Inbox: Farm system one of the best in the game
Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers Twins fans' questions
Spring Training is less than a week away, as Twins pitchers and catchers are set to report to the club's complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday.
It's been an interesting offseason for the Twins, who had a goal of rebuilding their rotation and did it through two big trades involving Ben Revere and Denard Span as well as signing veterans such as Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia.
I'll be heading down to Fort Myers this weekend and will bring you coverage throughout Spring Training so make sure to check twinsbaseball.com, the Bollinger Beat blog and (@RhettBollinger) on Twitter for updates.
In the meantime, here's the last Inbox before the club heads down to Florida:
Have a question about the Twins?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
It looks like the Twins' farm system is better than in recent years but how close are these top prospects to reaching the Majors?
-- Travis T., St. Paul, Minn.
The farm system is definitely the organization's biggest strength right now, as it's regarded as one of the best in baseball.
The Twins had six prospects ranked in MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list -- Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks -- which tied them for the most in baseball. They were also rated as having the second-best farm system by ESPN.com while Baseball America ranked them sixth.
Gibson and Hicks are the closest to making an impact in the Majors, as they both could make the Opening Day roster with Gibson in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation and Hicks competing for the center-field job despite spending last season at Double-A.
Arcia is right behind them and is expected to start the year at Triple-A Rochester. If the right fielder performs like he did last season, when he was the club's Minor League Player of the Year, there's a very good chance he'll make his Twins debut this season.
Meyer, acquired in the trade that sent Span to Washington, is expected to start the year at Double-A New Britain and could be part of Minnesota's rotation by next season. But he still needs to work on his control before he gets the call to the big leagues.
Sano is the club's top prospect and the best third-base prospect in baseball but is still only 19 years old and will start the season at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. If everything goes well, he could be a September callup in 2014 but is more likely to make his debut in '15.
Buxton, who is also just 19, is also a long way from the Majors, as he's expected to see time at Class A Cedar Rapids this season. He could start the year there or stay back for extended spring in Florida if the Twins feel he needs more work. It's difficult to predict his path to the Majors. He could move fast through the system or be a slow mover such as Hicks, who was drafted in 2008 and has spent five seasons in the Minors without reaching Triple-A yet.
If the Twins do not sign any more players this offseason, can they compete in the American League Central?
-- Steve R., Tomah, Wis.
With less than a week to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, the Twins are likely done this offseason, but they have been linked to left-hander Joe Saunders, who is still a free agent.
But even if they were to sign Saunders, it wouldn't change the fact that the Tigers are the heavy favorites in the division and that all four teams that finished higher than the Twins last season have improved this offseason.
The White Sox are still a strong team that was in first place most of last year while the Royals and Indians both made trades to strengthen their teams in '13. The Royals added James Shields in a trade with the Rays and revamped their rotation while the Indians acquired top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer from the D-backs and signed Nick Swisher.
So realistically, the Twins will have their hands full this season but should fare better than last year because of an improved rotation. But even if Twins starters give up 100 fewer runs than last season, they'd still rank near the bottom of the American League in ERA.
But Spring Training hasn't even started yet and so it's too early to make any firm predictions. I don't think anyone expected the A's or Orioles to compete last season but they both made the playoffs.
Looking at the rotation there really isn't a true ace-type pitcher, so who's the projected No. 1 starter for this year?
-- Matt T., Tomah, Wis.
One of Minnesota's biggest weaknesses is a lack of a frontline starting pitcher as their staff is full of middle- or back-of-the-rotation guys such as Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia.
So that essentially makes left-hander Scott Diamond the de facto ace after impressing last season as a rookie with a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts.
The Twins haven't announced their Opening Day starter but Diamond is a good bet, considering how he pitched last season and that he might be the club's only incumbent starter.
When will the unveiling of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game logo take place?
-- Brandon F., Chisholm, Minn.
The Twins haven't announced anything official yet but it's usually unveiled in late July or early August in a press conference. Minnesota is set to the host the Midsummer Classic on July 15, 2014, at Target Field to mark the third time the franchise has hosted an All-Star Game.