In Part I, I will talk about the Outfielders. I will follow up with the catchers, the corner infielders, the middle infielders, and then the pitchers. The Twins obviously have great depth when it comes to strong-armed pitching prospects, so that was very difficult to project. There are several positional question marks, and I will try to discuss them.
Well, the first thing we need to do is talk about the Minnesota Twins outfield situation. As of today, we know that Michael Cuddyer will be in RF, Torii Hunter will be in CF, and Rondell White will be out in LF. Jason Kubel, if healthy, would likely be the primary DH and also play some LF. Ideally, a team would prefer to have just five outfielders. So, would the Twins 5th outfielder be Jason Tyner or Lew Ford? Both can play all three OF positions. Ford provides more power potential. To me, this may simply come down to whether the Twins decide to keep an extra RH power bat on the bench (ie - Matthew LeCroy, Ken Harvey). If they do, then they would probably keep Tyner on the big league roster. Ford's recent signing at $985,000 makes him hard to send to AAA, but I think he could be a trade candidate. It is also possible that both would make the Opening Day roster, depending upon injury.
Rochester Red Wings:
I believe that the primary, every day outfield at Rochester will be Josh Rabe in LF, Denard Span in CF and Doug Deeds in RF. It is very unfortunate that Alex Romero was lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks because he would have provided a good four man rotation in the OF. At this point, I think that the Twins may have to pick up a veteran OF on a minor league contract to be the #4 OF. Another possibility would be for utility man Gil Velazquez to get some playing time in the OF. I think that Span needs to make this jump to AAA, and it is a big year for him. If he can show the he could truly be an adequate replacement in CF for Torii Hunter, he could make that jump in 2008. In reality, he is still young and was only added to the Twins 40 man roster this offseason, so it isn't like they have to bring him up in 2008 either. Matt Allegra has been around for awhile, but he is new to the Twins system. He could be a veteran reserve for the Red Wings.
New Britain Rock Cats:
Trent Oeltjen is a guy that I believe deserves a promotion to Rochester. However, each year, there are several players in this (and any) organization that have to repeat a level for various reasons. I think Oeltjen is a very good prospect and deserves to play every day. At Rochester, he may only play half of the time, but staying at New Britain should mean every day at bats. I think that he would get time on defense at all three OF positions. I think that Brandon Roberts will make the jump from Ft. Myers. The two should be the team's top two hitters as well and wreak havoc on the opposition's pitchers and catchers. I think that Garrett Guzman will be the third starting OF. I think that Jeremy Pickrel will make the jump to AA as a reserve as will Justin Arneson who can play any position. Scott Whitrock is also a possibility to be a reserve here.
Fort Myers Miracle:
There are a few question marks in the Ft. Myers outfield. The one sure thing, in my mind, is that Eli Tintor should be the every day RF. I think that Deacon Burns is likely to repeat the level and split time in LF with Juan Portes. Portes fought injuries in 2006 and did not get much consistent playing time. But he is known for his bat. If he can stay healthy, he would likely be ready for the jump to the Florida State League. Speaking of jumps, I am predicting that Danny Santiesteban will skip a level and jump to Ft. Myers. The five-tool talent is clearly ready to roam centerfield in the big ballparks. It would be interesting to see if he could handle it with the bat. I would expect both Edward Ovalle to be promoted to Ft. Myers and likely get plenty of playing time.
Finally, the OF situation in Beloit involves a lot of youth. I think that 2006 first round pick Chris Parmalee will be the starter in RF. I also think that Joe Benson, the team's 2nd round pick in 2006, will start the season in CF. Both signed quickly after the draft and played some Beloit after the Gulf Coast season ended. The Twins have traditionally started top draft pick position players out of high school at Low A. Mark Robinson is a lesser known top pick from the 2004 draft. Robinson got some at bats for the Snappers a year ago and should get more playing time this year. I would guess that both Dwayne White and JW Wilson will be reserve OF for the team.
I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this. So please feel free to leave Comments in the forum.