Mid-Season Position Player Rankings
Last week we looked at the rankings of all pitchers in the Twin Minor League system. Today, we will look at how the hitters have been doing the first three months of the season. The formula for hitters is similar to that used to rank pitchers, including 100 points based on the following factors: age, at bats, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage , home runs, walks compared to strikeouts, net stolen bases and errors. In addition there are bonus points for being selected as an all star or earning post season recognition and points awarded based on each players estimated ceiling. Each player’s total points are discounted based on their level of play in the organization.
The top score was earned by Whitney Robbins who began his professional career with Beloit. He was on fire and earned 105.234 points after applying substantial discounts for his limited number of at bats (33) and for playing at Single-A Beloit. A player with this limited number of at bats shouldn’t be considered for the top spot in the mid-season rankings. Therefore, neither Robbins nor any recently drafted player will be considered in these mid-season rankings.
The top five include: #1 - Josh Rabe, AAA/Twins (97.274); #2 - Alexi Casilla, A/AA (95.771); #3 - Denard Span, AA (95.666), #4 - Alex Romero, AA/AAA (94.707), and #5 - Jason Tyner, AAA (93.539).
Rabe began the season as the International League’s leading hitter for much of the first few months of the season. As of this report, Josh was hitting .301Ave/.365OBP in 302 at bats. Alexi Casilla is the player the Twins received from the Angels in the J.C. Romero trade. Casilla has played both second and short with his only negative the 16 errors he committed in 74 games. Casilla, who was hitting .319Ave/.375OBP, is a speedster who grabbed 30 stolen bases in 35 attempts. Denard Span is considered the heir apparent to Torii Hunter in centerfield. His development was slowed with injuries the first few seasons of his career, however, this season Span has begun to mature into the player the Twins have expected since his selection as their first pick in the 2002 draft. This season Span is hitting .281Ave/.334OBP with 17 stolen bases in 24 attempts. Alex Romero is a corner outfielder who has shifted back and forth between Rochester and New Britain, where he was hitting .281Ave/.384OBP in 167 at bats. Romero struggled early in AAA, however, has been hitting well the past few weeks. Finally, Jason Tyner is a veteran minor leaguer who was recently called up by the Twins to fill in for Torii Hunter. Tyner is a slap hitter, .331Ave/.380OBP with 51 runs scored, who was amongst the league leaders in several categories.
The next five included: #6 - Matt Tolbert, A/AA (92.256); #7 - Trent Oeltjen, AA (90.537); #8 - Felix Molina, AA (89.057); #9 - David Winfree, Hi-A (88.260); and Erik Lis, A (88.238).
Tolbert split this season between Ft. Myers (.303Ave/.360OBP in 155ab) and New Britain (.299Ave/.367OBP in 97ab), playing both middle infield positions and third base. Oeltjen was the lone Twins representative in the Futures game played prior to the All-Star game. This 23 year old Australian outfielder is the top hitter at New Britain (.293Ave/.374OBP in 225ab) and also has 17 stolen bases in 24 attempts. Felix Molina is one of the lesser known players in the top 10, however, this all-star second baseman is solid in the field and with his bat (.256Ave/.325OBP in 223ab with 9 stolen bases in 12 attempts). David Winfree has missed much of the season due to his early season injury and much publicized leave of absence. He probably shouldn’t have been included due to his limited number of at bats (49), however, last year’s Minor League Player of the Year certainly qualifies as a top 10 player in the Twins system. Erik Lis was likely the most pleasant surprise in last year’s draft. Lis has been the leading hitter at Beloit (.320Ave/.403OBP/.520SLG in 294ab with 9 home runs and 44 rbi) since the beginning of the season, however, his 16 errors at first base are a concern for the organization.
The next five included: #11 - Garrett Guzman, A/AA (85.818); #12 - Garrett Jones, AAA (85.668); #13 - Doug Deeds, AA (85.420); #14 - Matthew Moses, AA (84.218); and #15 - Brock Peterson, A (80.455).
Garrett Guzman missed all of 2005 following an automobile accident prior to spring training in which he borke his neck. It is wonderful to see this young man return and perform at the level he has at Ft. Myers and New Britain where he has generated a system leading 58 rbi. Garrett Jones continues to hit for power with 11 home runs and 57 rbi, however, his average remains low at .228 with 70 strikeouts in 324 at bats. Doug Deeds has consistently been one of the leading hitters on every team he has been on. After his excellent 2005 season at New Britain when he was the 4th ranked hitter in the system, Deeds expected a promotion to Rochester. It wasn’t surprising that he was disappointed when he returned to New Britain which certainly had an effect on his early season slump. He has come on strong recently and is now hitting .282Ave/.374OBP with 19 doubles in 259 at bats. Matt Moses is a former top pick who was the top hitter in the system in 2005 having advanced to AA at the age of 20. Moses struggled with the adjustment to AA in 2005 and although he was one of the Eastern League’s top hitters the first month of this year, he has been in an extended slump and is now hitting .242Ave/.295OBP with 10 home runs in 269 at bats with a team high 17 errors. Brock Peterson is the big bat for the Miracle, leading the team with 10 home runs (.294Ave/.343OBP/.471SLG).
Spots 16 through 25 include: #16 - Dan Matienzo, AA (78.204); #17 - Paul Kelly, A (77.296); #18 - Brandon Roberts, Hi-A (76.032); #19 - Kevin West, AAA (71.840); #20 - Caleb Moore, A (71.572); #21 - Steve Tolleson, A/Hi-A (70.623); #22 - Andrew Thompson, A (70.623); #23 - Luis Maza, AAA (70.519); #24 - Gil Velazquez, AA/AAA (70.032); and #25 - Edward Ovalle, A (69.521).
Like Deeds, Danny Matienzo was disappointed that he was blocked from a promotion to Rochester. Danny, who can play first base, DH and be used as an emergency catcher, is a power hitter who is hitting .242Ave with 10 home runs and 49 rbi. Paul Kelly, 19, was a second round pick in 2005 whom scouts say has all the tools to become a future major league star. Kelly has not only hit very well at Beloit (.267Ave/.340OBP with 39 rbi in 315ab), but he also has only 8 errors in his first 80 games at shortstop. Brandon Roberts is the recently acquired player in the Juan Castro deal and Kevin West is a veteran minor leaguer who missed much of this season due to an injury from the Venezuela winter league. Caleb Moore, who may be the top catching prospect in the system, was hitting .285Ave/.402SLG prior to his recent promotion to Ft. Myers. Steven Tolleson was also recently promoted to Ft. Myers after hitting .287Ave at Beloit. Andrew Thompson, 19, is Kelly’s double play partner at Beloit who was hitting .270Ave/.332OBP. Luis Maza and Gil Velazquez are two slick fielding middle infielders who were manning the middle infield positions at Rochester prior to Velazquez going on the disabled list. Edward Ovalle is another lesser known outfielder who has been very effective at Beloit (.272Ave/.331OBP with 41 rbi in 290 at bats).
The final 26: #26 - J.R. Taylor, AA/Hi-A (67.930); #27 - Jeremy Pickrel, Hi-A (65.402); #28 - Andres Torres, AAA (63.622); #29 - Glenn Williams, AAA (62.939); #30 - Trevor Plouffe, Hi-A (62.136); #31 - Kyle Geiger, Hi-A (61.742); #32 - Tarrence Patterson , A (60.971); #33 - Deacon Burns, Hi-A (60.065); #34 - Chris Heintz, AAA (59.943); #35 - Shawn Wooten, AAA (59.132); #36 - Scott Whitrock, AA (58.793); #37 - Errold Andrus, Hi-A (58.583); #38 - Tommy Watkins, AA/AAA (57.456); #39 - Eli Tintor, A (54.172); #40 - Jose Leger, Hi-A/A (52.683); #41 - Luke Hughes, A (52.456); #42 - Allan de San Miguel, A (51.815); #43 - Jose Morales, AA (51.557); #44 - Dwayne White, A (48.570; #45 - Korey Feiner, Hi-A (48.351); #46 - Johnny Woodard, Hi-A (42.707); #47 - Juan Portes, A (40.725); #48 - Justin Arneson, Hi-A (38.093); #49 - Mark Robinson, A (32.227); #50 - Steve Lomasney, AA/AAA (28.921); and #51 - Toby Gardenhire, A (28.649).
Players such as Johnny Woodard and Juan Portes were ranked higher in 2005, however, have seen their performance drop in 2006 due to missing much of the first part of the season to injuries. Trevor Plouffe was the top pick in the 2004 draft who is very young (20) for the Florida State League, however, has struggled with a .221 average and a team high 20 errors. Allan de San Miguel is playing for Single-A Beloit even though he only turned 18 shortly before spring training. Allan is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the system. As may be expected for a player his age, he has struggled with his average around .200 most of the season.