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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Ruben Salazar

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 1/16/78, Age: 23, Height: 5í9íí, Weight: 162, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Twins - Signed as an undrafted FA from Venezuela on 6/3/97. 2000 Stats: (High-A - Ft. Myers) .311 AVG, 499 AB, 25 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 3 SB, 37 BB, 81 K, .359 OBP, .427 SLG.. 2001 Stats: (AA - New Britain) .298 AVG, 530 AB, 29 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 6 SB, 37 BB, 77 K, .348 OBP, .417 SLG.

The good news for Ruben Salazar is that he is the best middle infield prospect that the Twins have in the high minors. The bad news is that Salazar is about the same age as the Twinsí current keystone combination, and not nearly as talented. Ruben Salazar is an aggressive, line-drive style hitter that the Twins signed out of Venezuela in 1997. Salazar actually hit .401 in Rookie ball at age 21, but has settled into a more believable level of performance the past two years. His steady decline in performance over the past 3 years is right about what you would expect from a player that is catching up to the rest of his age group as he moves up the ladder. Salazar has decent power for a middle infielder, projecting to a home run peak of 15-20 with 30-40 doubles. He has below average speed, especially for a second baseman, and is rather poor in the field. There has been discussion of Salazar trying the outfield at some point in the next twelve months, which might help him crack the major league squad (especially given TKís affinity for position flexibility, although Salazar is not white (did I say that out loud?)).

The Twins really believe that Salazar can hit at the big-league level, so expect to see him somewhere other than second in 2002 (maybe in left, maybe at third). The problem for any Twins prospect is the age of the players that are currently in the majors. Pierzynski, Ortiz, Rivas, Guzman, Koskie, Jones, Hunter, Mientkiewicz, Kielty, and Buchanan are all relatively young players, so they will need to be beaten on skill alone, not because of cost constraints. The only situation where I could conceive of a spot for Salazar would be by a trade of Mientkiewicz, a move to first for Koskie, and the spot at third base opens. Iím skeptical of Salazarís ability to play any infield position well enough to justify a full-time spot, and I also donít have that much confidence in his strike-zone judgment to assume that he will hit well enough in the bigs to carry a stone glove. My opinion: Luis Sojo without the good hands, which of course is a player that will remain in Edmonton for the majority of his career.


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