.

19. Jairo Perez Third Base 6/10/1988.
Perez was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Acarigua, Venezuela. He hit .337/.413/.580 with 15 HRs and 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts in 316 plate appearance for Beloit. Perez missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery and hadn't done much other than a .338/.437/.525 line in the Dominican League in 2009. The Twins started Perez in extended spring training before sending him to Beloit. If his monster 2011 is a pre-cursor of things to come, he should rocket through the system. He is going to turn 24 in 2012 and not a very good defender so, improved competition is needed to see if Perez's bat plays at an elite level. At only 5'10" 160 lbs, it will be interesting to see if Perez can replicate those numbers at his size or if he is indeed a one year wonder. I like a little guy with a big swing and we share a birthday.... so I will definitely be rooting for Perez.
2012 Outlook: Perez will start the year in fort Myers, if he hits like he did in 2011, he'll move up sometime during the season.

18. Nate Roberts Outfield 2/25/1989.
Roberts was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round in the 2010 draft out of High Point University. He hit .302/.443/.446 with 4 HRs in 283 plate appearances for Beloit. He also stole 9 bases in 13 attempts. Roberts missed about half the season due to knee problems but was an on-base machine when he was in the lineup. Roberts had 28 walks and also was hit by a pitch an absurd 29 times. Roberts has a blend of speed, batting average, power and on-base skills that make him a very solid prospect, but he is 23 years old coming out of low A ball. It's time for him to start moving through the system. I ranked him #16 last year.
2012 Outlook: Roberts will start in Fort Myers and could move to New Britain, depending on his play and the organizational depth ahead of him.

17. Angel Morales Outfield 11/24/1989.
Morales was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. He hit .264/.326/.388 with 3 HRs and 3 SB in 5 attempts in 138 plate appearances for Fort Myers. Morales had a breakout season in 2008 with Elizabethtown with a .301/.413/.623 line. He's been pretty decent since but he has fought injuries and inconsistency. Morales has plenty of tools and is just 22, but he still strikes out once a game and his on-base skills have declined as he has leveled up, though reports say he has improved his plate discipline. He only got into 37 total games in 2011 due to an elbow injury. I have been really high on Morales for a long time, ranking him #5 in 2010 and #12 last year and hope to see him play for the first time this year.
2012 Outlook: Hopefully, Morales can have an injury-free season in New Britain and I will get a chance to see him play.

16. Tom Stuifbergen Right Handed Starter 9/26/1988.
Stuifbergen was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Breda, Netherlands. He went 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) for Fort Myers. He struck out 75 and walked 19 in 116.2 innings. He also had a 5 inning win at Rochester. Stuifbergen battled injuries early in his career but it seems to be getting healthier every year since missing all of 2008. Stuifbergen always has a really good walk rate (Twins kind of guy) but his strikeout rate plummeted in 2011. His numbers have him looking more like a back of the rotation starter but I really like his experience and how he has pitched in international play. I see a him as solid middle rotation MLB starter. I ranked him #8 going into 2010#14 last year.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend most of the season in New Britain.

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Written by Shawn Berg | 26 February 2012

Recently, I posted my prospects 50-41, today I will post 40-31. Originally posted at Ontheroadwithshawn.

40. Michael Gonzales First Base 6/16/1988.
Gonzales was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of the 2008 draft out of Diablo Valley College. He hit .289/.371/.468 with 15 HRs in 477 plate appearances in his second year at class A Beloit. His walks have increased his strikeouts have decreased as he has matured. He looks to be rounding into a good all around hitter but in his age 24 year, he really needs to start moving up. Last year he did not make my top 50, but in 2010, I ranked him #39.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend most of the season at Class A Fort Myers with potential promotion to AA.

39. Kennys Vargas First Base 8/1/1990.
Vargas was signed in 2009 out of Canovanas, Puerto Rico. He hit .322/.377/.489 with 6 HRs in 191 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. Vargas has shown a decent bat in both levels of rookie ball and at 6'5", he sure has the size. The interesting test will be once he plays a full season. He will not have a chance to play a full season in 2012, due to a 50 game suspension handed down in August for taking phentermine. Rumors are, he has problems keeping his weight down. Hopefully, he can shake off the suspension when he returns and continue his progression.
2012 Outlook: Should get to Beloit eventually upon completion of his suspension.

38. Matt Summers Right-Handed Pitcher 8/17/1989.
Summers was drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 draft out of UC Irvine. He went 1-1 with a .87 ERA in 20 appearances at Elizabethtown. He struck out a whopping 36, walked 5 and only gave up 2 runs in 20.2 innings. He started in college, throwing a no-hitter and going 11-4 with a 2.15 ERA in 2011. Big West pitcher of the year is one of the accolades he has earned.
2012 Outlook: Will probably head to Beloit or Fort Myers probably as a starter.

37. Kane Holbrooks Right-Handed Pitcher 6/8/1987.
Holbrooks was drafted in the 21st round of the 2009 draft out of Texas State University. He went 5-9 with a 4.87 ERA in 19 appearances for Fort Myers, 16 of them starts. He struck out 47 and walked 26 in 94.1 innings. He really struggled in his first full year as a starter, though injuries probably played a part. He might be better served as a reliever. 2012 will be a big year for Holbrooks who rocketed up the prospect charts last year and back down this year. I ranked him #11 last year and Andrew at TwinsTarget wrote the prospect profile here.  I also wrote something about him and Dakota Watts here. Holbrooks is a real character and the Twins could us someone like him on the big club to add personality to the room.
2012 Outlook: I would look for the Twins to send Holbrooks to New Britain and try him as a starter a little longer.

36. Bruce Pugh Right-Handed Pitcher 7/18/1988.
Pugh was drafted in the 19th round of the 2008 draft out of Hillborough (Florida) Community College. He went 2-7 with a 5.91 ERA and 17 saves in 43 appearances between Fort Myers and New Britain. He struck out 75 and walked 32 in 64 innings. His ERA was pretty ugly, but some of it can be traced back to the 8 earned runs in 1.1 innings he gave up on June 1st. This was his maiden voyage in AA. Pugh has a chance to be a useful pitcher, he has a good fastball and decent breaking pitch but he walks too many. He could be a decent starter or dominant reliever if he could control the walks. I ranked him 26th last year.
2012 Outlook: A full year at New Britain unless he starts really strong.

35. Nelvin Fuentes Left-Handed Reliever 4/7/1989.
Fuentes was drafted in the 16th round of the 2007 draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. Fuentes went 3-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 29 appearances for Beloit. He struck out 43 and walked 11 in 28.1 innings. He strikes out a lot of guys, even though his fastball is merely average. He is helped out be a good change up. I ranked him #19 last year and #43 in 2010. It will be interesting to see how he does as he continues to move up. Junk pitchers generally get more exposed as they move up, but he could become a crafty lefty in the vein of his namesake Brian Fuentes.
2012 Outlook: He'll spend most or all of 2012 in Fort Myers.

34. Michael Tonkin Right-Handed Pitcher 11/19/1989.
Tonkin was drafted in the 30th round of the 2008 draft out of Palmdale, California High School. Tonkin went 4-3 with 2 saves and a 3.87 ERA for Beloit in 48 appearances (3 starts). He struck out 69 and walked 24 in 76.2 innings. Tonkin is a big guy with a low 90s fastball and change up. He is probably better suited as a reliever who could use his size to intimidate even if his stuff doesn't fully back it up.
2012 Outlook: He'll start the season in Fort Myers.

33. Matthew Hauser Right-Handed Reliever 3/30/1988.
Hauser was drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego. Hauser went 5-6 with 12 saves and a 1.98 ERA between Beloit and Fort Myers with one appearance in New Britain. He struck out 75 and walked 29 in 63.2 innings. He has a decent fast-ball, slider and also has a split finger. The split is supposed to be his dominant pitch. There aren't many prospects (anymore) that have the split in their arsenal. I look forward to seeing that picth as he moves to AA and AAA. (Where I can watch him pitch live)
2012 Outlook: Will probably start the season in New Britain and may stay there most of the season.

32. Pat Dean Left-Handed Starter 5/25/1989.
Dean was drafted was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft out of Boston College. He went 5-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 starts for Beloit, Fort Myers and New Britain. He struck out 76 and walked 25 in 108 innings. Dean missed some time due to injury in his first full season with the Twins franchise. He dominated in Beloit but struggled when he moved up. He has four pitches including a low 90s fastball and doesn't walk too many guys. He definitely fits the Twins mold of pitching prospects. I ranked him #21 last year.
2012 Outlook: start the season at Fort Myers with a mid-season promotion.

33. JaDamion Williams Outfield 11/20/1990.
Williams was drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate HS in Tampa, FLA. He hit .324/.406/.465 with 4 HRs in 212 plate appearances with 10 stolen bases in 15 attempts for Elizabethtown. Williams has tools! He hit, walked, hit for some power and stole some bases. Reports are, he is lightning quick. He had a great season in E-town hidden beneath Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario's monster seasons. It will be interesting to see how he does when he levels up and plays a full season. He will have to work on reducing his strikeouts as he moves up.
2012 Outlook: He'll move to Beloit where his numbers may very well be hidden under Sano and Rosario's again.

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Written by Shawn Berg | 15 February 2012

Spring training is almost upon us and as such, it is time to look at 2012's batch of Minnesota Twins prospects. I have been posting these 5 at a time at my other space, OntheroadwithShawn but figured I'd bring them here in groups of 10. 

The Twins may have lost 99 in 2011 but on February 15th, the slate is clean and what prospects provide is hope of better days.

50. Luis Nunez Left Handed Reliever 9/26/1991.
Nunez was signed as a free agent out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2008. Repeating Gulf Coast ball in 2011, Nunez continued to improve. He went 5-0 with 5 saves with a 1.67 ERA in 16 appearances. He struck out 37 and walked only 6 in 32.1 innings. He's a hard thrower. He's small at 5'11" 160, but is only 20. He could be a closer someday.
2012 Outlook: Will probably start the season in extended spring training and either report to Elizabethtown or Beloit.

49. Dakota Watts Right Handed Reliever 11/16/1987.
Watts was drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 draft out of Cal State-Stanislaus. He went 3-4 with 10 saves and a 6.30 ERA in 48 appearances between High A Fort Myers and AA New Britain. He struck out 53 and walked 33 in 65.2 innings. His strikeouts have slipped as he's moved up the system but he still walks WAY too many batters. I ranked him #33 last year. I also wrote about him here. He still has late inning big league reliever potential because throws hard, but he has to throw more strikes.
2012 Outlook: Will return to AA New Britain.

48. Matt Bashore Left Handed Starter 4/6/1988.
Bashore was drafted #46 in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Indiana University. He has pitched very little since being drafted and has just recently come back from Tommy John surgery. He went 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 12 appearances and 3 starts for rookie league Elizabethtown. He struck out 15 and walked 8 in 16.2 innings. If he can regain the form that made him a first round pick, he will move through the system quickly.
2012 Outlook: Will probably start in extended spring training and then report to Beloit.


47. Darin Mastroianni Center Field 8/26/1985.
Mastroianni was claimed off waivers today (February 9th) from Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .268/.353/.370 with 3 HRs and also stole 34 bases in 44 attempts for AA New Hampshire and AAA Las Vegas. Going into his 26th year, Mastroianni is almost as major league ready as he is going to be. He made his major league debut in 2011, playing in one game. He enters an organization set at starting OF in the majors and with many highly rated OF prospects that will be seen later in my countdown. Where he provides value is at the 4th OF spot. A backup who can play CF, get on base, steal some of those bases, be a late inning defensive replacement to Josh Willingham and provide a right handed bat off the bench (backing up two lefties) certainly has value. I like the pickup. If nothing else, he is younger and strikes out less than Jason Repko.
2012 Outlook: He is on the 40 man, so he may break with the Twins or spend time in AAA.

46. Jorge Polanco Shortstop 7/5/1993.
He was signed in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic for $750,000. He hit .250/.319/.349 with 1 HR in 193 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. He also stole 6 bases in 10 attempts.  I ranked him #37 last year. He is still very young and an excellent defensive prospect, but hasn't yet found a bat. He is the elite fielding SS prospect in the Twins system. If he finds a bat, he could become one hell of a ballplayer some day.
2012 Outlook: Due to his young age, I'd expect the Twins to start him in instructional league before sending him back to Elizabethtown or Beloit. 

 45. Rory Rhodes Third Base 7/28/1991.
Rhodes was signed in 2008 out of Brisbane, Australia for $220,000. He hit .261/.363/.389 with 2 HRs in 182 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. He's very tall, he strikes out a lot and he has a lot of power. He plays in the Australian Baseball League during the winter, where he was runner-up Rookie of the year in 2010-2011. He will eventually transition to first base due to his height, but his bat could someday make him a real force. Will be interesting to see how he he does in a full season league.
2012 Outlook: He should start the season in Beloit.

44. Phillip Chapman Catcher 3/28/1989.
Chapman was drafted in the 35th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Memphis. He hit .308/.392/.442 in 124 plate appearances for the Gulf Coast Twins. He proved to be a doubles machine in college and had 12 in just 124 plate appearances in his first pro season. A catcher with gap power and a good on base percentage comes in pretty handy but, Chapman was pretty old for the GCL, so, it'll be important for him to continue to hit at the next level and move up pretty quick.
2012 Outlook: He may start in extended spring training, but should spend at least a decent amount of time in Beloit.


43. Lester Oliveros Right Handed Reliever 5/28/1988.
Oliveros came over to the Twins organization late in the 2011 season in the Delmon Young trade. He went 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA between AA Erie and AAA Toledo & Rochester. He struck out 58 and walked 21 in 48 innings. He struggled in his 21.1 major league innings for the Tigers and the Twins as he probably isn't yet major league ready. He has a good hard fastball and a good slider and has struck out more than one batter per inning every step of his minor league career. With his age and stuff, he could soon become an elite reliever in the majors, but he needs to improve his command.
2012 Outlook: Has a good chance of making the Twins out of spring training, though he could use more time in AAA. He will impact the major league club in 2012.

42. Deolis Guerra Right Handed Pitcher 4/17/1989.
Guerra has been in the Twins system since 2008. He came over in the Johann Santana trade and has never come close to the prospect hype (hope) that was bestowed on him. Many had him as a top 50 prospect at the time of the trade, but his fastball and raw numbers have never come close lived to the early hype. His 2011 stats look like a lot like those from 2010 on first blush. He was 8-7 with a 5.59 ERA for AA New Britain. Taking a deeper look, maybe the numbers really say more about Guerra as an awful starter. He gave up 43 earned runs in 10 starts and 43 innings, striking out 30 and walking 15. That's a 9.00 ERA. Since converting to reliever full time, Guerra was much better. He gave up only 16 earned runs, struck out 60 and walked 13 in 52 innings for a 2.25 ERA. I think Guerra's time as a starter has passed and he should stay in the pen! If he is used primarily as a reliever, he should move up the rankings as well as provide a late inning reliever for the Twins relatively soon.  I had him #47 last year and #19 in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Should spend most or all of the season at AAA Rochester in the bullpen.


41. Anthony Slama Right Handed Reliever 1/6/1984.
Slama was drafted by the Twins in the 39th round of the 2006 draft out of the University of San Diego. He went 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA for AAA Rochester. He struck out 42 and walked 16 in 37 innings. Slama continued to have great strikeout numbers with average stuff in AAA. For the second straight year, he spent some time in the majors. He didn't get much of a chance to show what he could do in the majors because of an elbow injury. After the season, he was dropped from the 40 man roster and at 28 years old, 2012 is probably Slama's last chance to find his way into the Twins bullpen. I ranked him #29 last year and #31 in 2010.
2012 Outlook: Will start at AAA, but will be available for a call-up if the Twins need a reliever added to the 40 man roster.

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 27 September 2011

Reason for excitement, or simply straw-grasping?

As the team's loss column approaches triple-digits, both the front office and armchair GM's across the country are entering winter mode. Much ink has been spilled on the topic of offseason trades and acquisitions, but the key to a successful 2012 season – or at least a fairer feud with the .500-mark – may be found in last night's lineup.

Kansas City's sweeping youth movement is receiving all the press, but the Twins have at least one player who could be playing his way into Minnesota's immediate future.

Chris Parmelee has zero Triple-A experience to his name, but his major-league performance this fall could result in a tough roster decision next spring. As far-fetched as it seems, Parmelee could see regular playing time at first base in 2012, especially with Justin Morneau's still-indecipherable status.

A few years ago, Parmelee was viewed as a prototypical slugging corner infielder who struck out too much. Since then, he's raised his batting average and lowered his strikeout rate. Now, the 23-year old has some thinking he could go toe-to-toe with the American League's best rookies.

Parmelee joined the team at the start of September this year, and has done a terrific job of manning first base in Morneau's stead. The left-handed slugger belted another home run Tuesday night, bringing his triple-slash line to a Pujols-ian .351/.429./.581. If he can perform even remotely near this level next Spring Training, he could win a job on the 25-man roster. At the very least, he'll find his name on the short list for an early-season promotion.

“He's nervous and wants to do well,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Parmelee after the game on Tuesday night. “But he's had some quality at-bats since he's been up here.”

Parmelee is drawing rave reviews this month, but he keeps his sights set on the future.

“I feel good about it,” Parmelee said of his season. “This offseason I'm going to get some work in and come to Spring Training at 100 percent."

In the clubhouse after the game, Parmelee said it's easy to get star-struck and lose focus.

“There's a lot going on around you, and not just on the field. I mean, look at this,” Parmelee said as he motioned around the Twins' clubhouse. “But once the game starts you try to treat it the same as any normal game.”

You can count the number of “normal games” Parmelee has had this season on one hand. The 23-year old California native has put up extraordinary numbers for a team in extraordinary need of a reason for excitement.

It's foolish to expect Parmelee to continue smacking opposing pitching at the same clip, but he does appear to have the talent to be a major-league regular. The trial-run lineups the Twins have been trotting on the field these last few weeks may not win many games, but they provide an invaluable glimpse into the future.

And even while the core of the team crumbles around them, it's okay to get excited about these young guys.

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Written by Andrew Kneeland | 19 August 2011

Jim Thome was recently at Cub Foods on 26th Avenue just south of Minneapolis for a public meet-and-greet, and was promoting his involvement with Pepsi Max' "Field of Dreams" program. For more information about this program and for a chance to play against some of MLB's legends in your hometown, visit mlb.com/pepsimax.

Jim ThomeI had a chance to talk with Jim Thome about No. 600 and his storied career. He's one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and a real class act. The transcript of our quick chat is below.

On #600, and being in elite company: "It's pretty neat. I think any time you play the game of baseball you obviously want to succeed and want to keep doing well. For me, it's been a dream. I don't think you could ever imagine one day hitting 600 home runs, I mean who could? It's been a great career. It's really been quite surreal, to be honest with you. It's been a long journey to get to this point."

On transforming into a HR hitter: "I think a couple different things. At the plate, opening my stance up, which Charlie Manuel was a big key for that. And I think a lot of positive thinking. You've got to believe in yourself, believe that you're going to have some ups and downs and along that way, if you're blessed to play a long time, [the stats will follow]."

On Charlie Manuel: "Charlie, for me, has been there since really day one. When I was a young kid I had him all through the Cleveland system. And then he went to Philadelphia so I had him there for a little bit. And obviously now he's the manager and we've parted ways, but he's been a big, big influence on my career, no question.

On hitting No. 600 in Detroit, and getting standing ovation: "Very cool, especially from the opposing crowd. Think about it, for years and years you go in there as an opponent, and they don't want to see you do well. To do that was very classy. I was very taken aback by that, very cool."

On importance of World Series ring: "It would mean everything. That's why you play. You play to win a World Series, you play to ultimately celebrate at the end of the year with your teammates. I think for me personally, that would be the ultimate dream: To celebrate and win a World Series. The individual things are nice, but I think ultimately we all play the game to win a World Series."

On Hall of Fame discussions: "Very cool, very humbling. Again, when you start playing baseball you don't ever think about the Hall of Fame or this and that. You dream about it, but when people talk about it's a very, very neat thing. I think you let that process take its part, let it do its thing. It's something you respect. If that day were to ever come, it would be a joy. It would even be more surreal than what we're talking about. It'd be very cool."

On his career wrapping up, and his legacy: "My kids are at the age now where they're growing up, they need their dad at home. That's a big legacy to the name. Also giving back to the game. I think the legacy of the game and your name are also important because there are young players out there who can learn from older players who have played the game. If I can do that in any way it would be an honor." 

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