Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Twins Next Window...

In really studying the Twins major and minor league rosters this offseason, and looking back at the past 4 years, I came to the painful conclusion that the Twins missed their window to win a World Series. I think 2009-2012 was that window, and they missed it due to career altering injuries, poor front office management, and the damn Yankees.

Justin Morneau suffering a concussion when he had just reached his absolute peak, was a more crippling blow then most realized. At the time of the injury he was hitting .345/.437/.618, and was looking like a sure fire MVP. Who's to say that Morneau would have pushed the Twins past the said Yankees, but he didnt play against them in '09 or '10. Mauer battled the knee injury in '10, affecting his performance in the playoffs, and all but wiping out his '11 season as well. His future behind the plate is unclear at best, at this point. Injuries to top pitching prospects Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers (I am calling Wimmer's Rick Ankeil impersonation an "injury") also has our pitching depth depleted.

When Terry Ryan stepped down in'07, he handed over the reigns to longtime assistant Bill Smith, and I felt the Twins would continue to chug along as usual. No one knew how in over-his-head Smith was and how big the talent gap he inherited was. Smith didnt help himself by trading our only impact prospect for an alright reliever, getting burned in the Delmon trade, not getting maximum return on the Santana trade, botching the Hardy-Nishioka decision, and being dealt some bad luck in his drafts. What Ryan inherited in his 2nd go 'round is a farm system with almost no major league ready talent and its best prospects at least 3-4 years away. 

So where does that put the Twins next window? I was searching for that answer when I opened Baseball America's Prospect Pulse column. While the Twins where hardly represented in the pitchers column, they had more then their fair share of prospects in the position players portion. After reading it, a small shoot of hope started to sprout, and I came to the conclusion that, providing a lot of luck, the Twins could have a great young nucleous all reaching the majors around 2015 and hopefully hitting their peaks about 2017-20. Lets take a look three years out and see what the team might be look like then.

C Mauer age 32 / Hermann age 27 (spilting catching duties assuming Hermann continues to develop as a catcher and Mauer is still able to catch 60-80 games a year)
1B Parmelee age 27 / Mauer
2B Rosario age 24
SS Michael age 24
3B Sano age 23/Valencia age 31 (if Sano stops growing otherwise he could be at 1B instead)
LF Arcia age 25
CF Hicks age 26
RF Benson age 28
DH Parmelee/Sano/Mauer/Hermann

UTIL Dozier age 28
4th OF Revere age 26


SP Appel age 26 (hoping he slides to #2 in this years draft)
SP Gibson age 29
SP Baker age 33 or Other vetern free agent pitcher.
SP Wimmers age 28 (assuming he recovers his form)
SP Hendriks age 27
While the chances of all of these guys developing to even 80% of their ceilings is almost nil, and its likely a couple will wash out completely, it doesn't stop me from seeing the Twins next World Series window as being 2017-2020 when all of these guys will be within the peak ages of 27-31 with the exception of Mauer. So, if your are upset and bitter about the Twins not looking like contenders this year or the next, hopefully this gives a ray of hope and something else to follow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prep Draft Prospect Week 2 Update...

If you have not heard by now, TACGM favorite prospect Lucas Giolito has a sprained UCL, and will miss the rest of his high school season. While this should effectivly end the Twins interest in him, he still has the potential to become a really good prospect and is not worth writing off completely. I think he ends up going to UCLA, and trying to establish himself as a top 5 pick now in the 2015 draft.

Byron Buxton, who is now my favorite prospect for the Twins at #2, has lea his Appling County HS team to a 6-0 start on the year. His high school team has a site with game recaps (but no stats) that can be found here. I think Buxton has as high if not a higher ceiling than Aaron Hicks, but his bat may be more polished than Hicks was at the same age.

Caroll TX HS OF Courtney Hawkins has started the season on a tear going 9-13 with 3 HR's and 2 BB's in his first four games.

Luke Sims of Brookwood High in Georgia is on my Radar as a RHP, but he is also plays SS and has signed to play baseball at Clemson. He had a hit in his last game and has led them to a 4-0 record so far.

Olympia HS OF Jesse Winker had helped pace his team to a 10-0 start on the year. As an all-bat prep, he is going to have to prove his offense can carry his stock if he wants to stay in the top 50 of the draft.

Zach Eflin of Haggerty HS has helped propel his team to a 7-1 start.

D.J. Davis of Stone, MS was 3-8 on the week with a couple of walks. From the reports I have read on him, he reminds me of Ben Revere but with more possible offensive upside.

Monday, March 5, 2012

College Draft Prospect Week 2 Update

Stanford ace Mark Appel followed up his great start last week with a not so great one this week. While he went 8 innings and struck out 11, he gave 8 hits, two HR's and 7 runs in a 7-4 loss to Fresno State. Conor Glassery at Baseball America had a nice write up on him after the start that can be found here. While the amount of hard contact he gives up now is concerning, Appel can grow into a dominant starter if his command within the strike zone can improve.

Florida State OF James Ramsey was 5-10 with a 2B, a 3B and his 4th homer of the season in a weekend sweep of Maine. Ramsey has gotten off to a solid start this year, but with teams most likely viewing him as a 4th outfielder I wonder if someone might try to move him to 2B his high school position.

Brandon Kline of Virginia continues his transition to starter with an alright start this weekend against Seton Hall. He went 6 innings again with 6 k's and 3 bb's, he gave up 4 runs, but only 1 was earned, on 5 hits. Kline continues to intrigue me due to his fastball/slider combo and his ability to generate ground balls. He could end up in the bullpen in the majors, but has the stuff to be a legitimate weapon in the late innings.

Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney continued his good start with another very good outing against TCU on Friday night. He gave up only 2 runs on 6 hits over 6.2  innings with 9 k's and 3 bb's in a 4-2 win. Heaney, who was demoted to the bullpen in the middle of last year, has really built upon his success he had on the Cape, and is looking like a sure bet to be taken in the supplemental round at this point.

Arkansas closer Nolan Sanburn threw 6 innings with 11 k's this week, but gave up 7 hits and 2 runs in his three appearances.

Razorback starter D.J. Baxendale went just 5 innings in his start against Texas, but he gave up only 2 runs on 3 hits. On the year, he has given up only 4 earned runs in 17 innings with a 3:1 K:B ratio.

Arizona State's Brady Rogers continued his sterling start to the season with a complete game against University of Saint Louis. He gave up just 4 hits and 1 unearned run while striking out 7 and walking just 2. He has yet to give up an earned run on the year and has a 12:1 K:BB ratio while giving up only 13 hits in 22 innings.

Alex Wood of Georgia dominated Western Illinois on Friday night as he continues to prove he has recovered from Tommy John surgery. He went 8 innings giving up no runs and only 2 hits, he walked no one and struck out 14. If he continues to pitch well he could move into the top 50 picks in the draft.

Another name to watch:
Former Twins draftee Pat Light of Monmouth features a 90-94 fastball and heavy two seamer around 90, but struggles with both of his off speed pitches. The Twins tend to love guys like this and there is a chance they could take him if he falls to them in the beginning of the 2nd round. So far this year he has given up 11 runs in 20 innings with just 11 k’s and 5 BB’s.