Twins Organization Depth Chart: Starting Pitchers
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Brusdar Graterol)Rochester Red Wings: Drew Hutchison (28), Sean Poppen (25), Devin Smeltzer (23), Kohl Stewart (24), Lewis Thorpe (23), Stephen Gonsalves (24-IL)
The AAA depth has now all seen time in the big leagues. Hutchison spent a few years with the Blue Jays and recently signed with the Twins. Stewart and Gonsalves debuted in 2018. Gonsalves has been hurt but recently started throwing again and hopes to be able to pitch by season’s end. Smeltzer, Poppen and Thorpe have debuted in 2019.
The front office could use one or two of these pitchers in trades. However, they have had time to evaluate them and consider whether they could be starters or relievers for the Twins for the next four to six years. Remember that as many as four of the Twins five starting pitchers could be free agents after this season. Having MLB ready starting options will be important. So while any of these guys could be second or third pieces in a big deal, it’s nice to have the depth for 2020.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos: Jorge Alcala (23), Charlie Barnes (23), Edwar Colina (22), Randy Dobnak (24), Griffin Jax (24), Bryan Sammons (24), Tyler Wells (24-IL), Randy LeBlanc (27-IL), Andro Cutura (25-IL), Brusdar Graterol (20-IL)
Tyler Wells was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2018, but he had Tommy John surgery in May. Randy LeBlanc had Tommy John surgery last year. Andro Cutura returned from missing nearly two years due to Tommy John, so they have limited his innings. But Brusdar Graterol is the top prospect here, and the hard-throwing righty is on the IL with shoulder impingement.
Jorge Alcala has struggled at times, but he works in the upper-90s and has three pitches. His future may be in the bullpen (most likely). Edwar Colina is another upper-90s guy who was just promoted to Double-A. He is a pitcher as well, not just a hard thrower. Jax and Dobnak have both been good this season despite not having the same overpowering fastballs, but they are both very smart pitchers. Lefties Barnes and Sammons have both come up from Ft. Myers and done well. They both rely on command and control and mixing their pitches.
Ft. Myers Miracle: Jordan Balazovic (20), Jhoan Duran (21), Blayne Enlow (20), Bailey Ober (23), Cole Sands (21), Tyler Watson (22), Lachlan Wells (22)
The current Miracle starting staff is really exciting in terms of prospects. There have been several reports of scouts in the seats at Hammond Stadium. Jordan Balazovic has risen up quickly on prospect rankings. Keith Law was ahead of the game on this, but Balazovic has earned his ranking by combining his great stuff with projectability and great numbers too. He represented the Twins in the Futures Game. Duran is another who is pitching much better than his 1-8 record might indicate. He’s another guy who hits triple digits multiple times each game. Enlow started out slowly but since joining the Miracle, he has been fantastic. His velocity is up and his breaking pitches remain very good. Ober has just returned from another injury, but when he has been healthy, he has been really good. Sands has done well in his pro debut after being the Twins fifth-round pick a year ago.. He began in Cedar Rapids before moving up to Ft. Myers a month ago.Tyler Watson came to the organization from the Nationals and has continued to develop each of his pitches. And Lachlan Wells, a former Top 30 Twins prospect, returned to the Miracle last week after missing the last season-and-a-half due to Tommy John. And the Australian is still just 22!
Cedar Rapids Kernels: Andrew Cabezas (22), Tyler Palm (24), Luis Rijo (20), Austin Schulfer (23), Kai-Wei Teng (20), Josh Winder (22), Kody Funderburk (22-IL)
Often in the lower levels you can figure out prospect status by age-to-level-of-competition, and that is likely the case with this group. Rijo came to the Twins a year ago in the Lance Lynn deal and has been really good the last month. Teng was signed out of Taiwan, and at 20, he has been very impressive since joining the Kernels. In his most recent start, he was hitting 96 with a good pitch mix. But Winder was a seventh-round pick a year ago and has been very good too. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in June. Schulfer has probably been the Kernels most reliable, consistent pitcher all season. He began the year in the bullpen in long relief, but gradually moved into the rotation. Cabezas was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018. He’s had some ups and downs but when he’s been on, he’s had some really strong games. Palm has bounced around a bit. He signed a year ago out of the independent leagues, but he’s very tall and touches the mid-90s. Funderburk was drafted a year ago out of college where he was a very good two-way player. He doesn’t throw real hard, but when healthy, he has provided quality innings.
Elizabethton Twins: Prelander Berroa (19), Sawyer Gipson (21), Ben Gross (22), Andriu Marin (20), Ryley Widell (22), Tyler Benninghoff (21) Tanner Brubaker (21-IL), Brent Headrick (21-IL), Casey Legumina (22-IL),
Much of this group was drafted in 2019 and are looking to just make a good first impression in limited innings in their pro debuts. Benninghoff was the Twins 11th- round pick in 2016 and signed for well over slot. Immediately, he had Tommy John surgery and returned briefly at the end of last year in the GCL. He’s moved up this year and is one to watch. Prelander Berroa is not a big kid, but he is likely the top prospect in this group. He throws hard and has some pitches to work with. Widell was their 7th round pick in 2017, but he missed 2018 season due to a couple of bouts with mono.
GCL Twins: Donny Breek (19), Matt Canterino (21), Niklas Rimmel (19), Michael Montero (19-IL), Jon Olsen (22-IL), Regi Grace (19-IL).
This is another intriguing group, even with the injuries. We knew that the Twins probably wouldn't have second-round pick Canterino pitch too much this year, so he could stay in the GCL or potentially move up a level. Breek was signed out of The Netherlands and Rimmel grew up in Germany. Both were well known prospects in Europe and intriguing as prospects. Montero is also one to watch, but he just had Tommy John surgery last week. Olsen had Tommy John last year while at UCLA and is still recovering this season. Grace has the size and projectability to be really good, but he is young and will be taken care of.
Twins Daily Top 40 Midseason Prospects
#3 - Brusdar Graterol
#6 - Jordan Balazovic
#9 - Jhoan Duran
#10 - Blayne Enlow
#11 - Lewis Thorpe
#18 - Jorge Alcala
#21 - Stephen Gonsalves
#24 - Edwar Colina
#28 - Matt Canterino
#29 - Devin Smeltzer
#32 - Griffin Jax
#33 - Tyler Wells
#34 - Cole Sands
#37 - Kohl Stewart
#38 - Bailey Ober
#40 - Sean Poppen
Have Hit 100 mph in 2019:
Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala, Edwar Colina
Outside Top 40, but Teams May Ask:
Charlie Barnes, Lachlan Wells, Luis Rijo, Kai-Wei Teng, Josh Winder, Prelander Berroa.
Teams in contact with the Twins will certainly ask for Brusdar Graterol and Jordan Balazovic, and while neither might be completely untouchable, the Twins would be wise to only deal them if completely overwhelmed. Duran is just behind those two but should also only be available if the return package is strong and multi-year. He and Enlow could be available. Personally, I would put Edwar Colina in that same category as well. Beyond that, one would think that the other starting pitchers are available. However, this is why depth in prospects, not only in pitching but also at all positions, is so important for the Twins to acquire and maintain.
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