I recently posted my 46-50 best Twins prospects and today, I will post 41-45. The fun thing about ranking prospects is that it is such a subjective exercise. I see very little separation between my 50th prospect and my 25th.
45. Luke Hughes Infield/Outfield 8/2/1984.
He was signed in 2002 out of Perth, Australia. Luke battled injuries in 2010, hitting .257/.313/.405 in only 22 games for AAA Rochester. He did make his major league debut in 2010, becoming the 106th player in MLB history to HR in his first at-bat. Hughes rocketed up prospect boards with a .309/.369/.524 line for AA New Britain in 2008, but injuries have sent Hughes in reverse. He goes into 2011 as an intriguing right-handed bat and questionable glove but has a hard time staying healthy. Hughes could really be a useful right handed bat for the Twins if he could just stay on the field. I had him as my number 33 prospect last season.
- 2011 Outlook: Start the year in AAA, probably given a final shot at 2B. He could be a RH bench bat option & will probably be one of the first injury call-ups.
44. Brett Jacobson Reliever 11/9/1986.
He was recently acquired from the Baltimore Orioles along with Jim Hoey in exchange for J.J. Hardy. He went 8-1 with a save and a 2.79 ERA in the High A Carolina League in 2010. He struck out 67 and walked 24 in 71 innings. He has a low 90s sinker and could be a useful relief option for the Twins pretty soon. The Hardy trade was pretty underwhelming, but Jacobson provides some relief value.
- 2011 Outlook: 8th inning guy or closer for New Britain.
43. Carlos Gutierrez Reliever/Starter 9/22/1986.
He was the Twins 27th overall pick in 2008 out of the University of Miami. He went 5-8 with 2 saves in 16 starts and 16 relief appearances with a 4.57 ERA for AA New Britain. He struck out 81 and walked 50 in 122 innings. He hits 95 occasionally and seems to be a much better reliever than a starter. He has a very good sinker. Many rank him higher than I do but he allows too many base-runners and his strikeout rate isn't great. If the Twins decide to use him exclusively as a reliever, he will rank higher on my next list.
-2011 Outlook: Hopefully a late inning reliever for New Britain or Rochester.
42. Andrei Lobanov Lefty Reliever 1/25/1990.
He was signed in 2007 out of Moscow, Russia. He went 3-2 with 3 saves and a 2.64 ERA in 64.2 innings mostly split between Beloit and Fort Myers. He struck out 56 and walked 14. He doesn't throw very hard but he's young, has a pretty low walk rate and he's left-handed. He's 6'3" but only 171 lbs. If he could add some weight, he might increase his velocity. He could become a stud lefty reliever. I ranked him #10 going into last season.
-2011 Outlook: Should spend most of the year in the Fort Myers Bullpen.
41. Scott Diamond Lefty Starter 7/30/1986.
He was recently claimed in the rule 5 draft from the Atlanta Braves. He needs to stay on the Twins MLB roster or a trade needs to be made with the Braves, or else he will be a Braves prospect again. Diamond has a chance to stay with the Twins. He went 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA between AA and AAA. He struck out 123 and walked 54 in 158.2 innings. The Twins have some holes in the bullpen and, if they don't sign Carl Pavano, rotation depth issues. Diamond could be the first option to start if any of the top 5 starters get injured. Diamond doesn't profile better than a back-end of the rotation starter, but he's got decent numbers and he's left handed. He could certainly fill a role for the Twins in 2011 and beyond.
-2011 Outlook: Making the MLB roster as a long reliever.