Updated: January 10th, 2012 3:47pm
Baseball America ranks Miguel Sano as Twins' top prospect

Baseball America ranks Miguel Sano as Twins' top prospect

by Phil Mackey
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Baseball America released its organizational Top 10 prospect rankings, and there's been a change at the top of the minor league food chain for the Minnesota Twins.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks and right-hander Kyle Gibson ranked as the Twins' No. 1 prospects in 2010 and 2011, respectively, but 18-year-old infield prospect Miguel Sano takes over the top spot heading into the 2012 season.

Here are excerpts from Baseball America regarding the Twins' top 10 prospects:

1. Miguel Sano -- 3B/SS -- Age 18

"Sano is ready for his full-season closeup at low Class-A Beloit. The Twins usually try to take it slow with their prospects, but he could be an exception if he improves his pitch recognition and cuts down on his strikeouts. He has the highest ceiling of any Minnesota prospect since Joe Mauer and could be in the Twin Cities by 2014, allowing him two full seasons in the minors. Sano profiles as at least a 30-homer threat at third base, a luxury the Twins haven't had since Gary Gaetti's in the late 1980's."

2. Joe Benson -- OF -- Age 24

"With Josh Willingham aboard, Benson will battle Ben Revere for the third spot in Minnesota's outfield. He hasn't played at Triple-A yet, so he's likely headed to Rochester."

3. Eddie Rosario -- 2B/OF -- Age 20

"Rosario will need repetitions at second base, but his arm, athleticism and quickness give him a chance to stay there. He'll report to spring training as an infielder and is expected to play second base at Beloit this year. If it all works out, the Twins will have their best offensive second baseman since Chuck Knoblauch."

4. Aaron Hicks -- OF -- Age 22

" Minnesota has discussed having Hicks bat solely right-handed, but enough of its instructors and scouts believe in his athleticism and aptitude for him to continue switch-hitting. He'll have to put in more work to polish up his swing and move up to Double-A New Britain sometime in 2012, though he'll likely repeat high Class A to start the season. Club officials believe he'll blossom late like Torii Hunter and Denard Span did."

5. Oswaldo Arcia -- OF -- Age 20

"Arcia and Joe Benson could man the Twins' outfield corners in the near future. For 2012, Arcia will start back at Fort Myers and hit his way to Double-A at some point."

6. Levi Michael -- SS/2B -- Age 21

"Michael's injuries were significant enough to keep him from making his pro debut and playing in instructional league. Assuming he's healthy in the spring, he'll play shortstop in a talented Beloit infield that also will include Miguel Sano at third base and Eddie Rosario at second. Michael is the Twins' best long-term answer at shortstop."

7. Liam Hendriks -- RHP -- Age 23

"Hendriks could use more Triple-A time, but he's ready for a back-of-the-rotation gig in Minnesota if the need arises. He has an outside shot at becoming a No. 3 starter."

8. Kyle Gibson -- RHP -- Age 24

"Gibson may not pitch until the second half of 2012 at the earliest, and Minnesota likely won't get a great read on him until 2013, when he'll already be 25. If his stuff and above-average control return, he should be able to establish himself as a solid No. 2 or 3 starter."

9. Chris Parmelee -- 1B/OF -- Age 24

"Club officials like how Parmelee has matured. With Justin Morneau's concussion issues, Parmelee gives Minnesota an in-house option for first base. He'll have to improve against lefties to be more than a second-division regular or platoon player."

10. Brian Dozier -- SS/2B -- Age 24

"Dozier is similar to Jamey Carroll, whom the Twins signed for two years this offseason. He could replace Carroll in Minnesota at the end of that contract, or learn under him as a utility player before that. Either way, Dozier figures to start 2012 in Triple-A."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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