Twins' Top 25 Pitching Prospect Countdown: 21-25

This off-season I am doing a list of the 50 best Twins' prospects, just I did last season. Like last season, I am dividing them into pitchers and position players. This is the first installment and will feature the pitchers ranked from 20-25, in reverse order. After I finish the top 25 countdown of the pitching prospects, I will start the countdown of the position prospects. The ages of the players listed will be their ages next season.

There we go:

25. Mike McCardell, 6'5", 220 lbs RHP, 25. Mike McCardell was drafted in the 6th round of the 2007 draft from Kutztown University and has moved fairly fast through the Twins' system in his 3 years as a pro starting with the GCL Twins (Rookie-) in 2007 and moving to New Britain (AA) after starting the season at Ft. Myers in 2009. McCardell last season (3.93 ERA, 1.213 WHI, 3.5 K/9, 4.88 K/BB with the Miracle in 94 innings, 17 starts and 4.10 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 2.50 K/BB in 48.1 innings, 9 starts with the Rock Cats) was somewhat of a dissapointment compared to his previous seasons, when his WHIP was consistently under 1.000, his ERA consistently under 3 and his K/9 consistently over 9. McCardell has a two seamer and a four seamer in the high 80s, and his out pitch is a curve. He also features a change up. McCardell is a control artist who has to pitch close to the strike zone and get ahead of hitters to be successful, since he cannot blow batters away. This season, batters at the higher levels seems to lay off his curve on the dirt, leading to fewer strikeouts and more walks and hits. Another potential issue is that he might not be durable as a starter (average start just over 5.4 innings). He projects as a middle reliever in the majors. He will probably start his age 25 season next year in New Britain and might move to Rochester depending on the needs of the organization. ETA: 2012

24. Wilson Sanchez, 6'1", 175 lbs, RHP, 19. For a while, I have been claiming that the DSL Twins club has some of the best pitchers in the organization. Thanks to Adrian Salcedo's success this season north of the border in the GCL, the DSL prospects will hopefully get more recognition from the fans and the organization, before the cross the border. Wilson Sanchez was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in late 2008 and he has his first professional season in 2009, where he put numbers better than what Adrian Salcedo did in 2008 at the DSL: 14 GS, 73.1 IP, 0.914 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 4.75 K/BB. His main pitch is a four seam fastball that sits at low to mid 90s but has a lot of deceptive movement. His secondary pitches (a slider and a change up) are works in progress at this point. Too early to project his career path, but if learns to master a change up and develop a good third pitch, he will open some eyes. He should start next season at the GCL. ETA: 2014

23. Bobby Lanigan, 6'4", 220 lbs, RHP, 23. Bobby Lanigan was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft from Adelphi University. After he spent the 2009 season in Elizabethton, he started the 2009 season in Beloit and moved up to Ft. Myers for 7 innings. He started 22 games in Beloit, accumulating a 4.52 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 3.52 K/BB in 123.1 innings. He possesses a low to mid 90s fastball and a change up that has not been perfected; however, he might have the best slider in the Twins' minor league system. This season in Ft. Myers he was used primarily as a reliever (he made 2 starts and 5 relieve appearances) and as a reliever he help opponents to a .175 batting average compared to a .271 (combined Beloit and Ft. Myers) as a starter. Lanigan projects as a future late inning reliever and will probably assume the role full time in Ft. Myers next season. ETA: 2013

22. Brad Tippett, 6' 1", 190 lbs, RHP, 22; Bratt Tippett is one of the many very good international signings by the Twins in the later part of this decade. He was signed as an amateur free agent from Australia in 2005 and started his career with the Twins in the GCL as an 18 year old in 2006. Brad has moved very slowly through the organization, because he has been very raw, but the patience has benefited him. He is a very polished pitcher at 21 years old, having 3 very good pitches (a high 80s fastball, a curve and an excellent change up), thrown by what Baseball America called "the best control in the organization". He repeated last season in Beloit (was promoted to Beloit mid 2008) but assumed a starting role, while compiling a 3.21 ERA, 1.068 WHIP, 6.6 K/9 and 4.28 K/BB in 146 innings. He is still about the right age for his level and will probably move to Ft. Myers next season. Depending on his development he could be a back of the rotation starter or a middle reliever. ETA: 2013

21. Blayne Weller, 6'5", 220 lbs, RHP, 20. Brayne was drafted in the 14th round of the 2008 draft from Key West High School. This season was his first in professional ball (he pitched for 1 inning at the GCL in 2008) and he dominated the GCL. He started 10 games, pitched 57 innings, accumulating a 1.58 ERA, .947 WHIP, 7.7 K/9 and 6.13 K/BB. He is not a hard thrower (his fastball is mid to low 80s), but he has excellent control, a very good curve with late braking movement, a project-able body and a deceptive 3/4 arm delivery. He will probably start 2010 in Elizabethton. He projects as a back of the rotation starter or a middle reliever. ETA: 2015.