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Cody's Post-Draft Top 10 Prospects: 1-5

In the aftermath this year's MLB Draft, it can be fun to reevaluate where an organization stacks up in the prospect department. For better or worse, franchises can make it or break it with their selections in the draft. It's also important for teams to be able to build from within to help manage the bottom line.

Minnesota's top prospect list is littered with highly drafted players over the last handful of years. Players like Nick Gordon, Tyler Jay and Kohl Stewart have all been taken with first-round picks. Ideally, these players will form the nucleus of Minnesota's next championship winning club.

On Tuesday, I ran through the first half of my top-10 prospect list. Today I shift my focus to the top-5. Who's going to be number 1?
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Fernando Romero, Nick Gordon)
5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, 19-- Highest Level: Rookie
Preseason Rank: 4
Minnesota's first-round pick in 2016, Kirilloff will miss all of 2017 after having Tommy John surgery. The Twins drafted him because of his ability to hit. He did that last year in his first taste of professional action. His batting average was over .300 with a nearly .800 OPS. Miguel Sano has been another big name Twins prospect to undergo Tommy John and he hasn't shown any ill-effects from the procedure. Kirilloff will be 20-years old before he gets back on the field. He will need to show he can continue to hit and the Twins will need to be aggressive with him when he returns to action.

4. Fernando Romero, RHP-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 3
Romero is in the midst of a very important season. With a year under his belt since Tommy John surgery, he is sneaking into the Twins' long-term plans. With his big fastball and off-speed offerings, he has all the assets to be a front-line starter. He posted strong numbers last season at Low- and High-A but the transition to Double-A has come with some bumps. His ERA is over 3.00 and he has a WHIP north of 1.30. He's struck out 70 in 71.2 innings pitched so he will need to continue to improve his peripheral numbers as he gets closer to the big leagues. Romero might have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Twins system but he needs to prove he can stick as a starter. Otherwise, he could be destined for the bullpen.

3. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, 22-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 2
Gonsalves hasn't done anything wrong to move him down my list. It's hard to ignore the talent of the players listed in front of him. After some rough moments in the Arizona Fall League, Gonsalves has gotten back on track to start the 2017 campaign. He has an eye-popping 0.912 WHIP which would be his lowest total in any season. His 11.1 SO/9 would be his highest total with any full-season affiliate. He's also walking fewer batters which might signal that the 22-year old is putting it all together. He has dealt with a left shoulder issue which kept him out of action in the AFL at the beginning of this season. If he continues to put up strong numbers, there's no reason he shouldn't make his Target Field debut this season.

2. Royce Lewis, SS, 18-- Highest Level: High-School
Preseason Rank: N/A
It's might seem odd not to put the Twins newly minted top draft pick at the top of a prospect list. Lewis was the first overall selection but there are a few factors that go into his placement on this list. First of all, Lewis wasn't considered the best draft prospect on every list compiled before the draft. He is a very raw prospect with all the tools to be a superstar. However, it will be multiple years before the Twins know if they struck gold. Lewis will start in the rookie leagues and he needs to prove he can stick at shortstop over other prospects currently in the Twins system. Some believe he will need to be shifted to the outfield, a position where he has shown some promise in the past. Lewis might dominate the rookie leagues this season and force his way to the top of the Twins prospect list but he isn't there yet.

1. Nick Gordon, SS, 21-- Highest Level: Double-A
Preseason Rank: 1
In almost any other organization, Lewis would be a team's top prospect. However, Gordon is destroying baseballs this season. He is over three years younger than the competition in the Southern League and he's hitting .315/.376/.504. Gordon has hit more home runs this season than his first three season's combined. Since Engelb Vielma has moved to Rochester, Gordon has played shortstop on a regular basis. He's gotten a taste of second base but the organization seems committed to giving him as many opportunities as possible to succeed at shortstop. Like his brother, he might need to eventually move away from shortstop but his bat is better than even the Twins might have imagined when they drafted him. He's a strong top prospect and he could be a regular in the Twins line-up as soon as next season.

There you have my top-10 Twins prospects following the 2017 MLB Draft. Who did I miss? Who ranks too high? Who ranks too low? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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35 Comments

That is a strong, impressive top 5. I have no problem with your ranking.

Already multiple mentions of Lewis moving to the OF should lower his ranking to the middle of the Top 10 (3-6?). I tend to think Javier should be somewhere in the Top 5, whichever one of the two sticks at SS should automatically be rated higher- thus far I've heard fewer projections that Javier will definitely have to move away from SS.

 

Not to say that Lewis won't become an eventual standout Twins regular, but all in all- a disappointing decision by the Twins for a #1 overall pick.

 

I think you're spot on with Gordon. I can easily forsee Gordon and Javier eventually being the Twins MI mainstays for many years to come.

    • laloesch likes this
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Cory Engelhardt
Jun 22 2017 06:38 AM

Because of the power and speed combo (for potential) that Lewis brings, I almost have to put him at 1 ahead of Gordon. Yes, Gordon is having a great year at AA (and I have very high hopes for him too) but Gordon isn't going to be a 310 hitter in the majors, and he certainly isn't going to be more than 10-15 homeruns a year. Not that that is a bad thing, but with what his ceiling appears to be, I have to put Lewis at 1. Lewis does have that 20-25 homerun power potential, along with the speed. Neither of them may be a SS (who knows, it's years away) but for the bat alone, that's where I am looking right now.

Also, I'm curious, why do you have Gonsalves ahead of Romero? I view Gonsalves' ceiling as more of a 3, and more likely 4, when I view Romero as having top of the rotation stuff. Even this year, their numbers are both great, but Romero is averaging more innings per start.

Just my 2 cents.

I have my questions about Kiriloff (the Twins have to be aggressive? ), but this is the right top 5. 

 

No way Lewis can be ahead of a guy in AA who is playing SS and hitting like that. Maybe someday, when he actually plays some pro ball, or if Gordon drops off, but not now.

    • Twins33, Mike Frasier Law, brvama and 5 others like this
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melshmeister
Jun 22 2017 08:16 AM

Love the top 5, also love Wander & Thorpe!

 

With F.Romero 20 innings from his career high, I'd like to see him promoted to the Twins bullpen immediately and for the rest of the season ( I know several others have suggested that as well).

 

With Royce Lewis, SS or CF will not significantly affect his overall value. He's a high ceiling defender regardless.

 

There's a pattern evolving under FalVine:

1st high priced FA: Defensive minded C

1st significant MiLB signee: Defensive minded C

1st significant waiver acq.: Defensive minded SS/2B

1st draft pick: the top Defensive ceiling player in consideration 

    • markos, drjim, chpettit19 and 1 other like this

It's so difficult to compare someone (Gordon) who is just a year or so away from MLB with someone who has never played a professional game.

 

Maybe we should have a multivariate ranking scheme with ratings for potential, risk, and likely time to MLB. How one would aggregate these into a single ranking would depend on the situation. A team that is close to contention would place more weight on how soon the player would reach the big club. A team that is building for a more distant future might put more emphasis on potential.

    • 70charger likes this
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Bob Sacamento
Jun 22 2017 09:01 AM

For contextual purposes, those that want Lewis at #1, just think if Nick Gordon went to college (Florida State) he'd have been eligible for the 2017 draft.  Gordon would have easily been the top SS prospect in this draft class that was missing heavily on middle infield prospects especially with college pedigrees.  Instead Nick's played three years in the minors and ascended to AA where he's put up great numbers while playing a premium defensive position.  So yeah,  Gordon #1.

    • birdwatcher, Tibs and twinssouth like this

 

For contextual purposes, those that want Lewis at #1, just think if Nick Gordon went to college (Florida State) he'd have been eligible for the 2017 draft.  Gordon would have easily been the top SS prospect in this draft class that was missing heavily on middle infield prospects especially with college pedigrees.  Instead Nick's played three years in the minors and ascended to AA where he's put up great numbers while playing a premium defensive position.  So yeah,  Gordon #1.

 

If Gordon was hitting like this as a college SS he would have been picked #1 overall.

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and Bob Sacamento like this
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clutterheart
Jun 22 2017 09:34 AM

Lewis at 2 makes no sense to me.  I am not anti-the pick and I am fine with the 2017 draft. But, he is a good prospect with an uncertain position.  He was picked not because of his high-end talent but because he is a good prospect who was cheaper than others. Moving him over 2 pitchers at AAA and AA is only due to draft position, not talent. At this point, Javier has as much upside as Lewis (if not more)  

 

I would go

 

1 Gordon

2 Romero

3 Gonsalves

4 -Javier

5 Lewis

 

 

 but Gordon isn't going to be a 310 hitter in the majors, 

 

I wouldn't be so quick to make that determination. I'd put money on him hitting over .300 in the majors for several seasons. He's a really good "hitter."

 

We're past the point of underestimating his bat. Get on the bandwagon.

    • Seth Stohs, gunnarthor, Bob Sacamento and 2 others like this

I have no idea why anyone is talking about .300 in the majors, that just doesn't happen for almost anyone in 2017......

 

29 qualified hitters are doing so right now.

 

25 did so last year.

    • Cory Engelhardt likes this

Yeah, I have no problems with Gordon ahead of Lewis, because Lewis is really an unknown at this point.I have a problem with Gonzalves over Romero.One could probably argue that Romero has the highest ceiling on any player in the organization right now.Gordon had the season we were hoping he would have for 3 seasons now.I just don't see him stick at SS long term and I just hope that the Twins give him an OF mitt an have him play a corner position because there is need there.

 

Kiriloff in the top 5, after surgery is a joke.

 

I'd wait for the short season ball to start and the off-season to conclude before I do my ranking.

I think Gonsalves' ceiling is considerably lower than Romero's...then again, Gonsalves keeps producing at every level, so if he can adapt to AAA I'll start putting a lot more faith in him topping out higher than a MLB #3/4. Hasn't officially signed yet, but I'm in love with Enlow's curve.

 

1) Gordon

2) Lewis

3) Romero

4) Gonsalves

5) Enlow

 

    • birdwatcher and kab21 like this

Gonsalves might "only" be a 4/5, but he's going to pitch in the majors, and he's going to do so for a long time (assuming health). to me, it's that low risk of not pitching at all that matters. 

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

Lewis at 2 makes no sense to me.  I am not anti-the pick and I am fine with the 2017 draft. But, he is a good prospect with an uncertain position.  He was picked not because of his high-end talent but because he is a good prospect who was cheaper than others. Moving him over 2 pitchers at AAA and AA is only due to draft position, not talent. At this point, Javier has as much upside as Lewis (if not more)  

 

I would go

 

1 Gordon

2 Romero

3 Gonsalves

4 -Javier

5 Lewis

 

Some may question whether Lewis will stay at SS, but if he doesn't, he can also play CF. Will he play there in MLB? That'll depend on guys like Buxton, Gordon, Polanco, Palacios, Javier and others too... If one of those guys has taken those two positions, Lewis is a great athlete and could move to 3B, LF, anywhere.... Too early to worry about where he may or may not play yet. We don't know about that with Polanco and he's in MLB...

Running a top prospect poll series on my Twitter feed. Most have had a few hundred votes... but here is the Top 5 from that.

 

1.) Nick Gordon

2.) Royce Lewis

3.) Stephen Gonsalves

4.) Fernando Romero

5.) Alex Kirilloff

 

 

If you're interested, we are currently voting for prospect #6...

 

 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

I have no idea why anyone is talking about .300 in the majors, that just doesn't happen for almost anyone in 2017......

 

29 qualified hitters are doing so right now.

 

25 did so last year.

 

On those lists, only 6 players appear on both. 

 

This doesn't say anything about who may or may not hit .300 in the future.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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birdwatcher
Jun 22 2017 01:49 PM

 

 

 

Kiriloff in the top 5, after surgery is a joke.

 

 

 

I'm guessing that if Deron Johnson gave an honest answer to the question, "which 5 prospects project to be the best career contributors to the MLB team", Kiriloff might be on his list, but in any way you want to look at it, ranking Kiriloff in the top 5 is a lot less of a mockery than the statement you've made here.

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Dman and 3 others like this

 

Yeah, I have no problems with Gordon ahead of Lewis, because Lewis is really an unknown at this point.I have a problem with Gonzalves over Romero.One could probably argue that Romero has the highest ceiling on any player in the organization right now.Gordon had the season we were hoping he would have for 3 seasons now.I just don't see him stick at SS long term and I just hope that the Twins give him an OF mitt an have him play a corner position because there is need there.

 

Kiriloff in the top 5, after surgery is a joke.

 

I'd wait for the short season ball to start and the off-season to conclude before I do my ranking.

Why does the surgery make him being a top prospect a joke? He was a top 100 prospect in all of MiLB coming into the year. Now you think he's not even top 5 in the organization? The surgery won't effect his skills in any way. It means he'll arrive in the bigs a year later than he would have before, but his ceiling and skills are still the same ones that made him a top 100 prospect.

 

You argue that Romero should be higher because he has the highest ceiling, yet he's struggled a ton with injuries for years now. If you want his ceiling to matter and not his injuries then you should want Kirilloff's ceiling to matter and not this 1 injury.

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and gagu like this
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Buddy Holly
Jun 22 2017 02:34 PM

 

Running a top prospect poll series on my Twitter feed. Most have had a few hundred votes... but here is the Top 5 from that.

 

1.) Nick Gordon

2.) Royce Lewis

3.) Stephen Gonsalves

4.) Fernando Romero

5.) Alex Kirilloff

 

 

If you're interested, we are currently voting for prospect #6...

 

Where is Blayne Enlow rating? He may end up being the best player drafted.

    • Thrylos and Ben Noble like this

 

Already multiple mentions of Lewis moving to the OF should lower his ranking to the middle of the Top 10 (3-6?). I tend to think Javier should be somewhere in the Top 5, whichever one of the two sticks at SS should automatically be rated higher- thus far I've heard fewer projections that Javier will definitely have to move away from SS.

 

Not to say that Lewis won't become an eventual standout Twins regular, but all in all- a disappointing decision by the Twins for a #1 overall pick.

 

I think you're spot on with Gordon. I can easily forsee Gordon and Javier eventually being the Twins MI mainstays for many years to come.

How about Lewis at 3B, Javier SS, Gordon 2B, with Sano moving over to 1B/DH? We are talking about two or three years from now.

 

How about Lewis at 3B, Javier SS, Gordon 2B, with Sano moving over to 1B/DH? We are talking about two or three years from now.

 

a.What's wrong with Sano at 3B?What more does the guy need to do?

b. Supposedly the issue with Lewis @ SS is his arm.This will make a move to 3B worse.

 

 

a.What's wrong with Sano at 3B?What more does the guy need to do?

b. Supposedly the issue with Lewis @ SS is his arm.This will make a move to 3B worse.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Sano's fielding. What I'm saying is that Royce Lewis might be even better, which allows the Twins to put a very athletic guy with a huge bat at 1B. 

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 22 2017 06:47 PM

 

a.What's wrong with Sano at 3B?What more does the guy need to do?

b. Supposedly the issue with Lewis @ SS is his arm.This will make a move to 3B worse.

No doubt Sano is athletic and has a plus arm at 3B, he doesn't have do anymore but in 4 years do you think he'll still be the same size with the same quickness?  Personally, I don't. He's only going to keep getting bigger over time especially the more he becomes a patient slugger.  So it is completely within the realm that he'll move to 1B or DH.

 

As for Lewis, he's known for a plus arm whether in the outfield or on the left side of the infield. It's the question of his footwork and fielding abilities if he can play SS.  Here's what BA had to say about his defense:

 

Lewis played third base as an underclassman at JSerra and moved over to shortstop after teammate Chase Strumpf graduated. He played center field often on the summer showcase circuit preceding his senior year and showed plus range and flashes of advanced defensive instincts. He has the quick feet and plus arm strength required to play shortstop, though scouts aren't certain that he'll make the necessary adjustments as he continues to fill out and the speed of the game advances.
    • birdwatcher and Mike Sixel like this

I think this ranking looks pretty good. Both Gordon and Lewis will be top 35ish prospects next year. That's kinda cool.

 

I've warmed up to Lewis. I really wanted a pitcher but Lewis really is the type of guy that the Twins have drafted for so long. Toolsy HS batter. And it's nice to see Gordon hitting well in AA. Now that Trea Turner's OBP is below .300 perhaps we'll have less second guessing of that pick.


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