Friday, March 2, 2012

Reviewing the middle infield prospects

Brian Dozier has
a half-season of Double
A ball on his resume.
Last February I had a post comparing the different views of the Twins middle infield prospects of Baseball America's Prospect Handbook and John Sickels' Baseball Prospect Book.

This year Sickels reviews 47 Twins, six to eight of them middle infielders (one, Jairo Perez, is listed as 3B-2B, and another, Yangervis Solarte, as 2B-OF); he does not list Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario as middle infielders. Baseball America's 30 Twins prospects include six middle infielders, including Sano and Rosario.

Sano is easily the consensus choice as the Twins top prospect, but nobody expects him to play shortstop in the majors. The big (listed as more than 230 pounds) 18-year-old (turns 19 in May) apparently still sees himself as a shortstop, however, and he played there some last year.

Rosario played outfield last season; the Twins are converting him to second base. He is also young (turned 20 last September) and a highly regarded prospect as an outfielder. If he takes to the infield well, he'll be an even more valuable piece.

Beyond those two:

Levi Michael, last June's No. 1 draft pick, is rated by BA as the Twins No. 6 prospect. Sickels gives him a B- grade. Expect him (and Sano and Rosario) to open 2012 at low A Beloit, with Michael playing short.

Brian Dozier is BA's No. 10 Twins prospect and another B- from Sickels. He finished 2011 at Double A, is likely to open 2012 at Triple A Rochester. He may well be starting in Minnesota at some point this season.

Niko Goodrum, No. 19 on BA's Twins list, gets a C+ from Sickels. Very raw and athletic shortstop, a lean greyhound who came on strong last summer in Elizabethton as a teammate of Sano and Rosario. He may be held back this year for Michael, but I rather expect Michael to push his way up a level by mid-season and open a spot at Beloit for Goodrum.  Goodrum hit .341 in August, the last month of the Appy League season. While he's slender now, his father is big, and there's some thought that the younger Goodrum will, like Sano, outgrow shortstop. A second-round pick out of high school in 2010.

Jorge Polanco is No. 28 on the BA list, unlisted by Sickels. Didn't hit in the Gulf Coast League. At 5-11, 165 pounds, he is apparently not strong enough for pro ball; at age 18, there's time for him to grow. More time in a rookie league for him.

Jairo Perez (unranked by BA, C + from Sickels) hammered the ball at Beloit (.337/.413/.580), but he was old for the level (23), coming off Tommy John surgery and is not a good defensive player. If he's to be a major leaguer, he needs to move up the ladder with some haste. Likely to open at High A Fort Myers.

Pedro Florimon Jr.
reached the majros
briefly last year
with Baltimore.
Pedro Florimon Jr. was unranked by BA and a C prospect for Sickles. Twins picked him up from Baltimore more to help Rochester than for the big team. Good range, erratic, not much of a hitter.

Tyler Grimes (unranked BA, C from Sickles) was, like Michael, drafted out of college last summer. Unlike Michael, he signed quickly and played 42 games at Beloit, where he struck out a lot. A shortstop now, may not stick there. Not sure he should move up to to High A, and I can't see the Twins letting him block Michael or Rosario at Beloit. He might be a utility guy next year at Beloit.

Daniel Santana (unranked BA, C from Sickles) spent 2011 at Beloit. Good athlete, makeup and effort questioned. At 21, he's got time to outgrow his problems, but the logjam of middle infield talent at the A Ball level may work against him.

Yangervis Solante (unranked BA, C from Sickles) is a multi-position guy who hits for average and is likely to move up to Triple A. (As noted by a commenter, Solante signed with Texas as a minor league free agent. I missed that transaction; so did Sickles.)

Notable by their absences from these lists are the guys ticketed for Double A, most notably James Beresford and Estarlin de los Santos.

The Twins have a long history of failing to grow their own middle infielders. The stockpile of them in the A ball level -- Rosario, Michael, Goodrum, Santana, Grimes -- represent the best shot in some time to reverse that trend. But it will not happen in 2012, or even 2013; 2014 figures to be the earliest any of these guys reaches Target Field.

1 comment:

  1. I believe Solarte is no longer in the Twins organization, although I could be wrong. The Twins drafted and signed a bunch of middle infielders last year. It will be interesting to see how they fit them all in with the holdovers like Goodrum, Santana and Rosario.