MINNEAPOLIS -- In the Twins' run of success during which they won six American League Central titles in a nine-year span (2002-10), it was the farm system that helped propel them to such great heights.
And now the Twins are hoping the farm system can help them get back to that level yet again, as the big league club has struggled the last two seasons, with last-place finishes in 2011 and '12.
But there's help on the way, as Minnesota placed six players on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list before the season, which tied the club with the Red Sox, Marlins, Cardinals and Rangers for the most in baseball.
where to watch
|1||Miguel Sano||Fort Myers||A+|
|2||Byron Buxton||Cedar Rapids||A|
|3||Alex Meyer||New Britain||AA|
|7||Trevor May||New Britain||AA|
|8||Eddie Rosario||Fort Myers||A+|
|9||Jose Berrios||Extended ST|
|12||Daniel Santana||New Britain||AA|
|14||Luke Bard||Extended ST|
|15||Travis Harrison||Cedar Rapids||A|
|16||Corey Williams||Fort Myers||A+|
|17||Mason Melotakis||Cedar Rapids||A|
|19||Hudson Boyd||Cedar Rapids||A|
|20||Niko Goodrum||Cedar Rapids||A|
It's an impressive collection of big bats, such as third baseman Miguel Sano (No. 12), center fielder Byron Buxton (No. 19), right fielder Oswaldo Arcia (No. 92) and center fielder Aaron Hicks (No. 97), as well as power arms in right-handers Alex Meyer (No. 40) and Kyle Gibson (No. 49).
"We've got some pretty good players, and we know that," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "Now it's a matter of going out and performing."
Ryan helped solidify the club's starting-pitching depth this offseason, as he traded Denard Span to the Nationals for Meyer, while also sending Ben Revere to the Phillies for prospect Trevor May and pitcher Vance Worley.
Meyer and May are both starting the year at Double-A New Britain, but they are the type of starters with swing-and-miss potential Minnesota has been missing for years.
The Twins also added top talent via last year's First-Year Player Draft, as they selected Buxton with the No. 2 overall pick, while adding power arms such as Jose Berrios, Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, J.T. Chargois and Zach Jones.
As a result, the farm system is the deepest it's been in years, and it's even causing some top talents to be overlooked, such as second baseman Eddie Rosario, who is the club's No. 8 overall prospect and played for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic as a 21-year-old.
"Everybody gives all the attention to Sano and Gibson, but we've got some other guys in our system that are pretty decent," Ryan said. "So I'm hoping they can put up those numbers that'll indicate that. A guy like Rosario doesn't get as much attention or rank, but he's got a lot of abilities. So those are the types of guys who hope to rise up and reach the expectations the people in the organization have for them."
Minor League Baseball is under way, and you can keep track of the Twins' top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of Minnesota's Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/Twins.
The Twins changed their Class A affiliate from Beloit, Wis., to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this year and brought in Jake Mauer to manage a star-studded team. The Kernels' roster currently includes several top prospects, including Buxton, who is off to a fast start in his first full season in the Minor Leagues.
Other top prospects currently in Cedar Rapids are third baseman Travis Harrison, infielder Niko Goodrum and pitchers Hudson Boyd and Melotakis. Outfielder Max Kepler, who is nursing a minor injury in extended spring camp, is expected to play in Cedar Rapids this year. And Berrios, who played for Puerto Rico in the Classic, is also likely to join the roster after being stretched out in extended spring camp.
Class A Advanced Fort Myers, which is managed by former Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, should also score some runs this year with Sano and Rosario on the roster. And the rotation at New Britain should be solid with Meyer and May anchoring the staff.
Debuts and Draftees
Most of Minnesota's top picks in the 2012 Draft got their first taste of the Minor Leagues last year, including Buxton and Berrios.
Buxton, 19, is currently dominating in the early going in Cedar Rapids, while Berrios, 18, is expected to join the Kernels' rotation after spending extra time at the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
And college arms from the Draft such as Bard, Melotakis, Chargois and Jones are starting out in lower levels but are likely to move quickly through the system.
New kids on the block
Meyer and May were both big additions this offseason, as outside of Gibson, the Twins didn't have any top starting pitching prospects in the upper levels of their system.
But Meyer and May are on the same staff at New Britain and are being groomed to be part of Minnesota's rotation in the near future. But Meyer has to work on keeping his delivery consistent, while May has to improve his control.
Teams on TV
The Rochester Red Wings are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.