Warne: Power hitting numbers rising throughout Twins organization
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MINNEAPOLIS -- If there's a common thread that has come to roost across the Minnesota Twins system, it's one that spans across all aspects of the game.
And it's something that had been missing from this organization for quite some time. Sure, the Twins developed Justin Morneau, and signed Josh Willingham. But in a game predicated largely on home run power and bringing the heat from the mound, the Twins have lagged behind for a while.
That is, until now.
A neat feature over at Fangraphs allows browsers to create comparative lists of players across all levels of the minors. And while those comparisons would typically be rendered worthless based on the sheer difference of the calibers of competition from low Single-A to Triple-A, but for getting brief glances at players across one organization, it's absolute gold.
Taking a peek at such a leaderboard gives a pretty good glimpse of the state of power in the Twins organization. And it's a glorious thing.
If one omits the Mexican Leaguers -- who quite frankly play in a ridiculous run environment -- the Twins have five hitters in the top-100 of all minor leaguers in home runs. In fact, three -- Miguel Sano (13), Chris Colabello (12), and Kennys Vargas (11) -- are in the top-25 in home runs across all of minor league baseball. Another two slot comfortably within the top-100 -- Adam Walker (10) and Travis Harrison (9) -- with Josmil Pinto and Byron Buxton barely on the outside looking in.
In other words, the T&R Power Company is wielding some serious electricity down on the farm.
But if the home run production has been appreciated by the Twins brass, it was also in a lot of ways expected.
"All those guys should be hitting those types of home run numbers; they have legitimate power," general manager Terry Ryan said. "Not a guy there surprises me. (In fact) there are some guys who I think should be up there and they aren't."
So what's gone into this power eruption across the organization? Ryan suggests geography may play a small part.
"Some of it's ballpark oriented," Ryan said. "It's tough to hit home runs in Rochester, and Colabello's got 'em. It's hard to hit 'em at New Britain, but Pinto's got 'em. I haven't been to Cedar Rapids, but I don't think it's all that difficult to hit home runs there. Certainly in Fort Myers it's difficult, so Vargas and Sano -- and whatever the club is getting out of Eddie Rosario and Angel Morales -- isn't entirely surprising. That team (Fort Myers Miracle) has power."
Ryan also noted that almost none of the players involved in the home run barrage were original draft choices of the Twins, but free agent signings.
"Most of those guys we didn't draft," Ryan said. "Colabello, Sano, Vargas, the list goes on. Sometimes it just happens. We've been lucky. I hate to attribute it to scouting and development, but we might have gotten lucky. Other than Sano. We spent a lot of money on Sano."
But Ryan made it clear that he didn't feel this sudden power shift was any sort of change in organizational philosophy.
"The same people are in that room that have been there for 25 years," Ryan noted. "The only thing that has changed really is that Mike Radcliff has switched titles. Deron Johnson is the scouting director. Even if that's Deron's philosophy, we all still get our input up there if we want."
But the search for power isn't unique to the Twins organization, of course. Every team is on the lookout for someone who can put the ball into the seats, or leave an imprint of the seams in the catcher's palm with his fastball.
"If we see a guy with power -- or a guy who can throw it 96 miles-per-hour -- I think we're like 29 other teams," Ryan said. "Basically, we're thinking 'That'd be interesting to get in the system. This guy can hit it over the fence a long way.' We will have interest in him as almost every club in the game will, as long as he's not a bad human being and all that makeup business. We like all the same things that every other club likes, frankly. It's just who gets to you. Power hitters and pitchers come off the board quickly (in the draft). So do catchers and left-handed pitchers."
And whether it's been through diligent scouting, or in Ryan's words maybe a little luck mixed with player development, it's clear that the Twins have more power in the system than any time in recent memory.