Name: Felix Molina
Position: Second Baseman
DOB: May 5, 1983
The Twins drafted Molina in the 21st round of the 2001 draft, selecting the young infielder out of Eugenio Maria De Hos College in Puerto Rico. Since being selected, Molina has turned himself into one of the better Minor League infielders in the Twins system, and he should continue his steady rise during the 2007 season.
Molina's first stop was with the Gulf Coast League Twins, where he played all kinds of positions. The Twins worked him out as a second baseman, third baseman, and in the outfield, but mostly at the third base position. He batted .286 in 51 games, smacking 17 extra-base hits. He also swiped eight bases, and scored 27 times throughout the season.
He received a promotion to the Appalachian League in 2002, making the switch to being mostly a second baseman. This switch suited Molina well, as he showed a steady glove in the field. He batted only .263, but was counted on as one of the more consistent players on a young Elizabethton team. He would score 31 runs in 50 games, and averaged nearly a hit per game.
In 2003, Molina made the jump to full-season ball, but he struggled with the Quad City Swing. After batting only .243 for the swing, he was demoted back down to Elizabethton, where he helped the Twins to the Appalachian League Championship under Manager Ray Smith. He batted .352 for Elizabethton in that season, stroking 13 extra-base hits in only 20 games.
During the 2004 season, Molina made the hard jump to Fort Myers, where he got a taste of some of the best pitching in the Florida State League. He batted only .240 as one of the Miracle's middle infielders, but he did average more than a base per game. The Twins felt that the young infielder needed more seasoning, and he would return to the Florida State League the following season.
That season, the 2005 season, was a year in which Molina would establish himself as one of the better middle infield prospects in the Twins organization. He would only bat .258 for the Miracle, but after a promotion to the New Britain Rock Cats, he would really begin to shine. He batted .287 once promoted, as he played shortstop, third base, and second base for the Rock Cats. He only appeared in 36 Eastern League games, and would return to Connecticut for the 2006 season.
This past season, Molina ranked as one of the better infielders in the Eastern League, as he was named to the Eastern League All-Star Team. Displaying flashes of brilliance in the field, Molina would be a constant in the Rock Cats lineup, as some of the more publicized talent around him faltered. Playing almost exclusively as a second baseman, Molina batted a respectable .270 throughout the season.
Batting and Power: Molina does not have great power, but he has shown the ability to have some decent gap power. He has always been able to hit extra-base hits, and when he is swinging the bat well, he has the uncanny ability to pick up doubles in bunches. He also has a tremendous batting eye, as he has only struck out 260 times in over 500 Minor League games. He also is a great guy to have at the bottom of a lineup, as he racked up 16 sacrifice hits during the 2006 season. He is not a guy who is going to wow you with his offensive statistics, but he seems to come up with the clutch hits when needed.
Baserunning and Speed: Molina is a great baserunner, who is not going to get caught stealing often. He is a guy who will average around ten stolen bases a season, and is a heady baserunner, who knows when to take the extra base. He is not blazing fast, but he is a guy who will take a base if the pitcher is taking a nap on the mound. He picks his spots, and if he is going, he is usually going to get in there. One thing he brings to a team is his experience, and if the Manager needs a runner late in the game, Molina will get the call.
Defense: Molina is an above average fielder, who can play all of the infield positions. He has had success as a shortstop, third baseman, and a second baseman, but he also has played flawless ball when asked to play the outfield. Though he made 13 errors for the Rock Cats in 2006, Molina showed flashes of brilliance in the field, and most believe that it was his glove that earned him a spot on the All-Star Team this past season. He has great footwork around the bag, and his 71 double plays in 2006 were more than the last two seasons combined. He is really beginning to look natural at second base, and may be the best defensive second baseman in the Twins organization.
ETA. 2008 The Twins have been taking their time with Molina, holding him back at a level if he falters. He has responded well to being held back, though he should be with the Rochester Red Wings when they open up their season in 2007. The Twins do not have great depth at the middle infield spots, and if Molina gets off to a hot start in 2007, and Twins second baseman Luis Castillo battles some injuries, he could quite possibly make his Major League debut during the 2007 season. However, if history has told me anything about Molina, he will spend the year in Rochester before being recalled to the Twins in 2008.