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Sano among former picks with star potential

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins put a dent in some of their organizational needs with the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, especially pitching. But with this year's selections still years away from appearing in the big leagues, it's time to take a look at players in the Minnesota system that could soon call Target Field home.

• 3B Miguel Sano (Currently with Class A Beloit)
Not only is Sano considered the top prospect in the Twins' organization, Sano is also viewed as one of the best power-hitting prospects in all of baseball.

Sano hit 20 home runs in 66 games for Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2011, registering a .988 OPS. The 19-year-old was slugging .534 with 14 home runs through 57 games with Class A Beloit, entering Wednesday.

Though Minnesota originally signed Sano in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic as as a shortstop, the 6-3, 195-pounder is in the process of transitioning to third base. Look for Sano to appear on the Twins' roster around 2014.

"He's progressing as we thought he might, and he had a breakout year last year," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said earlier this year. "There's no doubt this guy's an absolute power threat. He does it easy and has all-fields power. He still swings and misses a little too much, but he's a young guy. But he's going to be fine. He's a big, strong kid and looks like a Major Leaguer."

• OF Aaron Hicks (Currently with Double-A New Britain)
The switch-hitting Hicks is ranked as the overall No. 67 prospect by

While the 22-year-old owns as much raw athleticism as anyone in the Twins' system, Hicks is also developing power at the plate. Hicks hit just 18 home runs through 349 games in his first three Minor League seasons. But he had six home runs through 54 games this year with Double-A New Britain, entering Wednesday.

The 2008 first-round Draft pick is also using his exceptional physical tools to become a premium outfield defender. He's likely two years away from playing in the Majors.

"He's playing really good defense," Johnson said. "He's really improved defensively, and definitely can be an above-average center fielder. He can really throw and has the best outfield arm in our system."

• 2B Eddie Rosario (Currently with Class A Beloit)
Rosario may be playing with the Twins earlier than expected after being a fourth-round Draft pick in 2010.

The 20-year-old inserted himself into's top 100 prospects list with a tremendous campaign for Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2011. He hit .337 with 21 home runs, 60 RBIs, and a 1.068 OPS. Rosario, in the midst of switching from center field to second base, should be able to harness his speed to become a more efficient base stealer, too.

Currently hitting .301 with 38 RBIs through 56 games with Beloit, Rosario could be with the Twins as soon as 2014.

• OF Joe Benson (Currently with Double-A New Britain)
The 24-year-old was thought to have a shot at a full-time call-up sometime during the 2012 season, but struggles in Triple-A and an injury may put Benson's ascension on hold.

Benson underwent hamate bone surgery late last month, and the procedure is expected to sideline him until mid-July. Benson hit just .179 with a .584 OPS in 28 games with Triple-A Rochester earlier this season before being sent down to Double-A New Britain.

If the 2006 second-round Draft pick recovers well, he still possesses a combination of power and speed that could make him a 20-20 player for the Twins in the future.

• RHP Kyle Gibson (Currently with Double-A New Britain)
Like Benson, Gibson seemed on the fast track to reach the Majors, until an injury disrupted his course.

The No. 22 overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery last year and hasn't pitched yet in 2012. He pitched for three different clubs in 2010, compiling an 11-6 record with a 2.96 ERA.

Gibson is a ground ball-oriented pitcher with good command, and once healthy, it shouldn't be long until the Twins can slide him into their Major League rotation.

Minnesota Twins