Tuesday, April 30, 2013

REMINDER: Twins Rubes has moved - update your subscription here!

With the change over to the Area Voices site, you will want to change your EMAIL or RSS subscriptions over to the new site.  To do this, click on the boxes in the top left corner of the new site http://twinsrubes.areavoices.com/.  If you follow us on Twitter - that hasn't changed!  Have a great day Twins fans!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Twins Rubes - Update Your Subscriptions!

With the change over to the Area Voices site, you will want to change your EMAIL or RSS subscriptions over to the new site.  To do this, click on the boxes in the top left corner of the new site http://twinsrubes.areavoices.com/.  If you follow us on Twitter - that hasn't changed!  Have a great day Twins fans!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Twins Rubes Is Moving!

We are in the process of moving to Area Voices, and you can continue to read our work at http://twinsrubes.areavoices.com.  Make sure you update your bookmarks and subscriptions!

Miguel Sano: The Next...

In Baseball America's list of Top 100 Prospects, Twins minor leaguer Miguel Sano climbed from #94 in 2010, to #60 in 2011, and finally to #18 in 2012.  Sano, the 19 year old kid that makes most Twins fans daydream of 2014, undoubtedly holds the distinction of the top prospect in the Twins organization.  Sano regularly draws comparisons to superstars like Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.  While there's never a "sure thing" when it comes to prospects, the young Twins third baseman certainly tip-toes that line.  I've never seen Miguel play in person, but in my mind I dream of three different players that I imagine Sano growing up to become: Giancarlo Stanton, Albert Pujols, or Miguel Cabrera.  I don't mind setting lofty expectations, as I am only a fan.  As a fan (which originates from the word "fanatic"), I am allowed to think big!

Miguel Sano - courtesy mlb.com
Offensively, Sano blew the Midwest League out of the water in 2012, leading the league in home runs and RBI's.  Sano's defense needs the most improvement, making 42 errors last season at third base.  In three seasons in the minor leagues, he has made 90 errors and holds a career fielding percentage of .885.  The pop in his bat somewhat makes up for his defensive struggles, however.  His .893 OPS would place him .003 points ahead of Josh Willingham in 2012.

Generated 1/7/2013.

Giancarlo Stanton played a half a season at High-A and a half in Double-A as a 19 year old in the Marlins organization.  Like Sano, Stanton had played 2 previous seasons in the organization.  Stanton's power numbers translate very closely to Sano's, hitting 28 home runs and driving in 92.  They even struck out exactly the same amount in nearly the same number of at bats.  The two real significant differences lie in Sano's more frequent walks, but Stanton playing at a higher level of baseball.  Defensively, Stanton played in the outfield, which is a much easier position to master defensively than third base.  Baseball America ranked Giancarlo Stanton the 16th best prospect in the MLB before the 2009 season.

2009192 Teams2 LgsAA-A+FLA1294797612224528923359144.255.341.501.842240
Generated 1/7/2013.

Albert Pujols got his start in the minor leagues at the age of 20 playing a majority of the season in Low-A ball for the Cardinals organization, eventually making 3 appearances in AAA that season.  Pujols hit for higher average, struck out much less frequently, but otherwise finished with similar numbers to those of 19 year old Sano and Stanton.  He spent nearly all of his time, like Sano, at third base, ending the season with 22 errors and a .950 fielding percentage.  Baseball America ranked Albert Pujols the 42nd best prospect in the MLB before the 2001 season.  Pujols was un-ranked in 2000.

2000203 Teams3 LgsA-A+-AAASTL133490741544171996454647.314.378.543.920266
Generated 1/7/2013.

Miguel Cabrera followed a similar track to that of Stanton and Sano, playing his third professional season at the High-A level as a 19 year old.  Cabrera's power statistics were significantly lower than the other three at this age.  Although he hit 43 doubles, only 9 balls landed in the cheap seats.  Cabrera rarely walked, but also didn't strike out at the alarming rates of Sano and Stanton.  He made 16 errors that season playing third base, and finished with a .936 fielding percentage - not as bad as Sano, but still not great.  The 2012 AL MVP, according to the statistics, probably had the least successful season at Sano's current age of the four.  Baseball America ranked Miguel Cabrera the 38th best prospect in the MLB before the 2002 season.

4 Seasons36814282254091031028228235131262.286.350.431.782616
Generated 1/7/2013.

Although the numbers in each comparison are close in many areas, the similarities between Sano and Stanton's career path seem almost identical.  Stanton may have been a hair ahead in progression at Sano's current age, but in any event he eventually made his big league debut at the age of 20 for the Florida Marlins.  In his first three seasons with the Marlins, Stanton hit .270 with 93 homers and 232 RBI.  He even led the NL in slugging percentage in 2012.  Stanton still struggles to put the ball in play, striking out 432 times in 1324 at bats (32.6%), which can be somewhat expected from such a raw power hitter.

2010 20 FLA NL 100 359 45 93 21 1 22 59 5 2 34 123 .259 .326 .507 .833 118 182
2011 21 FLA NL 150 516 79 135 30 5 34 87 5 5 70 166 .262 .356 .537 .893 141 277 MVP-23
2012 22 MIA NL 123 449 75 130 30 1 37 86 6 2 46 143 .290 .361 .608 .969 158 273 AS,MVP-24
3 Yrs 373 1324 199 358 81 7 93 232 16 9 150 432 .270 .350 .553 .903 140 732
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/7/2013.

If Miguel Sano does indeed follow a similar career path as Giancarlo Stanton, the power numbers sure do look appealing.  The two biggest factors to his success will be his abilities to cut down on strikeouts and sharpen his defensive skills.  It will be interesting to see if Sano changes positions by the time he reaches the majors, possibly either to first base (depending on Chris Parmalee's progress) or to a corner outfield spot.  Stanton's track would place Sano with the Twins either late this season or hopefully ready by 2014.  No matter when he arrives, there's no question he has the potential to rejuvenate a fan base that quickly diminished after two near-100 loss seasons.  Miguel Sano may just become the next Giancarlo Stanton.

Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

More International Interest

Twins scouts were in Mexico yesterday, according to Darren Wolfson, to see Cuban prospects Aledmys Diaz and Dariel Alvarez.  Diaz, a 22 year old shortstop, is "known for his ability to hit for power and average", and "is considered an average runner with an above-average arm" writes Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.  Sanchez says Alvarez can play all three outfield positions and owns an above-average arm.  There's no word yet on how the two prospects looked, but the Twins history of international scouting and signing makes this significant.  Most recently they have brought in players like Miguel Sano, Liam Hendriks, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes, and Oswaldo Arcia.

Zoilo Versalles, 1965
The 1965 AL Champion Twins roster included four players hailing from Cuba: Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Camilo Pascual, and Sandy Valdespino.  There are currently 24 players from Cuba in the big leagues, the biggest names being Alexei Ramirez, Yunel Escobar, Aroldis Chapman, Yuniesky Betancourt, and last season's runner-up Rookie of the Year Yoenis Cespedes.

The Twins have somewhat of a need at both the shortstop and outfield positions right now, especially with the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere this winter.  However, Diaz projects to be the most major league ready of the two prospects, while outfielder Alvarez would debut in another year or two.  Knowing Aaron Hicks improved last season to the point where he is only a year or less away, and prospects like Byron Buxton and Arcia fill future needs; I doubt the Twins showed as much interest in Alvarez as they did Diaz.  With the lack of depth in the middle infield right now, Diaz would fill a much bigger need as a long term solution up the middle.

With a suspected $10M to $15M left in the budget, we assume the Twins are still in the market for one more starting pitcher.  Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Vance Worley will definitely help shore up a rotation that includes Scott Diamond, possibly Brian Duensing, and a hopeful debut of Kyle Gibson.  Although more intriguing than the 2012 rotation, Pelfrey and Gibson's health remain a concern.  Correia's ability to pitch in the American League is an unknown as well.  We should see in the next few weeks one more signing to add a little extra depth to the staff, so how much cash that would leave to sign a shortstop like Diaz or another middle infielder of value is a mystery.

If scouts liked what they saw yesterday, the addition of a player like Diaz sure would be interesting.  As I've talked about before, a roster that features Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Jamey Carroll, and Eduardo Escobar as the only real options up the middle isn't too promising from what we've seen.  The farm system includes few prospects that could be part the future for the Twins.  Eddie Rosario had a solid season in Single A ball last season as a 20-year old playing second base.  Daniel Santana is the potential shortstop of the future, but he played last season at age 21 in High A Fort Myers.  Both are more than likely another year or two away at the very least.

If the Twins front office truly is serious about not giving up on 2013, a splash signing like Diaz - again, assuming he's a solid player - sure would give Twins fans a little more confidence and hope for 2013 and beyond.  There's never a guarantee with any prospect, and international prospects are even more of a high risk/high reward opportunity.  Who knows how much of a chance the Twins have of signing Diaz, and who knows how that would even turn out?  For every Zoilo Versalles, there's and handful of less than successful players like George Lauzerique.

Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.