How do Twins' prospects fit Minnesota's needs?
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Twins:
In the near future, few teams stand to gain the prospect impact like the Twins. Boasting two of the top-rated young players in the game in Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, Minnesota will soon be getting more than a facelift. It could be a complete makeover. And Buxton and Sano are just two among many.
Catcher Josmil Pinto has such a potent bat that he may force his way onto the club sooner than later. All Pinto did in his first Major League trial last fall was hit .342 with four homers and 12 RBIs in only 83 plate appearances. In parts of eight Minor League seasons, he hit .275 over 588 games and 2,395 trips to the plate.
PROJECTED 2016 TWINS LINEUP
Pinto has thrown out 33 percent of runners trying to steal, but his defense may not yet be a finished product. Think prototypical catcher, and you'll see Pinto. He's 5-foot-11, 210 pounds. Enough said.
At some point in the coming season, Danny Santana may wrestle the shortstop position from Pedro Florimon. If he does, it's because of Santana's hitting ability. Santana hit .297 last season at Double-A New Britain. The year before, he hit .286 at Fort Myers. Santana's bat would be welcomed in Minnesota.
The added bonus with Santana is his excellent defensive ability at both middle-infield positions. He has quick feet with good range, a strong arm and a feel for the game. Santana also has excellent speed, as his 30 stolen bases last year attest.
The Twins have been in the hunt for more pitching, and they have prospects who may crack the rotation at some point in the coming season.
Right-handed Alex Meyer is huge. He's 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds. Meyer came to the Twins in a trade for Denard Span. When I saw Meyer pitch in the Arizona Fall League, I saw some outings where he totally shut down the opposition, and times when he couldn't locate his pitches, getting out of sync and losing his command.
With Meyer's height, the batter sees those long arms and legs moving towards him. He throws his fastball at 94-96 mph with ease. Meyer's outstanding curveball is very effective and is a good complement to the high-velocity heat. His pitches have some sink due to his downhill motion, but he has to repeat that delivery to be effective.
Trevor May is another mountain of a man, at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. The right-hander threw 151 2/3 innings last season at Double-A New Britain and had a 9-9 record and a 4.51 ERA. He walked an average of four hitters per nine innings, which lifted his WHIP to 1.42. May throws his fastball in the low 90s, with late life. He also throws a changeup and a curveball.
The Twins may have been counting on Miguel Sano to become their third baseman sometime this season. Unfortunately, that won't happen. Sano needs Tommy John surgery on his elbow and could be out all year. It's possible he could return to become a designated hitter late in the year.
The big right-handed-hitting Sano is 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. He's still only 20 years old. Last season at Double-A New Britain, Sano hit 19 of his 35 home runs. The other 16 were belted at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. In addition to the homers, he hit a combined 30 doubles and five triples on his way to a composite .280 batting average.
Sano's long swing may result in a hefty does of misses. In fact, he struck out 142 times last year. And 144 the year before. However, lots of power hitters strike out. But they can win games with one swing of the bat.
The top-rated prospect of the organization is the extremely athletic five-tool center fielder Byron Buxton. Only 20, he has just begun to develop his skills. The future of the franchise may be built with Buxton as the centerpiece. He has good bat speed that helps generate power from his 6-foot-2 frame. At this stage of Buxton's physical development, he weighs only 189 pounds.
Last season, his second, Buxton combined for a .334 batting average at Class A and Class A Advanced. He hit 12 homers, drove in 77 and stole 77 bases. Buxton struck out 105 times in 574 plate appearances. He is special.
Eddie Rosario or Jorge Polanco will likely win the second-base job in the future. Both have shown solid offensive and defensive skills.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.