Ready To Move Up
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Alex Kirilloff)I believe that the below six players are ready for the next challenge in their careers and on the ladder up the Twins minor league system. Check out my list of a half-dozen players, and then add others that you would like to see promoted.
Rochester to Minnesota:
Pitcher: Aaron Slegers
Trevor May will likely be back in a Minnesota Twins uniform, and Ervin Santana isn’t too far behind him. Those two MLB veterans are returning to a starting rotation that is already full. Stephen Gonsalves and Zack Littell are also in the Rochester rotation and, especially Gonsalves, appear close to big-league ready. Slegers isn’t the big prospect. He was a fifth-round pick and basically moved up one level each year. All the while, he put up good numbers. But Slegers is a legit MLB prospect. He can pitch in the big leagues, and frankly, he’s got little left to prove in AAA. Over his first eight starts in 2018, he is 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA. That is after going 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 2017 with the Red Wings. If an organization has a pitcher like Slegers in AAA providing depth, that organization is pretty solid.
Chattanooga to Rochester:
Hitter: LaMonte Wade
Yes, he’s been on the 7-day disabled list for a week now with a shoulder injury, but if not for that, he might have joined Nick Gordon on the trip up to Rochester. Wade had a solid 2017 in Chattanooga when he hit .292/.397/.408 (.805) with 22 doubles and seven home runs. As he has done at every level, he walked more than he struck out. It’s that plate discipline and approach that make me think he might even be ready to move up to the big leagues if needed. For whatever reason, he was returned to the Lookouts to start 2018. Maybe it was to work on something, possibly adding more home run power to his game. If that’s the case, well, he’s already got six home runs this year. There’s little doubt in my mind that Wade is ready for Triple A, if not the big leagues.
Pitcher: Todd Van Steensel
Van Steensel signed with the Twins a long time ago. Way back in 2011, to be exact. He was a starting pitcher at that time and was released after the Elizabethton season. Fast-forward to 2014, and the Twins brought Van Steensel back, this time as a reliever. Ever since then, he has been one of the best relievers in the Twins system. For whatever reason, he has not been promoted quickly. He posted a 2.62 ERA over 101 games in Ft. Myers (157 strikeouts in 144 1/3 innings). He pitched in Chattanooga last year and posted a 1.38 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. Yet he finds himself back with the Lookouts again this year. He’s got 28 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, but he also has just seven walks. If anything was holding him back in the past, he was some control issues. If that’s a thing of the past, Van Steensel deserves to move up.
Ft. Myers to Chattanooga:
Hitter: Jaylin Davis
The Twins drafted Davis late in the 2015 draft. He was hurt, so his playing career didn’t start until the Elizabethton season started in 2016. He hit 16 home runs in 64 the rest of that season (between E-Town and Cedar Rapids). He hit 15 homers in 2017, splitting the season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He’s hit for power, but he’s also swung and missed a lot. So far in 2018, Davis has cut down on his strikeout rate while increasing his walk rate. He’s hitting .285/.385/.431 (.806) with the Miracle. He may be in line for another midseason promotion.
Pitcher: Andrew Vasquez (or Sean Poppen)
Vasquez was another late-round pick in 2015 (32nd round) out of Division III Westmont College. He split 2017 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and ended the year with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. After 23 games in Ft. Myers in 2017, he began there again in 2018. He spent a few days in Chattanooga, but he’s ready to be sent there full-time. In a combined 15 games (14 with the Miracle), he’s posted a 0.68 ERA. In 25 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 28 and walked just seven (something he struggled with in the past). He’s got a good fastball, but his slider can be a wipe-out pitch, and he should soon be making the move to Double-A permanently.
Cedar Rapids to Ft. Myers:
Hitter: Alex Kirilloff
While Royce Lewis has garnered a lot of the headlines, and deservedly so, Alex Kirilloff has provided the Kernels with average, extra base power, and he’s driven in a ton of runs. After missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery, it didn’t take Kirilloff long to get rolling in 2018. He is currently hitting .325/.373/.584 (.957) with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 35 RBI. He’s played well in the outfield and notes that his arm is feeling strong. I would expect Kirilloff, along with Lewis, to move up to Ft. Myers at or around the All-Star break.
So there are six Twins minor leaguers who are making a strong case for promotion. Certainly, there are others who are deserving as well for performance or other reasons.
- Cory Engelhardt, mikelink45, twinssouth and 5 others like this