Although it is hard to predict how many wins a team will have, manager Doug Mientkiewicz’s roster is as prospect-strong as any team in minor league baseball. The roster is loaded with bats and arms. It should be a fun season for the Lookouts in their first season as a Minnesota Twins affiliate.
The 2014 Lookouts were blessed with talent from the Dodgers, but opened the season losing their first series to Jackson, 2-3. The 2015 Lookouts are returning home from their first road trip with a series win over Montgomery, 4 games to 1 - and could have had a perfect 5-0 record if not for losing a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning of the first game.
The story of the first series at Montgomery was primarily the way the starting rotation performed - including top pitching prospect 20-year old Jose Berrios, as well as along with DJ Baxendale, Tyler Duffey, and Greg Peavey.
Those who expected the top prospects to jump off to a quick start may have been surprised to see that it was the "lesser-knowns" who dominated. There is no doubt that Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jorge Palanco will hit and it's likely that a few players on this Lookouts' team will one day be in the starting lineup for the Minnesota Twins - maybe even this year.
Berrios is arguably the top starting pitcher prospect in the Twins organization. The righty from Puerto Rico was named the Twins minor league starting pitcher of the year in 2014. He made eight starts in New Britain and one in Rochester.
Duffey pitched at three levels in 2014 and got a little better at each level. He could be the first starter promoted to Rochester if needed.
Baxendale has struggled with injuries that last two seasons. If healthy, he has some very good stuff.
Peavey was the Twins minor league Rule 5 draft pick this year from the New York Mets organization where he pitched in AA and AAA.
This bullpen has the potential to be dominant.
Nick Burdi was the Twins second-round pick in 2014 out of Louisville. He is known for his triple-digit fastball, plus an upper-80s slider that goes with it.
Jake Reed was the Twins fifth-round pick last year out of Oregon. He dominated at Cedar Rapids and pitched very well in the Arizona Fall League. Because of it, he is skipping the Florida State League and jumping straight to AA. The same can be said for
Dallas Gallant who was finally healthy late last year and dominant.
Zack Jones missed most of last season with an aneurysm and blood clots, but he returned to the mound late in the Miracle’s playoff run and was hitting 97 mph again. He also pitched in the AFL.
Adrian Salcedo participated in his first big league spring training this year. He throws hard.
DJ Johnson was playing independent league ball at this time last year, but the righty with the mid-90s fastball was big for Ft. Myers late last year too.
Cole Johnson struck out more than a batter an inning last year for New Britain.
Lone left-hander Ryan O’Rourke is probably the only member of this bullpen who does not hit 94 mph (or more) regularly. He dominates left-handed bats. All of the right-handers averaged more than a strikeout per inning in 2014.
Stuart Turner is currently deemed the “Catcher of the Future” by many, and he will get the chance to make the majority of starts for the Lookouts. Known for his defense, he hit well in 2014 after a rough first month in Ft. Myers.
Carlos Paulino comes to the Twins organization from the Pirates where he spent time in AA and AAA.
Mike Gonzales is 6-6 and 264 pounds. He hit 12 home runs between Ft. Myers and New Britain.
DJ Hicks is listed at 6-5 and 257 pounds and hit 11 homers with the Miracle.
Levi Michael put together a very good 2014 season. He hit .305 in Ft. Myers before hitting .340 over the final month-plus at New Britain.
Jorge Polanco got some time with the Twins last year, but he returns to AA where he finished the 2014 season. He hit .281 with the Rock Cats.
Slugging Miguel Sano missed all of the 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery in March. He had 35 home runs between Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2013.
Heiker Meneses was a 23-year-old minor league free agent signed by the Twins this offseason. He went to big league camp and will play all three infield spots for the Lookouts.
Stephen Wickens is healthy again in 2015 and will play all over the infield and the outfield.
Byron Buxton had a long, frustrating, injury-plagued 2014 season. He hurt both wrists and his season came to an end on the day of his Double-A debut after a collision in the outfield. Baseball’s top prospect (by many sources) returned to the AFL and hurt his finger, requiring surgery. Veteran outfielder, Torii Hunter went as far as to compare him to the AL MVP, Mike Trout. Hunter was with the the Angles when Trout was coming up through their farm system. He saw first hand the player Trout was before he became Mike Trout. If Buxton becomes half the player Trout is, the Twins will be more than happy.?
Adam Walker has as much power as anyone in the organization. He needs to make more contact because when he does, he has the ability to hit a lot of extra-base hits.
Travis Harrison didn’t show power in Ft. Myers, but he said he learned a lot about hitting from Mientkiewicz.
Manager/Coaching Staff: Doug Mientkiewicz (MGR), Chad Allen (Hitting Coach), Stu Cliburn (Pitching Coach).
After accumulating a record of 161-113 in his two seasons in Ft. Myers, Mientkiewicz is taking over duties as the manager in Chattanooga. He was a strong candidate for the open Twins managerial job this offseason. When Paul Molitor was named manager, Mientkiewicz was put in charge of this immensely talented Lookout roster.
Chad Allen begins his third season as the Twins AA hitting coach.
Stu Cliburn enters his 14th season as the Twins AA pitching coach (interrupted by three seasons as pitching coach in Rochester).
With the 2015 season officially under way, here's a look at where the Twins' top 30 prospects are starting the season:
1. Byron Buxton -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
2. Miguel Sano -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
3. Alex Meyer -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
4. Jose Berrios -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
5. Nick Gordon -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
6. Kohl Stewart -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
7. Jorge Polanco -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
8. Nick Burdi -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
9. Eddie Rosario -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
10. Lewis Thorpe -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A) -- DL
11. Trevor May -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
12. Stephen Gonsalves -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
13. Jake Reed -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
14. Adam Brett Walker III -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
15. Stuart Turner -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
16. Max Kepler -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
17. J.R. Graham -- Minnesota Twins (MLB)
18. Travis Harrison -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
19. Taylor Rogers -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
20. Tyler Duffey -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
21. Fernando Romero -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A) -- DL
22. J.T. Chargois -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
23. Amaurys Minier -- Extended spring training
24. Chih-Wei Hu -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
25. Zack Jones -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)
26. Jason Wheeler -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
27. Mason Melotakis -- Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) -- DL
28. Zack Larson -- Cedar Rapids Kernels (A)
29. Niko Goodrum -- Fort Myers Miracle (A Adv)
30. Logan Darnell -- Rochester Red Wings (AAA)
-- Source of information included Twins Daily.