Last season, Paul Kelly was rated as one of the best players in the Gulf Coast League, and even received a promotion to Beloit. This year, in his first full-season of professional baseball, the 54th overall pick in the 2005 draft has already been named to the Midwest League All-Star Game, and the 19-year old does not look overmatched at all. A slick-fielding infielder, who plays both shortstop and third base, Kelly is batting .290 during the month of June, and that is mostly being the number three hitter in the order. For such a young guy, Kelly shows the kind of poise you would expect from a veteran, and his game is getting better everyday.
22. Oswaldo Sosa, RHP- Beloit Snappers (Preseason Rank: NR)
Sosa has been one of the best starters in the Midwest League over the past month, and he has not lost a game since June 1. In that span, Sosa has won three of his five starts, and has a 1.89 June earned run average. For the season, Sosa has made 15 starts for the Snappers, and has posted an ERA of 2.59. In his 87 innings of work, Sosa has struck out 67 batters, and is holding the opposition to a .245 batting average. Recently, he joined many of his teammates in being named to the Midwest League All-Star Game, and at 20-years old, seems to be a good find for the Twins organization.
23. Errol Simonitsch, LHP- New Britain Rock Cats (Preseason Rank: 26)
Though his 5-8 record may not indicate it, Simonitsch has put together a pretty good 2006 season so far. The lefty has posted an ERA under 4.00, and had it not been for June, then he would be 5-3, and have an ERA in the low 3s. However, his June cannot be overlooked, and had it not been for it, he would have been rated a lot higher on our list. In June, he has gone 0-5, and his 5.76 ERA is higher than his past two months combined. For the season, he has been plagued by the home run, as he has allowed 13 of them in his 15 starts. If he figures out how to get right-handed hitters out (batting .304 against him), then he will go back to the form that made the Twins place him on their 40-man roster.
24. Tarrence Patterson, OF- Beloit Snappers (Preseason Rank: NR)
Patterson has burst onto the scene during the 2006 season, using his blazing speed to be one of the best base running prospects in the Twins organization. He has also been swinging a pretty hot stick lately, batting around .300 for the month of June. His main problem has been hitting at home, where he is batting below the Mendoza Line. In comparison, he is batting well over .300 on the road, which is a pretty strange statistic. He has also been pretty clutch for the Snappers this season, batting .297 with runners in scoring position, and .333 with the bases loaded. Batting mostly in the first or second slot in the order, Patterson has been the ultimate table setter, batting .283 when leading off an inning, and swiping 19 bases, which is second best in the organization.
25. Anthony Swarzak, RHP- Fort Myers Miracle (Preseason Rank: 6)
Swarzak has not had the kind of season that most experts predicted he would coming into the 2006 season. Starting in a rotation that featured Kevin Slowey and Matt Garza for most of the season, Swarzak needs to step up and be the team's ace now that those two prospects are in New Britain. Swarzak began the year decently, posting an ERA under 4.00 in April, but his ERA has gone conistently upward since then. Swarzak has one of the best arsenals in the organization, so it is only a matter of time before he rights the ship. For the season, Swarzak has made 16 starts for the Miracle, and is striking out better than a batter per inning.
26. Danny Santiesteban, OF- Elizabethton Twins (Preseason Rank: 17)
Santiesteban is one of the more exciting prospects in the Twins organization, and plenty of people were surprised when he did not begin the season with the Beloit Snappers. Instead, he sharpened his skills in Extended Spring Training, and now is one of the main batters in the Elizabethton lineup. Though he has struggled to open the season, his teammates have told me that he is hitting the ball right at people, and that his statistics can be deceiving. A rare blend of speed and power, it is only a matter of time before Santiesteban is getting his first taste at full-season baseball.
27. Douglas Deeds, OF- New Britain Rock Cats (Preseason Rank: 30)
Like most people, I fully expected Deeds to begin the season with the Rochester Red Wings in 2006. Instead, he was slated to make his return to New Britain, a team for whom he was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game last year. Deeds has a sweet left-handed swing, and is really heating up during the summer months, much like he did last year. In June, the slugger is batting .337, and has stroked six extra-base hits in 25 games. Those numbers have lifted his batting average from .238 to .274, and he just may get that chance to play in Rochester later on in the season. For now, he will remain a fan favorite in New Britain, until it is time for him to move up and try his hand at the next level.
28. Joe Benson, OF- Gulf Coast League Twins (Preseason Rank: NR)
Benson was the Twins second round selection in the 2006 draft, and is already off to a blazing start to his professional career. In his first ten games, Benson is batting .282, and has a nice road batting average of .381. He has also driven in six runs this season, and has posted four multi-hit games already. Right out of high school, Benson does not looked overmatched in his first taste of professional baseball, and many believe he could handle Appalachian League pitching if he got the chance. He has also swiped two bags, is hitting .500 with runners in scoring position, and has shown poise in the middle of the GCL Twins lineup.
29. Andrew Thompson, INF- Beloit Snappers (Preseason Rank: 25)
Thompson, like Kelly, was rated one of the best players in the Gulf Coast League last season, and was even granted a promotion to High-A Fort Myers. Now in his first full-season of professional baseball, Thompson was recently named to participate in the Midwest League All-Star Game, and is finally starting to heat up. After batting below .240 in each of his first two month of the season, Thompson is batting .312 during the month of June, and has lifted his batting average from .231 to .265. In June, Thompson has also wrapped nine extra-base hits, including two of his three home runs this season. Thompson is a great middle infielder, and has the ability to succeed as either a shortstop or a second baseman in the future.
30. Steven Tolleson, INF- Beloit Snappers/ Fort Myers Miracle (Preseason Rank: 35)
Tolleson is another member of the Beloit Snappers that was named to the Midwest League All-Star Game, but he recently got some even better news. While being named an All-Star is a great accomplishment, there is nothing like getting the call that you have been promoted, which is exactly what he got this past week. Tolleson will join the Fort Myers Miracle starting on Sunday, and will try to help boost their woeful offense. For the Snappers, Tolleson batted .287 in 47 games, and had split time between shortstop, third base, and second base.