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2017 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Middle Infielders

The offseason was spent full of rumors about whether or not Brian Dozier would remain with the Twins or be traded. As we knew all along, the decision made on Dozier would cause a trickle-down effect on the whole system. It now appears that Dozier is here, well, at least for the time being.

The organization has struggled to develop a shortstop for the last 25 years. They continue to roll out different guys each year. It appears that Jorge Polanco will be that guy to start 2017, but there are questions about him as well. Do the Twins have future shortstops in the farm system? Let’s take a look at the middle infielders in the Twins farm system.

If you missed the previous Roster Projections, check out the Catchersand Outfieldersarticles.
Image courtesy of John Rieger, USA Today
We will start with the middle infielders of the Minnesota Twins, and then we'll work our way down the organization ladder, all the way to those who will likely remain in extended spring training.

Minnesota Twins
2B - Brian Dozier (29), Eduardo Escobar (28)
SS - Jorge Polanco (23), Ehire Adrianza (27)

As long as Brian Dozier is on the Twins roster, he will be the team’s primary second baseman, and for good reason. He was worth 5.9 fWAR in 2016 and has been worth 16.4 fWAR over the last four years. 42 home runs in 2016. With 25 home runs in 2017, he would jump into the Twins Top 10 of all time (well, back to 1961).

Jorge Polanco certainly is a question mark at shortstop with the glove, but at 23, it’s worth giving him every opportunity to improve and get more comfortable there. Plus, his bat is what has people excited.

Having Eduardo Escobar on the roster is a must with this roster. He’s still not making much money, and he can give the Twins a solid backup at three infield positions, a guy whom they can feel comfortable starting at each position if there is a DL stint, short-term or long-term. He also can take over at shortstop if the defense there does become too shoddy.

This week, the Twins added depth in the middle infield by claiming Ehire Adrianza (Ay-Ray Add-ree-on-zuh), a slick-fielding shortstop who have played in nearly 200 big league games over the past four seasons.


Rochester Red Wings
2B - Levi Michael (26), Tommy Field (29)
SS - Engelb Vielma (22)

If the Twins need a quality defensive-minded shortstop sometime in 2017, they could turn to Engelb Vielma who is the top defensive infielder in the organization. Will he hit? Well, last year at AA, he hit .271/.345/.318 (.663). If he can put up similar numbers in AAA, and eventually in the big leagues, while playing elite defense at shortstop, that is immensely valuable.

The Twins brought in several minor league veterans who have the ability to play in the middle infield. Most are utility infield types. Levi Michael ended the 2014 season with 15 games in AA New Britain. He has spent the last two years at AA Chattanooga where his playing time and performance have declined. Maybe a bump up to AAA will help. He becomes a minor league free agent following the 2017 season. To increase his value, to the Twins or other teams, he needs to play other positions besides second base, something he hasn’t done.

Tommy Field is tremendous defensively all over the field. He’s a long-time AAA veteran who spent the second half of 2016 in Rochester. His defense is maybe best illustrated by the below tweet:




Chattanooga Lookouts
2B - Ryan Walker (24), Tanner Witt (26)
SS - Nick Gordon (21), Benji Gonzalez (27)

Nick Gordon is a consensus Top 100 prospect, and he’s easily one of the top Twins prospects. He has above average tools and has performed on the field as well. He had a solid season in Ft. Myers last year and a strong showing in the AFL against that league’s competition. He’s ready for AA.

Ryan Walker took a big stride forward in his career in 2016. He started in Ft. Myers and moved up to Chattanooga. He hit well and got on base, but as important, he played all around the infield, something that will be important for his career.

Tanner Witt signed early last season and spent the season with the Miracle. Benji Gonzalez is a 27-year-old veteran who spent six years in the Pirates organization, two years in the Padres system and last year with the Mariners AA affiliate. While he has played mostly at shortstop in professional baseball, he has played all three non-first base infield positions.


Ft. Myers Miracle
2B - Luis Arraez (19), Sean Miller (22), Rafael Valera (22)
SS - Alex Perez (24), Nelson Molina (21)

Luis Arraez came to the States in 2015 and had a strong showing as a 18-year-old in the GCL. He moved up to Cedar Rapids as an 18-year-old and led the Midwest League with a .347 average. He followed up by hitting .335 in 46 games in Venezuela this winter. While his ability to play second base is still in question, he’s very young and can continue to work and improve.

Nelson Molina was a Twins Daily 2016 Minor League All Star for his strong performance with Cedar Rapids. He mostly played third base, but he is a natural shortstop. He hit .300 with a .374 on-base percentage. He played one game in Puerto Rico but broke his hamate bone. He’s in Ft. Myers rehabbing and will be ready for spring training.

Sean Miller and Alex Perez were drafted in 2015. Both of them split their seasons between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Miller played every day in Cedar Rapids, around the infield. Perez got some time in Cedar Rapids, but when he moved up to Ft. Myers, he played nearly every day and showed a good ability to put together strong plate appearances.

Cedar Rapids Kernels
2B - Travis Blankenhorn (20), Andre Jernigan (23)
SS - Brandon Lopez (23), Jermaine Palacios (20), Ariel Montesino (21)

Last year, Jermaine Palacios was the hot prospect, the guy who destroyed the GCL and Appy Leagues as an 18-year-old in 2015. Unfortunately, Palacios really struggled with the bat to start 2016 and his season ended early with a broken bone after being hit by a pitch. He’ll look to get back on track in 2017.

Travis Blankenhorn made the move to second base in 2016 in extended spring training. In 34 games in Elizabethton, he hit .297 with seven doubles and nine home runs. His seasonended in Cedar Rapids where he hit .286 with five doubles and a homer in 25 games.

Brandon Lopez was the Twins 10th-round pick last June after his Miami Hurricanes' run in the College World Series. He went to E-Town where he hit .337 with an incredible .470 on-base percentage in 27 games. He moved up to Cedar Rapids for the final 18 games where he hit .386 with a .393 on-base percentage.

Andre Jernigan was also drafted by the Twins last year, in the 14th round out of Xavier. After a slow start in Elizabethton, he came on very strong. He was a conference MVP shortstop in college, and he’s making the transition to second base.

Ariel Montesino has slowly moved up the organizational ladder since signing with the Twins in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic. In Elizabethton, he hit .299 in 47 games.

Extended Spring Training
2B - Joe Cronin (22), Dane Hutcheon (22), Emmanuel Morel (19)
SS - Jose Miranda (18), Jorge Munoz (20), Wander Javier (18)

Wander Javier is the $4 million man, or kid. The 18-year-old signed in 2015 for a little more than the Twins maximum international slot. He debuted in the DSL this past summer, but he hurt his hamstring, and when he returned, he re-strained the same hamstring which cost him the rest of the summer. He did participate in Instructional League in Ft. Myers following the season.

Jose Miranda was the first of two compensation picks after the second round. The Puerto Rican hit a bit in the GCL and should move up to Elizabethton. Most assume he’ll move to second or third base as he grows. Jorge Munoz is a flashy glove at shortstop, though he played all over the infield in the GCL. He’s not a big guy, but he has some pop in his bat. Emmanuel Morel, like Munoz, is very fast. He can play both middle infield positions. Cronin and Hutcheon were late-round draft picks out of college who are solid ballplayers. Cronin in particular takes quality at-bats, plays solid defense, and is considered a grinder. Hutcheon has some speed and puts the ball in play.

Top Prospects
1.) Nick Gordon
2.) Travis Blankenhorn
3.) Wander Javier
4.) Luis Arraez
5.) Jose Miranda
6.) Engelb Vielma
7.) Jermaine Palacios
8.) Brandon Lopez


Will Brian Dozier be on the Opening Day roster? Can we assume that yet? How will Jorge Polanco handle a full season of shortstop with the glove? Could we see Engelb Vielma at some point? Will Luis Arraez continue to hit for a very high batting average with the promotion to Ft. Myers. Can Jermaine Palacios have a bounce-back season and reclaim his prospect status?


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27 Comments

Tommy Field can field indeed.Great clip.Loved to hear the word "murderized" at the end ;)

Did we forget about Goodrum? I'm still very high on him as being what we all thought and hoped DanSan might become.

Did we forget about Goodrum? I'm still very high on him as being what we all thought and hoped DanSan might become.

think he's been moved to 3B so he wouldn't fall under this category anymore.

Lower minors have some exciting players; Very much looking forward to the TD minor league reports!

    • bluechipper likes this

Hoping beyond hope for a Gordon/Planco DP tandem in 2018....

    • Twins33 likes this
Other than Gordon, who I have come around on after debating his selection without any really high grade marks, I believe the organizational strength is absolutely in Ft Myers and below. And I think there is some real talent there, though not close.

I find Vielma to be intriguing because of his glove and his speed. He has hit .260, .270 and .271 at his last three primary stops. His OB% those same three seasons have been .313, .321 and .345. None of those numbers is great, but they show some consistency as well as some improvement for a glove first prospect. I am not ready to anoint him anything as of yet, he remains a punch & Judy hitter at this point, but with his reputed defense and some speed, if he can keep making contact and get OB even a little bit, he could be a factor.

Gordon and Goodrum are what have me excited, along with Polanco. Polanco simply may not have what it takes to be a consistent ML SS. Period. But I also don't feel he's been handled properly in the past by the Twins. He's been up and down with hardly any playing time at the ML level while burning his options, then didn't play a single inning at SS in 2016 before being asked to once he came up to the Twins. And SS was and is clearly a need for the big league club. Huge problem with this! Maybe he turns out to be only average with his defense at SS at the ML level. But with real need and his offensive potential this is how you develop him?

Escobar has real potential as aneeded internal bounce back option at SS, but you absolutely have to give Polanco a real opportunity. On a rebuilding club, even if 2B is his best and ultimate position, you have to see what you have in him for 2017 at the SS spot.
    • wavedog, beckmt, Oldgoat_MN and 1 other like this

What does Luis Arraez look like as a hitter?

Does he have sufficient bat speed? What do the scouts say about him?

 

For a 19 year old to post an .830 OPS in A ball is pretty sweet.

I'd have more confidence in Gordon if he were to put up numbers like that at some level.

    • Ernestfickle22 likes this

 

Did we forget about Goodrum? I'm still very high on him as being what we all thought and hoped DanSan might become.

 

He'll be in there with the corner infielders when that gets posted. He's mostly played 3B the last several years, though he can also play SS and the outfield positions.

 

Other than Gordon, who I have come around on after debating his selection without any really high grade marks, I believe the organizational strength is absolutely in Ft Myers and below. And I think there is some real talent there, though not close.

I find Vielma to be intriguing because of his glove and his speed. He has hit .260, .270 and .271 at his last three primary stops. His OB% those same three seasons have been .313, .321 and .345. None of those numbers is great, but they show some consistency as well as some improvement for a glove first prospect. I am not ready to anoint him anything as of yet, he remains a punch & Judy hitter at this point, but with his reputed defense and some speed, if he can keep making contact and get OB even a little bit, he could be a factor.

Gordon and Goodrum are what have me excited, along with Polanco. Polanco simply may not have what it takes to be a consistent ML SS. Period. But I also don't feel he's been handled properly in the past by the Twins. He's been up and down with hardly any playing time at the ML level while burning his options, then didn't play a single inning at SS in 2016 before being asked to once he came up to the Twins. And SS was and is clearly a need for the big league club. Huge problem with this! Maybe he turns out to be only average with his defense at SS at the ML level. But with real need and his offensive potential this is how you develop him?

Escobar has real potential as aneeded internal bounce back option at SS, but you absolutely have to give Polanco a real opportunity. On a rebuilding club, even if 2B is his best and ultimate position, you have to see what you have in him for 2017 at the SS spot.

 

Vielma is little. He's going to be a punch and judy hitter, so all we should worry about is his BA and OBP. SLG and OPS just don't matter, especially if he's playing great defense. Seriously, if he hits .270 in MLB and gets on base .320, he could be a 2-3 WAR player.

 

There are as many people who question whether Polanco can adequately play 2B too, not just SS. He'll never come close to hitting like Dozier and he won't be as good defensively, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. 

    • DocBauer and HitInAPinch like this

 

What does Luis Arraez look like as a hitter?

Does he have sufficient bat speed? What do the scouts say about him?

 

For a 19 year old to post an .830 OPS in A ball is pretty sweet.

I'd have more confidence in Gordon if he were to put up numbers like that at some level.

 

He doesn't walk a lot, but he works pretty well in the leadoff spot because he's got tremendous bat control. He's a lot like Rod Carew in terms of the swing. He isn't tall, and he scrouches, so pitchers have to find a small zone. He's got very little power. He's a slap hitter. He's slow. He's not good defensively. 

 

Gordon is a significantly better prospect due to his size, speed, build, defense, arm, pop and more. 

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

Does keeping 4 middle infielders in the majors mean that we'll only have 4 outfielders? Does that mean no more Danny Santana?

 

Does keeping 4 middle infielders in the majors mean that we'll only have 4 outfielders? Does that mean no more Danny Santana?

 

Depends on if they go with 12 or 11 pitchers to start the season. 

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HitInAPinch
Feb 09 2017 03:07 AM

 

Vielma is little. He's going to be a punch and judy hitter, so all we should worry about is his BA and OBP. SLG and OPS just don't matter, especially if he's playing great defense. Seriously, if he hits .270 in MLB and gets on base .320, he could be a 2-3 WAR player.

 

There are as many people who question whether Polanco can adequately play 2B too, not just SS. He'll never come close to hitting like Dozier and he won't be as good defensively, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. 

If Vielma can hit anything over .250, has an OBP over Fangraph's 0.340 AND play great defense, he would be the next Twins HOF'er!  

 

Just to clarify:Twins, not national Hall of Fame...

    • Seth Stohs and DocBauer like this

Little worried about Seth's comment on Polanco.He can hit, so question is on defense.If he is not good at either SS or 2B, can he hit enough to hold the position.Twins seem to have a great number of middle infield prospects coming, though most are like 3 years away(except for Gordon).Are we looking at Polanco more as a placeholder after all this hype or is he a full time regular going forward?

 

Little worried about Seth's comment on Polanco.He can hit, so question is on defense.If he is not good at either SS or 2B, can he hit enough to hold the position.Twins seem to have a great number of middle infield prospects coming, though most are like 3 years away(except for Gordon).Are we looking at Polanco more as a placeholder after all this hype or is he a full time regular going forward?

 

He's probably a placeholder at SS. His defense may be adequate for 2B where defense isn't quite as important as SS (though obviously still important). He's going to have to hit to have value, and obviously we think that he can do that. 

 

But I wouldn't completely just assume that Brian Dozier is gone after 2018 either. 

Isn't Leonardo Reginatto coming back as a non-roster invitee and likely to start a lot of games at Rochester?

 

Isn't Leonardo Reginatto coming back as a non-roster invitee and likely to start a lot of games at Rochester?

 

Yup, Reginnato will be back in 2017. He played mostly 3B for the Red Wings last year and played 3B and SS for the Lookouts in his time there. Like Field, I can see Reginnato playing a few different positions. Maybe I should have included him here, but he's in the Corner Infield predictions. 

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ashburyjohn
Feb 09 2017 11:42 AM

Depends on if they go with 12 or 11 pitchers to start the season. 

Is the eleven-man pitching staff even a thing, anymore?

 

Little worried about Seth's comment on Polanco.He can hit, so question is on defense.If he is not good at either SS or 2B, can he hit enough to hold the position.Twins seem to have a great number of middle infield prospects coming, though most are like 3 years away(except for Gordon).Are we looking at Polanco more as a placeholder after all this hype or is he a full time regular going forward?

 

So is the consensus now that Polanco's defense is no good at SS AND 2B?  That would be disappointing to say the least if they never find a position in the field for him because Dozier isn't traded.  

 

So is the consensus now that Polanco's defense is no good at SS AND 2B?  That would be disappointing to say the least if they never find a position in the field for him because Dozier isn't traded.  

 

I don't know if that's the consensus...

 

But it's a reason that trading a 4+ WAR guy has to be given a ton of thought. 

 

I don't know if that's the consensus...

 

But it's a reason that trading a 4+ WAR guy has to be given a ton of thought. 

 

it's always good to give up on a young player like Polanco getting better at defense.....are we going to rehash the whole trade Dozier thing on this thread?

I look at the top ten list and I think there is limited star power if I am reading the reports correctly.  A lot of potential bench players here.  Blankenhorn surprises me as #2.  I guess I have not read enough about him to have any opinion, but his name just has not been in many discussions.  Of course the lower levels are exciting and we can hope that out of this group one of them will really emerge!

Thought Brandon Lopez had a phenomenal year at E-Town and CR.  Have to assume he was downgraded a tad since he is already age 23 and drafted as a senior out of college? Imagine he was hitting mostly against pitchers that were younger than he was.

 

Wonder where he would be ranked if he were, say, 21 and put up those numbers with the stick? 

 

it's always good to give up on a young player like Polanco getting better at defense.....are we going to rehash the whole trade Dozier thing on this thread?

 

No reason to... and I've been fully supportive of Polanco as the shortstop in 2017 all along.

 

I look at the top ten list and I think there is limited star power if I am reading the reports correctly.  A lot of potential bench players here.  Blankenhorn surprises me as #2.  I guess I have not read enough about him to have any opinion, but his name just has not been in many discussions.  Of course the lower levels are exciting and we can hope that out of this group one of them will really emerge!

 

He's my #7 Twins prospect. He's got to figure out a position and a lot of room for growth, but he's got potential.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

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