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Top Prospect Alert

Michael Cuddyer -- By Robert Sherry

Michael Cuddyer: The 20 year old 3rd base prospect had a great 1999 season enabling him to be considered as the Twins top prospect. The 6 foot 3, 195 pounder was a 1st round selection in 1997 out of high school in Chesapeake, Virginia. Michael spent 1999 at Single-A Fort Myers in the Florida State League. In a league filled with some of the best hitting prospects in the minors (himself, Vernon Wells, Drew Henson, Jared Sandberg, teammate Matt LeCroy, etc), Michael did more than stand out. He hit .298 with 16 HR's, 82 RBI, 24 doubles, 4 triples, 14 steals, 76 BB's, and 91 K's in 466 AB's.

The only hole in his game is that he needs to continue to improve his defense. He made 28 errors, however, this was his first season playing 3rd base as he played SS previously. He has now settled in at his long-term position and because of his age, I do not see any problems in improving in the field.

In 1998, Cuddyer hit .276 in is pro debut. He added 37 doubles, 7 triples, 12 HR's, 81 RBI, 16 steals, 82 runs scored, 61 BB's, and 107 K's in 497 AB's while playing for the Wizards in Fort Wayne of the Midwest League. Cuddyer does have the body type that could help in developing more power as he goes along. He was a high school teammate of Red Sox 1997 1st round pick John Curtice.

The Twins are building a solid group of young talent that has begun to reach the majors (Walker, Koskie, Jones, Allen, etc.). They have several top prospects awaiting to make their debut and Cuddyer is the best of this group. These should be the players to help get them back on the right track back to the success they had in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

The closest comparison to his ability at the plate right now in the majors is Phillies 3rd baseman and former Rookie-of-the-Year winner, Scott Rolen. If the timing is right as to when Cuddyer makes his debut, he could easily find himself in the race for that same award. I would look for Cuddyer to start the 2000 season at Double-A New Britain of the Eastern League and, if he continues to put up the numbers, don't be
surprised to see him make is Twins debut late in the 2000 season. Cuddyer should help give the Twins the "star power" that they have lacked since the both Hrbek and Puckett retired.


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