FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins have long been proud of their farm system's ability to develop top Major League talent.
Key players such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins are just a few of the club's homegrown players.
The Twins will be counting on their Minor League clubs to continue to foster their talent this season, even though most of the club's top prospects remain in the lower levels.
where to watch
A look at where the Twins' Top 20 prospects are starting the 2012 season:
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.
Twelve of the club's top 20 prospects, as ranked by MLB.com, begin the year in Class A Advanced or below -- including right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was on the fast track to the big leagues last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early September. Gibson, ranked as the Twins' No. 6 prospect, is still rehabbing at the club's Spring Training complex in Florida with the hope of taking the mound with Class A Advanced Fort Myers in early August.
Two of the Twins' top four prospects -- third baseman Miguel Sano (No. 1) and second baseman Eddie Rosario (No. 4) -- are set to play with Class A Beloit this year. Sano is regarded by many as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, while Rosario was named co-MVP of the Appalachian League last year after winning the home run crown over Sano by one, with 21 homers.
"We think we have a lot of good talent, but it might be right now that it's at the lower levels," Twins farm director Jim Rantz said. "Some players are starting to make a move."
Nine of the club's top 20 prospects are pitchers -- including right-hander Liam Hendriks, who was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year and ranks as the organization's No. 8 prospect. Hendriks, who saw time as a September callup with the Twins last year, made the club out of Spring Training this year.
"I think our strength is going to be in the pitching end of it," Rantz said. "Every organization has to stay injury-free, and we all know that. And that was our downfall last year, and we had to push some players who weren't ready and all of those things. But if everyone stays healthy, I'm comfortable with our pitching staffs at all our levels."
Because of their lack of impact talent in the upper levels, the Twins' system isn't ranked near the top in baseball. But with five of the top 72 picks in this year's First-Year Player Draft, Twins general manager Terry Ryan says it should only get better.
"We're not barren by any stretch," Ryan said. "We have talent down there. I think we're ranked somewhere in the middle of the pack by periodicals that do that kind of research, and I would suspect that's pretty close. We probably are in the middle of the pack. We've been better and we've been worse."
With the Minor League season getting under way, fans can keep track of the Twins' top prospects throughout the year on Prospect Watch. And get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of Minnesota's Minor League teams on the Twins' affiliates page.
Sano and Rosario both set fire to the Appalachian League while with Rookie level Elizabethton last year, and are set to play on a star-studded Beloit club. They'll be joined by right-hander Madison Boer and left-hander Corey Williams, who were both drafted by the Twins last year.
Fort Myers should also feature plenty of young talent, including infielder Levi Michael, who was the club's first pick in last year's Draft. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia will also start the year in Fort Myers after being invited to big league camp this year.
Right-handers Adrian Salcedo, Manuel Solimon and Matt Hauser will also start the year with the Miracle, who are managed by Jake Mauer.
Debuts and Draftees
Two of the Twins' top prospects -- third baseman Travis Harrison and right-hander Hudson Boyd -- will begin their careers in extended spring camp. Both players were taken in the supplemental round of last year's Draft and have yet to make their pro debuts.
Boer and Williams are both set to start in Class A Beloit because of their experience as polished college pitchers. Boer tossed a combined 25 1/3 innings for Elizabethton and Beloit last year, while Williams tossed 11 2/3 innings for Beloit.
Teams on TV
The Rochester Red Wings are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2012 MiLB.TV package will include more than 2,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.