Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: Honorable Mentions
In the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, Tom Froemming penned an article about all of the different methods in which the Twins have added prospects over the past two years. There is the draft. There are international signings. There have been several players added via trade especially over the final days of July. In addition, there are waiver claims and minor league signings. Today’s list of “Others Receiving Votes” illustrate several of those methods.
For your information, as several of the Twins Daily writers submitted their personal prospect rankings and the ensuing conversation about the rankings, there was a clear cutoff between our #20 prospect at the #21 prospect. Today, we won’t put rankings on these players, only discuss those who also received votes. There are 12 players we will mention, which does show some depth. What is important to also note is there are several more prospects in the system who did not receive votes that have a legitimate chance to play in the big leagues in the future.
Let’s discuss the other players who received votes yet finished just outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects.
Two hard-throwing right-handed pitchers were mentioned. Jordan Balazovic was the Twins sixth-round pick in 2016. Landon Leach was the team’s second-round pick in 2017. Both were selected out of secondary schools in the Toronto area. Leach remained in the GCL in 2018. He is a hard thrower who is still quite raw as a pitcher after growing up primarily catching. He’s a big kid. Balazovic split time between the GCL and extended spring training. He has added velocity since being drafted and really stepped forward in 2018, matching his pitchability with his improved stuff. If you missed it, Keith Law ranked Balazovic as his 102nd prospect in baseball, with Brusdar Graterol at number 108.
It was a bit surprising when the Twins called up Kohl Stewart in August last year, but the former first-round pick made a good impression during the final six weeks. He has good velocity and gets a lot of movement. Not a lot of swing-and-miss, but the talent is clear. It was that talent that had him as a top ten Twins prospect for several years, and it is what we saw in his debut in 2018.
Chase De Jong had pitched in the big leagues for Seattle in 2017. He was acquired in the Zack Duke trade. He made four starts for the Twins in September and showed that he can be a back-end of the rotation starter. He’s got good command and a good curveball. His smooth delivery helps allow pitches to jump on hitters at times.
Luis Arraez gets his own category. While he isn’t a great athlete, doesn’t have great speed or power and profiles as maybe a second baseman, Arraez can flat-out hit. He has hit at every level. Even after missing most of the 2017 season with a knee injury, he raked in Ft. Myers before moving up to the Chattanooga Lookouts. The organization clearly likes him as he was added to the 40-man roster following the season.
There are several great athletes in the Twins organization. Obviously you have heard a lot about Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis.When you talk to people in the organization, or you watch him play, you will be told that Travis Blankenhorn is right up there with the best athletes in the organization. He’s got good speed and power, and a lot more power potential. He has ranked as high as #9 in previous Twins Daily Top Prospect rankings and he continues to rise up the ranks including a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League last year.
Gabriel Maciel came to the Twins in July from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade. The outfielder has tremendous speed and a really good swing. He ended the season with the Kernels, usually leading off.
Jacob Pearson was acquired last offseason from the Angels in exchange for international money which was used to sign Shohei Ohtani. While he was expected to spend the season in Elizabethton, he was promoted to Cedar Rapids in late May and spent the rest of the year there and more than held his own.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
What does a guy have to do to get into the Top 20 prospect rankings at Twins Daily? Tyler Wells was the Twins 15th round draft pick in 2016. He’s been really good since signing. He began 2018 in Ft. Myers before ending the season in Chattanooga. He was very good and was named the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He was also the Harmon Killebrew Award winner for the Miracle. He’s big, tall, and has exhibited a great work ethic. More than a strikeout an inning is always good too.
STORY OF THE YEAR
When the Twins drafted Griffin Jax in the third round of the 2016 draft out of the Air Force Academy, the thought was that he would be able to pitch soon. That didn’t happen, but when baseball was named an Olympic sport again, Jax applied for the military’s World Class Athlete Program. That allows him to play baseball full time in preparation for Olympic tryouts. Details were figured out and by April he was in Ft. Myers preparing for a season. He pitched well for the Miracle and worked some more innings in the Arizona Fall League. He impressed people with his stuff as well.
TOUGH TO RANK
On July 2nd, the Twins officially signed outfielder Misael Urbina. It’s always difficult to know where to rank a player who won’t even make his professional debut until this summer in the Dominican Summer League. The Twins signed Urbina for $2.75 million which alone makes him intriguing to Twins fans. But he has all of the tools that you look for in a prospect, speed, baseball instincts, arm, defense and room to grow. He will be one to watch. A year from now, he could be a Top 10 Twins prospect.
Luke Raley came to the Twins in the Brian Dozier trade with the Dodgers. He finished the season in Chattanooga and ended the year with 20 home runs in AA. He was recently announced as a non-roster invite to spring training. Raley, like Brent Rooker, has a ton of power potential.
The Twins system is very deep right now. There are several outside our top 20 who could reach the big leagues, many more than even just these honorable mentions.
As I mentioned above, I really like Edwar Colina who spent most of the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. DaShawn Keirsey was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2018. He and other draft picks from just last June could move up this list in 2019. Relievers such as Tyler Jay and Jake Reed still have upside. And I bet you could list a few of your own choices as guys that we missed in our Top 20 (or in his list of honorable mentions).
Feel free to discuss below and ask questions.
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