Scouting Twins Prospect #17: Steven Tolleson

The Minnesota Twins drafted Steven Tolleson out of the University of South Carolina in the fifth round of the 2005 draft, and originally he said it would take "life altering" money in order for him not to return to the Gamecocks for his senior season. However, the Twins signed Tolleson, and he has since become one of the top infield prospects in the Twins organization.

Name: Steven Tolleson
Date of Birth: November 1, 1983
Position: Infielder
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Minnesota Twins drafted Steven Tolleson out of the University of South Carolina in the fifth round of the 2005 draft, and originally he said it would take "life altering" money in order for him not to return to the Gamecocks for his senior season. However, the Twins signed Tolleson, and he has since become one of the top infield prospects in the Twins organization. After consecutive solid seasons, Tolleson has etched his name in the upper echelon of Twins position player prospects.

The son of former Major League Wayne Tolleson, Steven batted over .300 during his collegiate career, and made his professional debut as a member of the Elizabethton Twins in 2005. Tolleson would split time between E-Town and Beloit in his first season, though he did much better with the Twins.

Tolleson batted .321 for Elizabethton in 16 games, garnering a promotion to the Twins Low-A affiliate. For E-Town, Tolleson had better than a hit per game, helping lead the Twins to the Appalachian League championship.

For Beloit, Tolleson batted only .176, as the Twins would keep Tolleson in Low-A the following season.

In 2006, Tolleson split time at third base and second base for the Snappers, and batted much better in his second go around. He hit .287 for the Snappers, leading to a promotion to High-A Fort Myers, and he once again averaged better than a hit per game. Once promoted to Fort Myers, Tolleson hit .250 in only two games, and he would be with the Miracle in 2007.

The 2007 season was a breakout season for Tolleson, as he showed why the Twins drafted him so high in 2005. Tolleson swiped a career-high 27 bags, better than he had in his previous two seasons combined, and hit a respectable .285 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

Though he struggled with the glove, playing mostly shortstop, Tolleson was a table-setter for the Miracle, and was one of the only regular starters who hit the ball on a consistent basis all season long.

In 2008, Tolleson was a member of the New Britain Rock Cats, where he spent most of the time in the infield. Though he made 17 starts in the outfield, Tolly played mostly second base and shortstop, cutting his amount of errors in half. He only appeared in 93 games, battling some injuries, but he did hit .300.

In only 93 games, Tolleson had 28 doubles, driving in 50, but more importantly, he showed some power, blasting nine home runs. In the fall, Tolleson was a member of the Arizona Fall League Champion Phoenix Desert Dogs, where he batted over .380 for the team. He is slated for Rochester in 2009.

Batting and Power: Tolleson is a very good hitter, and he is somebody who gets on a base a lot. Tolleson has a great batting eye, mostly from growing up around the game, and is a seasoned veteran at the plate. His time in college has helped develop him into a complete hitter, and batting over .280 in the Florida State League is a real statement to how good a hitter he could be. He does not have great power, but after hitting nine home runs in 2008, Tolleson added something extra to his game.

Baserunning and Speed: Tolleson has good speed, and at some times appears to be faster than he is. He is a very good base runner, who takes the extra bag every chance he gets. He is also good at picking the right pitch to steal on, and his coaches have told me that they are very comfortable giving him the green light and letting him pick the pitch he wants to steal on. As a guy who bats at the top of the lineup, Tolleson gives pitchers fits, and is one of the better base runners in the Twins organization.

Defense: Judging by his error totals, you would think that Tolleson would not be a great defensive player, but he is just that. He has the ability to play all positions in the infield, and he plays them all very well. Tolleson has great range at shortstop, has the arm to play short or third base, and makes every play. Though he is not a shortstop, I project him to be a second baseman, he can play shortstop on an everyday basis in the Minor Leagues. Look for him to make a permanent switch to either second base, or third base in the near future.

ETA. 2009 Tolleson will be with the Rochester Red Wings in 2009, but he could be a guy the Twins turn to late in the season, or when they expand the rosters. I really believe he could be in the Major League by the end of the season, and he has the mental ability to do very well if called upon off the bench. He will be at the top of the order for the Rochester Red Wings in 2009, and will likely hit close to .300 again.


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