Minnesota baseball fans are known for their road trips to watch the Twins in cities like Milwaukee and Kansas City but no doubt some are bound for Beloit, Wisconsin next summer.
The Beloit Snappers, the Twins Class A farm team, has much publicized prospects Miguel Sano (third base), Levi Michael (shortstop) and Eddie Rosario (second base) on the roster. Jim Rantz, Twins senior director for minor league operations, has heard the talk about Beloit road trips by fans. “I’ve had people stop me and say, ‘Sounds like we need to make a trip to Beloit this year,’ ” Rantz told Sports Headliners.
Mlb.com’s top 2012 prospects has Sano ranked No. 23 in a top 100 listing. That’s better than any other player in the Twins organization but Rantz was “surprised” the 18-year-old Dominican Republic native didn’t receive even a higher ranking.
Last fall Sporting News Magazine listed Sano and Washington’s Bryce Harper as its two top candidates for 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. Sano is known for his power and in just 267 at bats for Elizabethton hit 20 home runs last year. In an October interview with Sports Headliners Rantz said if Sano “does not get hurt and progresses like he has been, he is a can’t miss guy.”
Rosario impressed a lot last season, too, and he’s intriguing because the former center fielder is being moved to second base. The 20-year-old was a teammate of Sano and hit 21 home runs in 270 at-bats.
“He will play second base because of all the center fielders (in the organization) we have coming along,” Rantz said. “I know there’s a lot of buzz about both these guys (Sano and Rosario).”
Michael was the Twins first pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Michael, who turns 21 tomorrow, has Rantz and other Twins officials anxious to see him play at Beloit because injuries in 2011 limited their evaluation of the promising infielder.
The Mlb.com prospect listing had one other player from the Twins in the top 100, center fielder Aaron Hicks. The 2007 No. 1 draft choice was ranked No. 72. “He’s a heck of an athlete,” Rantz said. “He’s a scratch golfer and a lot of organizations took him as a pitcher.”
Mlb.com said the switch hitting Hicks batted only .258 hitting right-handers in the Arizona Fall League but hit .361 versus left-handers. Rantz said the 22-year-old will play for Class AA New Britain this season. “He’s got a chance to do it from both sides,” Rantz said.