Scouting Twin Prospect #32: Matt Tolbert

The Twins selected Matt Tolbert in the 16th round of the 2004 draft, and since then, the Mississippi-product has carved out quite a Minor League career. Recently, Tolbert earned himself a spot in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, and could find himself in Minnesota before the 2007 season is out. Here is a look at our #32 ranked prospect, Matt Tolbert:

Name: Matt Tolbert
Position: Middle Infielder
DOB: May 4, 1982
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 177
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

The Twins selected Matt Tolbert with their 16th round selection in the 2004 draft. Out of Mississippi, Tolbert did not have stellar statistics as a collegiate player, but has slowly carved out quite a Minor League career so far. Now going into his fourth season with the Twins organization, Tolbert has put turned himself into one of the better middle infield prospects in the Twins farm system.

Tolbert had a decent career at Mississippi, batting .288 in his 791 career at-bats. Though he smacked only 11 home runs, Tolbert displayed great defensive prowess, and showed a great knowledge of the game. His best season came during his junior year, when he batted over .300 for the only time of his college career.

The Twins took the then 22-year old Tolbert in the 16th round following his senior season at Mississippi, and assigned him to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League. It did not take him long to adjust to professional pitching, as he batted .308 for the Twins, while blasting three home runs. His season was definitely a pleasant surprise for the Twins.

The following season, Tolbert got his first taste of full-season baseball, playing in 111 games for the Fort Myers Miracle. While he batted a respectable .266, the Twins felt he could use some more seasoning in the Florida State League during the 2006 season. Although he would open up the 2006 season with the Miracle, it would be a year where Tolbert would finish the season in Double-A.

For the Miracle in 2006, Tolbert batted .303 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, and earned himself a promotion to Double-A New Britain. He hit a career-high four home runs for the Miracle, and had 13 extra-base hits in 40 games. Once promoted to New Britain, Tolbert batted a respectable .258, and showed a steady glove in the middle infield.

Due to his success during the 2006 season, Tolbert earned himself a spot on the Mesa Solar Sox in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he drew the attention of some top Major League scouts.

"He could be a super utility guy in the big leagues for a long time," said a scout from a National League club. "He works counts, gets on base, and has a knack for making solid contact."

Tolbert figures to open the 2007 season back with the Rock Cats, but it would not be too far of a stretch to believe he could be in Minnesota by the end of the season.

Batting and Power: Tolbert will never hit 25+ home runs, but he does make solid contact. He is the kind of hitter who is smart at the plate, and knows how to work the count to his advantage. He has really grown as a hitter since college, and many believe he is ready to take the next step. He has good gap power, being a line-drive hitter who can work the alleys. He will almost always give you a quality at-bat, and can bat in nearly every spot in the batting order.

Baserunning and Speed: Tolbert has good speed, and is a very heady base runner. He is the kind of player who is always hustling, and is always looking to take the extra base. He is most likely to steal around ten bases per season, though he could break for 15 on any given year. He is a solid utility guy, who can also be used in any kind of pinch running situation. He also has shown a knack for hitting at the top of the order, and can get on base and cause some trouble for the opposing pitcher.

Defense: Defense is where Tolbert may carve his way to the Major Leagues, based on the fact that he is able to play nearly every position with skill. He has already shown the ability to play all three infield position, excluding first base, and started to play some outfield during his time in the Arizona Fall League. He is going to be a utility guy if he makes it to the Major Leagues, and his versatility at nearly every spot in the field is definitely going to help him in the long run.

ETA. 2007. If Tolbert can get out to a hot start in 2007, I believe he could be in Rochester before the All-Star break. The Twins are very high on Alexi Casilla, but Tolbert could receive the big promotion next season based on his ability to play an abundance of positions. Tolbert has a great baseball mind, and he is starting to get up to the age where it is time to make a move in his baseball career. If he cannot make it with the Twins, then he will more likely be better off in the National League, where he can be a valuable bench guy.


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