As we're now into the offseason, I will be taking a team-by-team look at some of the prospects in the system that could be of interest for those of you in keeper leagues. The goal with each team is to take a look at a few players who are likely to have an impact in the Majors in 2012, a few who could be ready by the start of 2014, and a few more who are a long ways away, but could be interesting as well. The hope is that each organization will have enough players to fit into these categories, but some of the systems aren't going to, in all likelihood. The next team up is the Minnesota Twins
The majority of the talent in the Twins' system remains at the lower levels, and is likely 2-3 seasons from contributing to a Major League club. There is a lot of high-end talent down in the low-A and below levels, but there are also some players who will aggravate the majority of fantasy owners regardless of when they reach the Majors, if they do.
Ready in 2012
Hendriks was called up at the end of the season, and made 4 starts at the Major League level for the Twins. The biggest thing that stands out with Hendriks is his control. He has not had a season above 2.3 BB/9, while still maintaining a strong strikeout rate. He seems like he is basically ready for the Majors, and will likely get a shot to try and prove he can be in the rotation. However, the team currently has 5 starters in Pavano, Liriano, Baker, Blackburn, and Duensing, so there isn't a rush to have him in Minnesota. It seems like there isn't a lot of upside to him at this point, and would only be worth owning in AL-only leagues or extremely deep keeper leagues.
The key with Chris Parmelee in my opinion is this: He is likely going to have to make a position change, depending on the health of former MVP Justin Morneau. John Sickels over at Minor League Ball had this to say about Parmelee as a part of his top 20 Twins prospects for 2012:
He isn't going to hit .300+ in the majors, but I bet he can hit .260-.270 with moderate power and a good OBP. Not a star but should have a productive career.
Parmelee jumps out at me as one of those "better-in-real-life than fantasy" players. He looks like he could provide 15-20 homeruns with an average in the .260-.270 range as John suggested. For most fantasy owners, he's not really ownable. He could have some upside if it turns out that he gets full-time playing time, but it still would be in deeper leagues and AL-only leagues.
Benson may have the best chance of the three to get full-time at bats, as there is an opening in right field for the Twins. John Sickels ranked Benson ahead of Parmelee this year, and had this to say about him:
Still fights the strike zone, could be a 20-15 player but could also struggle in batting average and OBP departments.
Benson is the one to monitor as we get closer to the season, as he could be a deep league sleeper. If he earns a starting job in the spring, he should be owned in AL-only leagues, and seems to me like a 3rd or 4th outfielder in those leagues.
Could Be Ready by 2014
Gibson is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and is expected to miss the entire 2012 season. He could be a buy-low opportunity if you are rebuilding and a team that owns him is building for now. Otherwise, check back in 2013 on Gibson.
Long-Term Prospects (Won't Be Ready until At Least 2015)
The Good: Sano has pure 80 power, and he has the rare ability to showcase it in game situations. His ability to drive the ball out of any part of the park is also rare; he doesn't have to muscle up his swing, or even make full contact for the ball to go over the fence. His other plus tool is a very good arm.
The Bad: Sano has already grown considerably since signing, and he could end up a slow, one-dimensional slugger once he is physically mature. His swing gets long at times, and he'll need to hone his approach as he develops. He's a sluggish—if not downright sloppy—defender who made 26 errors in 64 games last year and is projected by most to end up in right field.
1 Levi Michael , SS , North Carolina
Michael could be an average MLB SS with a good eye, good bat and minimal power, maybe 10 HR's at his peak. He may not have the range to stay at SS but could handle 2B very well. He will be a contributor at the big league level.
1s Travis Harrison , OF/3B , Tustin (Calif.) HS
Harrison was drafted as a 3B, could be athletic enough to play LF but is likely a 1B down the line. He could be a middle of the lineup power hitter with a .260-.270 average perenially.