Name: David Winfree
Position: Third Baseman
DOB: August 5, 1985
The Twins selected David Winfree in the 13th round of the 2003 draft out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the young slugger is beginning to make a huge splash within the team's organization. While looking at their 2003 first round pick, fellow third baseman Matthew Moses, the Twins came across Winfree, who was then a catcher. Now that he is a third baseman, the Twins now have two legitimate Major League third baseman prospects, a problem any team would love to have.
After being drafted by the Twins, Winfree was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Twins for the 2003 season. To put it nicely, Winfree struggled, batting way below the Mendoza Line. In 23 games, Winfree batted only .129, and failed to hit a home run in 70 at-bats. His main problem was his batting eye, as he swung at bad pitches, walked only twice, and looked overmatched in his inaugural season in professional baseball.
In 2004, Winfree began to show signs of life, as he put together a nice season as a member of the Elizabethton Twins. He upped his batting average to .286, as he appeared in 59 games for the Twins. He seemed more comfortable at the plate, as he walked 18 times, hit eight home runs, and drove in 37. And while he did strike out 51 times, he seemed to be a different player at the plate.
Last season, Winfree was one of the best bats in the entire Twins organization, as he put together a fine season at the plate. He led the organization in hits, smacking 165 of them, and his 101 runs batted in were also good for tops in the organization. He also finished the season fifth in the organization in batting average, as he posted a .294 mark for the season.
For his efforts, the Twins named Winfree their 2005 Minor League Player of the Year, as he pushed himself into the upper echelon of Twins prospects. He was also the only member of the Beloit roster to be named to the Midwest League Post-season All-Star Team, and was ranked the 14th best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America. Not bad for a guy who had hit only .129 two seasons earlier.
Batting and Power:Winfree absolutely crushes the ball, and his batting practice sessions were one of the biggest draws in the Midwest League in 2005. Aside from his ability to hit to all fields, he is a clutch hitter, and he struck fear in the hearts of every pitcher he faced in the Midwest League. He is progressing nicely as an overall hitter, and while he does need to cut down on strikeouts, they are somewhat expected from a player that hits in the power spots in the lineup. If he can work on his batting eye, and getting some more walks, he should definitely be a .300 hitter. The big test for him will be hitting in the Florida State League this season, as it is a notoriously pitcher friendly league.
Baserunning and Speed: Winfree is a below average runner, and that is not something that the Twins expect him to change during his years in Minor League baseball. He is a prototypical corner infield prospect, and while he will not lead the league in stolen bases, he wont kill you on the basepaths either. He did set a career-high in stolen bases in 2005, posting three swipes on the year.
Defense:Winfree's defense may be his Achilles heel, as he joined shortstop Trevor Plouffe in combining for over 70 errors in 2005. Still, he does have an above-average arm over at third base, and does not have terrible range. He may actually move to first base in the near future, due to not only Matthew Moses being a top prospect, but also the fact that the Twins are very undecided about the future of that position on the Major League level. He is a big guy, and would be a nice big target at first base. I look for him to play some first base for Fort Myers in 2006, as the Twins may do what the Yankees have done with Eric Duncan, and move him along slowly.
ETA. Late 2008.Depending on what is happening at the Major League level, and in that I mean if Justin Morneau meets his potential, then it could be a fast ride for Winfree. Moses appears to be the Twins answer at third base for the future, so a move to first base may be the best thing for Winfree. In 2006, Winfree will be in the middle of the Fort Myers lineup, and he should put together a nice season. He'll make his Double-A debut in 2007, and from there it is really about the pieces falling in the right places. All Winfree can do is continue to hit, and the Twins will definitely find a spot for him in their Major League lineup someday. He is very young, and at 20 years old, has already been through three levels of Minor League baseball.