Part 8: Seth's Updated Top 50 Minnesota Twins Prospects (1-5)
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyLet’s get to my choices for the Top 5 Twins prospects. This is a very talented group, all of who have the ability to not only play in the big leagues but be strong, long-term contributors. Please feel free to discuss. (Note - there are links to the first seven parts of this series at the bottom)
#5 OF Alex Kirilloff
Yes, he missed the entire 2017 season because he had to have Tommy John surgery in early March. He had injured his arm late in the 2016 Elizabethton season but chose to rehab and hope. The Pittsburgh native was one of the best hitters in the 2016 draft when the Twins made him the 15th overall pick in the draft. He came in and hit very well in Elizabethton .He is a big, strong kid. He’s 6-1 and about 215 pounds. He is very sound mechanically at the plate. He’s a line drive hitter who uses the whole field, and he has tremendous power potential. He should be ready for Opening Day 2018, though the Twins will certainly not rush him back. Defensively, he will be a corner outfielder. He has the arm to play right field. He’s a good athlete with a lot of potential. He just turned 20 earlier this month. (Get to know Alex Kirilloff)
photo by Jon Tarr
#4 RHP Fernando Romero
Fernando Romero missed two full seasons because of Tommy John surgery, but he came back throwing nearly 100 mph. He’s also got a sharp slider and an improved changeup that he worked on a lot in 2017. Romero will turn 23 on Christmas Eve. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster a year ago and spent the entire season at AA Chattanooga. He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. In 125.1 innings, he walked 45 and struck out 120 batters. While he’s just over 6-0 tall, he’s build very strong. He’s thick in the legs and the backside and that’s where he gets his big velocity from. The hope for Romero should be to get him to 155 to 160 innings. And he should see time in the big leagues too.
photo by Seth Stohs
#3 SS Nick Gordon
I mean... Nick G Cinco is The Man... maybe that's where we should start:
Nick Gordon was the Twins first pick in the 2014 draft, the fifth overall pick out of high school in Orlando. He began his career in Elizabethton and has moved up one level each year. Following the 2016 season, he played well in the Arizona Fall League. 2017 was another exciting season for the shortstop. He played very well in the season’s first half. He was named to the Southern League All-Star team (though the game was rained out). He started for Team USA in the Futures Game before the All-Star game. He struggled a bit in the second half. More important than all the accolades, he took strides in his game. He set season highs in nearly every statistical category including Isolated Discipline and Isolated Power. After hitting a combined five home runs in his first three seasons, he hit nine home runs for the Lookouts. Defensively, the questions remain for many of whether he will be able to stay at shortstop. He is also considered a leader by those who know him best.
photo by Seth Stohs
#2 LHP Stephen Gonsalves
Gonsalves was the runner up to Jose Berrios for the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2015. In 2016, he was the choice for Starting Pitcher of the Year. Like Berrios, Gonsalves became a two-time winner when he was the choice again in 2017. His season began with an invitation to big league spring training where he had a solid showing until an injury arrived and cost him the first two months of the season. He returned to the Lookouts where he went 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 15 starts. He made three starts for Rochester at the end of the season. Gonsalves has a terrific mix of pitches. He has a good fastball in the 91-94 range. He throws a good changeup. He has really worked on his slider and it’s become a really good pitch. He also mixes in a cutter in some situations. He is poised and he is smart on the mound. He knows how to pitch. He was added to the 40-man roster this month. He should be given an opportunity to make starts for the Twins by mid-summer.
photo by Seth Stohs
#1 SS Royce Lewis
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came into an enviable situation. While the 2016 team lost 103 games, the organization was blessed with some young players with high ceilings. And, along with the worst record, they had the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. They had choices, and some really good choices. They could have taken a college pitcher like Kyle Wright. They could have taken a high school pitcher like Hunter Greene or MacKenzie Gore. They could have taken Brendan McKay who will pitch and may hit too. Instead, the Twins went with a high school shortstop from California named Royce Lewis with the Number One pick. And if early returns mean anything, they made a really, really good choice.
After the Boras client signed, he was sent to Ft. Myers and spent about a month in the GCL. In 36 games there, he hit .271/.390/.414 (.804) with six doubles, two triples and three home runs. In a somewhat surprising move, Lewis finished the season with 18 games in Cedar Rapids. He hit .296/.363/.394 (.757) with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Combined, he stole 18 bases in 21 attempts. Lewis has all the tools, though since he will remain just 18 until June, he will need to work and continue to develop all of them. He has a good approach at the plate and knows the strike zone. He’s got a smooth, line-drive swing. He’s got good size and will continue to grow and gain strength and could develop good power. He’s got well above average speed. He can play defense. And the more people watched him, the more many believe that he could stay at shortstop, but he could play any position on the field. He’s got what’s called an average arm, but he can make all the throws he needs to. From everything we’ve heard about him or from him, he has tremendous makeup. It will be fun to watch how aggressive the Twins choose to be with him in 2018. He will likely start in Cedar Rapids, but could he work his way up to Ft. Myers by season’s end? It’s possible.
photo by Jean Pfiefer
So there you have it, my choices for Minnesota Twins Top 5 prospects and my Top 50 prospects. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices… And, by the time the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook comes out, it’s likely it will change a little bit more. But it’s fun for discussion, and it’s fun to recognize fifty players who deserve to be talked about. So, please feel free to ask questions, leave comments and discuss these rankings.
Part 1: Prospects 41-50
Part 2: Prospects 31-40
Part 3: Prospects 26-30
Part 4: Prospects 21-25
Part 5: Prospects 16-20
Part 6: Prospects 11-15
Part 7: Prospects: 6-10
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