Twins Top 10 Prospects
By Josh Boyd
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Drafted: HSSt. Paul, Minn., 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Mark Wilson/Joel Lepel.
Background: Holding the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, the Twins opted for Baseball America High School Player of the Year Joe Mauer instead of consensus top talent Mark Prior, who was out of their price range. Mauer was hardly a consolation prize, though. He was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation and nearly followed fellow Cretin-Derham Hall product Chris Weinke to Florida State. Mauer also starred on the basketball court, averaging nearly 20 points a game. He led Cretin-Derham to state titles in all three sports. The Twins signed Mauer to a franchise-record $5.15 million deal, and he started his pro career by hitting .400 for Rookie-level Elizabethton. He raked for low Class A Quad City in his first full season, which ended early thanks to double-hernia surgery. He was back by the end of instructional league following six weeks on the sideline. His older brother Jake played second base for Quad City last year.
Strengths: Mauer shows outstanding balance at the plate and generates outstanding bat speed with a smooth, classic lefthanded stroke. A natural hitter, he covers the plate well, understands the strike zone and makes consistent hard contact to all fields. He has a knack for finding the sweet spot when he connects with the ball. The ball carries well off his bat, and hell develop above-average power as he continues to bulk up his loose, athletic frame and learns which pitches to turn on. He already shows plus power in batting practice. Mauers arm is near the top of the scale, but more important, hes mechanically sound with a quick release and his throws are right on the bag. Mauer benefited from working with veteran catcher Tom Prince in spring training.
Weaknesses: Mauer needs to learn the nuances of the game, including working with pitchers during a game. With his makeup and feel, hell be a complete receiver. More at-bats will help him understand counts and when to attack pitches.
The Future: Mauer is primed for a speedy ascent. A.J. Pierzynskis emergence will help the Twins bide their time, though it will be tempting to promote him aggressively and he might not last the season at high Class A Fort Myers. Hell own the top spot on this list until he takes over in Minnesota.
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