Of their top 10 prospects entering the season, center fielder Ben Revere has already played in nearly two dozen games, and a pair of Triple-A arms, Carlos Gutierrez and Kyle Gibson, could join the club by the end of the year.
Two of the targeted positions in this year's draft were shortstop and catcher, as the Twins remain thin at both areas in their Minor League system. They're stronger in the outfield, where Revere has led the way and Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson are a few years away.
"It's a long road to get to the Major Leagues," Johnson said. "It took Torii Hunter, what, six years to get to the big leagues? And he was a first-round pick. This isn't an easy game.
"Gibson obviously stands out; he's been somewhat of a quick mover. Hicks has been a little slower, but he was a high school guy and he's got tremendous upside, so we're happy with him, too."
Here's a brief look at some of the Twins' more notable selections and where they are in the pipeline:
From the 2006 Draft:
Chris Parmelee, 1B: Taken with the 20th overall pick, Parmelee has been hitting well this season for Double-A New Britain. Parmelee is batting .277/.360/.413 with four home runs and 30 RBIs. In 2009 with Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Parmelee was a midseason and postseason All-Star. After splitting time between right field and first base last season, Parmelee has been strictly a first baseman in 2011.
Joe Benson, OF: The Twins' second-round pick at No. 64 overall, Benson is one of their top prospects and could join the Major League club as soon as next season. Benson is batting .294/.380/.489 with five home runs and 26 RBIs as the center fielder for Double-A New Britain. The speedy outfielder also has seven stolen bases this year after swiping 19 last year. Benson has definite 20-20 potential and the range to stay in center, but his arm and bat also translate well to right field.
From the 2007 Draft:
Ben Revere, OF: Selected 28th overall, Revere started the season as one of the Twins' top five prospects, and now finds himself as a regular part of the big league lineup. Revere has been batting leadoff of late for the Twins, putting together an 11-game hitting streak while showing off his speed in the outfield and on the basepaths. In 22 games this year with the Twins, Revere is batting .302 with a .323 on-base percentage and four stolen bases.
Danny Rams, C: A second-round selection, Rams saw time late last season at Double-A New Britain, but has spent 2011 at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. In 45 games with the Miracle, Rams has batted .268 with a .775 OPS. Rams has hit four home runs and collected 21 RBIs this season. His strikeout totals have been high, with 154 last year and 53 already in 2011. Rams' struggles are part of the reason the Twins looked to add catching depth to their system in this year's draft.
From the 2008 Draft:
Aaron Hicks, OF: Selected 14th overall, Hicks, the Twins' top prospect, was rated as the No. 45 prospect in the league by Baseball America. He has struggled at the plate in two years with Class A Beloit and this year with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Hicks is a switch-hitting five-tool player with excellent speed and power from both sides of the plate. He remains a few years away from joining the Twins at the Major League level, but when he gets there, Hicks has the potential to be an excellent center fielder.
Carlos Gutierrez, RHP: Taken with the 27th pick in 2011, Gutierrez is likely to be the next on the list of top prospects to join the Twins' big league club. In 24 games this year with Triple-A Rochester, the right-hander has compiled a 3.62 ERA while striking out 26 batters in 37 1/3 innings. Gutierrez has gone back and forth between starting and relieving, but appears to have found a more permanent role in the bullpen. His best pitch is a nasty hard sinker that results in a lot of groundouts.
Kyle Gibson, RHP: Drafted with the Twins' 22nd overall pick, Gibson is right up there with Gutierrez in terms of readiness to move to the Major League level. Gibson has advanced quickly since being drafted out of Missouri, and is likely to join the Twins at some point this season. In 11 starts for Triple-A Rochester this year, Gibson had a 3.90 ERA with 64 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 60 innings. Gibson has above-average stuff, especially his plus changeup and slider, which induces a lot of grounders.
Alex Wimmers, RHP: Taken with the No. 21 overall pick, Wimmers showed plenty of potential last year with Class A Advanced Fort Myers as another college pitcher who could move quickly through the Minors. In four games, Wimmers went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA, striking out 23 batters in 15 2/3 innings. This year has not gone as well for Wimmers, who walked all six batters he faced in his 2011 debut, giving up four runs and taking the loss. He has since been moved to extended Spring Training, where he and the Twins are working on his mechanics.
Undrafted Free Agent Signees:
Miguel Sano, 3B: Signed in the 2009 international signing period, Sano started 2010 in the Dominican Summer League before joining the Twins' rookie ball club in the Gulf Coast League. In 61 games between the two leagues last year, Sano batted .307/.379/.491 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs. Sano has tremendous raw power to all fields and should hit for average as well. Having just turned 18 in May, Sano likely remains four years away from the Major League level.
Oswaldo Arcia, OF: Likely a corner outfielder at the next level, Arcia was the Appalachian League MVP in 2010, leading that rookie circuit in a number of offensive categories. Arcia has power to all fields, but needs to cut down on strikeouts. In 20 games this year with Class A Beloit, Arcia has batted .352/.420/.704 with five home runs and 18 RBIs.
Liam Hendriks, RHP: Derailed by an appendectomy last season, the Aussie right-hander has had some issues staying healthy, but when he is, he can throw four pitches for strikes with great command. He pitched in Australia over the winter and has been impressive at Double-A New Britain in 2011. Hendriks has a 2.75 ERA with 58 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 59 innings this year for the Rock Cats.