Inside The Dugout: Top Ten Sluggers

An inside look at the top ten sluggers in the Twins Minor League System. From Low Class-A to Rochester, these ten sluggers have the pop to change the game at any point in the game. While some players are table setters who get on base and make this happen slowly, these guys are the mashers, who have the ability to clear the bases with one swing of the bat. Here are your top ten sluggers in the Twins Minor League System.

1. Daniel Matienzo (New Britain Rock Cats, Class AA)- While splitting time between DH and 1B, Matienzo has been terrorizing Eastern League pitching. He gets the top spot in our rankings due to his ability to hit the ball a long way, and his knack for getting base hits in big spots. With 16 home runs, Matienzo ranks third in the Eastern League, and with his home run on Saturday, has homered in three straight games. Currently, Matienzo ranks fifth in the Eastern League in slugging with a .544 clip. He has thrived in the cleanup role, with 10 of his 16 longballs coming while batting fourth. He is the typical power hitter, striking out 59 times in 74 games.

2. Matt Moses (Fort Myers Miracle, High-Class A)- The 20-year old third baseman takes the number two spot on our list. Moses is a high-ceiling prospect who is only going to get better and gain increased power as he gets older. Currently batting in the #3 spot for Fort Myers, Moses is batting .326 after the first 63 games of the year. He has smoked seven balls out of the park while collecting 13 doubles and a triple. His 21 extra-base hits have brought his slugging percentage up to .495 on the year. As clutch as they come, Moses is batting .475 with runners on and two outs, and is his average is at a .448 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Matt is currently 2nd in the Florida State League in batting.

3. Garrett Jones (Rochester Red Wings, Class AAA)- The #3 spot goes to Rochester 1B, Garrett Jones. The 6'4'' lefty has blasted 14 home runs in 2005, which ranks him tied for fifth in the International League. In addition to the home runs, Jones has 14 doubles making 28 of his 69 hits the extra-base variety. All those extra-base hits have brought his slugging percentage to .481 on the year. Like Matienzo, Jones has struggled with the strikeouts as well this year with 66 whiffs in 69 games. However, his production cannot be denied in the middle of that Red Wings lineup, where 13 of his 14 home runs have come while batting fifth.

4. Douglas Deeds (New Britain Rock Cats, Class AA)- The right fielder has been raking this season for New Britain while batting in front of Matienzo. He currently has eight home runs, 36 RBI, and ranks 2nd in the Eastern League in doubles with 23. Always a threat to go deep, Deeds currently leads the team in walks, which says a lot with Matienzo batting behind him. Deeds has been pretty clutch this season for the Rock Cats, with five of his home runs coming with runners on base. Getting better as the season wears on, all of Deeds numbers have gone up monthly from April to June. He currently has a monthly best four home runs in June. With a .461 slugging percentage, he has been the consummate number three hitter.

5. Luis Jimenez (New Britain Rock Cats, Class AA)- Fifth on our list is the guy who splits time with Matienzo at 1B and DH. Jimenez has put 11 balls out of the yard this season, and if he was playing first base everyday, would probably have more. When Luis plays first base, he is hitting .308 with 8 home runs and 10 doubles. When he is in the DH slot, Jimenez is batting only .230 with 3 home runs. Batting behind Matienzo also helps, as he is batting .297 with 6 of his home runs coming from the fifth slot. So far this season, Jimenez's slugging percentage is a gaudy .515. In 2004, Luis hit 20 home runs and drove in 75, earning the title of 12th best prospect in the Appalachian League.

6. Kevin West (Rochester Red Wings, Class AAA)- Number six on our list is a guy who loves batting in the six hole. Kevin West had a monster 2004 season, where he was a Eastern League All-Star after blasting 25 home runs and driving in 75 runs. He slugged a robust .551, thanks to his 61 extra-base hits. West holds the New Britain record for home runs with 39, and has brought some pop to the Rochester lineup this year. He has hit eight home runs so far this season, not a great total, but he failed to hit one in April and has come on as of late. An RBI machine, five of West's eight home runs have come with runners on. West has also collected 12 doubles, leading to a .431 slugging percentage.

7. Jeremy Pickrel (Beloit Snappers, Low-Class A)- Thanks to the long ball, Pickrel made the jump from Elizabethton to Beloit. After blasting five home runs in a short schedule of games, Pickrel was assigned to Beloit of the Midwest League after Spring Training. He has not let the Snappers down as he has blasted seven home runs, ripped four triples, and tallied 11 doubles. Out of his 56 hits, 22 of them have gone for extra-bases. He is currently slugging .480 in his first full season of professional baseball. A tenth-round pick in 2004, Pickrel's only goal this season is to make it to High-Class A Fort Myers.

8. Alex Romero (New Britain Rock Cats, Class AA)- Our number 8 guy is actually considered more of a speed guy. The 21-year old left fielder currently has nine home runs and 15 doubles for the Rock Cats. In 2004, Romero tied for the team lead in home runs with six for the Fort Myers Miracle in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. After starting off slowly in 2005, Romero has blasted five home runs in June in only 27 games. The switch-hitter would much rather bat from the left side, with all of his home runs coming while facing right handed pitching. On the season, Romero sports a .442 slugging percentage.

9. Deacon Burns (Beloit Snappers, Low-Class A)- Number nine is a player who hits the ball to all fields and has great gap power. Not the biggest guy in the world, (5'8'', 185 lbs.), Burns is an extra base machine. Not only has he blasted six home runs this season, but he has also hit seven triples, and amassed 22 doubles. Batting mostly in the third slot, Burns has a slugging percentage of .481. While not considered a huge power guy, anyone with 35 extra base hits in 71 games has to be on the list.

10. Scott Whitrock (Fort Myers Miracle, High-Class A)- The final slot goes to Scott Whitrock of the Fort Myers Miracle. It is either sink or swim with this slugger, the ball is either going a long way, or nowhere at all. While his nine home runs are nice to look at, he has struck out an eye-popping 76 times in 56 games. He has recorded 13 doubles which brings his slugging percentage to .440, but if he does not cut down on the strike out, he can never be considered a legitimate prospect. But, nine home runs in the Florida State League is still very impressive.

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