Twins Top Ten Prospects (Preliminary)
Image courtesy of Seth StohsReminders: This list is preliminary. Following research for the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2015, as well as your feedback, I’ll provide my final Top 30 prospects list. Players eligible to be on this list include players who remain eligible for Rookie of the Year voting in 2015. That is to say, hitters with less than 130 at bats and pitchers with less than 50 innings.
Before we get to the Top 10 Twins prospects, you can review prospects 11-50 here:
#10 – Nick Burdi – 21 – RH RP – Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle
The Twins drafted Burdi in the 24th round of the 2011 draft out of high school. He chose to go to Louisville where he became the most dominant college reliever. A three-digit fastball with a 90+ mph slider creates a lot of strikeouts. The Twins drafted him again in the second round this June after the College World Series. Upon signing, he was assigned to Cedar Rapids where in 13 innings he gave up eight hits, walked eight and struck out 26. He moved up to Ft. Myers where he pitched 7.1 innings in seven games. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out 12. I would guess that he’ll be invited to big league spring training and start the season at Chattanooga. I also think he will be up with the Twins before June.
#9 – Taylor Rogers – 23 – LHP – New Britain Rock Cats
Rogers was my choice in 2013 as the Twins minor league starting pitcher of the year when he went 11-6 with a 2.55 ERA. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Kentucky where he teamed with Logan Darnell and Alex Meyer. Rogers' 2014 got off to a slow start. Through his first five AA starts, he went 1-3 with an 8.14 ERA despite a 26/5 strikeout to walkout rate. Over his final 19 starts, he went 10-3 with a 2.31 ERA. In 120.2 innings, he walked 32 and struck out 87. The left-hander is blessed with a fastball that touches 95 mph and a sharp slider. He will pitch in the Arizona Fall League and could debut with the Twins in 2015.
#8 – Trevor May – 25 – RHP – Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins
May came to the Twins in December of 2012 from the Phillies. In 2013, he went back to the Eastern League in New Britain. After two years of AA ball, he advanced to AAA this year and was terrific. He went 8-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 18 starts before being called up to the Twins. It likely would have happened a month or more earlier if not for a calf injury. His debut in Oakland on August 9th was a disaster. He walked seven in two innings. In his first three starts, he walked 13 and struck out three in nine innings. In his final seven starts, he walked nine and struck out 41 over 36.2 innings. That kind of improvement should have Twins very optimistic that May can be a solid mid-rotation guy.
#7 – Jorge Polanco – 21 – SS – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats/Minnesota Twins
Polanco had a breakout season in 2013 in Cedar Rapids. He hit .308/.362/.452 (.813). He moved up to Ft. Myers to start this season. In 94 games, he hit .291/.364/.415 (.780) with 17 doubles, six triples and six home runs. In late June, the Twins surprised fans by calling up Polanco from the Miracle for a small cup of coffee. He was returned to the high-A Miracle. A month later, he was well on his way up to AA New Britain, but instead he was called up to the Twins again for a short stint. Quickly returning to AA, he hit .281/.323/.342 (.665) with six doubles and a homer. With the Twins, he primarily just pinch hit, though he did make one start. He went 2-6 and walked twice. After splitting time between shortstop and second base in 2013, he made the move to shortstop in 2014. He spent 119 games at short and just 10 at second base in the minor leagues. He committed 35 errors at shortstop and three more at second base, but he does have decent range. His arm is best suited to second base. He should start 2015 in Chattanooga.
#6 – Nick Gordon – 18 – SS – Elizabethton Twins
The Twins were thrilled when Nick Gordon was still available when they were on the clock with the fifth pick. He certainly fits a mold that the Twins have used in the past. Gordon is an athletic high school hitter with a lot of tools who plays in the middle of the diamond. The Twins believe he will be able to stay at shortstop as he develops. He can hit, field his position, has a very strong arm and good speed. Though he isn’t the burner that his brother, Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon is, he has well above average speed. Currently 6-0 and 180 pounds, the hope is that he will develop some power. He began his professional career with Elizabethton where he played in 57 games. He hit .294/.333/.366 (.699) with six doubles, four triples and a home run. In Elizabethton’s playoff series, he broke a bone in his finger. He will most likely spend the 2015 season with the Kernels in Cedar Rapids.
#5 – Alex Meyer – 24 – RHP – Rochester Red Wings
He missed about two months of the 2013 season with shoulder pain. As much as Twins fans wanted to see Meyer in 2014, it is clear that the organization’s goal for Meyer in 2014 was to get him through the season healthy. He left his final start in the second inning when he was unable to get his shoulder loose, but he has been deemed healthy heading into the offseason. He had a solid season, posting a 7-7 record with a 3.52 ERA. In 130.1 innings, he struck out 153 batters to lead the International League starters with 10.6 per nine innings. However, he also walked 64 batters, 4.4 per nine. He has the stuff to be a very good starting pitcher, but he will have to throw more strikes. Some believe there is a chance he could wind up in the bullpen at the end of the day. However, with a 98 mph fastball, a great slider, a curveball and an improved changeup, it’s worth giving him every possible chance as a starter.
#4 – Kohl Stewart – 19 – RHP –Cedar Rapids Kernels
Stewart was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft out of St. Pius X High School in Houston. As we know, he was a star on the football field, but the Twins signed him away from Texas A&M. He made 19 starts for the Kernels this year and went 3-5 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He was limited to 75 to 80 pitches throughout most of the year. This, combined with missing several weeks with shoulder soreness limited him pitching only 87 innings. Stewart has good control of his pitches. His fastball sits between 93 and 94 mph but at times has hit 97. He has a slider, which he threw only sporadically. He has a sharp curveball and a solid changeup. He is also very competitive and wants to be great. He has a chance to move up quickly on national prospect rankings next year.
#3 – JO Berrios – 20 – RHP – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats/Rochester Red Wings
The Twins made Berrios their supplemental first round pick in 2012 out of high school in Puerto Rico. After an unspectacular 2013 season in Cedar Rapids, Berrios was the top pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2014. He pitched at three levels and combined to go 12-8 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 25 starts. At Ft. Myers, he went 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He started the Florida State League All- Star game and the Futures game. He was promoted to AA, and when the Rochester Red Wings needed a starter on the final weekend of the season, they went to Berrios. At 6-0 and just 185 pounds, Berrios throws hard, topping out at 96. He has a sharp breaking ball as well as a very good changeup. He has good control and struck out a batter per inning over the season. He will likely begin 2015 in Chattanooga, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that we could see Berrios in a Twins uniform sometime in 2015.
#2 – Miguel Sano – 21 – 3B – Did Not Play
We all had hoped to see Sano with the big league club sometime in 2014. However, in the first spring training intra-squad game, a slow-roller to third base was fielded by Sano. He made an off-balance throw to first base, and his elbow popped. Less than two weeks later, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. He rehabbed in Ft. Myers and hopes to get some at-bats in the second half of the Dominican Winter League before heading back to spring training. Coming in to the season, he was Baseball America’s #6 prospect in baseball. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, he has elite power potential. He’ll strike out, but he will also take some walks. He is a very good athlete who has a cannon for an arm. It will be interesting to see how his arm returns to playing shape. Despite the injury, he’s still just 21 years old. He still could debut in 2015, though we need to remember that he missed an entire year of development.
#1 – Byron Buxton – 20 – OF – Ft. Myers Miracle/New Britain Rock Cats
There was a chance that we would have seen Byron Buxton in Target Field (and not just in the Futures game). Unfortunately, it was a tough season for baseball’s top prospect. He represented himself well in big league camp, but in a minor league spring training game, he hurt his wrist making a diving catch. When he came back, he hurt it again and missed more time. Then he was hit on the other wrist with a pitch and missed time. He moved up to New Britain, where he likely would have started if not for the injury. In his first game, he collided with Mike Kvasnicka and suffered a concussion that cost him the rest of his season. Fortunately, he has been cleared to play in the Arizona Fall League. Kris Bryant may take over the #1 prospect list, but Buxton remains an upper echelon prospect in the game. He can hit for average and take walks. He has the potential to hit for a lot of power. He is one of the fastest base runners in baseball. He is a potential gold glove centerfielder with a great arm. He has confidence and humility. At the same time, he doesn’t just want to be a very good player. He wants to be great.
So, what do you think of Part 5, the Twins Top 10 Prospects?