It's been awhile since I posted prospect #4 on April 24th.... and that is even quite late.
So, we profile the top 3 in one post.
3. Joe Benson, Outfield, 24 years old
2011 stats: .285/.388/.495 with 16 HRs for New Britain in 472 PAs.
Last Year's Rank: 4
Acquired: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft out of Joliet Catholic Academy.
Joe Benson has always been a great athlete with five tool potential, but until 2010, he really hadn't found his power tool. That changed in 2010, when he hit 27 HRs between Fort Myers and New Britain with a .538 slugging percentage. His .881 OPS combined with 19 stolen bases and great defense as a 22 year old vaulted Benson up to the #100 ranked prospect by Baseball America. He followed that up in 2011 with a .285/.388/.495 line in his return to New Britain. This earned Benson a late season call-up. He hit .239/.270/.352 in 74 plate appearances with the Twins.
Fast forward to 2012. Benson was sent down to Rochester early in spring and he struggled in his first exposure to AAA. He hit .179/.269/.316 in 108 plate appearances before being demoted back to AA New Britain. He wasn't any better there, going .156/.250/.250 in 8 games. ....and now he is injured and out until late July. It's been a tough year for Benson!
Ideal Scenario: Benson is just 24 years old and has all of the tools. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and can resume his climb toward the major leagues. He has to work on his contact rate a little, but coming back strong puts him in the majors by the end of the season.
Path to the majors: He has potential to be a great defensive center fielder in the majors, and with Aaron Hicks not quite ready, Benson should still have the inside track if/when Denard Span gets traded. If Benson brings his bat, he could be similar to what Torii Hunter was.
2. Oswaldo Arcia, Outfield, 21 years old
2011 stats: .291/.335/.531 with 13 HRs in 308 PAs for Beloit and Fort Myers.
Last Year's Rank: 7
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela
Arcia has been a solid power prospect for the Twins since he was a 19 year old in Elizabethtown. He ripped through the competition with a .375/.424/.672 line with 14 HRs, 7 triples and 21 doubles in 279 plate appearances. Last year, he followed up with a .291/.335/.531 line while spending most of his 20 year old season at Fort Myers.
So far this year? More of the same. He is hitting .323/.385/.538 with 7 HRs, 3 triples and 15 doubles in 219 plate appearances. While some of us have referenced calling up other guys (cough, Sano, cough), my fearless leader at Puckett's Pond instead insists that It's time to promote Arcia. The way he is hitting while repeating Fort Myers, it's hard to disagree. He could use tougher competition.
Ideal Scenario: Arcia is just 21 and is looking more and more like a solid major league contributor that could add even more power as he fills out. He does need to improve his K rate and there have been some reports of maturity issues, but Arcia has the look of a solid or better corner OF sooner rather than later. I see a lot of his fellow country-man Bobby Abreu in Arcia's numbers. A look at those numbers really seem to validate the argument.
Path to the majors: Arcia is probably 2 years away, A promotion this season and a continuance of his current production could give him a shot at a September call-up next year.
1. Miguel Sano, Third Base, 19 years old
2011 stats: .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown.
Last Year's Rank: 3
Acquired: Signed by the Twins in 2009 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
Miguel Sano went into last Monday as the unquestioned Twins #1 prospect. He is hitting .243/.351/.517 with 15 HRs. With the drafting of Byron Buxton, that could come into a little bit of a debate. Keith Law has said he'd rank Buxton ahead of Sano and "that's saying something". To even mention another prospect near Sano's level is a good thing for the future of the Twins. For now, Sano is #1.
We all know about Sano by now. He signed for a Twins ametur free agent record $3.15 million. He started his Twins career with a .344/.463./.547 line in a brief stint with GCL in 2010. He followed this up with a monster .292/.352/.637 line with 20 HRs in 66 games with Elizabethtown as an 18 year old. This season, he started so hot, that I asked if it was too soon to call up Sano to Fort Myers. His .276/.422/.586 in 25 April games while still 18 years old was ridiculous, but he has cooled since. His line of .243/.351/.517 in 63 games is solid, but the reduction since April shows that the league has figured him out some. His high strikeout rate has remained but he has taken less walks. He still leads the league in HRs, is 4th in slugging and 2nd in ISO while ranking near the bottom in BABIP all while being one of the youngest players in the league. He's also second in strikeouts. As good as he's been, he's probably been a little unlucky.
Ideal Scenario: Sano has shown huge power and whether he sees a promotion in 2012 or not, he still has all of the makings of a future force. The strikeouts and defense could be an issue, but, by the time he is major league, those flaws may not even matter, his power is that special. If Sano can improve his weaknesses, he could be a perennial MVP candidate.
Path to the majors: As much as I'd like Sano to move up, it is pretty likely he will spend all year in Beloit. With some aggressive promoting starting next year, Sano could make the majors in 2014.
Prospects in low-A are by no means guarantees, but Sano is the closest the Twins have had since Joe Mauer in 2002.