Thursday, January 14, 2010

BA's prospect list

Baseball America rolled out its Twins Top 10 prospects list Wednesday.

Along with the list and overview (linked to above) BA's website has, for subscribers, the capsule scouting reports on each of the 10 and the transcript of an online chat with John Manuel, the BA co-editor who drew up the Twins list.

There are plenty of such lists available in cyberspace, some of them good, some bizarre. BA carries more credibility with me than most; they've been doing this for a long time, they have a track record, they understand what the stats say and the limitations of the stats, they talk to scouts and scouting directors and minor league managers.

And despite all that, the list itself doesn't mean a lot. When the Twins traded Johan Santana to the Mets, all four players they got were in BA's Mets Top 10. But they were in the top 10 of a weak organization.

The really interesting stuff here is the stuff that I can't link to. It's the scouting reports, and it's Manuel's explanations. The reports will be in the next print edition of Baseball America. Plus there's a longish piece about how the Twins are scouting some obscure corners of the baseball world.

A few highlights, at least to my eyes:
  • Three of the Top 10 — Kyle Gibson (3), Miguel Sano (4) and Max Kepler (10) have yet to play a minor league game.
  • The Twins "learned" something from Denard Span's development — that their center field prospects need to spend some time in the outfield corners as well. So Hicks will be playing some in left and right this season.
  • Sano has decided to stick with his mother's last name rather than adopt his father's, Jean.
  • Manuel says his ranking of catcher Wilson Ramos (No. 2) is aggressive.
  • Hicks is listed as both the system's best athlete and as having the best plate discipline. From the scouting report: When his skills and experience level catch up to his tools, he could take off, making his big league ETA of 2012 look conservative.
  • Trevor Plouffe, Manuel says, is a tweener. He doesn't run enough to be a great bench guy, like say Matt Tolbert is; he doesn't have the power to be an everyday 3b, like say (Danny) Valencia could; he doesn't field well enough at SS to be a factor there.
  • With Rich Knapp, long the Twins minor league pitching coordinator, now in Detroit, the Twins have eased their restrictions on "long-toss" training for pitchers.

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