Twins have six players on Top 100 Prospects list
Third baseman Sano comes in at No. 12; Buxton is No. 19
And it was apparent on Tuesday, when six Twins prospects were named to MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list for 2013. The six players on the list tied them with the Red Sox, Marlins, Cardinals and Rangers for the most in baseball.
Third baseman Miguel Sano (No. 12), center fielder Byron Buxton (No. 19), right-hander Alex Meyer (No. 40), right-hander Kyle Gibson (No. 49), right fielder Oswaldo Arcia (No. 93) and center fielder Aaron Hicks (No. 98) all made the Top 100.
The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
Sano, 19, remains the club's top prospect for a second straight year and is also ranked as the No. 1 third-base prospect in baseball. He hit .258/.373/.521 with 28 homers and 100 RBIs in 129 games with Class A Beloit last season. But he's still a work in progress defensively, as he committed 42 errors. He's expected to start the season at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, which has similar weather to his native Dominican Republic, unlike in Beloit.
"It was pretty hard at first because I wasn't used to the cold coming from the Dominican," Sano said through a translator at TwinsFest on Friday. "But once I adjusted to the cold, I was able to get over the elements and not think about it anymore."
Buxton, 19, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and is considered a potential five-tool center fielder. He hit .248/.344/.448 with five homers, 10 doubles and four triples in 48 games split between the Gulf Coast Twins and Rookie-level Elizabethton. He's expected to see time this season at Class A Cedar Rapids, which is the club's new affiliate in the Midwest League.
Meyer, 23, is a new addition for the Twins, as he was acquired this offseason in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals. He posted a 2.86 ERA with 139 strikeouts in 129 innings combined with Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac last season. He's expected to start the season at Double-A New Britain. He's regarded as a potential No. 1 starter, as the 6-foot-9 right-hander possesses a fastball that reaches as high as 97 mph along with a power slider in the 86-88 mph range.
"The main thing I'm working on this winter is developing a changeup," Meyer said at the Twins' media luncheon on Friday. "I'm working on it as much as I can."
Gibson, 25, makes his return to the list in 2013 after missing the cut last year because he underwent Tommy John surgery on Nov. 7, 2011. But he's come back strong, as he had a combined 4.13 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings split between the Gulf Coast League, Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Triple-A Rochester. He also had a 5.40 ERA in the Arizona Fall League, with 28 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. He is a candidate to be Minnesota's fifth starter to open the season, but the club will keep an eye on his innings total in his first year back from surgery.
"I'm open to pitching wherever they want me to pitch," Gibson said Friday. "My goal is to get to the big leagues as fast as I can. If that's as a reliever or as a starter, so be it. Whichever team I'm on, whether it's Rochester or New Britain or the Twins, I'm just going to help them win somehow."
Arcia, 21, had a breakout season in 2012, hitting a combined .320/.388/.539 with 17 homers, 36 doubles and eight triples in 124 games split between Fort Myers and New Britain. Arcia, who was named the club's Minor League Player of the Year, is slated to get his first taste of Triple-A this season and is also a candidate to get his first call to the Majors at some point this season.
Hicks, meanwhile, makes the Top 100 for a fourth straight year after being the club's first-round selection in the 2008 Draft. The 23-year-old put it all together in '12, hitting .286/.384/.460 with 13 homers, 21 doubles and 11 triples in 129 games with New Britain. He's a candidate to be the club's starting center fielder this season, as he heads into Spring Training competing for that spot along with Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson.
"It just seemed like it just clicked," Hicks said about his '12 season on Friday. "It's not really a feeling you have; it just comes out of nowhere. I just knew what I was doing up there at the plate. It felt like every time I went up there, I had a plan. Before, I was just hacking away."