Analysis: A review of the Twins' preseason top prospects (Nos. 6-10)
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With the minor league season completed for all Minnesota Twins affiliates, September can be a good time to take a peek at how the top prospects fared this season.
Below is the Baseball Prospectus top-10 list (posted in November), with analysis and an assessment on the player's 2013 progress. Where applicable, preseason (top 101) and midseason (top 50) ranks are noted. Today we look at Nos. 10-6. Tomorrow we'll post the Twins top-5.
10. MI Jorge Polanco
Stats: .308/.362/.452, 47 extra-base hits (XBH)
Analysis: Polanco splashed onto the scene with a .903 OPS in his Appalachian League debut last year, and followed it up with a nicely balanced .813 mark in his first year of full-season ball at age 20. Polanco has consistently shown a good approach at the plate, and 2013 was no exception, with a 59:42 K/BB ratio. So far in his four minor league seasons, Polanco has split time between second and shortstop -- 118 games apiece. Often, players who do that will take the slide down the spectrum in the long run. Polanco's bat looks like it'll be good enough for him to play second base, assuming further development.
Prognosis: Took a huge step forward on the field, and will be a riser in one of the game's premier farm systems.
9. 3B Travis Harrison
Stats: .253/.366/.416, 15 home runs (43 XBH)
Analysis: Harrison absolutely mashed through June (.272/.369/.507, 13 home runs), but then fell apart the rest of the way (.225/.362/.280, 2 home runs). According to most prospect outlets, Harrison doesn't have the actions to stick at third base long-term. In that respect, he'll have to hit a lot more like the first half than the second if he's going to have a future corner spot in the big leagues.
Prognosis: Likely took a tumble. Doesn't seem to have long-term future at third base, and didn't show enough power (.415 slugging) to hang at first either. Turns 21 in October.
8. OF/1B Max Kepler
Stats: .237/.312/.424, 9 HR
Analysis: Kepler tumbled a bit, as his OPS fell from month-to-month: .933 to .767 to .720. But even had he not tumbled, it'd likely be a repeat scenario for the German 20-year-old, as injuries kept him from making his season debut until June 20. The primary culprit to Kepler's less-than-ideal season was his complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. Kepler -- left-handed himself -- hit an impressive .278/.340/.523 versus right handers, but a paltry .117/.232/.133 versus southpaws (7-for-60). That'll certainly be a point of emphasis going forward for Kepler and the Twins, although it's hard to gauge how much a hitter can actually improve in that facet.
Prognosis: From a 'getting-on-the-field' standpoint, Kepler was good. But his fade down the stretch would all but guarantee he repeats Cedar Rapids next year. Entering his age-21 season, the scrutiny will be a bit harsher in 2014.
7. SP Jose Berrios
Stats: 7-7, 3.99 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 1.40 WHIP
Analysis: Berrios' season numbers look solid overall, but his stock took a consistent tumble as the year wore on. Consider Berrios' month-by-month ERAs: 2.31, 2.61, 4.32, 5.54, 4.24. More concerning yet may be the narrowing of the strikeouts-to-walks ratio as the season progressed, as Berrios sat at 6.5 in the first month of the year, and regressed in each successive month all the way down to 1.4 in August. Then again, a lot of this is unnecessary scrutiny to put on a teenager in his first year of full-season ball; he won't even be 20 until next season is well underway. These are just trends worth monitoring in the likely event that Berrios is sent to Cedar Rapids to start 2014.
Prognosis: Still quite good, though Berrios scuffled more as the season wore on. As a 19-year-old in his first year of full-season ball, he held his own.
6. 2B Eddie Rosario
Level(s): High-A, Double-A (promoted June 12)
Stats: .302/.350/.460, 10 home runs (50 XBH), 10 SB/10 CS (across two levels)
Analysis: Rosario's Double-A line of .284/.330/.412 gets smoothed over by an excellent 52-game stint at High-A, but overall the Twins are pleased by Rosario's progress. Not only did he still hit for high average at Double-A, but he's handled the move to second about as well as the team could have imagined. General manager Terry Ryan routinely says "you'd never have any idea he wasn't a natural second baseman if you were watching him." Still, it looks like he may be facing a position switch with the progress Brian Dozier has made this season. An outfield of Rosario, Buxton, and Aaron Hicks could cover some serious ground.
Prognosis: Stock is up. Holding one's own at Double-A as a 21-year-old while learning a new position that is up the defensive spectrum is a feat rarely accomplished. Future might not be at second, but rather left field as Dozier is looking entrenched at the keystone.
Editor's note: Remember, tomorrow's post will detail the Twins top-5 prospects, according to preseason Baseball Prospectus rankings.
5. Kyle Gibson
3. Aaron Hicks
2. Miguel Sano
1. Byron Buxton
* SP Alex Meyer - Not listed because he came over in the Denard Span trade, which occurred after the list was created. No. 88 on preseason list. Stock holding steady, as Meyer was very good in time limited at Double-A.
* SP Trevor May - Not listed because he was acquired in the Ben Revere trade, which occurred after the list was created. No. 51 on the 2012 preseason list. Stock is up, in large part due to workload and late season performance, per Terry Ryan.
* SP Alex Wimmers - With nothing to show after four years of minor league service, 2014 is a make-or-break for Wimmers, who turns 25 in November.
* IF Danny Santana - Stock is up, as Santana had basically the same season at Double-A in 2013 as he did High-A in 2012. The club is sticking with him at shortstop despite 77 errors the past three seasons at the position, which suggests he shows long-term promise there.
* OF Adam Brett Walker - Stock is up, but only because he was totally off the radar. Massive power, but too many strikeouts and no clear defensive position. Could easily flame out in Double-A, or turn into a masher. It's hard to say at this point.