#15: Carlos Gutierrez, RHP - The Twins took Gutierrez as one of their three first round picks in the 2008 draft. Gutierrez had closed at the University of Miami but was coming off Tommy John surgery before he was drafted. Despite some criticism, the 6-3 righty signed and started his career working out of the Ft. Myers bullpen. He acquitted himself quite well, allowing 23 hits and six earned runs in 25.2 innings, while striking out 19 hitters. The Twins surprisingly moved him into the starting rotation for Ft. Myers in 2009 and Gutierrez responded again. In 11 games (10 of them starts), Gutierrez pitched 54.2 innings, allowed 37 hits, walked 22 men, and struck out 33. He compiled a 2-3 mark with a 1.32 ERA before earning a promotion to New Britain. He started six times for the Rock Cats, but also made 16 relief appearances. The results were not pretty - 52.1 innings, 62 hits, 36 earned runs (6.19 ERA), 24 walks, 32 Ks. However, Gutierrez was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League and made 10 appearances out of the bullpen, pitching 10.2 innings, walking a high 10 batters while striking out 11. Gutierrez will likely get another crack at AA ball in 2010 to improve upon his numbers. For a guy two years removed from ligament-replacement surgery, a pitching line of 6-7, 3.39 ERA in 132.2 innings, 122 hits, 53 walks, and 84 Ks isn't too shabby. Gutierrez has a big fastball and the Twins are trying to harness it into a mid-rotation prospect. He just turned 23, so Gutierrez, and the Twins, has plenty of time.
#14: Mike McCardell, RHP - The Twins selected the 6-5 right-hander in the 6th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Kutztown University. McCardell signed and began his pro career with the GCL Twins that summer. After posting a 2-0 mark in four games with a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings and striking out 25 hitters, the Twins moved McCardell up to E-Town, where he continued to pitch well. In 45 innings with the E-Twins, he struck out 70 batters and finished 5-1 with a 2.00 ERA. Overall in his first professional season, McCardell was 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings, allowed 40 hits, eight walks, and struck out a staggering 95 men. McCardell spent the entire 2008 season in Beloit and worked 135.1 innings, allowing 110 hits, 25 walks, and 139 strikeouts. He began 2009 with Ft. Myers, where he pitched well in 94 innings (9-6 with a 3.93 ERA). However, the hits were up (98) and the strikeouts were down (a still-impressive 78). McCardell earned a promotion to New Britain where he made nine starts, worked 48.1 innings, allowed 45 hits, and struck out 40 men. He also played in the Arizona Fall League this year, and made three starts, lasting just 8.2 innings, allowing nine hits, seven earned runs (7.27 ERA) and striking out 11 batters. In his three-season pro career, McCardell has struck out 352 batters in 340.2 innings, while allowing 293 hits and just 65 walks. He has also posted a 30-13 record with a career ERA of 3.20. Not bad numbers and the Twins have decided to take the patient approach with him thus far. He's a bit older (he'll be 25 on opening day 2010) and the Twins could definitely move him to AAA to give him a look this year. However, look for McCardell to start the season in New Britain and work toward a shot in Minnesota in 2011.
#13: Rob Delaney, RHP - The Twins have had Delaney in their system since 2006 and he has steadily climbed the minor league ladder, posting solid, if not spectacular, numbers all along the way. His 2007 season was nothing short of spectacular: 70 innings between Beloit and Ft. Myers, 44 hits, 83 strikeouts, 35 saves, and a 1.03 ERA. Despite those numbers, the Twins elected to start him in Ft. Myers in 2008 and he pitched spectacularly there again before earning a promotion to New Britain mid-season. Overall in 2008, Delaney worked 66 innings, posted a 3-3 mark with a 1.23 ERA, recorded 18 saves, allowed just 44 hits, and struck out 72 hitters. Continuing the patient approach, the Twins started Delaney with New Britain in 2009 and he struck out 40 batters in 36 innings for the Rock Cats before being promoted to Rochester. He struggled somewhat in Rochester, but still allowed less than a hit an inning for the Red Wings. Overall in 2009, Delaney was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 83.2 innings, allowed 75 hits, and struck out 78 hitters. The Twins added him to the 40-man roster after the season and he'll be in the mix for a bullpen spot this spring. Delaney is 25 and deserves a shot at the big leagues. The Twins have been overly-patient with this relief star, but look for him in a Twins' uniform sometime in 2010.
#12: Trevor Plouffe, SS - The Twins' first round draft pick out of a California high school in 2004, Plouffe seemingly has been around forever but is only 23 years-old. Coming out of high school, the Twins viewed him as a good hitter with some pop, but there were some concerns about his defense. After six seasons in the minors, the Twins are still somewhat concerned about the defense (they tried moving him from SS to 3B in 2008, but Plouffe played SS exclusively in 2009), but the pop in the bat is very present. Plouffe started in E-Town in 2004 and made steady climbs for the next three seasons, managing 13 HR and 60 RBI as a 19 year-old in Beloit in 2005. He was a doubles machine in New Britain in 2007 (37) to go along with 9 HR and 50 RBI, and made his debut in AAA as a 21 year-old in 2008. In a half-season with the Red Wings, Plouffe hit .256/.292/.420 with 17 doubles, 6 HR, and 39 RBI. Overall in 2008 with New Britain and Rochester, the batting line was impressive for someone his age: .262/.308/.415, 34 doubles, 6 triples, 9 HR, and 60 RBI. Starting in Rochester in 2009, Plouffe was again solid at the plate: .260/.313/.407, 23 doubles, 10 HR, 60 RBI, and won't be 24 until mid-June. His career minor league batting line of .256/.318/.385 is weighted-down by his early-career struggles, but he has posted solid numbers at the higher levels. Plouffe is a solid hitter who could get a look in Minnesota in 2010 if there are injuries in the middle of the infield.
#11: David Bromberg, RHP - The Twins selected Bromberg in the 32nd round of the 2005 draft out of high school in Santa Monica, CA. Bromberg made his pro debut with the GCLTwins in 2006 and pitched well there in 10 starts spanning 50.2 innings, allowing 42 hits, 18 walks, and striking out 31. Promoted to Elizabethton in 2007, Bromberg was 9-0 in 58.1 innings with E-Town, allowing 45 hits and striking out 81 hitters. Facing a full season for the first time, Bromberg was good in Beloit in 2008, working 150 innings in 27 starts, winning 9 ball games again, and striking out 177 men. His 2009 season with Ft. Myers was spectacular. In 153.1 innings over 27 games (26 starts), Bromberg finished with a 13-4 record, 2.70 ERA, allowed 125 hits, walked 63, and struck out 148. His efforts earned him Twins 2009 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. With a career mark of 34-17 in 412.1 innings, Bromberg has struck out 437 hitters and has given up 361 hits. The walk totals are higher than the Twins would like (167), but Bromberg is a solid winner who is only 22 and fits the mid-rotation mold the Twins prefer in their high school pitcher draftees. He should start 2010 in New Britain, and look for him to be in the mix for a promotion tot he big club in 2011 or 2012.