While the Twins have struggled in recent years, and most likely will be bringing up the rear in the AL Central in 2013, Minnesota's faithful has a lot to look forward to in the coming years, thanks to a deep, talented, and balanced farm system. The Twins have done a good job acquiring high level prospects in all three ways: draft (Byron Buxton), international (Miguel Sano), and trade (Alex Meyer). Here are some things I noted when looking at their rosters.
1. The competition for the center field job will be intense all spring between Aaron Hicks, Darin Mastrioanni and Joe Benson. In my opinion, it should be Hicks' job to lose. Mastrioanni is the ideal, speedy fourth outfielder who can play defense, steal a base and get on base. Looking forward there's no way the Twins view him as their long term option in center field. That leaves Hicks and Benson, both of whom I've seen plenty of with New Britain. Hicks proved to be a five-tool stud last year while Benson struggled mightily. While it might take Hicks a little while to adjust to big league pitching he will be an exciting, impact player right away. Unless they really think it will hinder his development, the Twins might as well go with their CF of the future, which is Hicks.
2. Pedro Florimon should win the shortstop spot by default. He will be competing with Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier.
3. They basically have five #3-#4 quality starting pitchers. Kevin Correia or Vance Worley are very weak in terms of a #1 guy, but a healthy Mike Pelfrey is actually a pretty strong #5 guy.
4. Kyle Gibson is finally fully healthy and has been getting rave reviews. He'll probably start in Rochester but should be starting games for the Twins sooner rather than later.
5. Oswaldo Arcia is a professional hitter. He should dominate the Eastern League this year and get a call up to the big leagues, with a possible stop in Rochester in between, by the middle of the season. He's not a real toolsy guy, but he can really hit the ball.
6. The Rock Cats will have three starting pitchers who are fairly close to the big leagues in Alex Meyer, Trevor May and B.J. Hermsen. Meyer, who was acquired in the Denard Span trade, has clearly the most upside, but it wouldn't surprise me if Hermsen, a big strike-throwing sinker-baller, is the first of the three to get a spot start.
7. It will be interesting to see how Alex Wimmers comes back from Tommy John surgery. The former first round pick has been a huge disappointment both by being constantly injured and failing to perform when healthy.
8. Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano are a dynamic middle of the lineup pair that should start in Fort Myers. The Twins are hoping for some of the holes in Sano's swing to be closed, as he has potential to be a 40+ HR guy.
9. It's obvious that one of the Twins' goals in the 2012 draft was to find a potential closer, as they drafted a bunch of powerful college arms that will be destined for the bullpen. Between Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard, J.T. Chargois, D.J. Baxendale, and Tyler Duffey they have a lot of guys who should move through the organization very fast.
10. Cedar Rapids will probably be the favorite in the Midwest League. One of the reason is the previously mentioned potential dominance of the bullpen, but just as important is he dynamic lineup filled with players who tore up the Appalachian League last year. Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Adam Walker, Travis Harrison, Jorge Polanco, and Niko Goodrum are all legitimate prospects to keep an eye on.
11. J.O. Berrios was one of the most exciting high school arms to come out of the 2012 draft. Will be interesting to see if they push him to full-season Cedar Rapids rather than keep him back in XST.
Overall Farm System Grade: A-
Top 10 Prospects
1. Miguel Sano, Fort Myers
2. Byron Buxton, Cedar Rapids
3. Oswaldo Arcia, New Britain
4. Alex Meyer, New Britain
5. Aaron Hicks, Minnesota
6. Kyle Gibson, Rochester
7. Eddie Rosario, Fort Myers
8. Max Kepler, Cedar Rapids
9. Jose Berrios, Cedar Rapids
10. Trevor May, New Britain
HM: Joe Benson, Mason Melotakis, D.J. Baxendale, Luke Bard, Daniel Santana, B.J. Hermsen, Travis Harrison, Adam Walker, Jorge Polanco, Niko Goodrum