Scouting Twins Prospect #47: Juan Portes

Juan Portes had another successful season in Fort Myers in 2008, cementing himself as one of the better prospects in the Twins organization. After setting a career high in stolen bases in 2008, Portes added another attribute to his game, and will likely be in New Britain in 2009.

Name: Juan Portes

Position: Utility

DOB: November 26, 1985

Height: 5-foot-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 was only 20-years old during the season, and did show flashes of being a very good professional baseball player.

2007 was a season of success for the young player, who got his first taste of the Florida State League. Looking more comfortable at the plate, and staying healthy, Portes has one of his better overall offensive seasons to date. He tied a career high with 12 home runs, and drove in a career-best 62 runs. He finished the season third in the league in at-bats (495), and games played (132).

In 2008, Portes once again had a successful season for the Fort Myers Miracle, batting at .270 for the season. His numbers were eerily similar to those in 2007, as he once again his 12 home runs, and drove in over 50 runs. However, Portes used his speed a bit more in 2008, swiping a career-best 13 bags.

Batting and Power. Portes is a very good hitter, as his .271 lifetime batting average shows. He has had some down years, but is likely to hit in the .270-.290 range during his career. He has decent power, having the ability to reach double digits in home runs, and can work the gaps at times. If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he should be able to see an increase in all his numbers. He will get his first taste of Double-A ball in 2009, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the jump in talent.

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 seven in 2007. However, he knows how to read a pitcher, as shown by his jump in stolen bases in 2008. 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 used to be projected as a middle infielder. He spent most of his time in the outfield in 2008, so that may be where he is ticketed.

ETA. 2011. Portes had a rough time adjusting to full-season pitching in 2006, and that really hurt his projection. However, he has put together back-to-back solid seasons in the Florida State League, and will be counted on in New Britain in 2009. He could get his career back on track with another solid season at the plate and in the field, and could even make his way to Rochester by next season. All told, he is likely to make his Major League debut in 2011.

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