Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
Age: 19 (DOB: 12/29/98)
2017 Stats (Rookie): 180 PA, .299/.383/.471, 4 HR, 22 RBI
2017 Ranking: 6
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 95 | MLB: NR | ESPN: NR | BP: NR
What's To Like
A lot. And national analysts everywhere are starting to see it. Javier made only one prominent Top 100 list this year – cracking Baseball America's rankings at 95 – but plenty of others have taken notice.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo named Javier one of his "Just Missed" prospects, adding that he "could shoot up the top shortstops list in a hurry." FanGraphs cited Javier as one of the lower-ranked prospects they love, grouping him among "highly skilled infielders who should be top-100 prospects next year if they add physicality."
The Baseball Prospectus team has encountered so much steam on the young Dominican that when inviting readers to ask prospect questions in a Top 101 chat, they implored "not about Wander Javier, we beg of you."
The buzz around this young man is more than understandable. He was considered an elite talent when he made his way stateside three years ago, and has only backed that up with his performance on the field. As a pro, the 19-year-old has hit .301/.386/.497 with with six homers in 50 games between two levels of rookie ball.
In 2016, Javier made only 30 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League before a hamstring injury shut him down. Still, the Twins sent him straight to Elizabethton last summer in what was considered an aggressive promotion, pushing him past the Gulf Coast League entirely. Javier got off to a slow start – 3-for-19 with eight strikeouts and one walk in his first six games – but he tore it up the rest of the way, batting .319 with a .906 OPS.
In October, Baseball America named Javier the second-best prospect in the 2017 Appalachian League, behind only fellow teen shortstop (and high-dollar international signee) Kevin Maitan. "He flashes an above-average feel for the barrel and should grow into more power as he gains weight," wrote BA's Justin Perline. "As he learns to recognize pitches better and strike out less, he should be able to hit at the top of the order."
While it's almost impossible to tell at this point, Javier shows all the attributes of a guy who can stick at shortstop. He was raw and mistake-prone in 2017, but that's not unusual. His arm is excellent, enabling him to make plays deep in the hole. He's very quick and agile.
What's Left To Work On
A year ago in this section, Seth pointed to "Everything. I mean, come on… The kid is just 18 years old." Javier is 19 now, and considerably more accomplished, but that sentiment remains true.
We ranked him in the same spot this year as we did last, just on the cusp of the the Top 5. In some ways that's a compliment: It isn't easy to hold ground in this upstart system. But in order to climb to that top tier, the shortstop must continue refining his heralded tools.
He needs to get more consistent in the field. He needs to improve his pitch recognition and cut down on the whiffs. He needs to start reading pitchers better, and converting his solid speed into baserunning impact.
Javier needs to do all the above against better competition than he's ever faced, while culturally acclimating from the (already unfamiliar) southeastern United States to midwestern Cedar Rapids and full-season baseball. And keep in mind: he is still three Christmases away from his first legal sip of spiked eggnog.
In other words, patience is warranted with this exceedingly talented young infielder. If he catches on fast in the Midwest League, however, the hype train will hit overdrive and Minnesota's depth of upcoming shortstops will quickly become the envy of the league.
TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospect: #10 Akil Baddoo
TD Top Prospect: #9 Brusdar Graterol
TD Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow
TD Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #6 (Coming Thursday!)
- Cory Engelhardt and nclahammer like this