8. Chris Parmelee, 1B/OF/DH, 21 years old
2009 stats: .258/.359/.441, 501 PA, 16 HR, 109/65 K/BB at Ft. Myers (A+)
Last year’s rank: Not ranked
Acquired: 1st round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2006 draft
If Chris Parmelee suddenly becomes an average defensive first-baseman or outfielder, there is no knowing how high he will go. As it currently stands, though, Parmelee struggles to provide his team with adequate defense at either position, and it looks like his best shot at the major leagues will come through the designated hitter position.
Offensively, Parmelee is a great hitter. Belting 45 home runs over the past two and a half seasons, Parmelee has proved himself to be a power hitter, but little else. For the two full seasons under Parmelee’s belt, 40 percent of all hits have gone for extra-bases. Also worth mentioning is that Parmelee put up his .258/.359/.441 this past season in the Florida State League, which is renowned for being pitcher-friendly.
Drafted out of high school, many envied Parmelee’s raw power, and many more are impressed at how fast the young left-hander has been able to use that power in actual game scenarios. This shows a great ability to read pitches, which led to his league-leading walk total this past season. As with all power hitters, though, Parmelee struck out quite often: in 2009, 22 percent of Parmelee’s plate appearances ended in strikeouts.
Despite being among the league leaders in home runs, Florida State League pitchers didn’t feel the need to intentionally walk Parmelee very often. As a matter of fact, they didn’t intentionally walk very many batters at all; revealing the league’s desire to garner experience, not necessarily win games. Parmelee was intentionally walked five times all season, which was the highest total in the league.
There is plenty of optimism for Parmelee, regardless of his lack of a defensive position. His extremely powerful bat may be enough to land him in a major league lineup, but if he continues to work hard and improves his defensive abilities, there is no question that the Twins’ brass will look upon him more favorably.
Ideal scenario: Parmelee saw his batting average shoot up in 2009 to a decent .258, which should earn him a promotion to New Britain, assuming his power numbers remain the same. The lefty slugger could play in Rochester in 2011, and could be the next Jason Kubel in 2012.
Path to the majors: Parmelee is essentially Jason Kubel: a left-handed power hitter who can’t play great defense. Kubel is under contract through the 2010 season, with a club option for 2011. If the Twins stick to that deal, things could work out nicely for Parmelee starting in 2012.no comments
9. Joe Benson, OF, 21 years old
2009 stats: .200/.429/.200, 7 PA, 0 HR, 0/2 K/BB at GCL (Rook); .285/.414/.403, 327 PA, 5 HR, 74/46 K/BB at Ft. Myers (A+)
Last year’s rank: 15
Acquired: 2nd round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2006 draft
Joe Benson is one of the toughest players to project in this organization. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that he has racked up more than 350 plate appearances just once in his four-year career. Any kind of batting line he puts up, whether good or bad, will immediately be coupled with cries of “Small Sample Size!”
Benson hit .285/.414/.403 this past season with the Miracle, but missed six weeks because of a broken hand. He is an incredibly patient hitter, yet strikes out more than most. His 817 OPS is impressive and well above average, but was also higher than his career average. Whether he can repeat the impressive performance on the field has yet to be seen.
At 21 years of age, Benson wasn’t necessarily young for the level he played at in 2009, but he is still expected to develop power. Benson also has great speed, and could project as a center fielder. The power he is expected to develop, though, should force him to slide over to a corner outfield position.
Benson’s broken hand was suffered at the expense of a clubhouse wall, which could reveal some makeup problems with the young outfielder. Very few have expressed concerns over this outburst, though, so few conclusions should be drawn.
Hitting just five home runs in 2009, Benson’s supposed power has yet to be seen. Should he develop the ability to hit 10 or 15 home runs per season while maintaining his incredible knack at getting on base, Benson could be a perennial All-Star in the near future.
Ideal scenario: Benson should finish the 2010 season with the Rock Cats, and could be a September call-up as soon as 2012.
Path to the majors: Michael Cuddyer will no longer be with Minnesota in 2012, but Benson will lead a very solid class of outfield prospects, including Revere, Morales and Hicks. Little time will be wasted on Benson for “learn-as-you-go” development, and if he doesn’t perform right away the Twins will likely move to another top outfield prospect.no comments
10. Miguel Angel Sano, SS/3B/OF, 16 years old
2009 stats: Did not play
Last year’s rank: Not ranked
Acquired: Un-drafted acquisition from the Dominican Republic in September 2009
For being perhaps the most-talked about Latin American prospect in baseball history, very little is known about Miguel Angel Sano. These murky waters can be partially blamed on the fact that Jean is just 16 years old. Although big for his age, the right-handed prospect still has room to fill out.
As of now, Jean is listed as a shortstop prospect, but there is little doubt that he will eventually be moved to either the hot corner or the outfield. At 6’3’’ Jean is very projectable and will likely lose most of his already-minimal speed as he matures, which will force him to be moved from the middle of the diamond. Mentally, Jean is reported to have no problems and apparently has a very impressive makeup.
Jean’s defense is nothing spectacular, and he likely won’t be receiving any Gold Gloves in the major leagues, but it is nothing to voice concern over. What made Jean worth the $3.15 million signing bonus he received was his excellent bat speed and abilities at the plate.
Various scouts claim that Jean has great power to all fields, which will only improve as he fills out. Not much more can be said about the 16-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic, but his status as an elite prospect obviously hinges on his ability to fill out and maintain his power.
Perhaps the most remarkable and noteworthy aspect of this signing, though, is that the Twins’ actually did it. They were rumored to be in the hunt for the uber-prospect from the Dominican Republic, but as soon as the price tag advanced over $3 million, few Twins fans thought Bill Smith would be willing to cough up so much for such an unproven prospect.
Instead, Smith remained in the race that he eventually won. Minnesota didn’t make a huge deal about the signing, but they showed an incredible desire to win, which was great to see. Regardless of how he pans out, the Twins deserve tons of credit for being willing to invest in Jean.
Ideal scenario: Jean will spend at least one full year with the GCL Twins, before steadily advancing through the organization. He could be with the Twins as soon as 2015.
Path to the majors: Like Bromberg, when Jean is ready for the big leagues, room will be made for him. You don’t give a guy $3.15 million and not give him every chance to succeed.no comments
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11. David Bromberg, RHP, 22 years old
2009 stats: 2.70 ERA, 153.1 IP, 148/63 K/BB, 1.226 WHIP at Ft. Myers (A+)
Last year’s rank: Not ranked
Acquired: 32nd round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 draft
For a 32nd round selection, David Bromberg has certainly made a name for himself. Drafted out of high school in 2005 as a draft-and-follow, Bromberg entered the world of professional baseball with no small amount of flaws. The Twins, though, known for their top-notch pitching instructors, saw loads of potential in the young right-hander from California.
Bromberg has advanced one level for each of his four years in the Twins' minor league system. Starting out in the Gulf Coast League, Bromberg finished 2009 with the Ft. Myers Miracle, with whom he won the Pitcher of the Year award from the Twins. The 22-year-old has certainly come a long way since his time in Palisades High School, and many improvements have been made on Bromberg's mechanics.
In 2008, Bromberg led the minor leagues with a total of 177 strikeouts in 150 innings. This he managed despite a poor start to the season due to do short-arming his curveball. The curveball is his out-pitch, and, for a strikeout pitcher like Bromberg, directly correlated to his success. Roving pitching coach Rick Knapp re-introduced a drill for Bromberg at about mid-season, which brought his curveball back under control.
Bromberg has four pitches in his arsenal, but rarely throws his 95-mph four-seam fastball. Instead, he throws a 92 mph two-seamer, a circle-change, and his strikeout-pitch, a curveball. Bromberg boasts two flavors of his deadly breaking ball: a biting curve at 83 mph, and a slow arcing curve that usually registers around 76 mph.
The young right-hander admits that he needs more work on his off-speed pitches in order to succeed at higher levels. Bromberg's strikeout rate fell by about two per nine innings this season, and he is walking more than last year, but his WHIP, hits per nine, and home runs per nine are all down. This is reflective of his average BABIP, which indicates that we can expect more seasons like 2009 from Bromberg's right arm.
Ideal scenario: Bromberg continues his methodical advance through the Twins' system, playing in New Britain in 2010 and with the Red Wings the year after that. He could be a September call-up in either 2011 or 2012.
Path to the majors: There are never too many power pitchers in the major leagues. Whenever Bromberg is deemed ready by the Minnesota administration, room will be made for him in the starting rotation.no comments
12. BJ Hermsen, RHP, 20 years old
2009 stats: 1.35 ERA, 53.1 IP, 42/4 K/BB, 0.675 WHIP at GCL (Rook)
Last year’s rank: Not ranked
Acquired: 6th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2008 draft
BJ Hermsen exploded onto the scene this past year, his first in professional baseball. The 20-year old right-hander from Iowa doesn't boast the velocity you'd expect from a 6'6'', 230-pound former three-sport athlete. Attending West Delaware High School in Iowa, Hermsen was among the state leaders as a 25.7 points per game basketball player, quarterback, and right-handed pitcher. Being a big, athletic guy, Hermsen's delivery is understandably slow, but remarkably smooth.
Hermsen's fastball currently sits at around 91-92 mph, but he also claims a plus changeup and slider in his repertoire. The right-hander has the potential to develop his 10/4 curveball into a plus pitch, but based on what I've heard Hermsen started throwing that pitch as a teenager. The 10/4 curveball wreaks havoc on a young pitcher's arm, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Hermsen go down with an injury in the near future.
Besides an unfortunate football injury during his high-school career (to his collarbone, I believe) Hermsen has remained relatively healthy and appears to be capable of adding a few miles per hour onto his already deadly fastball.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Hermsen's pitching, though, is his impeccable control. During ten starts this summer in the Gulf Coast League, Hermsen walked just four batters while striking out 42. Hermsen doesn't strike out many per nine innings of pitching (just 7.1), but his strikeout to walk ratio of 10.5 is extremely impressive.
This summer, Hermsen didn't do an exceptionally good job at missing bats, and relied on the GCL Twins' defense for his 1.35 ERA. Still, Hermsen didn't surrender a single home run in the 50+ innings he pitched, and he limited his number of baserunners very well.
Some projected Hermsen to go in the first round of the 2008 draft, but his collarbone injury and the fact that Oregon State had offered him a full-ride held some teams back. The Twins grabbed him in the 6th round, and paid him above-slot. So far, Hermsen appears to be worth every penny.
Ideal scenario: Hermsen thrives with the Beloit Snappers and gains some velocity on his fastball. He keeps his walk rate down, and misses more bats than he did in 2009.
Path to the majors: Hermsen has the makings of a potential ace, and has an already-developed repertoire of pitches. He could advance a few levels at a time for the next few years and conceivably land in the Minnesota rotation in 2012 or 2013.
13. Rene Tosoni, OF, 23 years old
2009 stats: .271/.360/.454, 490 PA, 15 HR, 98/45 K/BB at New Britain (AA)
Last year’s rank: Not Ranked
Acquired: 34th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2004 draft; 36th round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2005 draft
Before 2009, Rene Tosoni was simply an average corner outfield prospect who got on base at an above-average clip. Besides his pure hitting ability, there really wasn’t anything special to the young left-handed batter from California.
Tosoni didn’t have great speed on the base paths, didn’t walk at an abnormal rate, and didn’t possess any power to speak of. When Tosoni was brought up among Twins’ bloggers, there wasn’t much to talk about, other than an anecdote regarding a visa snafu in 2006.
In 2009 Tosoni hit 15 home runs and 25 doubles, both career highs. For the first time in his career, though, Tosoni’s on-base percentage dropped below .400 and he nearly doubled his strikeout total. This can be partially attributed to his atrocious splits against left-handed pitchers, against whom he hit just .183/.285/.302 in 2009.
Tosoni’s BABIP was well below his career average this season, however, so expecting a progression to his mean wouldn’t be far-fetched. Still, Tosoni has always struggled against southpaws and will need to improve if he wants to be of major-league caliber.
Conceivably, Tosoni could be an effective fourth outfielder and a solid bat off the bench on days when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. If he’s able to maintain a level of respectability against left-handed hurlers, Tosoni could be an everyday outfielder for just about any team in baseball.
Ideal scenario: Tosoni starts the season in Rochester and works on his patience at the plate while learning how to hit left-handed pitchers from hitting coach Riccardo Ingram. He could be a call-up in 2010 for the Twins if someone goes down with an injury or a bench bat is needed for a pennant drive.
Path to the majors: The Delmon Young experiment is reaching a breaking point, and Tosoni could be called upon if the former first-overall pick fails to hit in 2010.no comments
14. Tyler Robertson, LHP, 21 years old
2009 stats: 3.33 ERA, 143.1 IP, 103/51 K/BB, 1.326 WHIP at Ft. Myers (A+)
Last year’s rank: 7
Acquired: 3rd round selection of the Minnesota Twins in the 2006 draft
This past year was Tyler Robertson’s second year with the Fort Myers Miracle, and the first in which he managed to stay healthy for a complete season. Robertson has taken a few steps back since 2007, when he was one of the best prospects in the Twins’ system.
Robertson’s ERA has been inflated by more than a run, but more note-worthy is the fact that the young left-hander from California pitched to contact in 2009 and saw his strikeout rate greatly reduced.
Despite being listed at 6’5’’, Robertson manages to get just 88 mph on his fastball. Left alone, this clearly won’t be an effective pitch in the major leagues, but his slider and changeup are quite good. Robertson also throws a decent curveball at around 67 mph. Perhaps the biggest problem with Robertson is his bizarre mechanics, which are the main culprit for his injury-plagued career. At 6’5’’, Robertson is relatively bulky, but not un-athletic.
He will undoubtedly need a fair amount of tweaking in his mechanics, but Robertson has a solid repertoire of pitches that he can throw for strikes. He doesn’t possess a killer out-pitch, and will probably be forced to rely on the defense behind him more often than not. The high strikeout-rates of his first two seasons in professional baseball are most likely an aberration, and Robertson will be a contact pitcher in the future.
Ideal scenario: Robertson, with the help of pitching coach Stu Cliborn, tweaks his mechanics for the better with the New Britain Rock Cats and gains a few miles of velocity on his fastball. Robertson could be a bullpen-bolstering September call-up in 2011, and possibly enter the rotation in 2012 as a 24-year old.
Path to the majors: The Twins have a young rotation, but Baker will be 31 years old in 2012 and Robertson could transition in nicely.no comments