I’ll eventually go to a top 50, but wanted to do a quick update on a midseason top 10 prospects list. A brief explanation on my methodology: I tend to favor higher ceiling guy if their is a tiebreaker, but for the most part I use a combination of floor and ceiling to figure out a player’s probable career path, and then factor in the likelihood of him reaching it. To do so I use a combination of scouting and statistics, with statistics receiving more weight the more a player moves up the ladder.
1. Miguel Sano, 19 years old, 3B
Sano is just a teenager, and so Twins fans shouldn’t be tremendously concerned about the error totals piling up. What he does offer is prodigious power. He’s one of only a few prospects in the minors who can boast having 80 power. There’s still a lot of swing and miss there, but Sano has the potential to hit 4th in a championship lineup. As for his defense, I think the worst case scenario is right field due to his strong throwing arm, but I think there is something to the idea of letting him be a third baseman with not a lot of range. If he can clean up the error totals – and reading scouting reports regarding his hands it should be doable – then it’s maybe not a bad idea to let him be Miguel Cabrera with less batting average.
2. Eddie Rosario, 20, 2B
The Twins have struggled developing infielders in recent times, so enter Rosario, whom the Twins brought in from the outfield. It’s too early to make anything of his defensive performance at second either way, but if he can stay there the Twins have a very valuable player. Offensively he has hit .293/.362/.473 at Beloit, and he is walking more and striking out less than he did last year. Obviously those are impressive numbers in the Midwest League, and while I don’t think he’ll ever be the type of power hitter that he was last year, he still has the potential to hit 10-15 per year, hit for a decent average, and play solid defense. He doesn’t have a standout tool (though the hit tool is close) but he doesn’t really have a weakness either.
3. Aaron Hicks, 22, OF
For some reason, prospect people aren’t as high on Hicks as they once were. While they have criticized his passive approach at the plate (correctly), it’s gotten much better as of late. He already has tied his career high in HRs, and he has come much closer to fixing his splits. His OBP against righties is just 12 points lower than against lefties. Hicks has a career .373 OBP in the minors, and it’s .355 as a 22 year old in AA. His strikeouts have gone up a bit, but he’ll have his career high in HRs and SBs this year, and could have a career high in ISO. Even if the bat isn’t all the way there, he has the fact that he is a well above average defender in center to fall back on.
4. Byron Buxton, 18, OF
The second overall pick in the 2012 draft has had an inauspicious beginning to his pro career, hitting .125/.205/.150 so far in the GCL, but there is no need to be concerned yet. He has tools all over the place, and scouts say he’s relatively advanced for an 18 year old fresh out of high school. He potentially has above average power, but I do have some concerns whether the approach and the bat will allow that power to develop, and that’s why he’s at 4.
5. Oswaldo Arcia, 21, OF
Arcia earned his promotion to AA in June, and while his overall numbers have dipped a bit, he’s continued to show why he is one of the best bats in the organization. He’s struggled with the strikeouts and doesn’t add a ton of defensive value, as I imagine he will be limited to right field in the majors, but he’s shown good on base skills and has shown doubles power that can hopefully develop into some homers in the future.
6. Niko Goodrum, 20, SS
He’s still in rookie ball as a 20 year old, but he should be getting a promotion to A ball any time now. He really only repeated the Appy league to work on his defense, and reports have been a little bit better. He’s still a big guy for a shortstop and I think center field is his eventual home, but he has the hands and arm to stick at short so if he doesn’t get any bigger there’s a chance he’ll retain his foot speed well enough to stay there as well. He’s mastered his level from a hitting standpoint, with a .352 OBP last year and a .442 mark this year, with 12 of his 17 hits going for extra bases. He’s walking more than he has struck out as well, and now the challenge will be the Midwest and Florida State Leagues where we will see just how real the bat is.
7. Travis Harrison, 19, 3B
It’s tough to call someone who is 6’1″, 215 lbs Junior, but Harrison is sort of Miguel Sano Junior. He was drafted 50th overall in the 2011 draft, and a rare position player whom the Twins drafted for the bat rather than the tools. Baseball America called him the best HS bat in California last year, and he hasn’t disappointed, hitting .328/.427/.484 with 2 homers in 17 games in the Appy League. BA also mentioned some questions about his approach, but he’s walked more than he’s struck out as well. His defense is the main question mark right now, and might end up a first baseman, so he’ll have to really mash to be considered a legit prospect.
8. Amaurys Minier, 16, SS
It may be a bit early to put Minier on this list. Minier, though, is one of the highest ceiling guys in Latin America. He won’t be sticking at short in the long term, but he has the hands and arm to stay in the infield. His bat is fantastic; hitting from both sides of the plate and able to swing with the same velocity from both sides. He’s developing at the plate but has already shown decent power and with how much he’s expected to grow he could be a legitimate power hitter.
9. Joe Benson, 24, OF
It’s been a rough year for Benson, who has hit just .176/.272/.296 across 4 levels while dealing with injury issues. He still has a lot of tools, but other than 2009 and 2011 that hasn’t translated to much production. I still have tremendous doubts as to whether he’ll ever hit enough to be an above average major leaguer, but he does have power potential and can play center field. If he shows that he’s healthy I expect he could be a decent trade chip.
10. Levi Michael, 21, SS
Michael started in Ft. Myers, and after a tough start he has started to adjust to wood bats and the league, hitting .288/.357/.370 in June. He hasn’t hit for much power, but he’s walked 36 times next to 54 strikeouts. The big problem, value wise, is his defense. He has been playing a lot of second base this year and I think that’s where he will eventually end up. He’ll likely end up an above average second baseman defensively and hopefully the bat will come around, but moving to the right side of the diamond does hurt his value a bit.
Mason Melotakis – The 2012 draftee has had a dominant start to his pro career, with a .64 WHIP and 11.6 K per 9 innings so far.
Corey Williams – The 2011 draftee is striking out almost 10 batters per 9 as Beloit’s closer. He’ll probably be a good lefty reliever in the bigs.
Tyler Robertson – Speaking of LOOGYs, Robertson has allowed some runs in the majors, but he’s striking out a lot of hitters and hardly walking any.
Max Kepler – the German is in the Appy League again, but is probably going to set a career high in walks and is flashing the tools that caught teams’ eyes in the first place. The next step is adding contact and power skills.
JO Berrios – He’s relieving for now, likely to keep his innings down, but has just a 1 WHIP and is striking out 13.5 batters per 9 innings so far.
David Bromberg – Bromberg has a 1.34 WHIP and is striking out 8 hitters per 9 in AA