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Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #2 Alex Kirilloff

Roughly a year ago, Alex Kirilloff had to be feeling a little trepidation. Spring training was starting, and the former first round pick had missed all of 2017. Few knew the kind of season Kirilloff was about to embark on.

During last off-season, none of baseball’s national prospect rankings had him in their top 100 lists. Now he is a consensus top-40 prospect. MLB and ESPN’s Keith Law have Kirilloff in their top-12 prospects. This is quite the jump for the former first round pick. What could that mean for the 2019 campaign?
Age: 21 (DOB: 11/9/1997)
2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .348/.392/.578, 44 2B, 20 HR, 7 3B, 4-for-7 in stolen base attempts
ETA: 2020
2018 Ranking: 5

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 31 |MLB: 9 | ESPN: 11 |BP: 39

What’s To Like
Kirilloff can hit. That might be the understatement of the century. He might be the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He’s been hitting for his entire life, as his dad runs baseball camps and clinics. He could have shown some rust last season, but he quickly made it known that he would be a force to be reckoned with.

He started the season in Cedar Rapids and hit .333/.391/.607 with 38 extra-base hits in 65 games. Among Midwest League hitters with at least 280 at-bats, his .999 OPS was the highest. Once he was promoted Fort Myers, he continued to hit. In 65 games in the Florida State League, he hit .362/.393/.550 with 33 extra-base hits. He led the Twins system in hits, doubles, and RBI. His 71 total extra-base hits and 296 total bases each led the minor leagues.

At season’s end, the accolades came rolling in. The Twins named him the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and Twins Daily named him the Minor League Hitter of the Year. MiLB.com named him as the Breakout Prospect of the Year. He represented the Twins in MLB’s Futures Game during All-Star Weekend. He was also a midseason and post-season All-Star in the Midwest League.

Kirilloff can spray the ball all over the field. His spray chart from last season is a thing of beauty (see below). Even with a left-handed swing, he has power to the opposite field. In fact, he had more doubles and more home runs to the opposite field than from pulling the ball.


What’s Left To Work On
Kirilloff destroyed the ball last season so there was really no reason for him to try to draw a ton of walks. He is very aggressive at the plate and so his OBP was only slightly higher than his batting average. As he gets closer to the big leagues, hitting against more advanced pitchers could mean that he will need to be more patient. He knows the strike zone well and he will need to continue to prove that at Double- and Triple-A.
His year off following Tommy John surgery might have been a blessing in disguise. For months, he wasn’t able to work on his swing, so he was able to develop his core and the lower half of his body. “It was total body strength,” he told MiLB.com. “I wanted to get all-around stronger. When they make you come in and work out every day, you don’t really have much choice. You’re going to get stronger. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe that was what I needed.”

On the defensive side of the ball, he played some center field in high school, so he has plenty of athletic ability. As he has bulked up in the minors, he has moved to a corner outfield spot. At some point, he might need to move to first base, but he has a good arm and should be able to stick in right field.

What’s Next
Target Field…

OK, that might be a stretch, but his bat could carry him to Minnesota by season’s end. Minnesota could decide to keep him at Fort Myers to start the year, but it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he started the year in Pensacola. Prospects of his caliber don’t necessarily need time at Triple-A so he could be called up directly from Double-A.

Minnesota’s outfield is full at the moment with Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario. However, an injury or poor play by one of these players could expedite Kirilloff’s timeline. Right now, I think his bat could hold its own at the big league level.

Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects

Honorable Mentions

20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF
5. Wander Javier, SS
4. Trevor Larnach, OF
3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
2. Alex Kirilloff, OF
TD Top Prospects: #1- COMING TOMORROW

Get to know more about Larnach and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)

The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.

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41 Comments

Very exciting.Some motivation for Kepler and Buxton.  

    • caninatl04 likes this

Well, there won't be much drama as to who the #1 TwinsDaily prospect will be.

I guess the only intrigue is who will get to write up the story....Tom, Cody, Seth or Nick?

    • ashbury and Seth Stohs like this

A 362/.393/.550 slash line in the FSL...a pitcher's league.Not too shabby.

    • PseudoSABR, Tibs, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this

Great article. And yes, Royce was rated as a 65 FV on the Fangraphs top 130 that came out today, so that will be exciting too. A fantastic top two for the Twins.

I was more impressed by the comment on Fangraphs that gave Kirloff a 15 - 20% chance to be the next Joey Votto.That is very high praise, now we shall see.I could see him being here if he starts in Pensacola between late 2019 and May 2020.One publication had him moving Kepler to first base or 4th outfielder or trade bait.Can't wait to see how he turns out. 

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SF Twins Fan
Feb 13 2019 11:20 PM
I really hope he starts in AA and just dominates for the first couple of months to earn a promotion. Once he makes it to AAA it’ll only be a matter of time before we get to see him with the Twins.
I hope they are aggressive. I believe we are looking at 2021......I hope to be wrong on the timing.
    • Twins33 and big dog like this

The number that blows my mind is 44-doubles in a five month minor league season.Unbelievable!

 

I think there is a good chance your ETA is wrong.If he has a year at AA anything like last year, we gotta see him by September at the latest.Could be earlier if one of the starting three is out with an injury.

    • Tibs, nater79a and Original Whizzinator like this

 

I really hope he starts in AA and just dominates for the first couple of months to earn a promotion. Once he makes it to AAA it’ll only be a matter of time before we get to see him with the Twins.

 

If he has two great months, there's a very good chance he never sees AAA.

    • Steve Lein, SD Buhr, big dog and 6 others like this

 

The number that blows my mind is 44-doubles in a five month minor league season.Unbelievable!

 

I think there is a good chance your ETA is wrong.If he has a year at AA anything like last year, we gotta see him by September at the latest.Could be earlier if one of the starting three is out with an injury.

 

Kirilloff doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster yet after the 2019 season. My thought is that if the Twins are in contention in July, and Kirilloff is playing well, he comes up directly from AA. If they are out of contention, there is no reason to call him up in 2019, and they can call him up 3 weeks into the 2020 season. 

    • ashbury, blindeke, chpettit19 and 5 others like this

Our rankings:

 

I hope I can remember this off the top of my head:

 

Seth (2), Nick (2), Tom (2), Cody (2). 

    • ashbury, brvama, Tibs and 5 others like this

 

I hope they are aggressive. I believe we are looking at 2021......I hope to be wrong on the timing.

 

If it was Terry Ryan, he would be aggressive. I guess we don't know yet what the MO of this front office is, though they seem to also be quite aggressive. 

 

I will be shocked if it's closer to 2021 than 2019 with zero surprise if it is 2019. 

    • birdwatcher and howieramone2 like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Feb 14 2019 12:09 AM

If he has two great months, there's a very good chance he never sees AAA.

About another prospect, you said stats are just a piece of the puzzle. Here, you seem to be saying that stats alone will be what figures in his promotion. Can you clarify for us mortals when we're ok to consider stats, and when we're not? :)
    • AlwaysinModeration likes this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 14 2019 12:15 AM

About another prospect, you said stats are just a piece of the puzzle. Here, you seem to be saying that stats alone will be what figures in his promotion. Can you clarify for us mortals when we're ok to consider stats, and when we're not? :)

 

About another prospect, you said stats are just a piece of the puzzle. Here, you seem to be saying that stats alone will be what figures in his promotion. Can you clarify for us mortals when we're ok to consider stats, and when we're not? :)

 

You'll have to remind me when I said stats are just a piece of the puzzle, because that is 100% true and I have probably said that many times.It is especially true in the lower levels. 

 

As for moving up to the big leagues, specifically if it's going to be straight from AA, then the guy really needs to be dominating the level. Now, there are more stats than what their used to be. They will have exit velocity and launch angles and spray charts and barrels and all kinds of stuff to show if a guy is truly hitting as well as his regular stats indicate.  

 

Whereas if we were specifically talking about a player's prospect status based on some numbers in like Elizabethton, the stats specifically aren't as important as the development plan and such. 

    • bluechipper, Hosken Bombo Disco, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 14 2019 12:21 AM
18/19 year olds in short season ball, tools and projections mean more than performance. 21/22 year olds in AA, established tools plus performance mean youre ready to go.
    • ashbury, Steve Lein, birdwatcher and 2 others like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 14 2019 02:43 AM

About another prospect, you said stats are just a piece of the puzzle. Here, you seem to be saying that stats alone will be what figures in his promotion. Can you clarify for us mortals when we're ok to consider stats, and when we're not? :)

Here is what you said, Seth, in the Jhoan Duran forum, when looking at Gonsalves vs Duran:

“Prospect rankings, however, typically have very little to do with the stats, though they do obviously factor in.

And, I would hope people have not given up on Gonsalves at all.

But Duran's upside is top of the rotation starter. That's why I rank him higher. That's'why I have Graterol ranked higher.”
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 14 2019 03:05 AM

You'll have to remind me when I said stats are just a piece of the puzzle, because that is 100% true and I have probably said that many times. It is especially true in the lower levels.

It seems like there is a big difference between saying stats are “just a piece of the puzzle” and “rankings typically have very little to do with the stats.”

I think your latter statement was just hyperbole and we shouldn’t hold you to it, especially in the broader context of all of the great work you do tracking down and writing up all of the Twins prospects that we all like to follow during the dog days of winter (buy the prospect handbook!).

All that said, I am still a bit perplexed how you feel like you aren’t considering stats that much when you go from ranking Gonsalves #1 in the system after an amazing statistical season in A+/AA, to #2 in the system after an exceedingly good statistical season in AA/AAA, to #11 after a similarly excellent statistical season in AAA with a 24 bad inning promotion to MLB. To me it looks like stats were a pretty big driver for those rankings.
    • Dman, Hosken Bombo Disco and DannySD like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 14 2019 03:26 AM
And to bring the conversation back to Kiriloff, as this is in the Kiriloff forum, let me point out the glaringly obvious fact that Kiriloff went from last year being unranked nationally but “he’s a great pure hitter” to this year, after an amazing statistical season, ranked in the top 20 nationally.

To me, it looks like it was his stats over the past year that made up 95% of those ranking changes. (94.8%, to be exact.)
    • gil4 and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 14 2019 05:44 AM

 

If he has two great months, there's a very good chance he never sees AAA.

Is a .333/.381/.525 two month slash line good enough? Or are those go to AAA numbers?

I'd personally have AK 1 at this point. He's got the pedigree to go with the gaudy numbers. His bat plays more than Lewis's I think.

That said, his Babip was really pretty high last season. He probably needs a few more walks, to turn on a few more pitches, and to turn more of those doubles into HR in order to sustain his momentum. If his value is peaking and we see him as Kepler 2.0, well we've got a lot of tough decisions coming up.
    • rdehring likes this
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Original Whizzinator
Feb 14 2019 06:23 AM

It seems like there is a big difference between saying stats are “just a piece of the puzzle” and “rankings typically have very little to do with the stats.”
I think your latter statement was just hyperbole and we shouldn’t hold you to it, especially in the broader context of all of the great work you do tracking down and writing up all of the Twins prospects that we all like to follow during the dog days of winter (buy the prospect handbook!).
All that said, I am still a bit perplexed how you feel like you aren’t considering stats that much when you go from ranking Gonsalves #1 in the system after an amazing statistical season in A+/AA, to #2 in the system after an exceedingly good statistical season in AA/AAA, to #11 after a similarly excellent statistical season in AAA with a 24 bad inning promotion to MLB. To me it looks like stats were a pretty big driver for those rankings.

I think he said stats become more important as you climb the ladder which would bear out with your Gonsalves example.
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tarheeltwinsfan
Feb 14 2019 07:15 AM

Stats...smatz...AK is an awesome hitter. Can't wait to see him and the other Twins' prospects and players in 1 week at spring training. I can see it now. I'll be standing by a fence. watching practice. Suddenly a ball comes over the fence. I pick it up and throw a strike to home plate. A coach says: "Hey kid, come here. Where did you get that arm. Let me see you do that again" I throw another strike with movement. He puts me on the mound...same result. Castro is called over. He says he's never seen both speed and movement like this. The radar gun is reading 103. Excuse me TD reader, my office phone is ringing. Maybe it is Thad. I'll get back to this daydream later.

    • ashbury, Jham, Dave The Dastardly and 2 others like this
So does he get to wear #47, or is that just too obvious?
    • Steve Lein, gunnarthor, Twins33 and 1 other like this

 

And to bring the conversation back to Kiriloff, as this is in the Kiriloff forum, let me point out the glaringly obvious fact that Kiriloff went from last year being unranked nationally but “he’s a great pure hitter” to this year, after an amazing statistical season, ranked in the top 20 nationally.

To me, it looks like it was his stats over the past year that made up 95% of those ranking changes. (94.8%, to be exact.)

 

His absence from a lot of lists last year is a result of the injury. with no information about his development, a lot of people are going to significantly downgrade a prospect until they get back on the field. It's not a crazy decision either, sort of like giving someone an Incomplete rather than a letter grade. he made some national lists after his first season and now he's surged up the lists.

    • caninatl04 likes this

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