Top prospects:OF Aaron Hicks -- The Twins' top Draft pick last June, Hicks has already emerged as a player to watch. With a strong arm, an ability to play defense and command of the strike zone, Hicks was ranked as the club's top overall prospect by Baseball America. OF Ben Revere -- The 20-year-old caught everyone's attention when he batted .379 in 83 games at Class A Beloit in his first professional season. Drafted by the Twins in the first round in 2007 and considered to be the fastest baserunner in the club's system, Revere has multiple tools, which has other organizations already inquiring about his availability. 3B Danny Valencia -- A strong offensive player, Valencia has been working to improve his defense. The feeling is that the 23-year-old is not too far from making an impact at the Major League level, although his offense suffered at this year's Arizona Fall League, where he hit just .209 with five RBIs in 115 at-bats. LHP Jose Mijares -- Of all the Twins prospects, Mijares is the least likely to be moved since he's the club's current primary option for the primary setup role next season. Mijares, 24, impressed the Twins with his lack of fear and ability to attack the strike zone during his September audition. RHP Shooter Hunt -- A sandwich pick in the 2008 Draft, Hunt is known for his tremendous curveball, and the feeling by scouts is that the All-American from Tulane could be a fast riser through the system. RHP Kevin Mulvey -- Also acquired from the Mets in the Santana trade, Mulvey didn't put up stellar numbers in 2008, but the Twins still like his makeup and stuff. If he's not needed to help in the club's bullpen in '09, he could remain a starting option down the road. RHP Anthony Swarzak -- Recently added to the 40-man roster, Swarzak could play a factor in the Majors next season. The right-hander has been a starter throughout his career, but the Twins see him as a potential relief option in '09 if they have to look to their system for help. Right now, based on his age, performance and stuff, Swarzak is considered by some scouts to be the best starting option in the Minnesota farm system. Big contracts they might unload:
RHP Matt Guerrier, DH Jason Kubel
The Twins had a payroll of just over $57 million last season, a sharp decrease from 2007 goodbye to Torii Hunter and Santana. The projected payroll for the Twins in 2009 right now is around $60 million but that could rise to above $70 million if needed. With the team's new ballpark set to open in 2010, the Twins should also have room to increase their payroll over the next few seasons.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.