Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #10 Chris Parmelee

source: twinkietown
10. Chris Parmelee, First Base/Outfield, 24 years old

2011 stats: .287/.366/.436 with 13 HRs for New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: #18
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 1st round (20th overall) out of Chino Hills, CA High School in 2006.

Parmelee was fast-tracked to the majors last season due to injuries to Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. He had a really nice performance in his late season call-up in 2011. His .355/.443/.592 made educated fans and bloggers hopeful that Parmelee was ready to contribute in 2012, but it created some unrealistic expectations of his ability as well.

Friend of the blog "Twins Fan From Afar" tried to temper fans expectations yesterday while also indicating that Parmeless should be fine as a pro. What he did point out is some of the hyperbole surrounding Parmelee since his breakout last season and his hot start this spring. He pointed out the most glaring example of Parmelee hyperbole, this ridiculous post from Tom Powers from the Pioneer Press. Powers was very enamored with his September and the fact that Parmelee hits the ball a long way that he stopped short of calling him the next coming. I wonder if Tom bothered to look at Parmelee's entire resume.

Parmelee had a .287/.366/.436 line as a 23 year old in AA in 2011. Nice numbers, but not star numbers. In fact, he's only broken a .900 in OPS once. With a .273/.369/.532 in 179 plate appearances in rookie ball. Parmelee has always been a decent prospect, but never a guy who made prospect rankings. I don't mean to bad mouth Parmelee. He is my #10 prospect but an .802 OPS in AA as a slow-footed corner is not the makings of a future star.

What Parmelee is, is a solid pro prospect. He's the kind of guy that could eventually top out at an .850-.900 OPS with around 20 HRs. He also plays decent defense at first base. He's a left-handed hitter with some power, some on-base skills who doesn't strike out a ton. If he can maximize his skill-set he will be pretty valuable in the seasons ahead.

Ideal scenario: Parmelee is going to make the team and start the season at 1B with Justin Morneau as DH. The ideal scenario is that Morneau can actually start playing 1B sooner than later and make Parmelee a bench bat and part time 1B/DH/OF. If he plays every day, hopefully he can hit .250/.350/.450 or so and provide decent defense.

Path to the majors: He's made it. He has never played a single game in AAA and unless he struggles mightily, he won't this season. Hopefully for him, and the Twins, he can hit enough at a corner to help them, since he will most likely be there for awhile.

check out the rest of the top 50 starting here.

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #11 Levi Michael

11. Levi Michael, Shortstop, 21 years old

2011 Stats: .289/.434/.434 with 4 HRs and 14 steals in 15 attempts at the University of North Carolina.
Last year's rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round (Number 30) of the 2011 June Major League Draft out of UNC.

Last June, the Twins departed from conventional draft wisdom (at least for the Twins) by drafting a Michael in the first round. You see, Michael was a college shortstop, the Twins don't draft college position players in the first round. They draft college control pitchers or high school position players, mostly toolsy outfielders. The Twins hadn't deviated from this formula since they drafted high school pitchers Kyle Waldrop and Jay Rainville in the first round of the 2004 draft. The Twins hadn't drafted a college position player since Matty Lecroy was drafted as a catcher out of Clemsen way back in 1997.

So, why the change of philosophy? The Twins have a system full of toolsy outfielders and plenty of strike throwing pitchers, but as I pointed out way back in September of 2010, the Twins have a real dearth of middle infielders. I identified there were only 6 SS on the 40 man roster at that time and all 6 of them have moved on. The Twins really need SS depth that can play in the majors soon.

So, the Twins changed their ways and drafted for need. Michael's abilities and polish suggest the got what they needed. From ESPN's Keith Law: "Levi Michael is a 20-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who can run; unless the ankle is somehow worse than I've heard, it makes no sense to me that he fell out of the top 20, and the Twins are very fortunate that they could grab him." and Baseball America had him ranked as there 22nd prospect. So, the Twins got value at #30.

So, what did the Twins get in Michael? As a freshman, he showed decent power with 13 HRs and a .290/.382/.527 line. As a sophomore he had a great numbers with a .346/.484/.575 line including 9 HRs, 20 SBs and only 26 K's in 214 ABsHis junior year he struggled a bit, especially near the end of the season. After his great sophomore season, his .289/.434/.434 line with only 5 HRs and 47 K's looks like a real drop off, but his struggles, especially at the end of the season could be tied to his ankle injury.

Michael is very polish and almost completely developed. He has decent speed and some gap power. He's a switch hitter that can hit from both sides of the plate and he is adept at working walks. He's considered decent defensively but he may have to move to second due to lack of range. He may not have much upside, but the ability he already possesses could be good enough to become a decent major league player.

Ideal scenario: Although he signed late, Michael will most likely start his pro career in Fort Myers. There are very few middle infield prospects in the Twins system and given his ability and polish, Michael move up to New Britain mid-season.

Path to the majors: Michael has the luxury of decent ability and polish at a position of great weakness in the Twins system. If he can play decent defense at the pro level and show any on-base and gap power, Michael could be with the Twins before the end of the 2013 season. He could very well be the Twins starting shortstop or second baseman opening day 2014.

Prospect #12 and the rest of the top 50 starts here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #12 David Bromberg

12. David Bromberg, Right-handed Starter, 24 years old

2011 Stats: 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA 23/15 K/BB in 37 innings for AA New Britain.
Last year's rank: 10
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 32nd round of the 2005 June Major League Draft.

Coming into 2011, David Bromberg was on the verge of making his MLB debut. He'd just been added to the 40-man roster. He'd had a decent 2010 in New Britain and Rochester, had even more impressive numbers at every level prior to 2010 and he had decent stuff. He was right there, ready to make his pro debut, just one problem, he got hurt.

He started the season a little slow. Going 1-1 and giving up 8 earned runs in 17.1 innings with just 4 Ks and 3 BBs. He was doing well in his 4th appearance on April 26th. He had 7 Ks with just 1 BB and 5 hits given up in 5.1 innings when his forearm was broken by a come-backer to the mound. He missed nearly three months and wasn't the same post injury, eventually shutting his season down. As an extra kick to the head, he was removed from the 40 man roster and went unclaimed.

I had high expectations going into last season. I figured he'd start the year in AAA and predicted he'd be one of the first Twins pitchers called up. Well, I missed the boat there, due to his injury. If he can get back to his pre-injury form, he certainly has a chance to be a decent major league starter. He was the 2009 Twins "minor league pitcher of the year" and had 3 years of better than 8.5 K's per 9. He's also only 24 years old and he always had a decent fastball and secondary pitches. The fact that he has lost a lot of weight over the past couple of years shows his commitment and could have positive benefits in his game management and velocity. Hopefully, I am just a year behind on my prediction.

Bromberg is in a similar position as #13 prospect Alex Wimmers. Both have seen their prospect luster dip compared to where it was and like Wimmers, Bromberg will need a good year to get back on track. While, I have him ranked #12 now, another lost season could spell the end of his time in the organization, the way the Twins have been cutting players.

Ideal scenario: Bromberg gets back on track, has a good start in New Britain and Rochester and is a factor for the Twins by the end of the season. Last year, I had him as top choice for a starter prospect call-up, but he is not on the 40 man roster at this time.

Path to the majors: If he pitches well and avoids injury, he will reach the majors in 2012.

Prospect #13, #14, #15, the rest. Only 2 of my top 50 have been cut in the last week. :/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #13 Alex Wimmers

13. Alex Wimmers, Right-handed Starter, 23 years old

2011 stats: 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA 39/22 K/BB in 40.2 innings for Fort Myers.
Last year's rank: 5
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins 21st overall in the 2010 June Major League Draft.

Alex Wimmers was the Twins top pick in the 2010 draft. Wimmers coming out of college was the "stereotypical Twins starting pitcher" or "stereotypical pitching draft pick" as I wrote last year.He was the 2010 National collegiate pitcher of the year and was also the first Big Ten pitcher to win the conference's pitcher of the year in 2 consecutive years, in 2009 and 2010 Wimmers was a strike throwing college pitcher and also had a good start to his pro career, striking out 23 and walking 5 in 15.2 innings in 2011. He looked poised to have a good year something happened. Wimmers lost the strike-zone. 

Wimmers started his season on April 11th by walking the all 6 batters he faced. He also threw three wild pitches and a total of four strikes in 28 pitches. That was very Shooter Hunt like.... in fact it was about as accurate as I am, the first time I throw every spring. The Twins stopped his season right there and he didn't appear in another game until July 1st. "When you see that happening, you better slow a guy down and try to get him on track before he goes out there again," said Eric Rasmussen, Twins minor league pitching coordinator. "So we kind of took some time and worked him through it." Wimmers returned as a reliever and started the last 3 games of the year. His last start, he threw a 7 inning no hitter, walking only 2.

So what to make of Wimmers? Reports are that his control is back. He ended the season pitching a lot like we figured he would all along. I ranked him #5 last year and predicted his ideal scenario; "He could follow the model established by Baker, Slowey, Gibson etc... and pitch in three levels in one season. I see him probably spending the bulk of the season in AA New Britain." That didn't happen. Prospects can be fickle. Last year, we had Kane Holbrooks as our #11 prospect and this year, Holbrooks was cut. Wimmers came to the Twins with the first round pick fanfare, so he will be given more rope. If he goes the way of Shooter Hunt though, he could soon be found elsewhere, like Shooter Hunt. At just 23 years old, I believe he can bounce back enough to rank him #14.

Ideal Scenario: Wimmers will start 2012 back at Fort Myers. Assuming he has regained his control he should end the season in AA New Britain.

Path to the majors: Wimmers needs to establish that he can still throw strikes and that his first start was just a blip and isn't a Rick Ankiel, Shooter Hunt related disaster. Assuming he is the guy we thought he was last year, he should be in the mix to make the Twins out of spring in 2013. If he isn't that guy.... the path could continue to be as bumpy as it was in 2011.

Check out #14, #15, and the rest.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #14 Chris Herrmann

Source: Herrmann's Google Plus page
14. Chris Herrmann, Catcher/OF, 24 years old

2011 Stats: .269/.385/.399 with 8 HRs and 10 steals in 13 attempts between Fort Myers and New Britain.
Last Year's Rank: N/A
Acquired: Drafted by the Twins in the 6th round out of the University of Miami in 2009.

Herrmann had a breakout year for the Twins in 2011 after compiling a .219/.310/.301 line in 408 plate appearances in 2010 for Fort Myers. Even though he had a rough first full professional year at the plate, he did throw out 36% of attempted base-stealer's. Herrmann started 2011 back at Fort Myers, but after a good start, posting a .310/.404/.425 line, he was promoted to New Britain in early May. His batting average dropped at New Britain but overall he had decent numbers, going .258/.380/.392. He also stole 9 bases. To top off his season, he was very impressive in the Arizona Fall League, going .380/.456/.620 in 57 plate appearances.

Herrmann put himself in the conversation as a top Twins prospect in 2011 and finally gave the system some decent catching depth since Wilson Ramos was traded in 2010. With Mauer's injuries in 2011, the lack of  system depth at catcher was really exposed. Herrmann's line at AA as a 23 year old is similar to Ramos' .317/.341/.454 line as a 21 year in New Britain. Herrmann is not the prospect that Ramos was, he is not as big, nor does he have the power or defensive ability but he gets on base and doesn't strikeout too much. He has also shown to be healthier at this stage of his career. 

Herrmann's skill-set will provide the Twins with a good back-up option to Joe Mauer. An option who is athletic enough to play other parts of the field. Herrmann, as a hitter, is a poor man's Joe Mauer. He is left-handed, a doubles machine and he gets on base. He just isn't as good of a hitter, nor is he as big. Herrmann is a better offensive catcher than Drew Butera right now, but given the signing of Ryan Doumit, the Twins can give him another year of seasoning. 2012 will be an important year for Herrmann. Another solid year would give him and the Twins options. He could either be a solid back-up to Mauer or a decent starter to replace Mauer, given Mauer's injury history or that he may have to replace Justin Morneau at first.

Ideal scenario: That Herrmann will spend 2012 in AA or AAA and the Twins won't need him . He will continue to develop his bat and his catching ability and be ready to play in the MLB in 2013.

Path to the majors: Herrmann has enough of a bat at catcher to backup right now in the system right now, but there are several short-term catcher options in front of him for 2012 and he would probably be better served spending the season in the minors. He can debut as a back-up catcher/bench bat/Joe Mauer insurance in 2013.

Check out #15 here and 20-16 and all of the rest here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects #15 Carlos Gutierrez

15. Carlos Gutierrez, Right-Handed Reliever, 25 years old

2011 stats: 2-3 4.62 ERA 57/31 K/BB in 62.1 innings for AAA Rochester.
Last year's rank: 43
Acquired: Drafted in the first round out of University of Miami in 2008

Gutierrez has been a highly thought of prospect in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2008, though considered a little bit of a stretch as the 27th pick. (Shooter Hunt drafted 31st was actually considered the better pick) He has steadily climbed the Twins minor league ladder to the point where he was added to the 40 man roster this off-season and is on the cusp of making his MLB debut.

Gutierrez is sometimes ranked as a top 10 prospect in the Twins system but hasn't ever really backed that lofty ranking up. He's generally had high ERAs and he generally gives up more than a hit an inning. His FIP is usually a little lower than his ERA and BABIP is often high, suggesting he's been a little unlucky. As a ground ball pitcher, Gutierrez will need good fielding behind him to maximize his ability.

Gutierrez has been tried as both a starter and a reliever with the Twins. In 2009 and 2010 he was often used as a starter with mixed results. His K/9 innings in 2009-2010 were under 6 per inning while walking nearly 4 per inning. In 2011, he was only used in relief and his K/9 rate shot up to 8.23 per inning, but his BB/9 rate was 4.48. He has a good fastball, I have seen him hit 96 MPH and he can be dominant, but generally he doesn't sustain his dominance for long periods of time. His stuff has been compared to the former Fausto Carmona and I'd like to believe in him more, but unless he can keep that sinker over the plate. If he can walk less and mix his pitches to induce a few more strikeouts, Gutierrez could be a set-up guy or closer. Right now, he looks like a 6th or 7th inning reliever and ranks this high on my list due to probable 2012 major league impact and potential top-end.

Ideal scenario: Gutierrez will start the year hot in Rochester and get a promotion to the Twins sketchy bullpen. Once promoted, if he can strikeout at least 7.5 per/9 and keep his walk rate down, he could be a really solid set-up guy and have a long major league career.

Path to the majors: Gutierrez will make his Twins debut in 2012 assuming he stays healthy and doesn't completely fall apart in Rochester.

Please checkout prospects 50-16 starting here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins Prospects 20-16

Spring training is getting going in earnest, the Twins won 7-3 today with contributions from Mauer, Morneau & Span. TwinsDaily is becoming the place to be to check out Twins content, check it out here. It is a good place to find much of the posted Twins content as well as discover new blogs. I recently discovered Twins fan from afar via TwinsDaily.

Recently, I tried to convince Joel Zumaya not to retire, now I will continue my prospect countdown with 20-16. Check out the rest of my top 50 starting here.

20. Madison Boer Right-Handed Pitcher 11/9/1989.
Boer was drafted by the Twins in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Oregon. He went 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 11 saves in 23 appearances with Elizabethtown and Beloit. He struck out a whopping 43 and walked just 3 in 25.1 innings. Despite his great numbers after as a reliever in 2011, (especially in E-town) the Twins will try him out as a starter. He has a fastball that reaches 95 and a potential plus slider or splitter. As a starter, he looks like a back of the rotation guy but could be a closer as a reliever. He's also a Minnesota kid, which certainly goes a long way for this Twins fan.
2012 Outlook: He'll start the season as a starter for Beloit with a potential mid-season promotion to Fort Myers.

19. Jairo Perez Third Base 6/10/1988.
Perez was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Acarigua, Venezuela. He hit .337/.413/.580 with 15 HRs and 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts in 316 plate appearance for Beloit. Perez missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery and hadn't done much other than a .338/.437/.525 line in the Dominican League in 2009. The Twins started Perez in extended spring training before sending him to Beloit. If his monster 2011 is a pre-cursor of things to come, he should rocket through the system. He is going to turn 24 in 2012 and not a very good defender so, improved competition is needed to see if Perez's bat plays at an elite level. At only 5'10" 160 lbs, it will be interesting to see if Perez can replicate those numbers at his size or if he is indeed a one year wonder. I like a little guy with a big swing and we share a birthday.... so I will definitely be rooting for Perez.
2012 Outlook: Perez will start the year in fort Myers, if he hits like he did in 2011, he'll move up sometime during the season.

18. Nate Roberts Outfield 2/25/1989.
Roberts was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round in the 2010 draft out of High Point University. He hit .302/.443/.446 with 4 HRs in 283 plate appearances for Beloit. He also stole 9 bases in 13 attempts. Roberts missed about half the season due to knee problems but was an on-base machine when he was in the lineup. Roberts had 28 walks and also was hit by a pitch an absurd 29 times. Roberts has a blend of speed, batting average, power and on-base skills that make him a very solid prospect, but he is 23 years old coming out of low A ball. It's time for him to start moving through the system. I ranked him #16 last year.
2012 Outlook: Roberts will start in Fort Myers and could move to New Britain, depending on his play and the organizational depth ahead of him.

17. Angel Morales Outfield 11/24/1989.
Morales was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School. He hit .264/.326/.388 with 3 HRs and 3 SB in 5 attempts in 138 plate appearances for Fort Myers. Morales had a breakout season in 2008 with Elizabethtown with a .301/.413/.623 line. He's been pretty decent since but he has fought injuries and inconsistency. Morales has plenty of tools and is just 22, but he still strikes out once a game and his on-base skills have declined as he has leveled up, though reports say he has improved his plate discipline. He only got into 37 total games in 2011 due to an elbow injury. I have been really high on Morales for a long time, ranking him #5 in 2010 and #12 last year and hope to see him play for the first time this year.
2012 Outlook: Hopefully, Morales can have an injury-free season in New Britain and I will get a chance to see him play.

16. Tom Stuifbergen Right Handed Starter 9/26/1988.
Stuifbergen was signed by the Twins in 2006 out of Breda, Netherlands. He went 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) for Fort Myers. He struck out 75 and walked 19 in 116.2 innings. He also had a 5 inning win at Rochester. Stuifbergen battled injuries early in his career but it seems to be getting healthier every year since missing all of 2008. Stuifbergen always has a really good walk rate (Twins kind of guy) but his strikeout rate plummeted in 2011. His numbers have him looking more like a back of the rotation starter but I really like his experience and how he has pitched in international play. I see a him as solid middle rotation MLB starter. I ranked him #8 going into 2010 & #14 last year.
2012 Outlook: Will probably spend most of the season in New Britain.