This is one of my favorite times of the year. The Super Bowl is over and pitchers and catchers start reporting this weekend. What better time to look at the future of the Minnesota Twins. This year was tougher to rank the Twins prospects than the past two years. Several years of the big club raiding the system, questionable front office decisions and a little bit of bad luck have left the Twins system weaker than it has been in most seasons.
We'll start with prospect 50-46.
50. Luis Nunez Left Handed Reliever 9/26/1991.
Nunez was signed as a free agent out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2008. Repeating Gulf Coast ball in 2011, Nunez continued to improve. He went 5-0 with 5 saves with a 1.67 ERA in 16 appearances. He struck out 37 and walked only 6 in 32.1 innings. He's a hard thrower. He's small at 5'11" 160, but is only 20. He could be a closer someday.
2012 Outlook: Will probably start the season in extended spring training and either report to Elizabethtown or Beloit.
49. Dakota Watts Right Handed Reliever 11/16/1987.
Watts was drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 draft out of Cal State-Stanislaus. He went 3-4 with 10 saves and a 6.30 ERA in 48 appearances between High A Fort Myers and AA New Britain. He struck out 53 and walked 33 in 65.2 innings. His strikeouts have slipped as he's moved up the system but he still walks WAY too many batters. I ranked him #33 last year. I also wrote about him here. He still has late inning big league reliever potential because throws hard, but he has to throw more strikes.
2012 Outlook: Will return to AA New Britain.
48. Matt Bashore Left Handed Starter 4/6/1988.
Bashore was drafted #46 in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Indiana University. He has pitched very little since being drafted and has just recently come back from Tommy John surgery. He went 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 12 appearances and 3 starts for rookie league Elizabethtown. He struck out 15 and walked 8 in 16.2 innings. If he can regain the form that made him a first round pick, he will move through the system quickly.
2012 Outlook: Will probably start in extended spring training and then report to Beloit.
47. Darin Mastroianni Center Field 8/26/1985.
Mastroianni was claimed off waivers today (February 9th) from Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .268/.353/.370 with 3 HRs and also stole 34 bases in 44 attempts for AA New Hampshire and AAA Las Vegas. Going into his 26th year, Mastroianni is almost as major league ready as he is going to be. He made his major league debut in 2011, playing in one game. He enters an organization set at starting OF in the majors and with many highly rated OF prospects that will be seen later in my countdown. Where he provides value is at the 4th OF spot. A backup who can play CF, get on base, steal some of those bases, be a late inning defensive replacement to Josh Willingham and provide a right handed bat off the bench (backing up two lefties) certainly has value. I like the pickup. If nothing else, he is younger and strikes out less than Jason Repko.
2012 Outlook: He is on the 40 man, so he may break with the Twins or spend time in AAA.
46. Jorge Polanco Shortstop 7/5/1993.
He was signed in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic for $750,000. He hit .250/.319/.349 with 1 HR in 193 plate appearances for Elizabethtown. He also stole 6 bases in 10 attempts. I ranked him #37 last year. He is still very young and an excellent defensive prospect, but hasn't yet found a bat. He is the elite fielding SS prospect in the Twins system. If he finds a bat, he could become one hell of a ballplayer some day.
2012 Outlook: Due to his young age, I'd expect the Twins to start him in instructional league before sending him back to Elizabethtown or Beloit.
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