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LEN3 Throws Cold Water on Hot Stove

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I guess the Twins are trying damage control after upsetting their fan-base     https://www.mlbtrade...vor-cahill.html
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Article: Rundown: Cruz, Cahill, Soria and Ramos

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Article: Standing Pat as a Strategy

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'As we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.' – HoraceBy all appearances, this is go...
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TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects Recap

Over the past few weeks, we've counted down our choices for the Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects of 2018.

Today, we'll recap our rankings and review in search of trends and takeaways.
When recapping last year's list, I had to point out that we'd all been very spoiled by the likes of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jose Berrios anchoring the front of Minnesota's prospect rankings.

With all these heralded young studs graduating to the majors, the system didn't offer quite the same palpable excitement. This was reflected in national rankings: Baseball America's organizational talent rankings dropped the Twins from second in 2015 to 10th in 2016 to 22nd in 2017. Baseball Prospectus also had them 22nd last year, a freefall from seventh in '16.

Well, I think we can safely say that after some positive developments, including an excellent draft aided by the pole position in each round, Minnesota's pipeline is full of intrigue, and perhaps ready to spoil us once again.

BA now has the Twins back up to 12th in its rankings. BP bumped them up from 22nd to 10th. ESPN's Keith Law never soured as much as others, ranking them 11th last year, but he too views theirs as a Top 10 system in the game.

We have a consensus: the collective minor-league talent in this organization is solidly above average. And given that there's so much youth and upside permeating the list, an ascent to the highest tier could be in the offing.

Let's unpack what this group tells us about the franchise's future. First, here's a recap of our Top 20 Twins prospect rankings, with links and synopses:

20. Felix Jorge, RHP: Polished and near-ready, but ceiling is 4th/5th starter in MLB
19. Tyler Jay, LHP: Shook off grave health concerns in AFL, but needs to keep it going
18. Yunior Severino, 2B: Switch-hitting teenage infielder offers long-term promise with bat
17. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/3B: Stock down a bit, but big year would put him back on map
16. Ben Rortvedt, C: Quality receiver will jump into Top 10 if he can find it at the plate
15. Mitch Garver, C: Accomplished minor-leaguer must now prove bat and glove are legit
14. LaMonte Wade, OF: OBP machine must add pop to project as more than 4th OF
13. Lewin Diaz, 1B: Power potential is evident, but yet to manifest and clock's ticking
12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Returned strong from 2-year absence; would move fast as RP
11. Zack Littell, RHP: Lacks dominant stuff, but floor is backend SP or swingman in MLB
10. Akil Baddoo, OF: Muscle-bound teen will be a beast if he keeps developing hit tool
9. Brusdar Graterol, RHP: Blew away hitters in rookie ball last year, touching triple digits
8. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Premier curveball and projectible frame point to ace upside
7. Brent Rooker, OF: Studious batsman has makings of a middle-of-lineup thumper
6. Wander Javier, SS: Possesses tools to become a two-way star at short if it all gels
5. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Ready to remind us of his offensive capabilities after a year off
4. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP: We'll learn soon if lefty's brilliance in minors can translate
3. Nick Gordon, SS: Floor is a solid big-league regular at 2B, but ceiling in question
2. Fernando Romero, RHP: Only pitcher over 20 in MN's system with legit ace potential
1. Royce Lewis, SS: At 18, phenom offers rare combo of elite athleticism, skills, makeup

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN

Catchers: 2
Infielders: 6
Outfielders: 4
RH Pitchers: 5
LH Pitchers: 3

Although the overall group has changed quite a bit since a year ago, the positional composition hasn't much. Out: shortstop Engelb Vielma. In: another one in Lewis. Out: right-handers Justin Haley, Nick Burdi, J.T. Chargois and Kohl Stewart. In: three more in Littell, Enlow and Graterol.

There's a good sustaining balance in this system, but the notable area of concern is catcher. Garver will lose his prospect status with 48 more PAs in the majors. Rortvedt is 20 and raw. It would be helpful if David Banuelos, acquired from the Mariners for unneeded international cap money in a savvy December trade, could work his way onto next year's list.

THE GREAT UNKNOWN

One of the best parts about this collection of players is that you can really dream on it. Such youth and promise. But that's also the sticking point; so many of these kids haven't truly been challenged yet at the higher levels.

Six players in this year's Top 20 are in their teens. The No. 1 pitching prospect (Romero) has thrown only 300 professional innings, while Nos. 3, 4 and 6 (Enlow, Graterol, Thorpe) have thrown fewer than that combined.

Lots of young players look good in rookie ball and Single-A, only to fizzle on the advanced proving grounds thereafter. So, burnout risk weighs heavier than usual here. But when you see what guys like Lewis and Javier and Enlow are doing, at such early stages of development, it's impossible not to dream big.

INJURY BUG REMOVAL?

Injuries are a reality of the game. No organization avoids their pernicious sting. However, it sure feels like the Twins have been dealt an especially bad hand.

Romero and Thorpe have both lost two full consecutive seasons. Kirilloff became the second Twins position player and Top-5 prospect to require Tommy John surgery within a span of three years. As recently as late last summer, it was looking like Jay – two years removed from being drafted sixth overall – might be ruined by shoulder issues.

This system is about due for some good fortune with health, and not just because of a karmic swing.

Pitchers don't often need TJ surgery twice, so one would hope Romero, Thorpe and Graterol are in the clear with their reconstructed elbows. (No assurances, of course.) Perennial DL denizens Burdi and Chargois (?) have moved on from the organization.

Pretty much everyone on this list is presently trending in a good direction physically, and while that can change in a hurry, it's a nice feeling.

PITCHER PARADE

Why have the Twins been so reluctant to sign a free agent pitcher to a long-term deal? It might have something to do with the waves of young arms slated to come ashore over the next few several years. Here's when the eight pitchers on this list are expected to reach the majors, per our ETAs:

2018: Romero, Gonsalves, Littell, Jay, Jorge
2019: Thorpe
2021: Enlow, Graterol

Five of Minnesota's top eight pitching prospects have realistic shots at pitching in the majors this year (Jorge already has), and even Thorpe isn't out of the question. Enlow and Graterol form a high-upside duo for the future and will surely be joined by other rising hurlers.

No, these guys won't all be good right away – maybe none of them will – but they need innings to develop in the majors and that must be accounted for.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Not long ago, the Twins had the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. It would be no surprise to anyone paying attention if Lewis soon joined Buxton (and Mauer before them) in earning that distinction. Some would say it's hard to miss with the first or second pick in the entire draft, but plenty of teams have managed.

Frankly I'd be satisfied solely with the exhilaration of getting to watch Lewis unleashed in his first full pro season, but this system offers so many more enthralling storylines.

Are Romero and Gonsalves about ready to provide the internal boost this rotation badly needs? Will Kirilloff and Javier go from sleepers to sensations as they bring their vaunted games to Single-A? What might we see from the lefty arms of Thorpe and Jay if they can stay healthy for a full summer? Could Rooker make it to Minnesota this year?

I can't wait to follow this group into 2018 and beyond. High-risk/high-reward would be a fair assessment, but at this time of year it's only natural to focus on the latter.

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21 Comments

Seeing Jay at 19 and Severino at 18?  Without going further, I know this is one hell of a system.  If we are in contention at the deadline, we will have pieces teams are interested in.

 

    • birdwatcher and gagu like this

I liked your comment that the Twins have a good group of Prospects for pitching and maybe that slowed down the FO going after FAs.I would have loved to see the FO commit this year to using 1 or 2 positions in the rotation to debut and develop these pitchers.   

 

This is a very good list and continues to project well for the team.  

I hope they keep hitting on the prospects.Last draft will probably go down as one of the best (Several have a chance to be special).Just hoping the timeline moves for the pitching a bit.We are going to need better starters soon. 

    • caninatl04 and Original Whizzinator like this
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Tommygun921
Feb 23 2018 08:49 AM
Did Seattle end up using that million dollar international money? I assumed they got it from the Twins in hopes of landing Otani. Also what is the chances of Landon Leach reaching star potential? Haven't heard nearly as much about him but he was drafted ahead of Enlow.
    • birdwatcher likes this

 

Did Seattle end up using that million dollar international money? I assumed they got it from the Twins in hopes of landing Otani. Also what is the chances of Landon Leach reaching star potential? Haven't heard nearly as much about him but he was drafted ahead of Enlow.

Leach was a helium guy on draft day but he's still raw and very far away. The concern was that because he was demanding as much an Enlow, he'd be taken if they passed on him.

 

The Twins have taken several HS arms that are risky but have nice upside from non-traditional places like Canada (Leach and Balazovic) or are recovering from injuries (Benninghoff). They won't all work out but they are reasonable risks.

    • birdwatcher, Dman, gagu and 1 other like this
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Tom Froemming
Feb 23 2018 10:01 AM

 

Also what is the chances of Landon Leach reaching star potential? Haven't heard nearly as much about him but he was drafted ahead of Enlow.

Leach is tough to put your finger on because of how raw he is. He hadn't even been pitching all that long before the Twins drafted him. Unlike Enlow, who has a plus curve, Leach's only really good pitch at the moment is his fastball. He has plenty of time to develop those other offerings, but that mid-90s fastball is certainly a great place to start. And at 6-4, 220 pounds, you don't have to wonder much about whether or not he'll fill out. 

 

If we were to try and predict the one player currently outside of our top 20 who has the best chance at being inside the top 10 next season, Leach would definitely be in the conversation.

    • Dman, gagu, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

 

 

 

If we were to try and predict the one player currently outside of our top 20 who has the best chance at being inside the top 10 next season, Leach would definitely be in the conversation.

Yep but I'd probably lean toward Miranda.

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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birdwatcher
Feb 23 2018 10:31 AM

It's prudent to avoid Pollyanna-ish opinions and sentiments about these lists, because casualties are inevitable and we're going to be wrong a lot. Before last season started, there was a smattering of talk about how we were making room in the rotation in 2017 for Berrios, Mejia, and May to slot in with Santana, Hughes and Gibson, which gave us the "good problem to have" for 2018 of figuring out how to make room for Gonsalves, Romero, Jorge, Jay, and Stewart. Boy, were were loaded!;)

 

We were pretty high on Palka and Vielma, and a few of us even liked Haley. We were looking forward to recovery years from Burdi and Chargois (Bard and Reed had fallen off the radar). Of course, we weren't thinking too much about the emergence of Hildenberger, Slegers, Curtiss, and Granite as important assets and even roster inhabitants.

 

To me it's interesting, both the successes and the disappointments, although I feel badly for the prospects who fail, like Harrison. We're always saying our goodbyes to prospects we liked to follow, often due to failure, but sometimes because they were converted into a new asset, so thank you to the Ynoa and Palacios types. And for every prospect whose bloom is perhaps fading (Melotakis, Cabbage, Jaylan Davis, English, Balozovic, anyone?), we have prospects suddenly stirring our imaginations. Last year we had fun discovering Baddoo, Graterol, Miranda, Wade, and rediscovering Thorpe, in addition to the new guys like Lewis and Enlow. 

 

Anyway, Nick, thank you for a nice, fairly balanced recap. I'm very much looking forward to not only following this group, but seeing who emerges from the shadows (my knowledge-free picks are Arias, Benninghoff, Barnes, and Moran). The successes and new discoveries ease the pain of having to deal with the failures. ( My knowledge-free picks are Jorge becoming a 4A guy and the white flag being raised on Stewart. Would love to be wrong of course.)

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Vanimal46 and 4 others like this

It's prudent to avoid Pollyanna-ish opinions and sentiments about these lists, because casualties are inevitable and we're going to be wrong a lot. Before last season started, there was a smattering of talk about how we were making room in the rotation in 2017 for Berrios, Mejia, and May to slot in with Santana, Hughes and Gibson, which gave us the "good problem to have" for 2018 of figuring out how to make room for Gonsalves, Romero, Jorge, Jay, and Stewart. Boy, were were loaded! ;)

We were pretty high on Palka and Vielma, and a few of us even liked Haley. We were looking forward to recovery years from Burdi and Chargois (Bard and Reed had fallen off the radar). Of course, we weren't thinking too much about the emergence of Hildenberger, Slegers, Curtiss, and Granite as important assets and even roster inhabitants.

To me it's interesting, both the successes and the disappointments, although I feel badly for the prospects who fail, like Harrison. We're always saying our goodbyes to prospects we liked to follow, often due to failure, but sometimes because they were converted into a new asset, so thank you to the Ynoa and Palacios types. And for every prospect whose bloom is perhaps fading (Melotakis, Cabbage, Jaylan Davis, English, Balozovic, anyone?), we have prospects suddenly stirring our imaginations. Last year we had fun discovering Baddoo, Graterol, Miranda, Wade, and rediscovering Thorpe, in addition to the new guys like Lewis and Enlow.

Anyway, Nick, thank you for a nice, fairly balanced recap. I'm very much looking forward to not only following this group, but seeing who emerges from the shadows (my knowledge-free picks are Arias, Benninghoff, Barnes, and Moran). The successes and new discoveries ease the pain of having to deal with the failures. ( My knowledge-free picks are Jorge becoming a 4A guy and the white flag being raised on Stewart. Would love to be wrong of course.)


I always read your posts and respect your perspective, bird. Because of you I know that Sickles has ~20 B- or higher rated prospects.

All we can ask for is having as many darts as possible to throw at the board. It's comforting to know there's depth in the system to absorb some of the flame outs.
    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel and gagu like this

I'm starting to wonder if we're ranking Littell too low?

http://www.1500espn....s-organization/

 

I think he's someone that's going to be really interesting to watch. Is he having outsized success because he's got a more advanced approach and control than hitters can handle at his level? Is it sustainable? I don't really care much about the W-L in the minors, but the peripherals are better than I thought. It would be fantastic if he can start just eating up innings.

 

There are a ton of fun prospects on this list, lots of guys that are easy to root for. Sure, there's a lot of hope and dreams involved and a bunch of these guys are probably going to flame out or never reach their ceiling...but what if they don't? What if we hit a run where guys stay healthy and start maximizing their potential? there's a ton of talent here and the best part about mooning over prospects is thinking about what could be.

    • birdwatcher and gunnarthor like this
I'm intrigued with following the teenage pitchers over the next couple of years. These are Falvine's babies that will immediately start in their development program.

I'm interested to know what their development cycle looks like.
    • birdwatcher likes this
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clutterheart
Feb 23 2018 10:58 AM

 

If we were to try and predict the one player currently outside of our top 20 who has the best chance at being inside the top 10 next season, Leach would definitely be in the conversation.

 

Seems aggressive on Leqch. He would have to really show something in E-town next year.Top 20 seems more likely.I also like Miranda but he is going to be fighting for his position and that might slow his rise down.  

  

I would pick Bechtold as having a best chance to jump.He will be 22 and so the Twins could move him up quick.I don't see a better everyday Third base prospect in the entire system.He has a wide open path to AA if he stays healthy and starts the year strong.  

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and Dman like this
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birdwatcher
Feb 23 2018 11:25 AM

 

I always read your posts and respect your perspective, bird. Because of you I know that Sickles has ~20 B- or higher rated prospects.

All we can ask for is having as many darts as possible to throw at the board. It's comforting to know there's depth in the system to absorb some of the flame outs.

 

That was a nice way of saying "will you shut up already about Sickles?". Here's a hug, bro.

 

Teams like the Twins who have a shortage of truly elite prospects, and we do, are going to be be judged accordingly. Personally, I think that's appropriate. Even though the White Sox have half as many B- prospects, I'd trade systems tomorrow. But the other side of this is what you're saying. Having a ton of extra darts is under-appreciated. We should all be in therapy for PTSD given all the blowups like Burdi. But we've salvaged at least some respectability because of home-grown talent, even if it's guys occupying spots at the fringes. Hildenberger, Rogers, Curtiss, Granite, Chargois, Reed, Enns, Jorge, and Slegers all have something in common: none of them have earned a B- grade from Sickles.

    • big dog, Dman and Vanimal46 like this
Jacob Pearson is my pick for a big jump this time next year.
    • birdwatcher likes this
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Nick Nelson
Feb 23 2018 12:27 PM

 

Jacob Pearson is my pick for a big jump this time next year.

He was right on the fringe of our list. I believe a couple of us had him in the Top 20. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 23 2018 02:26 PM

the most interesting thing about this list is the number of guys that could be top 100 if things break favorably. There's a ton of upside here, just not much in terms of elite (minus Lewis of course).Sickles had 21 B- or better prospects.A B- by Sickles is pretty impressive as it is. I'm not sure he's ever had 21 in a system before... though to be fair, he is a Twins fan, so maybe he's a bit biased. 

 

As it is, the 1-4 guys are pretty consistently in top 100 lists. Five through seven have made appearances on at least one list, but not on all. I'd argue that quite a few people in our top 20 could end up on one or every top 100 list if things go well. Obviously, they won't all demonstrate that kind of upside, but it's really impressive to think how many players might be in the top 100 next year with likely only Gonsalves graduating. 

    • birdwatcher and gunnarthor like this

 

the most interesting thing about this list is the number of guys that could be top 100 if things break favorably. There's a ton of upside here, just not much in terms of elite (minus Lewis of course).Sickles had 21 B- or better prospects.A B- by Sickles is pretty impressive as it is. I'm not sure he's ever had 21 in a system before... though to be fair, he is a Twins fan, so maybe he's a bit biased. 

 

As it is, the 1-4 guys are pretty consistently in top 100 lists. Five through seven have made appearances on at least one list, but not on all. I'd argue that quite a few people in our top 20 could end up on one or every top 100 list if things go well. Obviously, they won't all demonstrate that kind of upside, but it's really impressive to think how many players might be in the top 100 next year with likely only Gonsalves graduating. 

Agreed. Obviously, this is a bit semantics but if by "elite" we sorta mean the high levels of Buxton, Sano, Mauer and if by "really good" maybe a tier below where we saw Kepler and maybe Berrios (Berrios might have moved between the two, depending on who did the ranking) who might be able to make that jump this year? Lewis, Javier and maybe Thorpe with a dominating year? 

 

I think guys like Kiriloff, Baddoo, Graterol and Enlow would need more than one big season to jump that high up the rankings and guys like Rooker and Romero might peak at the Kepler tier. And that's assuming everything goes right, which it won't.

Great article. This is the only line I didn't like:

12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Returned strong from 2-year absence; would move fast as RP

 

I don't even want to think about Thorpe moving to a relief role. Really excited to see him become a starting pitcher for the Twins some day. After all he's been through it would be cool to see him make it to the show. Can't help but pull for the guy.

    • diehardtwinsfan and TRex like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 23 2018 03:05 PM

 

Agreed. Obviously, this is a bit semantics but if by "elite" we sorta mean the high levels of Buxton, Sano, Mauer and if by "really good" maybe a tier below where we saw Kepler and maybe Berrios (Berrios might have moved between the two, depending on who did the ranking) who might be able to make that jump this year? Lewis, Javier and maybe Thorpe with a dominating year? 

 

I think guys like Kiriloff, Baddoo, Graterol and Enlow would need more than one big season to jump that high up the rankings and guys like Rooker and Romero might peak at the Kepler tier. And that's assuming everything goes right, which it won't.

 

I think all of the guys you mentioned could be in that list with dominating years, but you're right in that they may all end up in that 100-150 range. I'd add Rortvedt to that list too, especially if his second half is more along the lines of what to expect.

 

Kirilloff was top 100 prior to his injury, so I wouldn't write him off if he has a good bounce back season this year. I'd even say that a guy like Littell could find himself in the 90s on some lists if he repeats last season's results. Jay is another one that might pop in if he's healthy.

Great article. This is the only line I didn't like:
12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Returned strong from 2-year absence; would move fast as RP

I don't even want to think about Thorpe moving to a relief role. Really excited to see him become a starting pitcher for the Twins some day. After all he's been through it would be cool to see him make it to the show. Can't help but pull for the guy.


Everyone would love that. But, he's going to use his first option this year, so the clock is ticking.
You don't really want a guy using all 3 options before you even get a look at them, so if they don't think he can be up sometime in 2019, they may have to start considering RP at some point.
My Twins' list

1) Lewis (@-)
2) Romero (B+)
3) Gordon (B)
4) Gonsalves (B)
5) Javier. (B-)
6) Kirilloff (B-)
7) Rooker (b-)
8) Graterol (b-)
9) Jay. (b-/ C+)
10) Wade. (high floor)
11) Enlow. (C++)
12) Thorpe (C+) 55
13) Badoo (C+) 55
14) Littell (C+) 55
15) Diaz. (C+) 50
16) Blankenhorn c+
17) Jorge. c+
18 thru 25

Arraez, Garver , Bechtold , Pearson, Stewart , T. Watson , J. Miranda , J. Curtiss.
    • birdwatcher likes this

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