First month of the season. Lets take a look at my top 21 prospects. Rating who had a good April and who struggled.
21. (-) BJ Hermsen: BJ's 2010 season has yet to begin as he was held back in extended spring training. I got a chance to talk to him on a podcast hosted by myself and DW the Great and he said he will most likley head to the Appalachian League to start the year but hopes to get some innings at Beloit at some point.
20. (-) Matt Bashore: Bashore has also been held back in extended spring training. This mostly due to his arm injury that cut his 2009 short. Twins are trying to build his arm strength back up. He will possibly go to the Appalacian League this year. Bashore has a chance to skip Low A ball in 2011 if he pitches well because he is 22 now.
19. (Up) Deolis Guerra: It might be starting to come together for the now 21 year old. Guerra has made 3 starts this year pitching 18 innings with a 3.50 ERA. More importantly Guerra who was notoriously known for his control issues has not walked a batter this year. Minnesota's main goal for Guerra is to let him gain more confidence in his fastball. Guerra has a devastating change up but tends to throw it too much.
18. (Way Down) Chris Parmelee: In the first couple weeks of the season, nobody in the Twins system was hitting but Parmelee. Since then everybody has been hitting except for Parmelee. If that makes sense. He is hitting a very ugly .161 (.029 in past 10 games) and has struck out 20 times compared to just 4 walks. I said at the beginning of the year that is might be a make or break for the former 1st round pick. So far Parmelee is doing what he can to break it.
17. (Up) Anthony Slama: It is hard to believe that we are still waiting for Slama to be put on the 40 man roster. Once again Slama is dominating minor league hitters and is showing he really has nothing left to prove with a 1.10 ERA and 20K in 16 innings for AAA Rochester. He has .115 BAA. We are obviously going to see Slama at some point this year. Just curious what the move is going to be to get him there.
16: (Up) Alex Burnett: I was surprised and excited to see Burnett on the Opening Day roster when Clay Condrey was not ready. Since then the 22 year old is making a case that he belongs with the big team for the future. Burnett has gone from a mop up guy to someone who is getting some quality close and late innings. In 10 innings Burnett has a 3.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts. He did not look great against Cleveland walking 4 and getting his first MLB loss but he has definitely shown he belongs here. I still think Gardenhire and Anderson need to find a role for him because their have been instances where he has been under worked (loss to DET) or over worked (loss to CLE).
15. (Average) Billy Bullock: When looking at the numbers (4.76 ERA), you might say Bullock has struggled this season. However the 6 total ER given up have came in 2 outings. Other then that Bullock has had 7 appearances where he has been dominant. Bullock has 14 strikeouts in 11.1 innings and a 2.80 ground out to fly out ratio.
14. (Down) Tyler Robertson: Robertson's odd mechanics might be beginning to catch up with him. He has a 4.79 ERA through 20 innings and a 10/7 K/BB ratio. Remember in 2007 Robertson has 10K/9 and now that has decreased significantly since his 2008 arm injury.
13. (Upish) Rene Tosoni: Tosoni was surprisingly held back in AA this year. This has been in part to the Twins bringing back Jaque Jones, but it has not slowed Tosoni's bat down. He is hitting .338/.379/.500 but is striking out 4 times for every walk.
12. (Down) Joe Benson: I have always said Benson has tools, but like former Twin Carlos Gomez he has yet to put any of them together. Right now Benson is struggling along with the rest of AA New Britain (4-18) by hitting .116/.291/.258. Benson needs to start heating up before he gets passed over by the rest of the deep crop of outfielders Minnesota has.
11. (-) Max Kepler: I am very high on Kepler, but the 16 year old has not started his season yet because he was held back in extended spring. Kepler will start in the GCL and be part of a loaded team with Jorge Polanco, Wander Guillen and Miguel Sano.
10. (-) Adrian Salcedo: Salcedo was reported to look great in camp with a 94 MPH fastball and a plus curve ball, but the 19 year old will be held back one more time to no overwork his innings load for 2010.
9. (Up) Angel Morales: Morales must have been upset when he found up he was held back in Beloit. But he has been playing quite well in spite of it by hitting .274/.349/.466, tied for the lead in the organization with 3 home runs and 8 stolen bases. Morales still has some holes in his swing by striking out 22 times to just 6 walks. He will be promoted to Ft Myers sooner rather then later because that team needs some big help with a struggling line up.
8. (Average) Carlos Gutierrez: The 2008 first round pick is back in the rotation for 2010. His numbers are not great with a 5.40 ERA and a WHIP of 1.52 but Gutierrez has had better strikeouts numbers (20 in 25 innings) and he gets nearly 3 ground ball outs for 1 fly ball. Its more interesting to see what he does around the 70+ inning mark to see if he is still maintaining stamina. If not he will be a long term bull pen option if he wants to be a big league pitcher.
7. (Up) David Bromberg: The 2010 Florida State League pitcher of the year has hit the ground running in AA. In 24 innings Bromberg has a 1.13 ERA, .214 BAA, and 19 strikeouts. Bromberg threw 153 innings in 2009 and if he continues to pitch like this he could be promoted to Rochester this season and could challenge to be in the 2011 Opening Day rotation in Minnesota.
6. (Down) Danny Valencia: Valencia is still looked at as the Twins 3B of the future. He has not earned his spot in Minny just yet though hitting .264 with not much power. Of course Brendan Harris and Nick Punto have not done enough to show that they are a long term option so if Valencia can get his bat going we still could see him around the All Star break.
5. (Above Average) Ben Revere: Revere is doing what we expect. He is hitting .300 and is showcasing his plus plus speed. Revere has showed little power in 3 professional seasons, this year being no different with 2 doubles being his only extra base hits. We all know Revere does not bring much power anyway, but that means he is going to have to continue to hit for high average to keep his value.
4. (Down before May 2, Up After May 2) Wilson Ramos: Ramos has struggled in AAA, but with a foot injury to Joe Mauer, Ramos made his Major League debut and flourished. Ramos went 4 for 5 and played very well defensively. He made a nice play at the plate to stop the tying run from scoring and also showcased a rocket arm. By getting this Major League exposure, Minnesota has an opportunity to start raising the stock price on Ramos if he plays well. He is a premium long term trade chip, and we have already heard rumors that Boston might be interested, but Ramos' age (22) and upside allow Minnesota to ask for whatever they want (Clay Bucholz, Daniel Bard or Casey Kelly). Buster Onley also rumored that Minnesota could get a 3B for Ramos, but did not mention any names.
3. (-) Miguel Sano: Sano has not made his debut yet however just celebrated his 17th birthday. Sano will start his year in the GCL, but will be the most looked at prospect in the Gulf Coast League since Miguel Cabrera in 2000.
2. (Way Up) Kyle Gibson: Gibson is better then I thought simply to say. Gibson is 2-1 in 30 innings pitched and has a 1.76 ERA. Other notable stats are his 28K to 7BB and a ridiculous 5.10 ground ball outs for every fly ball. Gibson really showed his stuff this week throwing a complete game, 1 hit shutout facing the minimum 27 batters. Gibson's 1 hits was an infield single. It may be time to start mapping Gibson's path to the Majors. Just to speak of Matt Garza's 2006 where he threw 44 innings in A+, 57 innings in AA and 34 innings in AAA that ended with a call up to Minnesota. Garza finished 2006 with a 1.99 ERA and 154K in 133 total minor league innings. I still do not think Gibson will make the Majors this year, but he could challenge for a rotation spot by early next year.
1. (Rock Bottom then Sky High) Aaron Hicks: Hicks got off to a horrific 1 for 31 start. I was being harassed by one DW but Hicks is making myself and scouts look pretty smart now. The 20 year old's next at bat after the slump was a home run. After a stretch now where he is hitting well over .500 and has now run his numbers up to .316/.447/.500. Hicks is playing so good that his promotion to Fort Myers may come sooner then expected.