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source: mlb.com

9. Brian Dozier, Shortstop, 24 years old

2011 stats: .320/.399/.491 with 9 HRs and 24 stolen bases in 35 attempts for Fort Myers & New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: NA
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 8th round of the draft out of Southern Mississippi in 2009.

Dozier had a quite a year in 2011. After a combined .275/.350/.349 in Beloit and Fort Myers in 2010, Dozier started hot 2011. He put up a .322/.423/.472 line in his return to Fort Myers an early June promotion to New Britain. Dozier wasn't stopping there. He put up a nearly identical .318/.384/.502 line the rest of the season post promotion. His .502 slugging for New Britain was the highest he'd put up in his professional career. He showed a real increase in extra-base power in 2011 with 15 more doubles, 10 more triples and 4 more HRs than he had in 2011. His increase in Ks and decrease in BBs post promotion is a concern, but over-all his AA numbers were strong. He also had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League with a .296/.358/.454 in 125 plate appearances.

Dozier has really established himself as a decent prospect who is close to the majors after a very soft 2010. He led the entire Twins organization in runs scored and triples. He also was a Florida State league mid-season all-star and the Twins minor league player of the year. He was also impressive this spring. He was one of the last cuts today as the Twins set their opening day roster.

Dozier certainly puts himself in the conversation as "next man in" for the Twins. But, similar to Chris Parmelee, Tom Powers has decided to gush uncontrollably over Dozier,

"Everyone seems convinced that Dozier is the next big thing. Of course, spring training is all about hope. If you can't get excited over a prospect in spring training, heck, you should be watching a different sport. But in this case, I really do think that "next" is going to be pretty darn quick."

Really Tom? Dozier certainly has had a nice run since the beginning of last season and has some speed, gap power and plays decent defense, but we're not talking about the second coming. Ron Gardenhire and many Twins fans love Dozier as well, while I see Dozier topping out as a middle of the road middle infielder. A Greg Gagne with a little more speed, a little more on-base skills and a little less defense. Dozier, like Levi Michael both benefit by being in a system with few decent middle infield prospects.

Ideal scenario: Dozier will seize this challenge of being sent to AAA. Continue to put up offensive numbers in the .850+ OPS range and get called up in June. If he's destined to be a plus major league player, I'd like to make sure the he doesn't become a super 2. There is really no need to have Dozier in the majors yet anyway.

Path to the majors: Dozier will be one of the first calls if there is an injury to either Alexi Casilla or Jamey Carroll. Since Dozier is not on the 40 man roster, there is a chance Nishioka could get the first call if he starts the season strong. Avoiding injury, Dozier will see time with the Twins in 2012.

Check out the rest of my top 50 starting here.