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Minnesota's Top Prospects

Everyone surely would like to brag that their farm system has the best fruit ready for picking. In the case of Minnesota, the club might not have the best players, but they certainly have a lot of them. In total, there are 164 North Stars stocked from low A to the majors, just six players short of the maximum allowed by the rules. Naturally, this makes picking a top ten among the prospects difficult as ten players is less than 8% of the farm system. Let's give it a try, though.

Hector Flores AAA Pitcher, 2nd year pro

Flores may not actually qualify as a prospect since he got a very impressive cup of coffee in Minneapolis to save a starter going into the North Stars' deep playoff run, but Flores was a season 8 international signee who made an immediate impact on the AAA squad. Look for another callup late this summer; he's the first remedy if there's injury or ineffective funk.

Davey Rivera AAA Pitcher, 7th year pro

Rivera was brought along slowly, but he is still just 24 years old and will head north with the North Stars when they break camp. He posted an admirable season 8, going 217 innings at 15-6 with a 3.64 ERA. Unfortunately, he only brings back painful memories because he is all I have left from trading away Ernest Lamb to Montreal.

Dmitri Stafford High A 2B, 2nd year pro

I ought to shoot the high school scouts who told me his range would get a whole lot better, but then I'd have to bring them back to life and give them raises just for helping me land this guy. He could be a good second baseman for a long time. Stafford could learn on the job late in season 10 or early season 11.

Brad Smith AA 1B, 3rd year pro

Smith and Stafford make up for us not getting a stud pitcher in the last few drafts, and they do that pretty well. In season 8 he outperformed himself at AA vs. High A across the board. Smith likely will grow up to be a left fielder and probably sooner than later. All he has to do is pay his dues at AA/AAA and give me a year to clear some roster space in the bigs.

Pablo Tavarez AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

It's hard to find many flaws in Tavarez's game other than the fact that he does not throw hard. He seems to be undervalued by the ratings system, but not by my managing peers. I get a trade offer for Tavarez at least a few times a season. He is a victim of a deep prospect pool at starting pitcher but ought to get his shot as a callup this September.

J.R. Shaw AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

Grafted in from Little Rock's farm clubs, Shaw has taken a liking to whatever the trainers have been feeding him. Before the trade, he was a 3.97 ERA, 1.42 WHIP pitcher over 102 innings at rookie and A ball. Since then, he has been a 3.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP pitcher in 184 innings. The knock on Shaw is that he only projects to start 24 games a year because of his long recovery periods between appearances. Season 11 probably will have him in the mix in the majors.

Roy Greisinger AA Pitcher, 5th year pro

Greisinger was a diamond in the rough that may actually turn into something, much to the chagrin of all of baseball for passing on him at least 20 times in the season 5 draft. Things came together for Greisinger in season 8, when he bested all his personal records and threw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. He has an outside shot at being in Minnesota by season 10.

Babe High AAA 3B, 4th year pro

“The High” would be a bad shortstop or a good third baseman, so he gets the hot corner. Out of the blue for no reason at all he stole 22 bases in season 8, which was 22 more than his career total going into the year. He hits doubles and .300. He could play in the bigs this year if somebody gets hurt, but High is in a logjam behind Brad Perez, Keith Brumfield, and Santos Flores.

Justin Seabol AAA SS, 4th year pro

The heir apparent to Daniel Miller when Miller prices himself out of Minnesota (soon, we fear), he should be able to handle things defensively by then. He also has not been a liability at the plate, career lining .331/.410/.506 at the lower levels. Not bad for a 3rd-rounder.

Fritz Handworth AAA Pitcher, 4th year pro

Handworth is not your typical top prospect, especially with the kinds of pitching staffs that some teams use. However, he does possess two very good pitches and above-average command, leaving in doubt only how long he can ward off the medical ward. He starts putting out my fires in season 11 or so.

So, cool, four of the guys in my AAA rotation are virtual locks for the major leagues in the next year or two. No wonder I traded Craig Schwartz out of town.

Fun facts: of the North Stars' current 25-man roster, 20 players came in through the farm system and 16 of them were drafted, signed as internationals, or were with the team at the beginning. All of the franchise's 1st-round picks are either on this list or have played in the major leagues.

Receiving honorable mention in this beauty contest were RF Vic Alicea (who was the pick-of-the-litter in season 7's NL internationals), 3B Vic Gonzales, and C Felipe Carrasco, who I really wanted to include on this list but pales compared to the ratings of the other guys.


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