Scouting Twin Prospect #39: Juan Portes

Juan Portes was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2004 draft. After dropping out of high school, Portes appeared in many showcases, and some experts predicted him to be a top-10 round pick. He fell into the Twins' hands in the 15th round, and has been had some success since. Portes struggled in 2006, but all signs point to a big 2007 season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Juan Portes
Position: Infielder
DOB: November 26, 1985
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Juan Portes went to Malden High School in Massachutes, and signed after he was drafted by the Twins in the 15th round of the 2004 draft. During his high school years, he played some high school baseball, but dropped out for what would have been his senior year. He ended up doing showcases, and some experts say he should have went higher in the draft that year. After being drafted, he went and got his general equivalency degree, and speaks fluent English.

He was originally assigned to the Gulf Coast League Twins in 2004, and had a monstrous first season of professional baseball. The slugging infielder batted .327 in 44 games, and led the team with eight home runs. He also was first on the team in slugging percentage (.530), fifth in runs batted in (31), fifth in hits (55), and ended the year third in total bases (89). Playing mostly third base and shortstop, Portes did struggle with the glove, committing 24 errors.

During the 2005 season, he was a member of the Appalachian League Champion Elizabethton Twins, and was one of the main reasons why they took home the title. While his average dipped below the .300 barrier, he did smack 12 home runs, and drove in 39 runs in 64 games. He hit well for most of the season, but an August that saw him hit .246 really brought down his average. However, Baseball America saw enough in him to rank him as the seventh best prospect in the entire Appalachian League, joining teammates Alexander Smit, and Ryan Mullins.

In 2006, Portes had his worst season as a pro, as he struggled in his first taste of full-season baseball. He battled some injuries, and would go on to hit only .231 for the season. He played in a career-high 75 games, but he did not have the season that the Twins were hoping for. He is still only 20-years old, and has shown that he will be a good professional player.

Batting and Power. Portes can flat out hit, and for a second base prospect, has great power. In 108 career Minor League games, he already has 20 home runs, and has shown the ability to hit in the middle of the lineup. Most experts say that his bat is his best tool, and is only going to hit for more power as he matures. He hits to all fields, and can hit both lefties, and righties. He also has the knack for starting rallies, as he batted .366 when leading off an inning in 2005, and .303 with the bases empty. Though he did struggle with the stick in 2006, Portes is still regarded as one of the better position players in the system, and he should be healthy in 2007.

Base running and Speed. Portes has decent speed, but he is not going to win any stolen base titles any time soon. He stole four bags during the 2004 season, and only six this past year. He does not make many mistakes on the base paths, and knows when to stretch a double into a triple. Portes will most likely steal between 12-15 bases during his career, but he is never going to win any stolen base titles. He does make great decisions on the basepaths, and is mature beyond his age when he gets on.

Defense. Portes could use some more seasoning as a fielder, and the Twins are still looking for his spot in the field. He has played second base, shortstop, third base, and some outfield during his professional career, though he is projected to be a middle infielder. He was being whispered in the same sentence as Trevor Plouffe after the 2005 season, and if he can become a better fielder, than he may just be the better prospect.

ETA. 2009.Portes is now 21-years old, but he definitely has tremendous upside. He might have taken a step back in his development this season, but that is mostly because of an injury. I expect him to come back at full strength in 2007, and could eventually make his way up to Double-A before the season is over. The Twins are not too strong in infield depth in the Minor Leagues, so Portes is going to have a microscope on him this season. He should be able to put together a solid season, and put himself back into the prospect scene.

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