The Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate in New Britain, CT features a plethora of top prospects, including three of the best hitting prospects in the system. They were on full display during a late July series against the Philadelphia Phillies’ Double-A affiliate in Reading, PA.
Eddie Rosario, 2B
Rated the seventh best prospect in the Twins system prior to start of the season, Rosario has continued to see his value rise as he settles in at second base after beginning his conversion from center-fielder in 2012. His batting stance reminds me of fellow Puerto Rico native Alex Rios, of the Chicago White Sox.
In the game against the Phillies Double-A affiliate, Rosario received a break from his defensive responsibilities by serving as the designated hitter. In his first at-bat while hitting second in the lineup, he jumped at the first pitch he saw despite watching the opposing pitcher (Jesse Biddle) struggle with control with the first batter of the game. Perhaps learning from his mistake, Rosario then took a walk in his second at-bat. In his final appearance of the game the infield prospect showed easy power by getting good extension and golfing a home run over the right field wall.
The left-handed batter has been a solid hitter against both right- and left-handed pitchers in 2013 by posting an almost identical OPS (.778 vs .776) in 44 Double-A games. Rosario is poised to wrestle away the starting second baseman gig from the weak hitting Brian Dozier before the end of 2014.
Miguel Sano, 3B
After showboating a home run on July 23, Sano — whom I ranked as the second best prospect in the system prior to the 2013 season — was held out of action until July 28. The slugging third baseman has pure 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale — and has 26 homers in 97 games — but he didn’t have much of an opportunity to showcase it in this game.
Perhaps shaking off some rust, he went 1-for-3 with a single, two walks and two strikeouts. In his second at-bat (after walking in the first inning and barely taking the bat off his shoulder) he stayed back well on a curveball and was rewarded with a single. Later, he looked foolish on a hard breaking slider that sent him back to the dugout with nothing to show for the at-bat.
In the field, Sano does a nice job of handling what he gets to and has plus arm strength, which helps him recover from mistakes. The former shortstop’s footwork is modest and his actions are stiff. He shows enough potential in the field to envision him sticking at the hot corner for a while although his bat should play anywhere, including first base (where his arm strength would be wasted).
Danny Santana, SS
I ranked Santana as the 14th best prospect in the Twins system prior to 2013. The 22-year-old shortstop has posted very similar numbers this season while playing at the Double-A level. Hitting leadoff, the switch-hitter looked comfortable at the plate from the right side although he appeared to be using a very small bat, perhaps in an effort to increase his contact rate.
Despite a 3.9% walk rate, Santana showed a patient approach at the plate while leading off the game. He took a high fastball back up the middle for a single before getting picked off first base while running on first movement from Phillies pitching prospect Jesse Biddle. Santana has good speed but poor base running has been a thorn in his side throughout his minor league career.
Switched around to the left side of the plate later in the game, Santana looked to be using a slightly larger bat. He showed a level swing and pulled a single into right field in his first at-bat from that side of the plate. With a slight frame, the Dominican native will never be a power hitter but the ball jumped off his bat with more authority from the left side in this game but his ’13 splits tell the opposite story (.445 SLG as RHH vs .333 SLG as LHH).
Santana doesn’t have a huge ceiling but he’s the best in-house option to develop into the Twins’ shortstop of the future, although other options include Jorge Polanco (who has split his time between second base and shortstop) and Niko Goodrum. He’ll need to improve his on-base percentage to become a true top-of-the-order option. Santana did not field enough balls in this game for me to get a first-person read on his defensive abilities.