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Friday, February 8, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Minnesota Twins

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Minnesota Twins
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

MINNESOTA TWINS
2012 Record:
66-96

The Twins continued their downward slide but had to wait to start rebuilding until after the season, as most of their good players have unmovable contracts (or in the case of Joe Mauer, are not going anywhere). 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia

NOTABLE LOSSES: Denard Span, Ben Revere, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker

Keys to Success: How soon can their outfield prospects reach the big leagues and thrive? Minnesota’s impressive collection of talent allowed them to deal both Span and Revere for pitching help, but it will be difficult for their production to be replace immediately. Are any of their fifth starter types capable of even average, or full-season, pitching? Can Josh Willingham and/or Justin Morneau hit well enough to be dealt for useful prospects?

PROSPECT WATCH:
Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

OSWALDO ARCIA, OF (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x

xx
TBD
TBD

Arcia has put up some amazing offensive numbers in his brief minor league career, and could be ready for the majors soon. He hit .320/.388/.539 with 17 HR and 98 RBI between High-A  Fort Myers and AA New Britain. He was actually better in New Britain, possibly because the Florida State League is a challenging hitting environment. Arcia has a career. 314 average in the minors, and could be an offensive stud if he continues to develop his already-strong pitch recognition, which led to a career-high 51 walks last year (against 107 strikeouts).
AARON HICKS, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
x
TBD
xx
x
x
Hicks has been around for a while but Minnesota’s patience looks very smart now that Hicks is almost ready to contribute at the major league level. Last year Hicks spent the whole year at AA-New Britain, hitting .286/.384/.460 with 13 HR, 61 RBI, 32 SB, and 100 RS. Throughout his minor league career he has put up tremendous walk totals: 88, 78, and 79 the past three seasons. His power also took a big step forward as he more than doubled 2011’s totals in triples (11) and Home Runs (13). The 23-year-old switch hitter should be no worse than an average contributor across the board, a reasonable midrange comp being ex-Twin Matt Lawton.
MIGUEL SANO, 3B:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
xx

TBD
x
TBD

Sano, a high profile international signing three years ago, is now a 20-year-old third basemen with prodigious power to the extent that it could make up for his other shortcomings as he moves up to the majors. Last year he hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 HR and 100 RBI for low-A Beloit. Errors don’t necessarily mean much in the minors but he made 42 last year and could possibly move to the outfield, or even first base, later in his career. He drew 80 walks against 144 strikeouts, showing the respect pitchers have for his power but also an aggressive approach which may always limit his batting average.
BYRON BUXTON, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
TBD
TBD
x
x
Buxton was taken second overall in the draft but may be the superior player, as top pick Carlos Correa was taken for strategic/money reasons. He draws rave reviews for his skill set, which he demonstrated in rookie ball last year, hitting .248/.344/.448 with 5 HR and 11 SB in 165 at-bats. The batting average was low but far more significant was his 19 walks (against 41 K), a solid approach which should keep his floor from collapsing even as his ceiling remains sky-high.
EDDIE ROSARIO, INF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
x
x
x
TBD
TBD

Rosario hit .296/.345/.490 with 12 HR and 70 RBI last year for low-A Beloit playing mostly second base. He stole 11 bases but was also caught stealing 11 times, a number which must improve for him to be an asset on the base paths. Rosario shows emerging power and a strong feel for hitting. Hit contact skills are also impressive, as he only struck out 69 times in just under 400 at-bats. 

2012 Top Draft Pick: Buxton, although fellow draft pick JO BERRIOS, RHP, had a ridiculously good debut in rookie ball. 

Sleeper MLB Contributor: JOE BENSON has had up-and-down numbers in the upper minors but still has enough talent-and more importantly, an opening-to surprise in Minnesota’s outfield. 

2013 Outlook and Projection: The Twins finally started rebuilding at the end of last year, first trading away disappointing Francisco Liriano, and later dumping the two outfielders, all for pitching help. They are just starting to balance out the disparity between their offense and pitching talent, at both the major and minor league level. Veterans Pelfrey and Correia will help hold down the fort until more interesting young pitchers arrive, but the only pitcher on the roster who might be in their long-term plans is Vance Worley, and he might be no better than a fourth starter in the American league. Their pitching is still not good, and the Twins have too many holes in their lineup-up the middle is especially sad looking these days-to contend. They are better off trading veterans, if they can, for more pitching prospects. Right now, Joe Mauer is the only player who could play for the next Twins playoff team.
REBUILDING (could contend by: 2015)

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