There are two reasons for writing up a report on the Twins system. The first is that you need to know your enemies. As a division rival and the team that seems to always compete for the AL Central, we need to know what the Twins have coming up and how we compare to them. The other reason for writing the Twins up today is that they might be in play for the services of one Mr. Zack Greinke according to Buster Olney and a few others. It makes sense for the Twins to take on Greinke’s contract with the possibility of Pavano leaving. ZG would be a solid starter for two years on a contender who needs a power arm and prolific pitcher. So let’s take a look.
John Sickels just came out with his top 22 Twins Prospects. John is one of the industries best when it comes to ranking and grading prospects. Sickels has a lot of contacts and they seem to be very knowledgeable. You can check out his thoughts on a lot of things at http://www.minorleagueball.com
The Twins really have worked on improving their International Signings it appears. They’ve got quite a few different countries represented in the 2011 Top Prospects list. Some common countries like the Domincan Republic, Venuzuela, and Puerto Rico are topped off by the Netherlands and Australia. They also signed some pretty recognizable July 2nd names the last few years.
Let’s talk about their pitchers first. The Twins want guys who limit walks and attack hitters with a fastball first mentality. I love their approach to pitching and wish the Royals would adopt more of the same approach. The Twins have taken a few chances but it always seems to work out for them. I’m not sure if this is the definition of luck or if it’s just really good scouting, but I would guess it’s a combination of both, the latter being more influential. The top 2 pitching prospects for them are both college guys they drafted in the first round the last two years.
Minnesota is a RH dominate system featuring only a few LHPs here and there. One guy not to forget about is Matt Bashore. Bashore only threw a smattering of innings this season suggesting some serious injury. I don’t know what it was but I’ll look into it. The other LHP to take note of is 2010 3rd rounder Pat Dean. Dean featured a 37:1 KK:BB ratio this year in low A. I would expect him to start in A ball next year and be solid with a very good change and solid 88-92 fastball. Deans throws a fringe slider and fringe curve. He probably needs to scrap one and concentrate solely on the better of the two as the pitches tend to mix over time.
RHP Kyle Gibson is a Mizzou alum. Gibson had an outstanding career at Mizzou but his draft stock dropped as he suffered a stress fracture in his arm shortly before the draft. The Twins took a chance after having their doctors check him out. Gibson is a 90-94 type of guy with very good command. Kyle is able to make the fastball sink and uses a lot of two-seamers matched up against a really good slider and fading change combination. Gibson has a very easy delivery and moved very well in his first full season with the Twins. Kyle started the year in high A before a quick promotion to AA where he spent most of the year. After putting up great starting numbers he finished the year with 3 great AAA starts and is a candidate to fill a rotation spot for the Twins next year although he’ll probably start in AAA. Gibson threw 150 innings last season and will probably be bumped to around 175 this coming year. Gibson had a low batting average against (BAA) and over a 2:1 ratio on groundouts to air outs.
RHP Alex Wimmers is from the Ohio State University. He’s known as a cold weather guy and comes from a strong baseball high school in Ohio. Wimmers throws a good fastball between 90 and 94. Scouts on the Cape said he had the best pitching arsenal in the League, and this is quite high praise if you know the caliber of player on the Cape. Wimmers has a fairly easy delivery and throws his breaking ball for strikes. One area scout, according to Baseball America, said that Wimmers had the best change up he’d ever seen from an amateur pitcher. Wimmers only threw 15 innings as a pro, but they were an impressive 15 innings. Alex allowed 11 baserunners compared to 23 strikeouts and posted a 0.57 ERA in the Florida State League. He will open either in high A or AA. I can see him moving rather quickly as his stuff seems to be underrated by a lot of people. With a solid year, he could easily be in AAA to finish the season. I don’t think he’ll be a September call up candidate as the Twins will want to monitor his innings in his first full pro season after throwing only 85 innings between Ohio State and high A ball. I’d imagine he’d take the Gibson route this year but with fewer starts.
RHP Liam Hendriks is a 21 year old from Australia. He had a very good year at A and high A. Liam had a lot of Ks and a few walks, in fact, a nearly 9:1 ratio. I would imagine he’d start in AA next season as there is not much to prove in high A for him. Opponents hit under .200 against him on the season and he also generated a lot more GBs than FBs. I don’t know anything on his stuff. I’ll do some more digging but he’s an interesting guy who definitely is a solid option going forward.
RHP Adrian Salcedo is a tall and skinny kid from the Domincan Republic. At only 19 years old, he has a lot of projection left in his lanky body. Adrian pitched in low A and high A filling in a rotation spot as an injury replacement. He struggled at the higher level, but still has a lot of potential. Salcedo is another guy with good command posting a better than 4:1 K:BB ratio.
RHP David Bromberg is a potential 5th starter candidate for the MLB team next season as well. I would imagine he would pitch most if not all of the year at AAA though. I’m not sure but he might be a rule 5 potential guy this year. I need to check. David has thrown 150 innings each of the past 3 seasons so I would imagine they bump him up next season. Bromberg is currently in the Arizona Fall League probably so the Twins can gauge what they have in him before they make a decision on his future. David has a good K:BB ratio but has seen his GO/AO ratio diminish each of the past 3 years. He may do well pitching in a big park, but it is a concerning factor in the long run.
RHP Carlos Gutierrez has really come on this fall. Keith Law and Connor Glassey both had him in the mid 90s with a hard sinker. Carlos could be a guy that comes in late in a ball game and shuts down an opponent getting a GB getting by solely on a good downward movement. Gutierrez also features a sharp slider. With this mix in the bottom third of the zone, Carlos would be nearly impossible to lift the ball against. He is in the Arizona Fall League working to improve his command and refine his pitches.
RHP Billy Bullock was a 2nd rounder in 2009. Bullock pitched as a closer for the Twins high A and AA teams. Bullock stands tall around 6’ 6” and drives a mid 90s fastball downhill and features a slider. He is a power pitcher who projects to do well out of the bullpen. Inconsistency has been a problem in the past and the Twins hope it stays that way. Bullock had a lot of Ks but his ERA crept up suggesting he might struggle with guys on base. After checking his splits, it seems hitters bat under .200 with runners on, but over .330 with the bases empty. Bullock is a guy that really needs to concentrate and bear down with the bases empty.
I think that if the Twins are going to deal for Greinke, either Kyle Gibson or Alex Wimmers will have to be included. Gibson is closer to the bigs and a local product so I think the Royals would ask for him. Wimmers was drafted this season so he would have to be a PTBNL as you can’t be traded for one year after being drafted. I think the Twins would also have to include Carlos Gutierrez or Brian Bullock. Both are fairly close to being big league ready although Gutierrez’s stats don’t really suggest that. With his stuff, I think the Royals would ask for Gutierrez over Bullock although both are very intriguing.