(Note: I wrote this post very quickly and barely proofread, so please excuse any typos.)
Close pals of mine will note that I’m prone to laying claim to a few players on the Twins roster and essentially calling them my own. I’ve decided long ago to support these players irrationally through thick and thin, and that’s just the way it is. They are considered “my guys” and I’d prefer if you chose other Twins to cheer for. No sharing.
The current Twins “my guys” are Kevin Slowey and Jason Kubel. I’ve claimed both because I watched them from afar as they rose through the minor league system, I cheered fanatically once they got their chance at the Bigs, and most importantly, I stuck by them and played the “wait and see” card defense during their inevitable early-career struggles.
These are my guys, and my cheering for them feels better and stronger and more deserved than your Johnny-come-lately support. As far as I’m concerned, both Slowey and Kubel are honorary family members. They’re mine, not yours.
Though I plan to continue my irrational fandom indefinitely, both my guys are all growned up and are now everyday major leaguers. I’ve been missing the times when others would label one of them as a lost cause and I’d lash out like the fanboy I was, and my numerous calls to the disbelievers to gloat over my guys’ burgeoning success just isn’t the same feeling as rooting on an underdog.
The challenge is clear: I need new guys.
In the first of what will be a recurring and terribly boring series, I’ve decided to track the progress of my ten favorite prospects (not necessarily the best). These are the ten fellas whose brightening stars I’ll be hitching my apple wagon to in the future.
Again, I feel compelled to say: this will probably be very boring to you. Sorry.
Anthony Slama, P – New Britain (AA)
Reason: He’s been dominant at pretty much every minor league stop, sure, but the main source of my mancrush is that his arc thus far has mirrored my old pal Pat Neshek’s: an unheralded strikeout machine of a reliever who is held back to an annoying degree by the organization. Carbon copy, at least from my viewpoint.
2009 update: 5 IP, 9 Ks, .40 WHIP as New Britain’s closer. Keep challenging this young man.
Luke Hughes, 3B – Rochester (AAA)
Reason: Hughes came on like gangbusters at AA last season, posting a sweet .993 OPS and cracking 15 round-trippers. I started following him then, and when he went mostly ignored when fans started searching for future 3B options, I latched on even harder. He may or may not be the answer, but I’m supporting him anyway.
2009 update: Underwhelming numbers (.672 OPS) at this point, but his peripherals are all encouraging. Still not sure about his defense, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him in the bigs before next season.
Ben Revere, CF – Fort Myers (A)
Reason: A 20-year-old who was initially criticized as being a wasted top draft pick, Revere hit .378 last season. Need I say more?
2009 Update: 50 encouraging at-bats thus far for young Revere has him holding down a .892 OPS while drawing walks and hitting the ball on the ground while at the highest level he’s played. Small hooray.
Aaron Hicks, CF – Beloit (A)
Reason: The 5-tool athlete worthy of our top draft pick last year is pretty much everyone’s favorite Twins prospect, and for good reason. Lit up E-town last year (.896 OPS) in limited time.
2009 Update: Hicks has started the season in extended spring training, and will likely join Beloit in a month or so. Though he may be a top prospect, you should plan on a long road of minor-league Hicks tracking as the Twins are slow to promote their youngsters.
Angel Morales, CF – Beloit (A)
Reason: Nothing beyond the fact that (a) not many people seem to have heard of him, and (b) he turned in a sick 1.034 OPS last season, including 15 dingers. Angel is one cat to watch for, and it’d be really great if you heard it from me first.
2009 Update: Morales has been stinking up the joint in Beloit thus far. His standard statistics suck (.156 average / .382 OPS), as do his peripherals (don’t ask). He’s only had 31 at-bats, however, so let’s wait a bit before getting worried.
Kevin Mulvey, P – Rochester (AAA)
Reason: I’m a fan of Mulva (Seinfeld reference!) mostly because he was the forgotten one in the trio of arms included in the Santana swap (Humber and Guerra being the others), which is too bad because he’s had the best track record of them all. After a solid (if unspectacular) ’08, Mulva will be stashed in AAA again this season.
2009 Update: I’m not too scared about Mulvey’s 5.19 early-season ERA, as his GB% and BABIP all hint at nothing more than a couple tough-luck starts.
Anthony Swarzak, P – Rochester (AAA)
Reason: Though he’s still a young buck at 23, Swarzak’s been around the organization for four years and excelled enough to be a recognizable name for those who are paying attention. Knowing Swarzak’s name comes with the territory for us farm-team followers, so cheering for him is essentially cheering for ourselves for being so devoted to the organization. Or something. Or not.
2009 Update: Swarzak seemed overmatched last season at AA, but the Twins uncharacteristically promoted him anyway. He’s responded by kicking ass at AAA, including a 0.82 ERA this season after two starts. All’s well so far.
Shooter Hunt, P
Reason: He was a top draft pick and had an insane 34 Ks in 19 innings last year, which was-actually, no, it was the name that got me hooked. So good it sounds made-up.
2009 Update: My word is Shooter Hunt off to a terrible start. I’m talking “17 walks in 9 innings” terrible. The only explanation that will calm my nerves about ol’ Shooter is if we find out he was doing shrooms before starts simply out of boredom. I’ll take a psychedelic reason over physical or mental any day of the week.
Wilson Ramos, C – New Britain (AA)
Reason: Sure, the kid’s career numbers don’t jump out at you (~.780 OPS), but he’s young as all get-out (21) and is a catcher, which as you know is a primo position. The future’s bright for young Wilson Ramos.
2009 Update: Being so young playing at AA can’t be easy, and Ramos is proving it to the tune of a .543 OPS through just under 50 at-bats. The peripheral numbers aren’t as frightening, however, which suggests Ramos will probably survive.
Chris Parmelee, RF – Fort Myers (A)
Reason: Stat guys like me love guys like Parmelee who may get overlooked by the purist lunkheads who see the low batting average (~.240 career) and dismiss him out of hand. However, it doesn’t take a genius to see a 21-year old who hit 14 homers in a half-season in ’08 and has some serious pop in his bat is worth watching. Plus, the guy knows how to draw a walk. Makes stat geeks swoon.
2009 Update: Parm has moved up to Ft Myers, and in 25 at-bats is doing pretty much what one would expect. Power (3 bombs), patience (4 walks), poor average (.200) and an overall impressive .870 OPS.
OK, that’ll do it for this nap-inducing update of my favorite Twins prospects. Goodbye.