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TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier

Just a couple of years ago, MLB changed its rules on signing international players. In an attempt to keep signing bonuses down, MLB gave slot numbers that teams could use to sign 16-year-olds. In 2015, the Twins allotment was just shy of $4 million. They chose to give $4 million to shortstop Wander Javier, going over their slot to secure his signature.

Javier made his professional debut in 2016 in the Dominican Summer League where he showed what he could be, albeit in just nine games due to injury. He has a ton of potential, and we will begin to see it stateside in 2017.


Age: 18 (DOB: 12/29/98)
2016 Stats: (DSL): .308/.400/.654 (1.054), three doubles, two home runs
ETA: 2022
2016 Ranking: 13

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR | MLB: NR | ESPN: NR | BP: NR
Image courtesy of Jon Tarr
The first time a Twins scout watched Wander Javier play, he was just 13 years old. The Dominican Republic native trained with Josue Mateo. They continued to watch him grow and they saw enough to warrant the $4 million signing bonus. That bonus became the highest paid by the Twins to an international signing (ignoring Japan and Korea, of course), topping the $3.15 million bonus the Twins signed (SS) Miguel Sano to in 2009.

When the Twins signed him, he was the #9 ranked international prospect according to Baseball America. While he was shy of 6-0 and 160 pounds, the tools were all there. Since signing, he has added an inch and about 20 pounds of muscle.


What's To Like

The tools. The terrific tools.

Javier is considered a plus fielder. He handles the routine plays well. In his debut, he had just one error in 25 chances in the Dominican Summer League (DSL). He has plus arm strength, able to make all of the throws a shortstop needs to make. The belief is that he should be able to stick at shortstop.

Offensively, he has plus bat speed. Because of that, he has plus raw power. Most believe that he will be able to develop above average power for a shortstop.

In his professional debut in the DSL, he did show some offensive capabilities. He hit over .300, got on base 40% of the time, showed a strong approach at the plate, and hit for power. He had just 30 plate appearances and he had five extra-base hits and four walks.

Unfortunately, he was limited to those 30 plate appearances because of an injury. After just seven games he hurt his hamstring. He didn’t play for over two weeks. When he returned, he played in two games and then re-strained the same hamstring and missed the remainder of the season. Fortunately, he was healthy enough to come to Ft. Myers for the Instructional League in September.


What's Left To Work On

Everything. I mean, come on… The kid is just 18 years old.

While the potential is there for Wander Javier to become a star, he’s got plenty of room for growth. Physically, he will likely continue to grow and gain strength and power.


The biggest question mark regarding Javier is the hit tool. Javier has a big leg kick, and there are times he can be off-balance. That could affect him, especially on breaking pitches. That isn’t an unusual for most hitters coming out of the draft, but it’s almost ‘normal’ for a 17-year-old. He needs to work on his swing mechanics, his timing and his balance. The reality is the Javier is just very raw. (You can see some of the good and bad in the below video)



I asked Fred Guerrero, the Twins top scout in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, what Javier needs to work on most. His response was “He needs to play a lot. He needs to get a lot of at-bats.”


What's Next

Javier will come to minor league spring training in Ft. Myers in a couple of weeks. When the full season teams start in early April, Javier will remain in southwest Florida and participate in extended spring training.

It is most likely that he will start in the Gulf Coast League. However, if he gets off to a fast start the first three or four weeks, he could jump up to Elizabethton by the end of the season.

~~~

Read up on our previous installments in the Twins Daily top prospects series:

TD Top Prospects: #20-16
TD Top Prospects: #15-11
TD Top Prospects: #10 Lewin Diaz
TD Top Prospects: #9 Travis Blankenhorn
TD Top Prospects: #8 Kohl Stewart
TD Top Prospects: #7 Adalberto Mejia
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 (Coming Monday)
TD Top Prospects: #4 (Coming Tuesday)
TD Top Prospects: #3 (Coming Wednesday)
TD Top Prospects: #2 (Coming Thursday)
TD Top Prospects: #1 (Coming Friday)


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49 Comments

Perhaps I'm wrong, but having a kid with this little experience ranked this high seems somewhat unusual for you, Seth.

 

Hopefully Wander continues to put up comical numbers.

He will be fun to keep an eye on.

    • glunn and mikelink45 like this

 

Perhaps I'm wrong, but having a kid with this little experience ranked this high seems somewhat unusual for you, Seth.

 

Hopefully Wander continues to put up comical numbers.

He will be fun to keep an eye on.

 

Miguel Sano was my #3 prospect back in 2010. That was after his DSL debut. 

 

Prospect rankings are always a combination of production, tools, ceiling, floor, age, and many other factors. 

 

My personal rankings had Javier at #8. 

    • glunn, Cory Engelhardt and Oldgoat_MN like this
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clutterheart
Feb 17 2017 06:31 AM
Would he be the highest ceiling Twin prospect since....Sano?
    • glunn likes this

He's probably the most intriguing prospect in the system right now, given his ceiling - and easily the minor league player I'm most interested in following this season. 

 

I know it's common for most young kids to be labeled as a shortstop, then moved as they develop - so i was pleased to read that he has the potential to stick. It's been far too long since the Twins have had an exciting shortstop prospect in their system. 

    • glunn, Thrylos and diehardtwinsfan like this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
Feb 17 2017 07:58 AM

Here's to hoping he gets to E-town this summer. It's hard, at least for me, to really judge a ranking like this off 9 games in the DSL. A meteroic rise through the system by the teenager and a debut in Minnesota prior to 2022 would be great to see. I guess until then we can dream about double plays turned by Javier & Gordon.

    • glunn and mikelink45 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 17 2017 08:19 AM

 

Would he be the highest ceiling Twin prospect since....Sano?

 

I think there's no question about the high ceiling here. Terry Ryan isn't going to write a check for 4M for a 16 year old unless he's really REALLY high on him. I don't think he's going to have extreme power, like say Sano, but with a good plate approach, you could be looking at an .800 OPS type guy with average to better defense at SS. That's a fine a prospect, which is why he's ranked high. I think this season in the GCL and hopefully Etown will probably put his name out there nationally. He's one of those guys that with a good season would end up on a lot of top 100 lists next year at this time.

    • glunn and gunnarthor like this

Unfortunately a raw prospect like this won't be to the Majors for 4 years and that would be a fast timetable. This is an AAP to follow for the next several years.

    • glunn likes this

To be fair, they didn't go enough over slot for there to be a penalty. They stayed in the margin of "error" as it were. Pretty misleading to imply they actually spent more than their slot, when it came with no penalty at all. 

 

On ceiling, this seems about right for a ranking. But we are a long way from knowing if he can take those tools into production. I usually like ranking guys on ceiling, but this seems high to me for some reason.

    • d-mac likes this

I think likelihood of actually making the majors and what they will do when they get there has a lot of weight on rankings which would push Javier down a list if I were to make one. That is part of the fun of these lists, they vary so much from person to person based on what they value more or less than the next guy and his list...

    • glunn likes this
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specialiststeve
Feb 17 2017 09:27 AM

Looking at the video don't see the big leg kick that was mentioned. Which is a good thing.. Don't see any hitch.. a bit of a loop in his swing but not bad and should be able to correct pretty easily with instruction.

 

Will have to see if can find any video of his defense which from all accounts sounds goodand would be of great interest.

 

 A long way out but hopefully he will continue to improve as he matures. Still 4-5 years out which seems forever but nice to have this kind of talent n the system.

    • glunn and Thrylos like this

Another guy, like Blankenhorn, where it's hard to get too excited about right now. Too far away, and too many things that still need to happen in his development. 

    • mikelink45 and Taildragger8791 like this

I think, "What's Left To Work On.  Everything. I mean, come on… The kid is just 18 years old."  Says it all.  This is a dream listing.  Are we really so short on MLB in the next two years prospects that we have to put so much "wish and hope" into the top ten list?  So far I am ready to swap the 11 - 15 for the 6 - 10.  I am hoping for much more in the top five, but maybe we just don't have that much gas in the minors right now.  

 

I just hope that your hope is on track and there will be a blazing move forward for these prospects, but my old mind wants to see at least a full year in the minors before I can sort out anything.

    • glunn likes this

Tempered enthusiasm.  I keep thinking the difference between this list and the lists for the last 5 years is the absence of a player you could somewhat reasonably think has some sort of All-Timer/Hall of Fame upside.  Sano and Buxton had that when they were on the list.  (Maybe they don't now...)

 

Javier, though raw, is as close to that as this list has.  One thing all that Dozier-to-LA trade talk did was make me think about how painful that "third piece" in a trade deal can turn out to be.  Kind of like Liriano.  As lottery tickets go, giving up Javier in a trade would be pretty painful.

    • glunn, dgwills, gagu and 1 other like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 17 2017 10:24 AM
Watershed moment in life: realizing that a top 10 Twins Daily prospect is younger than your oldest child.
    • Seth Stohs, glunn, nicksaviking and 5 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 17 2017 10:24 AM
Watershed moment in life: realizing that a top 10 Twins Daily prospect is younger than your oldest child.
    • ashburyjohn and VikingGuy like this
If I had a nickel every time I heard "should be able to stick at Shortstop".....
    • Oldgoat_MN, Deduno Abides, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

This ranking is way too high for a kid that played 9 games in the DSL. Plus there are questions about his swing mechanics and whether or not he'll stay at short. In fact most scouting reports I've read question his hit tool and doubt he'll have the range for short. 

 

To be fair, they didn't go enough over slot for there to be a penalty. They stayed in the margin of "error" as it were. Pretty misleading to imply they actually spent more than their slot, when it came with no penalty at all. 

 

On ceiling, this seems about right for a ranking. But we are a long way from knowing if he can take those tools into production. I usually like ranking guys on ceiling, but this seems high to me for some reason.

 

I think it's 100% factual that they went over their allotted slot. Their slot was $3.85ish and they spent $4.0 million. That's over slot. I mean, they could have spent another $100K or $200K to sign him, just to get a penalty, I guess. 

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor, brvama and 1 other like this

 

2016 Stats: (A+/AA): .308/.400/.654 (1.054), three doubles, two home runs

Reading "A+/AA" there made my heart skip a beat -- thought I had missed some kind of meteoric Harper/Urias rise for Javier last year!

 

Alas, just a typo -- he actually played in the Dominican Summer League.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

I think it's 100% factual that they went over their allotted slot. Their slot was $3.85ish and they spent $4.0 million. That's over slot. I mean, they could have spent another $100K or $200K to sign him, just to get a penalty, I guess. 

 

or, they could have gone over slot, and signed more players. That's what every other team that went over slot did. It's why so many other teams have so many high upside players in their systems. Giving him $115K more than slot, with no others signed, isn't really going over slot in a way that matters at all.

 

 

    • nicksaviking, markos, Taildragger8791 and 1 other like this

 

I think it's 100% factual that they went over their allotted slot. Their slot was $3.85ish and they spent $4.0 million. That's over slot. I mean, they could have spent another $100K or $200K to sign him, just to get a penalty, I guess. 

If the speed limit was technically 55, but officers legally couldn't stop anyone or issue tickets for speeds up to 60, would there be any practical reason to describe driving 58 as "over the speed limit"?

 

It was silly for MLB to have such a system (hence why it has changed now), and it's probably silly for us to propagate it.

    • Mike Sixel, Taildragger8791 and Vanimal46 like this
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Willihammer
Feb 17 2017 11:16 AM

Thanks for the write up Seth. Definitely an intriguing talent.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel and gunnarthor like this

Any thoughts on the overlap of Gordon and Javier both being SS?  Nice to have the depth in the organization with the complete struggles to develop an every day SS, but at some point decisions will have to be made.  Doesn't seem like either one is likely to hit enough to move to the OF.  Polanco looks like 2nd baseman of the future.

    • glunn likes this

 

Any thoughts on the overlap of Gordon and Javier both being SS?  Nice to have the depth in the organization with the complete struggles to develop an every day SS, but at some point decisions will have to be made.  Doesn't seem like either one is likely to hit enough to move to the OF.  Polanco looks like 2nd baseman of the future.

 

I'd guess that mid-2018, we see Gordon in MN. Javier is at least 4 years away, I'd guess, maybe 5. By then, who knows where Polanco is?

    • glunn likes this

 

Any thoughts on the overlap of Gordon and Javier both being SS?  Nice to have the depth in the organization with the complete struggles to develop an every day SS, but at some point decisions will have to be made.  Doesn't seem like either one is likely to hit enough to move to the OF.  Polanco looks like 2nd baseman of the future.

Non-issue. If Javier is truly blocked by Gordon when he reaches the cusp of the majors in, say, 2021, he could make a fantastic trade chip if the Twins need to get an Ace (kind of like what the Cubs did with Torres). And if the Twins aren't competitive for whatever reason, then Gordon would be a valuable trade chip to speed up a rebuild. There is very little, if any, downside.

    • glunn and D.C Twins like this

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