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Cody’s Top-20 Twins Prospects: 1-5

All five players on this list are 23-years old or younger and each player has a chance to impact the big-league roster in 2021. The real question is, who is number one?
Image courtesy of LEWIS © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports, KIRILLOFF © David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
In a season without minor league games, it is hard to know what happened on the back fields at spring training, at the alternate site in St. Paul, or in instructional leagues this fall. For better or for worse, the names on this list will form the core of the Minnesota Twins for the majority of the next decade.

5. Jhoan Duran- RHP (23-years old)
Acquired: Along with Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad in the Eduard Escobar trade
ETA: 2021
Duran can pump it across the plate with a triple-digit fastball that regularly sits in the high 90s. He combines that with a very good pitch that is a cross between a splitter and a sinker. His off-speed pitches include a curveball and a changeup that he can use to keep hitters off balance. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, his frame continues to fill out. His command continues to improve and his ability to triple-digit velocity and other sinking pitches will make it tough for big league hitters to make consistent contact.

4. Ryan Jeffers- C (23-years old)
Acquired: 2018 2nd Round Pick
ETA: 2020

When the Twins drafted Jeffers, he was seen as a bat-only player as many scouts felt like he would be a hindrance behind the plate. Things certainly have changed as MLB.com just named him the organization’s best defensive prospect. He burst onto the scene last year and he is the highest riser on this list. Minnesota is projected to use Jeffers and Mitch Garver in a two-catcher system for 2021. Last season, he hit .273/.355/.436, so there could be some expected regression, but he will continue to have strong defensive value.

3. Trevor Larnach- OF (23-years old)
Acquired: 2018 1st Round Pick
ETA: 2021

In some other organizations, Larnach would have a shot at being the team’s top prospect, but Minnesota has some bigger names ahead of him. His polished swing is going to make him a home run threat at the big-league level. He’s a large man and that prevents him from adding much value on the defensive side of the ball. During the 2019 campaign, he was the organization’s choice for Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He should start 2021 in St. Paul before making his big-league debut sometime next season.

2. Royce Lewis- SS (21-years old)
Acquired: 2017 1st Round Pick
ETA: 2022

Since the Twins drafted him, Lewis has been considered the top prospect in the Twins organization. Within the industry, there seems to be a shift this winter as more national outlets are putting Kirilloff at the top of the list. There are questions with Lewis about his swing mechanics and his future defensive position and this makes it tough to know what the future might hold. He is making changes to his swing, but some of the flaws are still present. Likely, he has a higher ceiling than Kirilloff, but his floor is also lower and that’s why I have a new number one prospect on my list.

1. Alex Kirilloff- OF/1B (23-years old)
Acquired: 2016 1st Round Pick
ETA: 2020

In the last draft under Terry Ryan, the Twins took a high school outfielder known for his advanced swing and a tremendous make-up. He has a tremendous plate coverage, and he uses a free-swinging approach to drive balls to all parts of the field. Defensively, he will end up playing right field, first base or designated hitter so that will decrease some of his value. However, he has proven that he is a hitter, and he is projected to hit for power. Minnesota is going to be able to rely on him in the middle of their batting order for the majority of the next decade.

How would you rank the top five prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES

Prospects 16-20

Prospects 11-15

Prospects 6-10

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52 Comments

So, is Kiriloff competing for a starting job this year right out of ST? With Rosario gone, are the Twins projecting Kiriloff to fill that spot? Or is the team projected to start with a Cave/Wade platoon thingy?

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James Rivah Twins Fan
Jan 29 2021 05:55 AM

I think Cave and Wade are fighting for the 4th OF spot but isn't the question whether they'll keep Kirilloff in St.Paul long enough to gain another year of control? Or has that ship sailed because the Twins played him in the playoffs? Maybe somebody can clarify the rules on that.

    • bighat likes this

I think Kiriloff will be the Twins starting left fielder.We are going to have to fight for the division this year, so let's not get behind the 8 ball early.  

    • SF Twins Fan and bighat like this

Keith Law has Balazovich rated about 20+ spots higher than Duran.I also feel he should be rated higher. Either or both could make contributions here this year, so it will be interesting.

    • Halsey Hall likes this

I would be very disappointed if Kiriloff does not start the season with us and get an extension soon so that the game of extra months in the minors does not have to be played.

 

Balazovic should be the first pitcher to come up from the prospects, but Duran has the most upside as I see it.Laws notes seem to indicate that too.

    • bighat, bobs and Heiny like this

I think you have to feel very good about this top 5 if you're a Twins fan. There's high ceiling talent here, you've got guys who have been moving through the system showing consistent success, and you're seeing guys living up to their potential. Royce is the one who was probably damaged the most by losing out on a season of minor league ball: he needs the ABs to work on his hitting and the reps in the INF to work on his D, but the tools are still really impressive.

 

Kirilloff is going to be exciting, I think. Last year on the prospect list for him. I really think his approach at the plate and gorgeous swing will play immediately in the majors and we're going to see him slashing liners all over the park this year. Kepler should be able to move over to LF without much trouble; he's certainly got the range to play there and his arm plays at any position in the OF, so it makes more sense to move him and slot Kirilloff in at RF I think. But Kirilloff could probably hold down LF if needed right now; it's not like he's Josh Willingham out there.

 

I'm excited about Duran too; he's got an interesting pitch mix and if he's able to keep refining the secondary offerings it'll help the fastball play up a bit better (weird to say that about a pitch that hits triple digits, but it doesn't have a lot of movement, so guys will hit speed if you pump it in there too often). That splinker of his is fun and a bit unusual, which should make some guys look pretty silly bouncing wimpy grounders out there.

 

Fun to see some of these high end guys getting so close to MLB, and it's gonna be great to be able to spot them in Saint Paul.

    • flpmagikat, Dman, blindeke and 1 other like this

Speaking of Law's list, several surprises, at least to me:

 

1.Ranks Kirillof the 7th best prospect!Yes, he should start from Day 1!!

 

2. Lewis's ranking drops to #46.He cites tinkering with his stance as cause for concern.Makes you wonder whetherLewis more valuable in trade or key player on Twins in the future?This is quite a drop for a #1 overall pick.

 

3. Balazovic (# 63) and Duran(#83) both included in rankings.Doesn't expect them to make any impact at major league level in 2021.

 

4.Larnach unranked?? Was it mistake for Twins to turn down Larnach for Musgrove(reported in some writer tweets)?

 

Law does admit to great difficult in compiling his 2021 list without benefit of a 2020 minor league season.However, just looking at Laws' rankings, are Twins' prospects overrated by fans and FO or is Law just underrating our farm system?Btw, he will be ranking organizations in February.

    • TopGunn#22 likes this

My favorite thing about this list is that each one of these guys can help the team this year!

    • Danchat likes this
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whosafraidofluigirussolo
Jan 29 2021 09:42 AM

 

Balazovic should be the first pitcher to come up from the prospects, but Duran has the most upside as I see it.Laws notes seem to indicate that too.

I think Duran has been playing consistently a level higher in the minors than Balazovic, so it seems more likely he's the first of them to reach the majors...?

 

 

Speaking of Law's list, several surprises, at least to me:

 

...

 

3. Balazovic (# 63) and Duran(#83) both included in rankings.Doesn't expect them to make any impact at major league level in 2021.

 

4.Larnach unranked?? Was it mistake for Twins to turn down Larnach for Musgrove(reported in some writer tweets)?

 

Law does admit to great difficult in compiling his 2021 list without benefit of a 2020 minor league season.However, just looking at Laws' rankings, are Twins' prospects overrated by fans and FO or is Law just underrating our farm system?Btw, he will be ranking organizations in February.

Not expecting significant impact from Balazovic or Duran seems about right.

 

I don't subscribe to the Athletic any more, but Larnach wasn't on Law's list last year either. Sometimes one evaluator just disagrees with others on a given player, and Law seems unafraid to diverge from common opinions.

    • mikelink45, Dman and dbminn like this

 

So, is Kiriloff competing for a starting job this year right out of ST? With Rosario gone, are the Twins projecting Kiriloff to fill that spot? Or is the team projected to start with a Cave/Wade platoon thingy?

I think it depends on if Falvene duo plan to manipulate the playing time to get an extra year of team control or not.I think he breaks with the team barring a terrible spring or injury, because I think the service time thing will become moot with new CBA.I have no info that will be true, but know service time is huge issue with players right now, and teams manipulating it by holding a player back for a few weeks to say they need more training at AAA. 

    • jrod23 and bighat like this
Photo
IndianaTwin
Jan 29 2021 10:02 AM

 

I think Cave and Wade are fighting for the 4th OF spot but isn't the question whether they'll keep Kirilloff in St.Paul long enough to gain another year of control? Or has that ship sailed because the Twins played him in the playoffs? Maybe somebody can clarify the rules on that.

 

Someone smarter than me will hopefully respond, but my understanding is that playoffs don't count toward service time. 

 

With a new collective bargaining agreement needed, there's a reasonable likelihood the rules will be changing as well, but I'll not be surprised if they go the "he still needs some seasoning" route for a few weeks. 

    • bighat likes this

 

 

4.Larnach unranked?? Was it mistake for Twins to turn down Larnach for Musgrove(reported in some writer tweets)?

 

Law does admit to great difficult in compiling his 2021 list without benefit of a 2020 minor league season.However, just looking at Laws' rankings, are Twins' prospects overrated by fans and FO or is Law just underrating our farm system?Btw, he will be ranking organizations in February.

 

Law will be wrong about Larnach.Larnach was the Florida State leagues MVP a League notoriously hard for hitters and good for pitchers.He might not be great defensively as I haven't seen or heard much about his defense but he is going to hit and he wouldn't be the Twins third ranked prospect if he "wasn't that good".It's either an oversight or a bias Law has for Larnach.

 

FWIW fans always over hype their own prospects because they generally are the only ones they follow or know much about.Law can be ruthlessly objective and not swayed by industry opinion as his lists are often quite different from others.He is not always right and he generally has good insight into why he ranks players where he does.Sometimes he is right, sometimes wrong.Prospects change as they move up levels.Some bust and some that were oversights make it.Potential is not an exact science.

    • TopGunn#22 and specialiststeve like this

 

I think Cave and Wade are fighting for the 4th OF spot but isn't the question whether they'll keep Kirilloff in St.Paul long enough to gain another year of control? Or has that ship sailed because the Twins played him in the playoffs? Maybe somebody can clarify the rules on that.

 

Kirilloff has zero days of MLB service time. Same as Duran, Balazovic, Lewis, Larnach. His service time hasn't started. He was added to the 40-man roster for the playoffs. Had he not been, he obviously would have been added in November. 

 

So, the scenarios/options are these: 

 

1.) Have him up from Opening Day... have him for 6 years. 

2.) Start him in St. Paul, call him up in three weeks (about)... have him for 7 years (4 years of arbitration). 

3.) Start him in St. Paul, call him up in mid-June... have him for 7 years (3 years of arbitration). 

    • TopGunn#22, Dman, dbminn and 3 others like this


Worthwhile to add here. To add further context, he’s doing a top 20 Twins prospects list running the week of 2/8 and will go into greater detail about Larnach.
    • Dman, dbminn and jrod23 like this

 

I think it depends on if Falvene duo plan to manipulate the playing time to get an extra year of team control or not.I think he breaks with the team barring a terrible spring or injury, because I think the service time thing will become moot with new CBA.I have no info that will be true, but know service time is huge issue with players right now, and teams manipulating it by holding a player back for a few weeks to say they need more training at AAA. 

I also think the players will do everything they can to fix the ridiculous service time rules after this year. But to me I think it's the reason the Twins will keep him down to start if they don't sign him to an extension pre-season. The league won't give up their previously established control on young players who have already debuted. It's more likely the league agrees to fix those rules, but demand all players who've debuted be grandfathered in. So it'd make more sense for the Twins to get all their top guys a cup of coffee at least this year and lock in the team control. If they want to go that shady route. Don't think they'd do that, but wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't start with the big club.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

 

Someone smarter than me will hopefully respond, but my understanding is that playoffs don't count toward service time. 

 

With a new collective bargaining agreement needed, there's a reasonable likelihood the rules will be changing as well, but I'll not be surprised if they go the "he still needs some seasoning" route for a few weeks. 

Correct. Kirilloff has 0 days of service time accrued. With the rules likely changing after this year I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Twins keep him down to start the year and get the team control grandfathered in. Probably say something along the lines of the lost 2020 minor league season means they want to see him succeed at AAA first.

If the front office plays the game of service time, I lose respect immediately.Kirilloff is the guy who should be there, which was proven when they brought him up in the elimination game.To win now, put your best 9 on the field every day.

 

Vanimal, I laughed when I saw your post.I agree with Seth for the most part.However, it's worth noting Kirilloff vs. Larnach...

 

1. Both have a beautiful swing, but Kirilloff's would be more purerer?

2. Kirilloff strikes out significantly less.

3. Larnach walks significantly more.

4. Larnach has the higher OBP as well.

5. Kirilloff's power is more effortless than Larnach's.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, TopGunn#22 and mikelink45 like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 29 2021 12:08 PM

 

I think you have to feel very good about this top 5 if you're a Twins fan. There's high ceiling talent here, you've got guys who have been moving through the system showing consistent success, and you're seeing guys living up to their potential. Royce is the one who was probably damaged the most by losing out on a season of minor league ball: he needs the ABs to work on his hitting and the reps in the INF to work on his D, but the tools are still really impressive.

 

Kirilloff is going to be exciting, I think. Last year on the prospect list for him. I really think his approach at the plate and gorgeous swing will play immediately in the majors and we're going to see him slashing liners all over the park this year. Kepler should be able to move over to LF without much trouble; he's certainly got the range to play there and his arm plays at any position in the OF, so it makes more sense to move him and slot Kirilloff in at RF I think. But Kirilloff could probably hold down LF if needed right now; it's not like he's Josh Willingham out there.

 

I'm excited about Duran too; he's got an interesting pitch mix and if he's able to keep refining the secondary offerings it'll help the fastball play up a bit better (weird to say that about a pitch that hits triple digits, but it doesn't have a lot of movement, so guys will hit speed if you pump it in there too often). That splinker of his is fun and a bit unusual, which should make some guys look pretty silly bouncing wimpy grounders out there.

 

Fun to see some of these high end guys getting so close to MLB, and it's gonna be great to be able to spot them in Saint Paul.

What are the different requirements for playin LF as opposed to playing RF, other than the throws to 3B? 

Not sure why so much attention is being given to this Keith Law guy. He's obviously had prospects in his lists that have flopped, and he's had prospects not in his lists that have done a lot better than the ones at the top of his lists. Time will tell which prospects pan out, not some guy on twitter who is just speculating. 

 

If the front office plays the game of service time, I lose respect immediately.Kirilloff is the guy who should be there, which was proven when they brought him up in the elimination game.To win now, put your best 9 on the field every day.

 

Vanimal, I laughed when I saw your post.I agree with Seth for the most part.However, it's worth noting Kirilloff vs. Larnach...

 

1. Both have a beautiful swing, but Kirilloff's would be more purerer?

2. Kirilloff strikes out significantly less.

3. Larnach walks significantly more.

4. Larnach has the higher OBP as well.

5. Kirilloff's power is more effortless than Larnach's.

 

Yeah you go back and look at their stats and they both did well but until 2019 Kirilloff is the hands down winner.Kirilloff had an amazing 2018 with a 999 OPS in A ball and 943 OPS in A+.While Larnachs numbers are nothing to sneeze at he was 100 points lower at those two levels with an 878 OPS in A ball and an 843 in high A and I believe he was older than Kirilloff when hitting at those levels. 

 

 100 points of OPS is pretty significant and IIRC there was an article talking about opposing teams having their pitchers try to throw more breaking stuff to Kirilloff and trying to trip him up in certain counts because they couldn't get him out.I think that was when he was in A ball with that 999 OPS.So he was feared by other teams not sure Larnach has that kind of reputation.So maybe that is why Law see's his bat as so special.

 

The thing is that 2019 while at High A there didn't appear to be a better hitter in that entire league than Larnach so that is nothing to sneeze at.He took home league MVP honors so his bat was better than a lot of other players.While I might not have them back to back I still think Larnach deserves the top 100 and he is there in the MLB top 100 at number 80.  

 

I guess Law doesn't see superstar there.Maybe he is too vanilla for him.I think in the end he will wish he had a do over on this one though.

    • TopGunn#22, dbminn and rdehring like this

 

Not sure why so much attention is being given to this Keith Law guy. He's obviously had prospects in his lists that have flopped, and he's had prospects not in his lists that have done a lot better than the ones at the top of his lists. Time will tell which prospects pan out, not some guy on twitter who is just speculating. 

Technically you are right it doesn't matter.Larnach is going to make it to MLB no matter what Law thinks and being in the top 100 doesn't really mean anything.  

 

It is just that Law is a respected voice and it seems odd for him to diminish what Larnach has done and keep him off the top 100.It is surprising so I think we are all interested in what his reasoning is.He is in line with every other prospect in Minnesota's system except Larnach, why? For me someone who follows prospects it doesn't make sense. 

 

Maybe he has some good reasons.Maybe Larnach is 101 on his list.Maybe he just likes some other players potential more after all after the top 10 to 20 it often comes down to preference.If I had to guess I think he feels Larnach's potential is tapped out right now at that 800 OPS mark and he see's a good player but not a great one but I am curious as to why he feels that way.Aren't you?

 

 

    • mikelink45 and rdehring like this

 

Maybe he has some good reasons.Maybe Larnach is 101 on his list.Maybe he just likes some other players potential more after all after the top 10 to 20 it often comes down to preference.If I had to guess I think he feels Larnach's potential is tapped out right now at that 800 OPS mark and he see's a good player but not a great one but I am curious as to why he feels that way.Aren't you?

 

To be honest I'm really not all that curious because his guess is as good as ours with how well Larnach is going to do as a Twin. All he's going off is past college and minor league stats as well as looking at previous prospects that are comparable that have either succeeded or failed. There's no measurement of the prospects response to the pressure that comes with the MLB or a measurement of how susceptible they might be to future injury. 

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SoCalTwinsfan
Jan 29 2021 02:13 PM

Law had Larnach ranked 7th in the Twins organization last year just behind Cavaco. Here's his synopsis:

 

Larnach has plus power the other way, which is usually a very positive indicator for a hitter, but he doesn’t pull the ball except to roll over to the second baseman, so scouts are left wondering if he can adjust as pitchers work him on the inner half. He’s got a lumbering sort of build and is limited to left field.
    • Dman likes this
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SoCalTwinsfan
Jan 29 2021 02:21 PM

And for what it's worth, pre-2020, BA had Larnach ranked 45th overall, MLB had him ranked 81st and BP had him ranked 85th, so Law definitely had him ranked lower than pretty much anyone else.

    • Dman likes this

 

Law had Larnach ranked 7th in the Twins organization last year just behind Cavaco. Here's his synopsis:

 

Thanks for this!Seems a bit harsh though.Law thinks he literally has no power pull side?Seems pretty negative to me but I am guessing there is data behind it.Despite this apparent fatal flaw he was still a better batter than most everyone else in the FSL?Sorry Keith not buying what you are selling just yet.The athlete part we already knew as that is why Larnach dropped as far as he did and signed for less than slot.At best he ends up average for defense which is in line with what I had been hearing. So with no defensive upside the bat has to be special and Law thinks it won't be special enough thus the drop.

 

It is a reason and most of us on this board wonder why the Twins are so fascinated with 1st base\Left field lumbering players.Well it is something for Larnach to work on.We should know more after this year.

    • mikelink45 and SoCalTwinsfan like this

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