Twins 2006 Minor League Stars: The Hitters

The Minnesota Twins had some of the best prospects in Minor League Baseball this past season, and here is a look at who made the 2006 Twins Minor League All-Star Team. In part one, we look at the position players who make up our 25-man roster. In part II, we will name 11 pitchers, including five starters, five relievers, and a closer.

The Starters:

Catcher: Caleb Moore (Beloit, Fort Myers)
Once again, Moore was the top hitting catcher in the Twins organization, as he used his second season with the Twins to make the jump to High-A Fort Myers. A Midwest League All-Star, Moore has separated himself from the other catching prospects in the Twins organization, and should reach Double-A New Britain at some point next season. For Beloit, Moore batted .286 in 68 games, and then went on to appear in 27 games in the Florida State League. There is quite a difference between Low-A and High-A, and that rise in talent showed in Moore's .220 average. Still, he should be used to FSL pitching by the time the 2007 season roles around, and he once again should be the top hitting catcher in the Twins organization.

1B: Erik Lis (Beloit Snappers)
No surprise here, as Lis was one of the best overall hitters in Minor League Baseball in 2006. Displaying a rare blend of power and plate discipline, Lis led all Twins prospects in batting average this past season. In 105 games, Lis batted .325, and drove in 70 runs. He also showed consistency the entire season, as he did not bat lower than .296 in any month. He should be slated for Fort Myers to start the 2007 season, but if he continues to hit like he has been in his first two seasons in the Twins organization, than the safe money is on him making his Double-A debut sometime next year as well.

Second Baseman: Matt Tolbert (Fort Myers, New Britain)
Tolbert opened a lot of eyes during the 2006 season, turning himself into one of the better middle infield prospects in the Twins organization. During his time in the Florida State League, Tolbert batted .303, which is a very respectable number for the pitcher friendly league. Tolbert was promoted to Double-A during the season, and the young infielder batted .258 in 72 games. In all, the former 16th round draft selection drove in 59 runs in 112 games, and earned himself an invitation to the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Third Baseman: Deibinson Romero (Gulf Coast League Twins)
Romero was the main bat in the Gulf Coast League Twins lineup, as the young three-bagger batted .313 in 50 games. Usually a spot held by David Winfree or Matthew Moses, Romero earned this spot by displaying timely hitting, and really giving himself a chance to move to full-season ball in 2007. Romero had 16 extra-base hits, drove in 38 runs, and was the only GCL Twins regular to bat over .300. In fact, only Wilson Ramos's .286 batting average was even close to Romero's finishing mark.

Shortstop: Alexi Casilla (Fort Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats, Minnesota Twins)
This is a no-brainer, as Casilla turned himself into a super-prospect during his first season with the Twins organization. Acquired in exchange for J.C. Romero, Casilla took home the Twins Minor League Player of the Year Award, as well as earning himself a spot on the Minnesota Twins roster at the end of the 2006 season. He excelled on every level he played at in 2006, and his .318 batting average was the second-best mark in the organization. He also led the league in two of the major categories, including hits (157), and stolen bases (50).

Outfield: Brandon Roberts (Fort Myers, Sarasota)
Roberts is a player that the entire Twins organization is excited about, and rightfully so. After coming over to the Twins in the Kyle Lohse trade, Roberts batted .316 in 71 games, and turned himself into one of the top outfield prospects in the Twins organization. He stole 50 bases between both Fort Myers and Sarasota, and was a Florida State League All-Star. His 156 hits were the second-best total in the organization, as 90 of them came after he joined the Twins farm system. He also showed a steady glove in the outfield, committing only three errors in 131 games.

Outfield: Trent Oeltjen (New Britain)
Oeltjen had a banner season in 2006, establishing himself as a top outfield prospect, and really opening eyes around Minor League Baseball. Oeltjen was the only member of the Twins organization to be named to the Futures Game, and he was one of the only Rock Cats who did not have a disappointing 2006 season. In 113 games, Oeltjen batted .299 for the Cats, driving in 44 runs. The young outfielder also smacked 29 extra-base hits, committed only three errors, and scored 61 times. The outfield in Rochester should be crowded next season, but one thing is for sure, Oeltjen has earned himself a spot in that lineup in 2007.

Outfield: Douglas Deeds (New Britain)
Deeds had a great season for New Britain in 2005, and most expected him to be in Rochester in 2006. However, the sweet-swinging slugger was back in Connecticut for the 2006 season, and he returned to his spot as a top bat in the Cats' lineup. Deeds batted .282 in 132 games, leading the team with 35 doubles. He also finished second on the team with 14 home runs, and also finished second with 72 runs batted in. He is surely expected to play his first season of Triple-A ball in 2007, and he might even get a shot to crack the Major League roster by the end of the season.

The Bench:

Denard Span, OF (New Britain)
Span did not have a great 2006 season, but he did put himself in position to be a force in Rochester in 2007. He batted a respectable .285 for the Cats, swiping 24 bags. He showed a steady glove in centerfield, making only four errors, and he scored 80 times from his leadoff spot. He is the top outfield prospect in the organization.

Felix Molina, 2B/SS (New Britain)
Molina is creeping up the Twins middle infield prospect chart, and in 2006, he was a steady hand in the middle of the Rock Cats' infield. He played in 116 games, batting .270, and he finished fourth on the team with 50 runs batted in. The middle infield spot is a thin one in the Twins organization, and Molina should supplant Luis Maza as the Rochester Red Wings starting second baseman in 2007.

Danny Valencia, 1B/3B (Elizabethton)
Valencia had a solid inaugural season for the Elizabethton Twins in 2006, really showing consistency at the plate after signing out of the University of Miami. Valencia batted .313 for the Twins, leading the team to the Appalachian League finals, and earning a spot on the Apply League Post-season All-Star Team. In 48 games, Valencia smacked 21 extra-base hits, and also drove in 29 runs. He was also flawless with the glove, committing no errors the entire season.

Garrett Guzman, OF (Fort Myers, New Britain)
Guzman, one of the more inspirational stories of the 2006 season, earned his spot on this team by playing clutch, consistent baseball at two levels this past season. The Comeback Player of the Year, Guzman came back from a broken neck this season to be one of the better run producers in the Twins organization. His 77 runs batted in were the second-highest total in the system, and his 15 home runs were the fifth-highest mark. He smack eight Florida State League home runs, which is a very respectable number, before crushing seven for New Britain.

Brock Peterson, 1B (Fort Myers)
Peterson had one of the best overall seasons of any batter in the Twins organization in 2006. He showed power to all fields, and really ripped apart some tough Florida State League pitching. He finished the season ninth in the organization in batting average (.291), tied for first in home runs (21), and fourth in runs batted in (75). In 2007, Peterson should be right in the middle of a very tough New Britain Rock Cats lineup.

Kyle Geiger, C (Fort Myers Miracle, New Britain Rock Cats)
The Twins are extremely thin in the catching department, but Kyle Geiger has become one of the better catchers in the organization. A 2006 Florida State League All-Star, Geiger is as solid as they come behind the plate, and if he can work on his batting, he could be a legitimate Major League option as a back-up catcher.


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