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Monday, June 18, 2012

AA and AAA: Where is the Offense??

The look of a displaced man who will
never again see Target Field

For purposes of this post, I need to start of with 2 limitations: First, I'm thinking about players in the upper levels of the minor leagues that have yet to "make it" with the Twins in any real sense of that phrase. I'll exclude from this discussion Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee and Darin Mastroianni, because they are all playing for the Twins right now, and Sean Burroughs, because he is too old to be a legitimate prospect. Second, for simplicity, I'm just going to look at batting average. I have linked to each player's stats, so you can explore in greater depth their production this season. Although I recognize that things like on-base percentage and OPS are also great measurements -- perhaps even better indicators of batting prowess -- I'm just focusing today on these position players' ability to hit for average. With those caveats . . . where is the offense in the upper levels of the Twins minor league system?

Let's start in Rochester. Right now, the Red Wings' highest batting average comes from Matt Carson, who is going to turn 31 in less than a month and is batting .296. It's a pretty steep drop after that. Ray Chang (turning 29 in August) and Pedro Florimon (25 years old) are batting .248. Wilkin Ramirez, 26 and with major league experience, is hitting .242. And possibly the worst stats come from two players Twins fans wish they could be counting on in 2012: Danny Valencia is hitting .238, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka is batting .223. Finally, remember Brian Dinkelman? Hitting .186. Based on the player age and level of experience, it might be a safe bet to call Pedro Florimon our best hitting "prospect" at AAA right now.

The circumstances in New Britain are better, but not by leaps and bounds. James Beresford, 23 years old and teetering around .300 last week, is hitting a respectable and solid .286. Nathan Hanson, 25, is hitting .279. Both players have been very hot the past couple weeks, raising their averages by 20 points or so. Catcher Chris Herrmann, 24, has been streaky this year, and is currently at an even .260. Deibinson Romero, 25, has shown power, and is batting .250. Aaron Hicks, only 22, is hitting .244 and is currently sidelined with an ankle injury. Finally, Evan Bigley, 25, is hitting .234. In terms of legitimate prospects and batting production, I might order the top few AA players Herrmann, Hicks, Beresford and Romero -- based on what they have done this season.

I have omitted some players, but none that have impressive offensive stats or are young enough to be considered legitimate major league prospects. The bottom line is that, midway through the 2012 season, there isn't a AA or AAA player batting .300 (incidentally, the highest OPS at AA is Romero's .769; at AAA it is Carson's .825). This post isn't intended to be an indictment on the Twins' farm system as much as it is a quick evaluation of where our best hitters are. And the answer to that question appears to be the lower levels of the minors. Just today, Oswaldo Arcia was promoted to New Britain. Hopefully he can inject some life into the recently sputtering Rock Cats offense. I'm hoping his .309/.376/.517 line at Ft. Myers can carry over into central Connecticut.

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