Toolshed: The Best Tools In the Minor Leagues
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Best Hit Tool: Alex Kirilloff
Alex Kirilloff might have the best hit tool of any prospect in the minor leagues not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a 20-year old, Kirilloff was almost two and a half years younger than the competition in the Florida State League. He led the minor leagues with 71 extra-base hits and had a .970 OPS. MiLB named Kirilloff the Breakout Prospect of the Year because of his offensive explosion. The only question remaining might be if Kirilloff can turn his hit tool into making his big-league debut in 2019.
Honorable Mention: Luis Arraez, Royce Lewis
Best Power Tool: Brent Rooker
Rooker burst onto the scene after being drafted by the Twins in 2017. In 62 games between E-Town and Fort Myers, he cracked 18 home runs and posted a .930 OPS. Rooker spent all of 2018 at Double-A, where he combined for 22 home runs and 32 doubles. His powerful swing resulted in some swing and miss tendencies as he compiled 150 strikeouts in 130 games played. Minnesota needs a new first baseman, but the team has already added CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz so far this off-season. This likely means Rooker starts the year in the minors but his powerful bat should get him to Minnesota.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Larnach, Luke Raley, Jaylin Davis, Travis Blankenhorn, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Trey Cabbage
Best Run Tool: Royce Lewis
Lewis is widely considered the best prospect in the Twins system and his five-tool skills make him standout above the crowd. His 28 steals were the most in the organization last season and he was only thrown out eight times. As a 19-year old, Lewis was almost three and a half years younger than the competition in the FSL. He and Kirilloff helped the Miracle to the FSL Championship. At this time next year, Lewis could be considered baseball’s top prospect. It’s scary to think how much better he could get over the next year.
Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Aaron Whitefield, Zack Granite, Tanner English
Best Arm Tool: Andrew Bechtold
Bechtold was taken out of college in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids while making most of his defensive starts at third base (670.1 innings). Bechtold did play roughly 200 innings at second base but his strong arm is probably wasted at the position. If he wants to make it to the big leagues as a third baseman, Bechtold is going to need get closer to his offensive numbers from his professional debut. His OPS dropped from .829 in 2017 to .593 in 2018. He will move up to the FSL this year, where he will try and make some offensive adjustments.
Honorable Mention: Tanner English, Brian Navarreto, Ben Rortvedt
Best Field Tool: Tanner English
English has spent the last five seasons in the Twins system and played all last year in Chattanooga. In his age-25 season, he was over a year older than the competition in the Southern League. During his time in the organization, he has accumulated 26 outfield assists and a .992 fielding percentage. His career .239/.335/.387 batting line probably won’t make him a starter at the big-league level. However, his defensive skills could make him a useful fourth outfielder. His speed has also been evident on the base paths as he has accumulated 35 steals or more in any season he’s played over 100 games.
Honorable Mention: Brian Navarreto, Zack Granite, Aaron Whitefield, David Banuelos, Royce Lewis
Best Athlete: Royce Lewis
Lewis is extremely athletic on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side, he can power the ball to all fields and he’s shown patience to draw walks. As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization. Defensively, he will be given every opportunity to stick at shortstop. His athleticism helps him to have strong range and good hands. Right now, all Twins fans are familiar with Lewis, but the 2019 season could be his coming out party at the national level.
Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Travis Blankenhorn, Wander Javier, Tanner English, Gilberto Celestino, DaShawn Keirsey
How does the list look? Who would you rank at the top of each tool?
To read more about the tools of over 160 prospects and much more about the Twins minor leagues, grab your copy (or copies) of the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.
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